Editor’s Note: This story is one of many submitted by Union City eighth graders as part of a gifted and talented program assignment. The stories are presented with very little editing.
Imagine a child, sitting in a dark, filthy corner, being beaten and neglected with no way of escaping the sinful, sadistic punishment that is being brought upon him or her. The child is horrified; permanently disturbed from the abuse they have just received. This is the case of many of the mentally ill patients who are incarcerated in the United States of America. Last year I participated in the Resources Offered in Gifted and Talented Education Program, or ROGATE Program, and conducted research to support my project thesis, “The making of a serial killer is caused by childhood experiences.” In order to prove my thesis, I collected different data from several resources.
My primary resources were a questionnaire and an interview with a local expert psychologist who wished to be kept anonymous. My questionnaire was given to 20 police officers, asking them questions relating to any contact that they may have had with a serial killer, and the serial killer’s behavior. I also asked if these officers have had any to multiple contacts with any serial killer. I asked these questions to gather information from men and women of the law who have had some kind of experience with a serial killer and what they had been exposed to and what they felt about their experiences. Lastly, I asked if these serial killers had committed any other felonies. I obtained a sparse amount of officers who had any contact with a serial killer. However, the questionnaire allowed me to understand that serial killers had a behavior that made it seem as if they were proud of what they had done. They were glad to be arrested, as if they had just beaten their favorite video game and received an unlockable feature. It also taught me that serial killers were never only arrested once. They had been jailed before for petty crimes multiple times. This resource taught me how exactly a serial killer behaves now that they are adults.
My second primary resource was the interview with the expert psychologist who wished to be kept anonymous. In the interview, I asked questions about a serial killer’s mental state, how childhood played a role in them being a serial killer, any particular events that may have led to their current mental state, if parents or guardians are to be held responsible, and any characteristics that they had frequently found in serial killers. These questions helped me conclude that serial killers are usually negatively influenced or affected during their childhood, and it may cause mental damage. I interviewed a psychiatrist because of their knowledge on the human mind, mental state, what they knew of the psychiatric state of serial killers, and how they got to that current state.
To further gain knowledge to prove my thesis, “The making of a serial killer is caused by childhood experiences,” I also gathered secondary research; the first secondary source was a television show. It was called Infamous Murders. It described the most infamous cases of murder and serial murder. It also described the background of some of the murderers, most of them having a childhood filled with abuse, neglect, and harassment. I saw the show on the History Channel. My next secondary source was an article was an internet article published by the FBI. The article defines serial murder, the serial murderer, and the mental state of the murderer. This article helped me gain more insight on my topic, and helps my position on the topic as well.
I presented all of my research last year at Montclair State University and received the Silver Satori Award, the highest award I could receive as a seventh grader. Being part of the ROGATE program has been a wonderful experience. Students are picked based on their academic ability and placement in their classes. Not only was I honored to be selected, but this year I am a Gold Satori Candidate. This is the highest award I can possibly receive now as an eighth grader. I also took the SATs and got a 1380 on the test usually taken by high school students, as a seventh grader. The ROGATE program has taught me how to properly conduct research and present it and be prepared to try and prove my own thesis. Thanks to the ROGATE program I have learned how to be properly prepared for anything. Being part of the ROGATE program has been a wonderful experience, and I hope I am able to receive the Gold award this year in my eighth grade year.
My primary resources were a questionnaire and an interview with a local expert psychologist.