I was watching a documentary a while back on Jeffrey Dahmer. For most of us that name is synonymous with evil. We all know he committed horrible, unthinkable acts. While I was watching this documentary, they had a section that showed pictures of him as a happy baby and as a little boy. When I saw these photos of Jeffrey Dahmer, the child, I started crying, and continued to cry through the rest of the documentary. The fact is, all of us begin this life as innocent children. Jeffrey Dahmer didn't start out as a monster, but as a sweet, little boy with infinite possibilities...who knows what events transpired that helped shape him into what he became. Don't get me wrong, I don't attempt to absolve him of any responsibility. There came a point, or perhaps several points, where he stood at a crossroads and had to choose. He made his choices and he deserves to pay for them...but I still remember the pictures of that little boy and can't help but wonder what went wrong.

We all start out life innocent. There's no such thing as a bad baby. A child is largely the product of his/her environment. Failures in the behavior of young children are often a direct reflection of failures on the part of adults who are responsible for them. It breaks my heart when I see the way we are failing our children. There is a reason kids are going on killing sprees. There is a reason why so many young people are lost and without direction. These days, children often spend more time with daycare workers, the television set and video games then they do with their parents. They are seldom taught instrumental lessons on being accountable for their actions. They aren't given boundaries, have little to believe in and no one to look up to...unless you count the "heroes" they find on T.V..

Having watched the Dahmer documentary, my outlook changed a bit. I don't minimize acts of evil, but I can't help when I look at the people who commit them, remembering that they were once innocent children. True, they grew up to be monsters, but I can't help but wonder what they might have been if their lives had been different. Just like I can't help but wonder how much different young people today would be if society wasn't so screwed up, if families weren't gasping their last breath, if fundamental morality hadn't been discarded......

I also watched a while back, the movie 'Monster', portraying the life of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos. You have no doubt after watching 'Monster' that, while Aileen Wuornos was a murderer, she was also a victim. Great pains are taken to show the horrible abuse she suffered as a child; great pains are taken to make the audience realize that, indeed, monsters are not born, but created. Now let's look at stories of male serial killers like Jefferey Dahmer and Ted Bundy. Yes, they too were monsters, but I don't remember anybody ever trying to humanize them. I don't remember efforts being made to show that they, too, were victims. Why is it that when female serial killer comes along, efforts are made to make people understand, even empathize with her, but we seem to be more than happy to label male serial kiilers as the monsters they are and just leave it at that? Aileen Wuornos deserved to pay for her crimes, just like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy did. They were ALL once sweet, innocent children just as they are all responsible for the actions, choices and decisions they made as adults. If we're going to bother trying to humanize and understand women who commit such acts; to comprehend the events that transpired and turned them into monsters, then why wouldn't we do the same for men? Perhaps it's because we're much too comfortable giving to men the title of 'monster'.

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