“I Wanted to Know What it Feels Like”: Childhood Psychopathy and Extreme Violence Committed by Youth

“I Wanted to Know What it Feels Like”: Childhood Psychopathy and Extreme Violence Committed by Youth
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-05-06
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Childhood Psychopathy and Extreme Violence
Unit 2 Transcript: Childhood Psychopathy and Extreme Violence
Unit 3 Workbook: Childhood Psychopathy and Extreme Violence
Unit 4 Recording: Childhood Psychopathy and Extreme Violence Committed by Youth

One in every ten violent crimes committed in the US is perpetrated by a person younger than 18 years old. Violence perpetrated by youth is truly unsettling. It also makes us, as a society, question what could’ve motivated and caused such actions and what we can do to prevent these to keep our youth and our communities safe. This webinar explores childhood psychopathy and how this condition can lead to violence.

This sessions’ instructor is Sandra K. Antoniak. She is a triple diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She has a Master of Forensic Science degree; completed residencies in Adult, Child, and Adolescent Psychiatry; and is a Certified Correctional Health Provider – Physician through the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.

Sandra’s discussion included:

  • A brief history of youth-perpetrated violence and how the legal systems of the time handled these.
  • Understanding the brain development mismatch which provides context on how teens and young adults end up involved in violent crimes.
  • The cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral aspects that are impacted by the changes in the brain structure and function.
  • Unpacking the prevalence of violent acts committed by youth with statistics on suicide, murder, and sex offense.
    • The societal conditions that gave rise to increased violence involving youth.
    • Trends on violent crimes and the demographics of offenders and victims.
    • Characteristics, experiences, and conditions that are more likely to lead to the perpetration of violent crimes.
  • Looking into neurodevelopmental and conduct disorders
    • How these may be mistaken for or may co-exist with psychopathy.
    • Its distinct characteristics to better differentiate these from psychopathy.
  • Defining adult psychopathy, its characteristics, its three major domains/subtypes, and how these manifest.
  • Things that can contribute to psychopathic trait development.
  • Functional and physical differences apparent in the brain of individuals that possess psychopathic traits.
  • The hereditary nature of psychopathic, particularly Callous-Unemotional traits.
  • Traits and concerns linked to psychopathy in children which may continue to manifest through adulthood.
  • FBI’s threat assessment guide that outlined a comprehensive list of traits/personality characteristics to look out for that may indicate psychopathy in kids and young people.
  • Case studies were presented to demonstrate:
    • Characteristics that indicate psychopathy, particularly those rooted from ego-disruptive trauma.
    • How psychopathic traits that started in childhood can be carried over into adulthood.
    • How experiencing violence can turn an individual into an abuser/offender themselves.
    • The tendency for juvenile sex offenders to have more than one victim.
    • How a child that does not necessarily have psychopathic traits can be influenced to by anti-social peers to commit violent acts.

Questions from the audience are about:

  • The outcomes for one of the case studies.
  • The link between animal cruelty and other forms of violence.
  • The role of trauma in developing psychopathic traits.
  • The steadily decreasing trend of violent crimes perpetrated by juveniles since the 90s.
  • Children’s tendency to offend in groups.



Other Webinars in this Series:


Click here to view and register for other upcoming IALEIA webinars on the JCH Platform.


Audience Comments

  • “This was a very well-presented and informative webinar. ” — Alexander
  • “The male and female age charts on victimizations was very interesting.” — Allison
  • “Once again another great webinar with another really informed speaker. Thank you for organizing these talks!” — Aretha
  • “Dr. Antoniak was incredible! She took an extremely complex topic and broke it down into easily comprehendible pieces.” — Ashley
  • “One of the best webinars that I have done with you all over the years!” — Galena
  • “Obviously, in an hour there is only so much one can cover, but I’d like to see a series of talks on this subject a bit more in-depth. Great webinar, though!” — Gwendolyn
  • “It is hard to just say one, as it is all so good, but I appreciated the beginning where development and disorders were discussed. Thank you. Excellent presentation!” — Hiedi
  • “Dr. Antoniak’s method of delivery was both intellectually stimulating and easy to understand. This is not a training topic I have ever seen and I feel like I learned quite a lot from it.” — Kristin




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