Nurture vs. Nature: A Spirited Debate

He committed his first murder at nine years old. He did not look back.

Four years and eight murders later, here he stood in front of a judge. A thirteen year old convicted of mass murder. The judge now considering whether or not the death penalty should be sought after in this case. It would be unprecedented, but it just might be appropriate.

The boy showed no remorse. He readily admitted guilt for each and every murder he was convicted of. He recounted each murder as if he were proud and added that there might be a few that he forgot about. Drive by here, execution style there, he even admitted that he would kill again if given the chance. The whole time there was not a single twitch in his stone face. Where was his humanity? What had he become? 

One of the most heated debates I have ever witnessed was centered around this case. A group of friends and I were discussing this and we soon found ourselves split right down the middle on this issue.

Should a 13 year old who murdered at least nine people in cold blood be given the death penalty?

One side was firmly against putting this boy to death. Many on this side of the fence were against the death penalty in general, while others felt as if the boy still had a chance to be rehabilitated.

The other half was all for the death penalty in this case. The boy didn’t kill one person, or two people, or even three. He killed nine people. He did not stop killing. He showed no remorse after the fact and he admitted that he would kill again.

Now to me this question is a matter of nurture versus nature. Is this boy the way he is because of a lack of nurturing, or is it inherently in his nature to be this way?

He was born on the South Side of Chicago. He was a crack baby. He had no father and his mother was a junkie. In effect he was raised by the South Side Bloods, the gang he would later become a part of. As a result he grew up around violence. You can certainly make the argument that it was bred into him.

Then again, what is it in us that makes it sometimes possible to overcome impossible odds like these? What is it that makes us feel remorse after seeing the consequences of our actions? Is it possible to be born without it? Is it possible to be born without a conscience? To be born evil?

I think if you lean more towards the nurture side in this case, you are more likely to be against the death penalty. If you are more on the side of nature, you might be in favor of it.

So which is it for you? Nurture or nature?



  1. I believe in nurture. Kind of a combination between Rousseau and Locke. Rousseau said that Society causes all our problems, and that our nature is inherently good. Locke believed that in each one of us is ‘Natural Law,’ a set of codes implanted in us of things we know are wrong – like murder.I think Nurture is the cause of his actions. It makes him no less guilty, but it still is the cause. I’m on the fence with the death penalty, leaning more towards being against it. I would say life in prison for the kid.

  2. I wouldn’t give him the death penatly, I think life in prison would do the trick. Let the little fucker suffer.The sad thing with this, is once your put into this kind of lifestyle, there is no way out. Once you’ve been convicted of something – anything, you are a criminal, and in the eyes of society you aren’t welcome. Its sad that alot of the people who live this lifestyle try to get out, but they can do it. They have resort to breaking the law over and over to get money and food because no one will hire them.Has anyone ever seen the movie “Gang Tapes”? Its a movie, but its filmed like real life, these kids are carrying around a video camera… Its a very shell-shocking and very REAL movie, and I suggest it to everyone.

  3. I think it is possible to be born without a conscience. Some people simply don’t seem to care. About anyone.But in this child’s case, he could easily have every reason to believe that the murders were logical and reasonable- even called for. It wasn’t like he’d been jumping random bystanders. I presume he’d murdered rival gang members.He could be taught that he was doing the right thing.On SimbaThe2nd’s post about Dr. Tiller, a guy said in the comments that if his wife had an abortion, he would kill her because God would require it. Was he raised to feel that way? Or has he just been convinced of it? I don’t know. Do I hope his conscience would step in if the situation ever came up? Hell yes I do. But sometimes people are convinced that killing is acceptable.Even the death penalty itself is up for debate. My personal conscience is squeamish about executions. But… for a time I accepted the general Protestant standard and believed that state executions were justified. Now I follow my own conscience again and do not approve of the death penalty…………..Rambling comment. I did my best.

  4. I tend to go with nurture. I don’t think people come into this world as a cold-blooded assassin or anything like that. And I see far too many situations where there are some wonderful kids with not so wonderful parents, and the not so wonderful parenting eventually manifests itself in the vast majority of that kids’ actions. I don’t think that kids should be allowed to slide because of this. I mean, law is law, and if you let one person by, why can’t you let anyone?But you’re also correct. I am also against the death penalty. I have a really hard time considering myself or any other human on this earth enough of an authority figure who can determine when another’s life should end or not. Plus, I don’t think people really have to suffer as much when they’re killed instead of being in prison. But pehaps that’s naive of me. Some people really don’t suffer in those prisons and we have to pay to keep them in there.But I think I’d rather live in naivete about this sort of thing.

  5. Without getting into a long theological dissertation….I believe in nature. There are people born and raised in much of the same circumstances that still have a conscience. There are some just born without one. If you believe in God and the bible, and actually understand Genesis instead of the fairytale the churches spout about apples, it is much easier to understand.

  6. I tend to think it’s both. We’re all born with unique personalities. We’re not born as blank slates. But our upbringing also shapes who we are. And virtually every personality can be shaped for good or evil. Plus, being a Christian I think I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t favor redemption over a final judgment.

  7. First of all, your tags made me laugh.Secondly, I have a hard time with crime and punishment.  It is the only thing that I am not very liberal-minded about and it is difficult for me to see in black or white.  I would need more details to really make a decision.

  8. I don’t think one is separate from the other. I believe that people are born with some sense of right and wrong. While its true there are glitches when people are born (autism, limbless, ect) I don’t his main problem was being born evil. (Although I do think that some people can be born more prone to a lack of morals) I think all people are born in rebellion. Rebellion to authority, rebellion to what they know is right and wrong, and rebellion to what they’ve learned is right and wrong. His nature is rebellion and his nurture is rebellion. This coupled with perhaps a natural tendency against morals has led to his current situation. We’re all born a certain way. Everyone has a place in the world where they fit in. Some people are more physical and they may end up being in profetional sports. Others are more literary, they may write books. Even more, mathematics or artists or what have you. Now these people can do either one of two things, they can exalt their strength and talent or they can repress it. You may know someone who could tell the most amazing stories just from the top of their head, yet they got a business degree. Now they have no outlet for their literary creativity. (If they don’t have a hobby for that outlet) I say the same can be done morally. Someone can repress their feelings and that sense of right and wrong until it is as if they have no conscience. However there have been cases where this lack of guilt for evil deeds has been seen is children. Some of these children were raised in good homes with a loving family, so where would the nuture of evil come to play? We have not yet discovered any genetics that are connected to a tendency of good or evil. Nor does every person in similar environments act similarly. So there is something, something that can allow someone who may be born with good tendencies to trun evil and someone with evil tendencies to end up being good. In this case, I’d say that he may have been born slightly more willing or able to do evil, but that his nurturing, his environment is what really lead him down and evil path. I lean more toward nurture here, but I’m for the death penalty. Oh and on life in prison: I don’t really see a difference between life in prison and death. I’m actually against life in prison because prisons run off taxes. (if I’m not mistaken) But that’s a whole other arugment there.

  9. I’m on the fence. Undecided. I’m not sure. I think he needs help (and prison)  but he sounds like he is beyond that. But I also think since he seems to be proud with what he did & doesn’t care. Even admitting that their may be more…. Thats sick & sad. Mentally. He doesn’t think like the rest of us…I’m undecided.

  10. hmmm. don’t have kids to say, but judging from how certain kids i teach behave, i think it’s mostly nurture. the parents can raise their kids a certain way and also have some influence on who their friends are/who they look up to. also, the parents can choose what kind of environment to raise their kids in. 

  11. As of yet we lack a through enough understanding of the human brain to be certain on this issue. I have not concluded my mind because it would be illogical to do so without conclusive data. That being said, they should have executed the child without hesitation or incident. He could serve no purpose to society but to be a drain upon it and a possible risk to it. The only reasonable course of action would be to put him out of our misery. He revoked any human rights he may have once had.

  12. See, I hear so many stories like this, and for some reason, you’d think Id be for the Death Penalty. But Im SO not. When you kill a murderer, you are giving them the easy way out. Its the family of the murderer that pays for the crime. The victims never come back. I dont understand the Death Penalty

  13. Hmmm, I think it would be nurture in this case. In effect, he was nurtured by a gang, raised to believe that what he was doing wasn’t wrong. Even with his familial background, raised in an adopted home or maybe even his real mother would likely have resulted in a different future than being raised by Bloods

  14. Nuture…at age 13 he only knows what he has been shown.  You dont kill him you secure him and show him a different way to live to function.  There is still time.

  15. The boy is obviously ill in the head, with something along the lines of Antisocial Personality Disorder. He needs to be locked up in an institution somewhere, not given the death penalty. As for nature v. nurture- I think it must be a cross between the two. To be that murderous, without empathy or remorse, I think its something you must be born with. But at the same time, I think that its possible to overcome that as a child, with the right environment. Seeing where this child grew up, and what he grew up around, its clear that nurture must have had some part in it as well.But that’s just my opinion.

  16. I say death penalty. It is a little bit of both. Ok, murdering people with ‘your crew’ in ‘your gang,’ is one thing. Killing on your one because you want to is another. Even if he was raised that way, we all must stand on our own and make your own decision. Being abandoned and practically raising your self means he has been forced to make his own decisions in life for a long time. He just choose to walk down a path that most people consider wrong. I’m one of those people.

  17. Even before I read what his past was like, I thought the death penalty was appropriate.  I think it’s a combination of nature and nurture — much like with any other person.  They have to be held accountable for their own choices despite the hand they’re dealt.  And 9 murders is completely inexcusable.  Age doesn’t even really factor in this case for me.  He’s able to make premeditated decisions about life and death; he obviously knows what he’s doing and should be treated accordingly.

  18. I definitely think it’s a combination. But I also lean a little bit more towards the nurture side of things. I don’t know. As for the death penality? I’ve never been in favor or not in favor of it.

  19. How must the family members of the victims feel? I would want him to rot in jail the rest of his life, so that if he does suddenly gain a conscience, he could have his whole life to cry over the people he killed. And even if he doesn’t gain a conscience, at least he can’t kill other members of society nor have the freedoms and pleasures of people who don’t do such horrific things.

  20. Why is it that people think it has to be one way or the other? Your genetics and your environment effect each person to a different level. This isn’t a black and white matter. This kid could have a sociopathic mental disorder (nature) or could simply have been shown that this behavior was to be admired (nurture). More  than likely, though, nature and nurture played a part. 

  21. this kid was hit by both. nature and nurture both screwed this kid over. unfortunately it almost never works to rehabilitate criminals like this because they really don’t want to change their ways, but it’s not going to change everything if he’s given the death penalty. eye for an eye and all…

  22. I think that for EVERY person, not just in this case, it’s a combination of nature and nurture.I’m for the death penalty in his case. If he showed remorse or intention of changing, maybe not. But should we continue to risk lives of innocent people by keeping him alive? What if he were to escape from prison? He’s proud of what he did. Anybody who’s proud of taking multiple human lives is not likely to wake up one morning and feel guilty about it all.To those who feel bad for him because of his upbringing – the options for this boy are going to be the death penalty or life in jail. Wouldn’t you rather he be put out of his misery than continue suffering alone for the rest of his life?

  23. i think at the age of thirteen there is no way you could be hardened to the idea of taking someone elses life unless a parental figure had failed to do thier job.  he simply has been alive long enough to have enough life expierence to realize the damage he is causing. i do NOT think he should be set free but i think he should be hospitalized and given treatment to. but at the same time if that happens and then he realizes what he has done, his life will be so destroyed that he might not want to live anyway, and his life would be spent in jail anyway. this is tough. 

  24. A study found that kids with good genetics tend to turn out good whether they were raised in a good or bad environment. They also found that kids with bad genetics could turn out good if they were raised in a good environment, and of course in bad environments you get bad results here. I think there was a specific component involved that was determined by genetics, but I haven’t read it in a while.If you let this kid go free, he’s most likely gonna kill somebody else. If you put him in our pathetic criminal justice system, he’s not going to be rehabilitated. He’s gonna be living in jail where you have to be hard and tough to get by. I’d say just give him life in prison unless there’s a way to determine with a high degree of certainty that he is actually changed.

  25. @The44thHour – my thoughts exactly.  i’ve always leaned towards the opinion that people are innately more bad than good, and that it takes a certain environment to bring out either aspect.though i understand the argument against the death penalty, i still disagree.  if someone killed a family member of mine, i think i would want the same for him.  cruel but true.

  26. Recent studies have found that psychopathy is a glitch in nature.  It has nothing to do with nurture or genetics, but many factors still affect fetal brain development that are preventable (ie: drugs, alcohol, violence).  But even so, you can’t just kill the kid.  We’ve got to try and be more civilized than that.  Just put him away for life, because he is going to kill innocent people again and again if you don’t.  Criminal rehabilitation is a 20th Century concept.  Sometimes, there is no rehabilitation, just an ugly prison cell for the rest of one’s mortal existence. He’ll probably kill there as well.  The kid’s a killer. Sucks to be that kid, for sure.

  27. Hmm…nature versus nurture. I’m undecided. I’ve read about studies in which identical twins are separated at birth and raised in different environments, and yet they still have quite a few common denominator tendencies. At the same time, I look at myself and my sister. We are both raised in the same household, by the same parents, and neither one of us gets preferential treatment and yet we’re as opposite as night and day.I do know one thing for sure though; I am against death penalty. Since when was deciding the fate of others a God-given right?

  28. Wow, that’s pretty insane. I’ve always felt it was a combination of both nature and nurture that made us who we are. I used to lean more toward nurture, thinking it was our environment that caused us to be who we are, the genetics were just a starting point. After being in an abnormal psychology class this last semester though, I lean more toward nature. Adoption studies show that those who are born to biological parents that suffered from alcoholism, but raised in an adopted family who are not alcoholic are still more likely to later be alcoholics themselves than those that were born to biological parents who were not alcoholics but were raised in families with parents who were alcoholic. (Sorry if that was a confusing sentence). This and other adoption studies like it make me believe that much of who we are is rooted in genetics.Obviously the terrible conditions this child grew up in were no help in him developing a normal personality and life. And he would have had a chance at a normal life had he grown up under different circumstances, but I feel as if any negative experience in his life could have triggered maladaptive and violent behavior, maybe not at this scale, but I think the potential would have always been there.Oh, and for the death penalty question, I am against. But, I am against in all cases. To be cliche, I don’t think it’s right to kill to show it’s wrong to kill.

  29. You are not born evil, you are taught and guided by the wrong kinds of things to be that way. Though, he is not exactly responsible for his actions, since it is basically what he knows, it would be alot to change him. He would have to go against all he was taught. All he felt was right. Or what he felt to be proud of. A chance would be huge, and would feel like he wouldn’t change, but the benefit of the doubt is better than the Death Penalty. Well, at least that’s what I think.

  30. Nurture. I think this is covered pretty basically in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; to me, a constant theme was that of parenting and orphanage. Victor’s life was good to most standards – they were wealthy, he was loved. There was some suffering, but every family has that at some point. But even though he knew what it was to have a good family, he wasn’t a good father to his monster and therefore it obtained basic knowledge of the evils of men by negative experiences and rejection. And THEN he became truly evil and vowed revenge. We are easily inspired and vulnerable, especially as children. We learn by repeating things we hear and say. That doesn’t mean our parents have to be murderers for us to be murderers; but if we are mistreated or see others mistreated, I think we come to the conclusion that’s okay.

  31. haha i sorta laughed at the tags to this is the first thing in a while that i am completely undecided about idk what i would do or chooosse in theis situation

  32. I would put him into intensive therapy, and after several years reevaluate him and see if he appears to have changed.  idk though, if he smart he could probably fake a behavior and attitude change.  

  33. Well if you grow up in a shitty environment and are taught that violence and hate is the answer, then of course you’d be screwed up. You can’t expect someone who was never taught “good” morals to make ”good” moral decisions. If I was a child and someone told me killing was just fine, I’d probably get a bit disturbed the first time, but after that I’d be just fine. I just read an article about a 10-year-old girl serial killer, Mary, in Britain in the 1960’s. She was was transferred between several facilities, and by the time she was 23 she fell in love and had a child. Her mom was a prostitute who used her as a prop and who’s drugs many a time fell into Mary’s hands. She said later that she liked killing small things that could not fight back. You see, there’s the nurture. If you don’t raise a child to be good, then he/she most probably won’t be good. But time in prison may make a difference and turn a life around. The death penalty is too much of an easy way out.

  34. Both.His genetics [I am assuming his mother was doing drugs while she was pregnant] predisposed him to a lack of understanding and awareness. He is so young he has no understanding of his actions. He does not have a grasp on death and it’s finality. His brain is not finished developing and he does not have the ability to think abstractly or completely consider the consequences of what he has done.  That’s what parents are for, right?His environment obviously desensitized his inclination to shun violence, and, in a sense, nurtured him to commit these acts.

  35. i think it would be naive to say that it is absolutely one over the other. after all, “a person can get used to anything, even to killing.” if you put a pacifist vegan in a survival situation, chances are that person will learn to kill and eat their food. the fact that this boy was raised by a violent gang and thus became a violent killer does no more to indicate that he was nurtured to be as such than it does to indicate that he was born to violence. perhaps he was born with a violent nature and thus he would have found his way into violence without the help of the gang. perhaps he could have brought peace to the earth if he’d been given a more pure upbringing. the fact of the matter is that you cannot prove anything and you cannot blame one source without acknowledging the existence of the other.

  36. The kid’s a sociopath.  They can imprison him for 20 or 40 or 80 years, but he won’t change.  It’s a dangerous psychological disorder, and it can’t really be fixed if the subject doesn’t want to be fixed.  Life sentence or death penalty.  So long as he’s off the streets for good, I’m for any kind of punishment they decide on.

  37. This is as comparable to the whole theory of evolution debate.I think it’s a little bit of both. The kid got the kind of upbringing that didn’t promote morality and ethics as many of us perceive them. At the same time there is science that could probably tell you he’s missing a few parts with the whole genetics stuff. Psychology is just as mysterious as Nature.If I were the judge, though I am in favor of the Death Penalty most of the time I’d give this kid life in prison. It costs less, apparently, and he’s got a lot of growing up to do. Maybe he’ll learn how wrong it was for him to commit those acts. Maybe he won’t. But either way he’ll live with it, knowing he threw away the world and the world threw him away in response.

  38. there are studies that suggest one in 25 people are born without a conscience. it makes them sociopathic, whether they act in awful ways or not. there won’t be remorse with those one in 25 people; they simply don’t have a conscience. sounds like it could be possible with this young boy. 

  39. Kuo conducted a psychological experiment with kittens-He exposed a group kittens to mother cats killing ratsHe exposed another group of kittens to mothers not killing ratsHe exposed another group of kittens to nothingThe first group were then given rats and most learned to kill them. The second group did not (for the most part). The last, also nothing.The last two groups were then exposed to kittens killing rats, and were then given rats, and most of those killed them.Just a nice little experiment to understand :] Nurture is very influential indeed.

  40. Well, I really don’t care how he was raised. If you’ve killed nine people your deserve the death penalty despite how young he is. Seriously, if you kill even one person you should be given the death penalty in my point of view. If the consequences aren’t harsh enough, people will take the laws as a joke and kill once thinking they won’t die. Age isn’t a factor, a murder is a murder. Of course, his environment does sound extremely violent, and it might seem natural t first if he was bought up in that fashion, but by thirteen; he should be able to know whats right and wrong. >:[

  41. I believe its more nurture than nature, but its not a black-or-white issue. It could be that the kid was born with a natural inclination for violent behavior, which could have been overcome with the right parenting skills and/or therapy. But, he never had that so that would be where nurture comes into play. As for the death penalty, I think he should be put to death. He is a mass murderer, and age is just a number.

  42. Wow interesting subject.  I don’t know what side I would be on.  The mind is a fragile thing. Once your mind is gone, you may never get it back. I can’t help but  feel compassion for this kid.  I think this kid got brought up thinking this is normal.  How can you feel guilty about something you think is normal?

  43. hmm tough one. i work for a family with 4 boys, all of them incredibly different from the next, even though they grew up in the same environment etc – i used to believe in nurture, now i am not so sure

  44. It’s definitely nurture for me. I took tons of pychology and sociology classes and what have you in high school and I’m going to be going deeper into pychology in college this fall. I don’t believe you can be born evil, or without a consience. It’s not possible. The way you turn out, depends on the way you are raised. If you are born into a rich, high-class family.. you will have good manners, you will have good taste, you will be respectful. I know there are probably times when this is not the case, but in most scenarios it is. If you are born into a poor family of drug addicts, you are more likely to become a drug addict yourself. If you grow up around a violent parent, or two violent parents, you are more likely to be a violent person as you grow a little older.I think this kid should absolutely have the chance to go into some sort of rehab, get some therapy, and be helped. He’s only thirteen years old. He doesn’t deserve the death penalty. He has plenty of time to turn his life around. A murder for a murder helps nothing. Helping him and teaching him will help something. He says that he would do it again now because he doesn’t know any better. He’s thirteen years old.

  45. Man, this is crazy. I feel like its a bit of both. However i don’t agree with the death penalty, but i would understand why someone would. I personally wouldn’t fight for it, but in this case i wouldn’t fight against it. That may seem like i am not really picking an answer so let me clarify…Yes, i think he should, but because i believe that the big guy in the sky (is that the political correct way of saying God? lol) has the final say so, i dont support the death penality. Does this make sense?

  46. i think it can be both.  i read somewhere ( i think it was in newsweek – an article about what makes some people “better” at lying than others) that people who lie more often do so because they do not experience remorse as intensely as others, which has something to due with the amount of gray matter (i don’t recall whether it’s more or less gray matter that causes one to feel remorse).  so, i imagine that aspect plays a huge part in ones actions, and also, the environment one grows in is going to combine with all underlying factors that we are born with.  – i know, sounds shaky, but that’s my opinion.oh, and i don’t think he should die.  i mean, life imprisonment sounds better to me.ah… found something.  not the article i read, but it’s something.  see the first few paragraphs.

  47. It’s definitely both. No way around it. Even if only because you can never have solid research for one or the other.But in some cases, it can be mostly one. Like I think it’s sociopaths, that have no conscience? They are unable to feel. So of course, they can’t be judged by the same meter stick.

  48. I am NEVER in favor of bringing on the death penalty, the same as I would be against abortion.If he already killed, what could we possibly GAIN from executing him? Justice? Revenge? Granted, yes, it brings us justice and it gives us a sense of vengeance.But then again, all these things shall pass.The best punishment I could give to a mass murderer is life imprisonment. In fact, it is way more brutal than execution. It is brutal because he will live till he dies in PRISON. He’ll never see the outside world, he’ll forever be haunted and thinking of all the things he has done for the rest of his life.

  49. Some people are born to sing, some to dance; he was born to kill. Maybe in another life, he may have been more useful for society. In current times, he doesn’t belong.

  50. You have to have some sort of disorder where your morale part of your brain is impaired to even get to the point of cold blooded murder. There are a lot of sociopaths out there — some of them become shark-like salesmen, but the ones that end up mass-murdering are much too dangerous to tolerate. As for the question of whether he should die (let me rephrase it… whether our streets would be safer with him in a casket), then the answer is absolutely yes. 

  51. This kid kind of reminds me of the movie HALLOWEEN. Michael Myers killed his dad, his sister and her sister’s boyfriend when he was 10 years old i think. I think it’s both. He was born without a conscience and then he was brought up without anyone teaching him whether what he’s doing is wrong or wrong. And he probably lack tender, love and care that’s why the little prick decided to kill people out of god knows what.But i still think a death penalty is not the way to go. He’s still a kid. He’s still got the potential to change. Maybe some therepy would do the trick..Reclusion perpetua would also be okay. Let the kid suffer.XD

  52. If the murderer has no physical (brain, hormonal, etc) pathology, we can be sure that society forged him as a criminal. Of course he must pay and get his share of REAL suffering, so that he realises the pain he caused for others. But then, after the hell of say 15 years of confinement, society must take the lead, accepting its share of responsability in that guy’s antisocial behavior. Punishment must be seen as a deal, a covanent between the criminal and the community that created him. Punishment musn’t be a second word for marginalisation or disposal. And of course in any case death penalty should be out of question. We’re not murderers, we do not rob people who robbed us… The guy is socially sick. Thus he must be taken care. Yes taken care and not killed or subjected to hate.

  53. Fuck executions. This kid need a good ten to twenty years of suffering. And some intense retraining. He was probably raised to think he was doing the right thing. People can always learn. When kids are numbed to certain things, they don’t see them as a logical adult would.

  54. there are two glaring aspects to this hypotheses…his mother is a crack addict and most likely abused drug during her pregnancy.What could this have done to his genetic,chemical,physical disposition? The obvious “nurture” part of this sad story  most likely did have an impact on the decisions he made.His parents didn’t want him, the Bloods did. He was nurtured in an “anti-social” way to survive. His need to be a “part of something” fueled his instinct to kill. His environmental circumstances demand that caring for another human beings life is nonessential and probably even a THREAT to belonging to his group.I believe anyone can be rehabilitated if willing. 13 yr olds are impressionable and have a tendency to conform a little easier than an adult. Lifers in prison find God. Who is to say if he is or isn’t a candidate to recovery? I sure as hell wouldn’t want it to be me.Only time would tell.great post…went with my morning coffee 😉

  55. I think it’s a combination of both nature and nurture. I’m against the death penalty, so I’d give him life without parole.

  56. With this case, I think it’s nurture. While I do believe nature and nurture do play their parts in everyone’s lives, the kid was raised in violence. As for the death penalty, I don’t think it’s a punishment. Living with one’s crimes locked away for life is more fitting.

  57. I am so not reading 74 comments before I make my own. Sorry. :pI believe that mankind is inherently fallen and intrinsically valuable. I don’t believe we are intrinsically good. I believe we have fallen from our intended existence and become rebellious rulebreakers. I also believe that each person is valuable, regardless of their actions–each person is “worth” saving. There is no such thing as extra or unnecessary people. I believe that our environment plays a huge part in molding who we are, especially when we are young (there’s your nurture)–however, I do not believe that our environment removes personal responsibility. I believe each person is responsible for their actions because I believe that there are objective moral standards. To me, when I read about a young man like this, I see a fallen nature that has been nurtured into an evil lifestyle. I also see a person worth saving. There may be layers of pain and whatever around the worthwhile part of him, but that part of him is still in there.As for the death penalty aspect, that seems to beg the question “does age matter?” I’m not sure. I haven’t given that question much thought. I suppose all we can do is take each case on its own when it comes to determining whether someone should be put to death for the murders already committed. In my own emotional thinking, I would prefer that the young man have a shot at rehibilitation before receiving the death penalty, but I recognize that it’s a completely emotionally-driven response on my part.~V

  58. lol. everyone is born the same. you cant say . You’re born evil. you’re born arrogant..Its all about the upbringingand scientifically saying, all humans are born violent. we’re the violent beeing. We’re the only creature that kills for fun.e.g Fishing, hunting. cock fighting, bull fighting.But because we’ve been brought up by love,n a nice society. it kinda change who we arethats the reason religion exist. if theres no religion or law, people would go crazy.

  59. Both. Nature because he was born addicted to Crack Cocaine. Crack does things to the hardwiring of a babies brain, and many of them have behavior problems and learning disabilities.Nuture because none of us are born with emotions, or morals, those are things we learn ourselves by watching those around us. Obviously he didn’t have someone to show him proper morals and emotions.

  60. A nine to thirteen year old child cannot understand the finality of death. This kid needs to be punished for his actions. But we should also have mercy on him and try to rehabilitate him. He’s only a /child/. He didn’t know what he was doing!

  61. You’re not born without it. It’s all down to your early relationship with your primary caregiver. If his mother responded insensitively to his needs as a baby, this can develop into problems later in life. Seeing as he was also raised around violence, he learned how to behave violently and was never taught that it was wrong. So in this case, it’s nurture.

  62. being born a crack baby can cause sociopathy. he sounds very fucked in the head, and i dont think he’ll ever change, but i hate the death penalty. killing him does not fix killing others, it only creates more death. he needs to be kept away from others to keep the world safe, though. i think he should be given life in prison, no parole.

  63. I am more on the nurture side however I do believe that some people can have less of a conscience than others.  Born evil. IDK I doubt it.  However he is 13 so I would say no for the death penalty.  Just lock him up until he is 70 if he makes it out alive and kills again then yea death penalty.  

  64. It depends who he killed and why.  It seems that it’s a status thing with him, so there is a chance that he could be taught how to function properly if someone could find his underlying motivators and teach him how to acquire worth in a different way.  He should be separated from his family, not necessarily because they are bad, but he needs a completely new environment. I think a sociopath would be less responsive than this boy is.It’s nurture.

  65. Empathy is built in and likely of divine origin since we don’t really see it in nature (perhaps herding comes close).The empathy was trained out of this kid by his parent, the gang. As with all kids, he wants to be accepted by and please his parent, so he accepts a gangland ethic and puts it into practice to fulfill his natural need of acceptance.So the question is, can the natural order be restored? Can the learned behavior of gang-banging be unlearned, which is supressing the natural empathy? If it’s possible it will be difficult because even while the gang life is supressing one part of his nature, it is feeding another, the natural need of acceptance from the parent. At thirteen he should be saying, “I want to be just like my dad,” who may be something as innocuous as an accountant. But in fact, that’s exactly what he’s saying, I want to be like the leaders of my gang (likely the only ‘dad’ figure he knows).Actually, there might be hope for this kid. Not that I’m bothered by capital punnishment; quite the contrary, I would like to see it expanded. Yet, I think there might be hope in this case. If he were removed from the gang experience for a long enough time, and his new parent figures became a warden, prison guards, his P.O., the prison chaplin, etc., maybe empathy could be restored in time.Yet nine murders later, it certainly seems like a big maybe, so I won’t be upset if you disagree.

  66. Nurture vs. Nature is such a big deal, and honestly, I think its both and neither. I personally think that letting nurture or nature affect you is a sign of weakness at some extent. I mean, yeah, we will be shaped, but I am very different from whats in my blood and what i was taught. I overthought life and eventually got out of the lifestyle I, at a very early age, discovered was wrong. I think this kid is weak and disgusting and should get the death penalty. No matter what changes happen in his life, he will still always, to some extent, be that guy. The guy that shrugged off nine innocent peoples lives. I dont care how old you are, thats pretty fucked up.

  67. I am on the nature side; these cold-blooded bastards are born, not made, although crack probably didn’t help.  There was a really ugly murder in Columbus, IN 15 or so years back where the kid had great parents was just as crazy and dangerous.  These killers should be locked up in the deepest, darkest hole there is and never let out.  The architecture of their minds are completely different.  They are usually Borderline/Sociopaths.But I cannot agree with execution.  First, because of all kinds of constitutional/humanitarian/social-cultural reasons.  But if you accept the nature argument how can you execute someone just for being what they are?

  68. wowzers!?!? were these kids in the news??? i am for nurture about 90% of the time, but at some point there is no hope. we all have good and bad in us, but some of us can’t get to the good, no matter what. some people literally feel no remorse and will never feel it.i wonder about my reincarnation theories and possibly multiple soul theories. wonder if he got a bad mix.:P

  69. ps- we should listen to his warnings. he probably knows what he is capable of and does not want it for anyone some where. it’s like recognizing your issues and handling them yourself. he knows he won’t stop. he admitted it. but maybe we could lock him up and use his brain. pick it apart and use him to predict of psychopaths. but then criminals commit crimes from behind bars now days.

  70. i tend to think it’s both. i don’t really know how i feel about the death penalty for him, though. it is fairly common, i believe, for crack babies and children who are born with fetal alcohol syndrome to be more or less without a conscience. something about what the drugs/alcohol does to fetal brains inhibits this basic human function. i have a cousin like that. i guess in that case (where nature, more or less has shorted a child of a necessary attribute- though, since it was the mother who basically poisoned her child you could make the argument it had a bit to do with nurture), the child could be taught to know the difference between right and wrong but you could never instill that feeling into them where right and wrong have emotional consequences. the thing is, because these kids are born to alcoholics or crack addicts, the nurture part is usually lacking as well (sadly, even if they get put in foster homes the situation doesn’t always improve). so i think it’s kind of hard to separate because both elements are present (bad nature and poor nurture). most things in life are not so easily dileneated, as MattFreakinNix points out. the fact is this kid had a lot of things going against him. which, as you, vanedave, mentioned, begs the question of how a lot of people in similar circumstances manage to rise above them and become better, stronger people? this question’s been on my mind a lot lately because i have yet, in my 25 years of life, to figure out how both my father and my husband rose above the poor examples of their own fathers and became much better men, husbands, and dads than the examples they were given. what makes one person become part of the environment they were raised in and another decide to make something better of himself and his life? good question.:)

  71. Interesting comments above. I have worked with simple learning issues with young children that parents and teachers had basically complained about, but did nothing. They frankly didn’t want to take the time it takes to help the child.  A bit of time and honest communication opened bright new doors for the student. I would always lay out the fact that it was up to them, the child, to step over the hill that they thought impossible.  That said, this issue is a child who has killed and felt it right because of lack of compassion and learned behavior.  If someone could reach him and I mean spend the time to start all over like a wild stray cat who needs to be calmed and taught that the world is not a evil place trying to “get him” so he has to “get” them first then he might have a chance.  Nurture needs an opportunity for this child who was left behind further than any of us can imagine.

  72. @Ayliana87 – i have a feeling you haven’t been around many newborn babies if you really think none of us are born with emotions (or morals, for that matter, but that’s a different discussion). babies exhibit emotional responses at a very early age (before they start mimicking their parents, even) to many different stimuli. i’m not saying i disagree that nurture is a big deal, but every person is born with their own personality and tendancies.:)

  73. This is amusing seeing as the nature of, and the nurturing received by every single person posting plays a significant roll in the determined answers they’re giving on a subject of nature vs nurture.  The sociological implications ranging form race, religion, social-economic status all the way to nutritional choices affects our beliefs and standards, our ability to logically process the violent crimes this child has committed and determine why we believe he committed them.  I’m a tad more curious as to what his specific answers were to the question why? To know what his beliefs are.

  74. It’s very definitely both.Nature, because humans in general are evil. Does a child naturally pick up after himself, eat his vegetables, and go to be without complaining? Hardly. In addition, as was pointed out, he was a crack baby. That means fundamental chemistry differences that he would have to overcome.Nurture, because he grew up in an environment where all this was normal to him.As to whether or not he should get the death penalty. . . My initial thought is yes, because he’s obviously proud of his crimes, and wouldn’t hesitate to commit more. I know he’s young and doesn’t have his judgment fully formed, but. . . it’s not like he has any intention of being a productive person. He doesn’t seem to want to be rehabilitated.It’s a hard situation.

  75. @follow_home – Of course they exhibit emotional responses… To thier own needs. They exhibit fear, distress, and pain, and sometimes disgust. A newborn baby has no concept of the world outside of his own body. It’s only with continued neurological and physical growth, observation and imitation that a baby is able to learn how to express emotion, as well as right and wrong.Next time you’re playing with a child (9-15months) do this: In the middle of play, while you’re both laughing and smiling, deadpan for thirty seconds. You’ll confuse the hell out of the child. Why? Because at the same time you two were playing and enjoying yourselves, the child was also taking social cues from you as what’s enjoyable and what’s not.

  76. @mrsprosa – With the death penalty it means this kid won’t rack up a 10th kill.As for the families, the suffering is there whether the murderer is alive or not. It doesn’t get easier just because the kid who killed your loved one is still allowed to breathe. I believe the punishment should fit the crime. A murderer deserves to die. A child molester and baby raper deserves to die. An eye for an eye. This situation doesn’t seem like it was a mistake or an accident. It seems like a constant pattern of behavior. I vote for the death penalty. When people say that they don’t understand how it has to be one way or the other, black or white, good or bad…well it’s both because nature is both. There is the balance. There are rules. When those rules are broken then consequences arise. When an action is taken that is so drastic, like murder, that it changes the balance of society then an equal reaction is needed to bring order.

  77. @Ayliana87 – agreed that it’s to their own needs, but your comment sounded like you thought they had none at all. maybe we’re on the same page and just stating it different ways? i guess what i was trying to say is that you don’t have to teach a child how to feel (or even how to express some basic emotions), but i will agree that they do learn how to express more complex emotions later on. all i’m getting at is it’s not like babies are born as completely blank slated emotionless robots. and no two babies are going to be exactly alike, even at birth. individuality is something we’re born with. there are some things my daughter never had to be taught not to like. she’s only ticklish in certain places, and some facial expressions make her laugh while others don’t ellicit any response. children absolutely learn the complexities of social interaction, emotion, and humor from their environments and circumstances, but we can’t discount the fact that some of these things have roots which are inherent and unique to each person.:)

  78. @lilbit – I don’t agree at all- and I wasn’t talking to the family of the victim, I was talking about the family of the suspect or killer.How about if someone in your family was accused of murder and the Government decided to take his or her life?Life is important- murderer or saint. It is not up to human to take another human life out of God’s hands. If anything, they are committing the same crime- Murder. An eye for an eye doesnt do shit but leave us all blind.

  79. i absolutly belive in the nurture in this case…and in almost ever case ive heard of…there is a sort of switch in our brains that tell us good or bad…a feeling of wrong doing…buttt…i belive if any experiance in life is powerfull enough to take that “switch” away…that person will do watever they feel regardless. the award winning movie SLUMDOG MILLIONARE is a great example…the main charictor (i cant spell) and his brother grew up in the same situation but i belive the older brother had more pressure to support his survivng family without his mother…

  80. @lilbit – Still disagree. I on the other hand think no one “deserves” to die….Murderers, rapists, etc will be judged by their god on Judgment Day.Killing is wrong, no matter if its a person, or a Government of people pulling the plug on someones life.What about the Wrongfully accused? Statistics say that 1 out of every 7 inmates waiting on Death Row were found innocent.The Death Penalty has not made the crime rate go down -it is actually 6 times higher than Britain – they don’t have the death penalty. TX has twice the murder rate than Wisconsin-and Wisconsin also doesn’t have the death penalty. Killing murderers doesn’t solve the problem.Lastly, Excecutions cost 4X as much as imprisonment. If we were to kill all murderers, where would america be today?

  81. I honestly think it’s a mix of both, which makes this debate very complicated. I saw a mention of the death penalty. I’m trying to get my discussion blog going and have two topics on the morality of the death penalty and also on the cost of it. Stop by and give an opinion!

  82. @mrsprosa – I think you’re asking if someone in my family was convicted of murder? If someone in my family made that choice then the death penalty is a strong possibility since we live in Texas. I work for the government so I have to respect the laws that are enacted for the state. Would I want to see someone in my family die? No. But if someone put themselves in that situation where the consequence is death.. it means they bring it on themself.I don’t believe that enacting and enforcing laws are taking it out of God’s hands. There are people that deserve to die for what they’ve done. Bin Laden, Hitler, Manson, Dahmer, Hussein, Casey Anthony, Susan Smith, Melissa Huckabee…quite a long list of people that deserve to die. With the court and judicial system it is up to humans to enforce those laws onto other humans. An eye for an eye leaves us all blind? No. Ever seen the scales of justice where she wears a blindfold? It is intended for it to appear unbiased and “blind” but that is never so since justice is often carried out and sentences imposed by jurors or civilians. Since we are all human that means we aren’t blind. Based on what we hear in a court case can sway our judgement one way or the other. I don’t believe that all crimes deserve the death penalty. Theft? Prostitution? Money Laundering? No. Prison time is sufficient. But in situations where you have taken the virginity of a child, killed a child, killed people because it’s fun for you then there is an express way to hell waiting for you.

  83. @mrsprosa – Executions themselves don’t cost 4 x’s as much. It’s how they do it. Rope and bullets are fairly cheap. If the murderers were executed then maybe the other idiots contemplating killing people would get the hint that we aren’t playing around. The only problem with the death penalty is it isn’t used enough. You cannot honestly compare Wisconsin and Texas in crime statistics and expect it to be the same. There is a great deal more going on in Texas i.e. drug cartels, illegal immigrants and gang activity than Wisconsin has. Now while Texas does lead the nation in 2008 statistics for executions the crime rate is completely different. St. Louis, Detroit, Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Baltimore and Oakland were all ranked well above Houston, TX. I think Texas just does something about their crooks more than other states do. The only way I would be for imprisonment is if the prisons became self sufficient again instead of relying on tax payers, which means the victim’s families, paying for the crook to survive.

  84. “Is this boy the way he is because of a lack of nurturing, or is it inherently in his nature to be this way? “if those are the only 2 explanations, why would the death penalty be an option?

  85. I think the nature vs nurture debate is pretty much over… it’s both. I’m against the death penalty, even for sociopaths. I don’t think they can be rehabilitated, I think they just need to be locked away forever.

  86. He’s a psychopath. I don’t see any reason not to give him the death penalty. As you’ve already said, he showed no remorse, they never do, but he also willingly admitted to the possibility of killing again. We pay for people to sit in prisons. It’s done by taxes. And honestly, prison isn’t as much of a hell hole as you’d like to think it is. I know some environments might be different from others, but some places you can still have access to computers, television, and all the other good stuff. I don’t think it’s fair we have to pay for their food, entertainment, etc., for them to sit there and do absolutely nothing while we get to work our butts off. However, nature vs nature? You can’t have one without the other. It’s a mix of both. Although, at the end of the day it’s still up to the individual whether or not they should or should not doing something, the nuturing in the upbringing has an influence on their decisions. I believe had the boy grown up in a different sitting he wouldn’t be the person he is today.

  87. I think it’s probably nurture, and he could just be a sociopath. Maybe he was born with some defect, a lack of something in the brain that imposes a conscience upon him. Either way I think he should definitely get life without parole. Because what’s the point of living if it’s going to be all spent in a prison? He would be asking for the death penalty after some amount of time.

  88. I think it’s possible for someone to be a result of both nature AND nurture.And I’d go for the death penalty, hands down. He BLEW his chances. He’s not 9 anymore, he is a young adult; Old enough to control his actions regardless if he was a crack baby or not. Not to mention he didn’t even beg for remorse, he was proud of his actions.

  89. I don’t believe in double definitions for adult.  I don’t think you should be tried as an adult if you don’t have the rights and responsibilities of an adult.  The reasons we don’t give children the rights and responsibilities of adults is because they don’t have developed enough brains to cope with all that adults do.  So why should we expect them to be just as responsible, even when committing especially heinous crimes.  That being said, on the nature side of things, being born a crack baby already (I am sure) deformed a part of his brain development.  The kid never had a chance which is a real shame because neither did the people he killed.  It is possible that he could be rehabilitated, depending how much damage his brain has suffered and how well he reacts to medications and therapy (as well as how much he desires to). In any case I think giving a 13 year old kid the death penalty is sick.  And I am not anti-death penalty on principle.  But 13 year old kids have made very few choices in their lives on their own, no matter who they are or what they do. Try the “adults” who were supposed to be raising him with murder, sounds like the child is more of a mindless weapon in their manipulative hands.

  90. Im not a supporter for the death penalty. I believe if someone really wanted the 13 year old boy to die, they would kill him. Thats the only way I feel someone should should die. I think it was his nature that did this to him. His mother should have had an abortion or given him up for adoption if she couldnt take care of him.I think this could be fixed with lots of therapy, care, love, and medication. Oh yes, and healthy food.

  91. I believe all people are born evil, but God has also given us a conscience so we know that when we do evil it is wrong.  Because we live in a fallen world, we can also have mental problems that impede that conscience.  Not to be un-PC, but chances are being a crack-baby caused that kid to have mental instability, which is probably the reason he became a serial killer.  I once watched a documentary on serial killers and the vast majority of them have mental problems.That said, I do not have a definitive opinion one way or the other on whether he should receive the death penalty or just a long prison sentence with lots of counseling.  Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not the judge for that case.

  92. Normally I’d say that the little bastard should just rot in prison for the rest of his life for what he’s done, simply because it’s more of a punishment for most people than facing excecution.  But given that he shows absolutely NO emotion or remorse, I don’t think prison will have that impact upon him.  As such, I’m gonna lean towards giving him the death penalty. At the age of 13, one knows right from wrong, and even when a kid desperately wants to be accepted by a given crowd, he has a line that he won’t cross, a conscience that says “No.  I won’t do what they want me to do.  It’s wrong.”  Kids respond like that even about things MUCH less serious than murder.  If other kids–some from backgrounds just as bad as this kid’s, some from backgrounds that are even worse–can refuse to, say, steal candy from the corner store, then why couldn’t this young man say no to cold-blooded murder?  The answer is complex, yet simple: He’s evil.  He is devoid of a conscience, and bereft of a soul.  And whether that’s as a result of nature or nurture, I don’t know.  What I do know is that people like him are like terrorists and vicious dogs:  They cannot be rehabilitated.  They cannot be changed.  The only thing that can be done to neutralize the threat they pose is to terminate their lives.  Kids like this one need to be “put down”, basically.  He’ll never hurt another human being that way.  And, as an added, extra bonus, all the little underage punk bastards who think they can go out and kill people and not get a needle in the arm because they’re under 18 will get a big wake-up call: If you kill people your age will not necessarily protect you from the death penalty.  Be smart, and don’t kill people. 

  93. I’m for a combo. Say someone’s like their mom because they’re very funny. Then say they also share some bad traits from their dad. Greediness, perhaps. If it were up to the nurture aspect, why would a person willingly pick up the bad personality trait? Personality is bred into dog breeds, isn’t it? Who says it can’t be bred into people? My dad says I’m just like my grandma. (Who died before I was born.) But then in favor of nurture, people learn behaviors as well. They learn to be polite, and how to behave in public. Humans aren’t born with the knowledge of how to act in public, they learn that kind of stuff when they’re young.As for that demon child, I’m not for the death penalty. That’s just a way out, in my eyes. That little Michael Myers deserves life in prison. I do think that his killing was an effect of “nurture” though. He was raised around violence. Like learning how to be polite when a person is young, violence isn’t a personality trait, IMO. It’s a learned behavior.

  94. It’s a combination of both nurture and nature– the environment triggering a response in chemical levels.I feel pretty bad for this child, though, and all the victims. I don’t think death penalty should be the solution– I think life in prison would suit him better.

  95. @c_jamaica – You’re right. I worked both with deth row people and life sentenced ones. Life in prison is TRUELY more comparable to hell than just being killed. Waiting the execution day can be tollerated by intellectualisation “I could have been also killed in a car accident”. You get yourself an identity: “I’m the one who was executed, or died in a car accident”. But life enpironement destroys your identity. You cannot say who you are, waht are your anchoring points, where you’re going, and why!!!!!! It’s like getting a PERMANENT teenager identity crisis.

  96. I fail to see how the nature vs. nurture distinction makes a difference to our intuitions about this example. Whether it’s upbringing or genetics, in either case it is external influences that have caused him to turn out this way. 

  97. @toriwithani – He’s a psychopath, you can’t help him. He’ll kill again, and again with no remorse each time. He’ll feel pride when he shouldn’t, he’s aware of every move he makes. It’s a bragging right to him. It doesn’t matter how many times you attempt to help him, it’s a useless endeavour. He has no conscience, and will never have one.Death penalty will make sure he stays off the street, and who’s to say he’s not capable of killing once he’s inside the prison? It won’t matter to him. It’s a game to him, he gets to play around.Nature vs Nature:  You can’t have one without the other. They both go hand in hand. I believe nuturing does influence the sense of right and wrong on a person, but I also believe each individual can develop their own opinion on the sense of right and wrong opposite to what they’ve been taught. I’ve heard some pretty crap butt stories about a kid who grew up in foster care, got into drugs, prostitution, stealing, all kinds of crap, but then later in life realized the mistakes they were making and turned their life around. Found something to believe in that would take them away from the horrors life has to offer. I’ve also heard the stories about kids who’s parents were drug addicts, maybe their mom did work the streets at night, they’ve been abused, but they still choose to rise above and beyond what people expect them to, and make it.

  98. @ToxicAddict – Yes obviously, I get that genetic disorders can result in something that is “actually” wrong with the brain. Similarly, environment can play a tremendous role, particularly in the formative years, in how the brain is shaped and result in something being “actually” wrong with the brain. In both cases, whether it is genetics or environment, the disorder is not a result of anything that the individual chose, and in that sense it is external to person in question.

  99. I think he was predisposed to his condition (lack of remorse) and his upbringing nurtured it.Or maybe he’s just a psychopath, and in that case he probably can’t be treated. Life in prison is better than the death penalty, but he’ll probably have to be separated from the general population so he doesn’t kill another inmate.

  100. First off, on principle, I don’t believe in the death penalty full stop. It’s not that I think this kid can or cannot be rehabilitated, I just don’t think it’s ever a solution.  The answer to the “nature vs nurture” debate is on holiday with the answer to “what is the meaning of life” question.  If you find either, please send me their GPS co-ordinates.

  101. I too believe it is a combination of nature and nurture.  In this  boy’s case, after at least 9 cold-blooded killings, there is no redeeming him.  He deserves to be executed, if anyone ever has.

  102. I’d say it’s both, there have been studies that the brain patterns of a serial killer are actually different of those of a normal person. Though I’m sure if you raised a kid well with a good community and friends around him and he had the same brain patterns as a murderer, he would not end up killing anyone.

  103. I would argue nature over nurture, an “average” person (no bias implied) cannot fathom committing such heinous acts at such a young age.  Where the nature vs. nurture debate loses though, is in the realm of psychopathy which I think this boy possesses.

  104. Seriously, that kid should go to juvey or jail for a very long time. He knew what he was doing, and that it was wrong, but he liked it. Something is wrong with him. I don’t care about that Nurture/Nature stuff. I know someone who’s mom probably did drugs while she was pregnant. She did not nurture him at all. He was put down, and raised around violence. He is the least violent guy I know. He also does not do drugs. So maybe people need some common sense. There are a lot of crack babies, raised around violence. If it were the fault of not being nurtured, don’t you think there would be a lot more children like this? He needs some help. 

  105. No. Minors should never be executed, even the 17 year olds. Life imprisonment without chance for parol? Absolutely. If he were an adult convicted of premeditated murder, let him ride the lightning.

  106. i’m undecidedi don’t think anybody has the right to kill anyone so it would be wrong for us to kill himbut if i was the family i would want justice. so i would put him in jail on a life sentence that way when he dies on his own God can sort him out.

  107. If the boy killed one person, I’d say he would need to go to a prison, but nine? He’s 13. The way he’s been brought up…no matter what someone’s nature is as a person, it can always be broken. I’ve known the most happiest people, by nature, that have crumbled down because of environmental changes. I don’t believe in the death penalty, because people can change. 13 is what….grade 7? He’s a middle schooler. Not even a high schooler. People aren’t born without a conscience. Maybe I’m just basing that off of everyone I’ve ever met (not a significant amount to really generalise from), but… the only evil that the boy can be compared with, if people really think he’s evil…well, that’s just stories. Movie characters. Maybe he is ‘evil’, but he’s a child. If he’s always been taught this, then he probably doesn’t know what wrong is, and what his actions are causing. Locking him up in a mental institution…Well, I think he needs help, and definitely needs to be mentally assessed by a psychaiatrist, so maybe staying in a psychiatric hospital may have a positive affect on him. I’d think he’d need mental health help for the best part of his life. Locking him in prison or killing him wouldn’t do anything but get rid of a problem you can’t solve or understand. …At least, that’s what I think the death penalty does. I think nature and nurture both play a part, but nurture more so.

  108. the kid is so obviously a cold blooded murderer!  i see no reason for him to practically become a celebrity  for murdering NINE PEOPLE!!!  he said that he would kill again, so why would anyone who wasn’t completely off their rocker even begin to think that he would ever have a chance of rehabilitation?!?!oh yes, and may i add that i do not think the kid deserves to die.  what he deserves is to do hard time in a maximum securiity prison for the rest of his worthless little delinquint life.  he needs to feel worse than his victims did, he needs to feel like dieing is the only answer.sorry if i went a little over board.  i just hake murderers and criminals in general, even people in the army.

  109. I’d have to say that I can’t decide if the boy should be killed. I’d have to say no, but it’s all God’s choice. Both nature and nuture played a part. Your personality affects how you act, think, feel, etc., but you are naturally nurtured into those thoughts and behaviors by society or your significant others. MattFreakinNix is correct in the fact that the boy might have a severe sociological/psychological disorder, and that he doesn’t feel guilt, or feel that his actions are justified. More than likely, he found that the only way to survive was through helping the gang out in any way possible, which, obviously, led to murder. Maybe they could rehabilitate this kid to fit into society again. There are a few uncommon (but not unheard of) miracle stories of people being led to Christ or (non-religiously) changing their life for the better, and maybe miracles can be made for this young kid. I cannot imagine the thoughts that run through his head, but I can only hope there’s one shred of humanity in him. Anyway, great discussion question!

  110. Generally speaking, I am in favor of the death penalty.  If they’d shorten the time spent on “Death Row” and kill them already we wouldn’t have nearly as many over-populated prisons.  (provided they are actually given DEATH and not LIFE).  But, in this case I think there was a sever lack of nurturing.  But this kid not showing any remorse … that seems more like a nature thing to me.  If I could pick what happened to him, I’d say a mental hospital.  Perhaps there is a chance for him to turn around with the right guidance.  I think that all these people that are given “life” should have a period of say… not more than 5-10 years where some kind of rehabilitation could be attempted.  If at the end of that time they made little or no progress… kill em’.  That’s just my opinion.  The featured weblogs usually don’t catch my attention, but this one did for some reason.  Thanks for sharing!  ❤ SuZ

  111. I have to believe that some people have been so corrupted as infants and children that their spirits are the issue, not their mind. If you only know one thing, everything else, no matter how hard you try, can be impossible to reach. Truthfully, as a christian, I believe that there is a demonic presence, if not multiple presences, that influence people who do this. Children, especially those in such bad upbringings are extremely suseptible to such influences. I don’t believe people are like that inately, nor can other people steal another humans idea of guilt. I believe on Satan can do that. Do we blame the devil, no, there are human consiquenses for all of our actions. I believe he should be put to death only because he shows no remorse. repentance requires guilt and the desire for change. He obviously doesn’ t feel any remores and thus in my opinion is un”rehabilitatable.”  I don’t believe remorse can be taught. Only right and wrong can be taught. the feelings of guilt cannot. Some people are born with disorders or mental illnesses of this nature, but I believe very much that it is spiritual issue as well.   

  112. I go for nuture. The boy is only 13 years old. He might need some mental help but he doesn’t deserve the death penalty. Also he will get what he deserves later and not now.

  113. Hm… this sounds like a case of Anti-Social Personality Disorder (a nice way of putting Sociopath). Kids like this are just so sad, because they honestly have no understanding of human emotions, and it is very difficult to treat this disorder because they don’t feel there is anything wrong with them. This diagnosis is part of the nature argument. However, I’ve done volunteer work in the South side of Chicago and I have seen first hand the nurture aspect of our development, especially in that environment. I spoke with six year olds who were teaching me gang signs and talking about when they were going to get “inducted”. But nurture does not affect behavior to the extent of that seen in the boy in your example, hence the nature argument, with a diagnosible psychological (or biological, if you look at the structure and functioning of the brain) problem.I think that nature and nurture both influence who we are and what we become in different ways. But I’m against the death penatly in all cases, so… my opinion on the nature/nurture debate doesn’t really influence my opinion on the death penatly.There’s my two cents on that.

  114. I think he’s evil.  He may not have meant to be, but he is now, nature, nurture.  It’s all irrelevant, because he’s said it himself, he’s going to kill again.  At least he’s honest.

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  116. @ToxicAddict – You can play the semantic game if you like. Obviously there are senses in which it is internal and senses in which it is external. My point very simply, as I specified, is that it is external to the person in the sense that it is external to any choices that the person makes. That’s all.

  117. It doesn’t matter either way to me. The boy killed those people in cold blood, and is apparently ready to kill more; he should be put to death, or something just as horrible. This is why I hate the insanity plea. That person has done something horrible once, there’s no guarantee they won’t do it again. Punish them, for crying out loud. It’s like putting a molester or rapist through “theropy”. They may stop for a while, but they’ll do it again, I have no doubt about that.

  118. This is like something taken out of Natural Born Killers. I don’t think the boy could benefit any more from life in prison than he could from the death penalty. Even in prison, he’d continue to develop in a violent environment.   

  119. I think there is something wrong with the question. Nature and Nurture constantly interact; neither dominates the other. Nor is that which is nurture always easier to change than that which is nature: My genetic myopia can be fully corrected by a pair of glasses, but I’ll probably never be able to speak fluent Mandarin. In this case, clearly we should try to save this child, teach him to live a fulfilling life in society—if we find something genetic at work, try medication!—but there is always the chance that we will not succeed.

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