Dr. Helen on the Murder of Karabeth Borden's Parents
It seems that she triggered a rather charged debate on whether Karabeth was a victim or a participant in her parents' murders. My personal sense is that many of the responders to this blog missed the point that Dr Helen was making.
I didn't feel that she was trying to imply that Karabeth was or wasn't an accomplice in this heinous act. I think her central thesis was that this 14-year-old's behavior both within this relationship and after the murder is going to ultimately be demonstrated not to be as surprising and unpredictable as her "friends" suggested in media interviews.
I agree with Dr. Helen that this girl's actions belay severe disaffection and isolation on her part that, if anyone had been watching closely, should have been readily apparent. This blogger has made the excellent point that in our zeal to improve self-esteem and to promote children's individuality and freedom, we may very well be short-changing their development.
Teenagers (who are still children) seem to have virtually endless access to personal cell phones, private email and the internet with its ready access to dark and amoral websites, uncensured personal blogs, adult chatrooms, pornography, etc. The willingness of parents to tolerate such instruments of autonomy and independence betrays our ambivalence about enforcing limits.
Far be it for me to adjudicate what constitutes acceptable behavior. Fortunately, I'm only responsible for making that determination for my own child. However, the fact is that parents and the other responsible adults in a child's life (e.g. teachers and clergy) must set such standards. Failure to do so is tantamount to absolving yourself of the obligation to raise your child according to values that are important to you. I concur with Dr. Helen that with time, we're going to find out that for Karabeth Borden (and for her boyfriend) firmly defining what was and wasn't moral will not have figured prominently in their upbringings.
I'm not trying to imply that good, well-raised children (and adults) don't simply snap upon occasion. I'm sure that does happen. But I'm equally certain that, despite my not having reviewed the literature in this area, such episodes are vanishingly rare.
My interpretation may be wrong but that's what I got out of Dr. Helen's blog today.