Research Findings of the Week: The Onion reports that a recent study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry concludes that 98 percent of children under age 10 are unrepentant sociopaths who are incapable of empathy, genuine remorse and will do anything to get their own way. To quote Dr. Leonard Mateo, a developmental psychologist at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the study, "It's as if they have no concept of anyone but themselves."
Using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, a reputable clinical tool, Mateo and his colleagues found that 684 of the 700 children enrolled in the study exhibited such sociopathic characteristics as superficial charm, pathological lying, manipulative behaviors (e.g. whining and tantrums), and a grandiose sense of self.
"The depths of depravity that these tiny psychopaths are capable of reaching are really quite chilling, " commented Mateo.
Of special interest to me was the study's finding that although any adult is capable of falling for a child's pathological scheming, grandparents are especially susceptible.
Much to our chagrin, my wife and I immediately recognized ourselves and resolve to never again enable our seven grandkids' anti-social tendencies. To quote the inimitable Peter Townsend, "We won't be fooled again!"
OK, the Onion is a spoof. But anyone who has ever lived with children will surely recognize the grain of truth contained in these ersatz findings.
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