Saturday, June 21, 2014

Crazy Cat Strikes Again

Lux  is a 22 pound house cat in Oregon that has been dubbed by authorities "most aggressive cat in the world."  Some are calling it evil.

After attacking a 7-month old baby, the cat then kept it's family and the family dog barricaded in a room, too scared to open the door, hissing at them when they tried to leave.  They had to call the police to come and rescue them.

Needless to say, following this episode the cats original family gave her up.  Now, after being adopted by a new family, it is once again being sent back to the shelter for it's violent behavior.  As a repeat offender, Lux has likely earned himself a death sentence and will be put to sleep.

Animals can be unpredictable.  Sometimes they save us, and other times they attack for some unknown reason.  We love them, but we need to remember they are not people.  Visit our website for more information about pets and kids.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Do Concealed Weapons Stop Mass Shootings?

After every mass shooting, and after Newtown especially, there is always a sizable portion of people who believe the key to security lies in ensuring the "good guys" are armed and can fight back.  People want our kindergarten teachers to be packing heat, they think we should place armed guards outside of schools, and they want more citizens carrying concealed weapons when this happens, then we'll be safe, they say.  It's a nice delusion.

Last week's Las Vegas shooting is a perfect illustration of the futility in this approach.  Both police officers killed had guns.  Having guns did not save them.  Next the shooters went to a Wal-Mart, where 1 more man was shot and killed.  What isn't being talked about much in the media is that this person who was killed was a concealed weapon carrier.  He tried to confront the gunman, and when he went for his weapon, he was shot and killed.  This isn't surprising: in studies of simulated shooting, having a concealed weapon just makes you more likely to die.  Since the shooter has a head start, he (or she) nearly always comes out on top.

People are fond of guns because they provide the illusion of control.  When you have a gun, you feel powerful.  You feel safe.  You feel like you can take on anyone.  But of course, feelings are not fact.  Not only were concealed weapons useless in stopping this shooting, but there's a good chance it added to the body count.  Since the shooters in this particular case had a vendetta against the police and government, not private citizens, it's more than likely that had this man fled like everyone else, he would still be alive today.  (Cashiers in the front had no problem escaping, had these two been inclined to kill citizens, there were plenty of easy targets in both locations.)

We just felt it necessary to point this out.  This is precisely the type of senseless shooting that gun advocates love to point to as a reason for why everyone should carry a weapon.  If only victims had a weapon, they say, they could have defended themselves and stopped the massacre.  Yet here we have 3 people with guns, and all 3 people are dead.  Not one of them even came close to thwarting the attack.

Gun advocates love to gloss over messy examples like this.  But this is the common outcome, and it paints a more sobering reality of the "more guns = more safety" myth.

Learn more about gun safety for kids.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Shady Line Between Reality and Fantasy

As the details of the Wisconsin Slenderman case start to emerge, it keeps getting more disturbing.  It turns out one girl was only eleven, not twelve. Statements allegedly made to the police are downright chilling.  One girl is reported to have said that she knows she should have felt something, and that something should have been sympathy, during the attack, but that she didn't really feel anything as the victim screamed bloody murder.

Her sidekick allegedly said, "The good part of me wanted her to live, but the bad part of me wanted her to die."  Both statements exhibit a certain amount of sociopathic behavior.  Furthermore, a rather eccentric interest of one girls father (pictures of skulls around the house, heavy immersion into horror) has added plenty of fodder for the finger pointers and media hounds.  Its also been reported that the ringleader of the pair believed she was communicating telepathically to Slenderman, and stated that if she didn't commit this murder, Slenderman would come and murder her entire family.  The pair thought they were being called upon to be proxy's of Slenderman.

Belief in the Supernatural, and the Shady Line Between Reality and Fantasy
One of my pet peeves is when psychologists talk about how silly children are when they engage in magical thinking . . . say by assuming their own bad thoughts can cause someone else to die.  The same psychologists will go home and pray at night -- believing (with not hint of irony) that mere thoughts will bring about a change in the physical world.  The only difference between kids and adults is the sophistication of the idea.  One we give validity too, the other we dismiss as silly.  It's all magical thinking in one form or another, in that it all professes a faith in things beyond the physical realm.

The Slenderman phenomenon presents a similar situation.  People act shocked and intrigued that two young girls could believe in a comic book character.  Yet most of these same people, if you interviewed them, would profess a belief in one or many of the following: Big Foot, alien visitation, ghosts, spirit people, communication with the dead, shadow people, guardian angles, horoscopes, werewolves, or any of the other proof-less phenomenon out there.  Looked at in that light, it suddenly doesn't seem so extraordinary that these girls might believe that Slenderman was real and was talking to them.  In fact, it's telling that since the story broke, people everywhere have been seeing glimpses of Slendeman -- their brain assigning his form to dark shadows.

Humans are magical thinkers by nature, and beliefs can kill.  Carl Jung once remarked that hostile beliefs have caused more death and destruction in this world than all the plagues and natural disasters combined.  Cases like this should be a sober reminder of the power of belief.  This doesn't just apply to the occasional psychopath -- it's true for all of us.

Beliefs can take hold of our psyche and transform our reality, and sometimes disappear just as quickly, leaving us wondering how we could have acted so foolish.  Lets hope that's the case with these girls, and that they someday get the chance to atone for their mistake.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Slenderman Strikes Again

In Hamilton, Ohio, a 13-year-old girl was arrested for stabbing her mother multiple times in another apparent Slenderman inspired attack.  The mother reports that when she came home from work one night, her daughter was waiting for her in the kitchen wearing a white mask and a hoodie. The girl then went after her, stabbing the woman over and over again.  She survived.

The mother says she doesn't know who it was in her daughters' body that night, but that "it wasn't her."  The girl, who is now in a juvenile detention center, says she has no memory of the event.

This 13-year-old has a history of mental health problems, and it is suspected this might be a copycat incident: a troubled girl, inspired by all the media attention these other girls were receiving, decided to follow suite.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Slenderman Stabbing: What Motivated Two 12-Year-Old Girls To Attempt A Horror Killing

Two 12-year-old girls were arrested for allegedly luring a third girl, also 12, into the woods and then stabbing her 19 times.  All three girls were friends, and the attack does not appear to be maliciously motivated.

Rather, this incident seems to be inspired  by Slender Man, an internet comic book character that stars in horror genre.  Authorities alleged that the girls were trying to impress Slender Man with their abilities.

Thankfully, the girl who was stabbed survived.  She was able to crawl away to a nearby road, where she was discovered by a biker.  She is listed in stable condition at the hospital.

It is a disturbing incident in more ways than one.  Not only for the creepiness of 2 teenage girls aspiring to murder their friend to fulfill a horror fantasy, but the fact that the victim was stabbed so many times.  Unlike firearm assaults, stabbings are up-close and personal, and to stab someone repeatedly, thrusting the knife in again after the victim cries out, requires at least a temporary absence of empathy. Usually its rage that shuts down empathy, but it can also be abandoned out of group affiliation or various beliefs.  This is why bullying is such a problem.  Even otherwise nice kids can do horrifically cruel things when either armed with why the victim deserves it, or cloaked in group affiliations that promote an "us versus them" mentality.

Sensational Life Versus Reality
By 12, all three of these girls can distinguish between real consequences and make believe.  That isn't the problem as some pundits have suggested.  If what has been said can be believed, it's the strong identification with this character that is at issue. A character that is somewhat odd, but also clever, witty, and especially powerful -- exerting his will over others -- can be an alluring archetype for youths this age.

Another problem is even for kids perfectly capable of distinguishing between real and fantasy, fantasy can seem so much more appealing than reality.  Especially in today's sensationalized society, many kids run into problems when they compare their own relatively dull lives to the drama they are exposed to through reality TV or other types of media.  They feel that there is something missing, or that their life should be something more.  They get the idea that every persons reality should resemble a TV script.  It is this confusion about what a normal life should entail that causes problems.

Most adolescents will not try to murder someone in an attempt to fit their life into an exciting script.  All teens do, however, bring the necessary conflict into their lives (both internal and external) by confusing media normal for their own normal, it's something every parent should be aware of.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Facebook, the Family Spy

It's well known that Facebook collects and monetizes all sorts of data on it's uses.  Facebook may be a service, but you the user are actually it's product.  Facebook may know more about you than your friends and family do.  It's goal seems to be to get to know you better than you know yourself.

To this end, many people may not realize that Facebook also follows them elsewhere.  In fact, Facebook follows their users' activity on about half of the top 25 sites on the web, incorporating this information into your overall profile.

Perhaps more creepy is this; it was recently revealed that Facebook is spying on you through smart phones and webcams, listening in so as to decipher what music you like to listen to or what movies and TV shows are playing in the background.  So if you're home alone one night and get the sense that someone is watching, it's probably not a peeping Tom outside your window, but the one you invited into your home through your computer.

Check out our website for information about teaching kids internet safety.