Honors Blog #2- Morals (As If)

Karina Kosmala, Arts and Entertainment Editor

In the book As If, journalist, Blake Morrison, evaluates the 1993 James Bulger case where two-year old James Bulger was beat by Jon Venables and Robert Thompson and left on the train tracks to die. The court simply wants to answer whether or not the boys committed the crime, whereas, Blake Morrison wants to further investigate the story into why did the boys commit the crime and what lies behind the answers of the “experts” of  Venables and Thompson psychologists and their teachers.

One articles that I read that connects with this book is “How Parents Influence Early Moral Development” by Jill Suttie, Psy.D. (Huffington Post). The article shares the study that the brain activity of toddlers has a sharp increase in their evaluation of right and wrong and not just “paying attention to.” However, not all toddlers showed the same brainwave patterns, which is impacted by their parent’s views toward justice. Predictions could be that the brainwave activity is impacted by the environment the toddler is raised in or genetics. This study somewhat contradicts Morrison’s disbelief that children know the difference between right and wrong from an early age, and that Jon Venables and Robert Thompson didn’t know their actions where considered wrong.

Another article that I read that connects with this book is “The Norway town that forgave and forgot its child killers”. The article shares the case of 1994 Silje Redergard who was beaten and left to freeze to death. This case is compared to that of James Bulger; however, the differences between them is the relationships that Silje Redergard knew her the people before they killed her, whereas Venables and Thompson didn’t know James Bulger. There is also a difference in the way it was treated by the court. In Britain, the law is that “no child under ten can be held accountable for a crime.” However, between the age of 10 and 14, they can be held “accountable” if they knew they were committing the crime. On the other hand, in Norway, Silje Redergard’s killers were contacted by child protection services until the reach the age of 18 where they are considered adults. This case connects to my book’s case because it shows the way these issues are treated.