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It’s every parent’s nightmare – could your child have no conscience? A study from the University of New South Wales suggests that psychopathic traits can be identified in children as young as three. Learn the warning signs.
“We both have kids,” Plastic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon says to Urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman, “And we’ve seen our kids do some stuff like, what is this, Damian here? Call the exorcist!” But although all kids sometimes do things they shouldn’t, Dr. Berman notes that certain behavior, like animal cruelty, is a red flag.
Psychotherapist Dr. Jenn Mann notes, “First of all, ‘psychopath’ is no longer really a DSM category. We’re talking about anti-social personality disorder, which can’t really be diagnosed until a child is 18.” She’s concerned that children are becoming less empathetic because they’re exposed to too much media. “Kids witness more than 100,000 murders by the time they graduate from elementary school, and I think it dulls their senses.”
“But do you really a think a three-year-old is sitting there watching the news truly comprehending this?” wonders ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork. “Or do we have to face the reality that there’s a genetic predisposition for some children to become antisocial?”
“If you identify it from an early age, what can you really do about it?” asks Dr. Stork. “Teach empathy from an early age,” answers Dr. Mann. “I think some of it is hardwired, but that’s the exception to the rule.” She believes that good parenting is where children learn empathy.
“There’s certainly a lot more to learn,” concludes Dr. Stork.