December 1968 when Mary Bell, 11, and her friend Norma Bell, 13, were tried for strangling two little boys, the atmosphere at the Newcastle courthouse was subdued. "The room was always quiet, all the police officers considerate, the Court gentle, and--a secondary effect--the British press invariably discreet," wrote Gitta Sereny, a journalist covering the case. By the standards of any era, the crime could hardly have been more horrific or sensational--the murder of children by children--and yet, she writes, the media treated the case with "unprecedented restraint" from start to finish.
The only certainty on youth crime is that no solution will be found until adult society learns to look not only at causes and punishment, but also at catalysts for salvation. Assuming nothing goes wrong, Thompson and Venables represent a rare triumph for the criminal justice system. Mary Bell, despite her grim prison years, proved rehabilitation works.
A great fire has been burning, ignited when The Observer broke news that Gitta Sereny had collaborated on a book with Mary Bell. It has been fanned by the press, the Government, the families of Mary Bell's victims and the writer of Bell's life for their own particular gains.
Children Who Kill: Profiles of Pre-Teen and Teenage Killers
by Carol Anne Davis -- Thirteen in-depth case studies of juvenile homicide committed by children between the ages of 10-17 focusing on societal and psychological factors. Why would two young boys abduct, torture and kill a toddler? What makes a teenage girl plot with her classmates to kill her own father? Traditionally, society is used to regarding children as harmless - but for some the age of innocence is shortlived, messy and ultimately murderous. Some of the most notorious killings of the 20th century were committed by children and it is not a new phenomenon. Mary Bell, Robert Thompsonand Jon Venables are infamous for their crimes against other children, but many of the studies here will be less familiar to the reader and equally as offensive. Murdered by fire, poison, strangulation or gunshots, victims range from infants to old age pensioners. Carol Anne Davis sets out to explore this disturbing subject using in-depth case studies of 13 killers aged between 10-17. Exclusive interviews with experts offer an invaluable insight into the psychology behind these atrocities and a hard-hitting look at the role of society in an area too shocking to ignore.