Breeding monsters

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Breeding monsters

The nation is shocked and appalled by the horrific crime a teenage boy committed against his own mother for nagging him about the College Scholastic Ability Exam and punishing him for not having the top grades in his school. The police are investigating the high school senior who allegedly stabbed his mother to death and hid her body in her bedroom for eight months, going on with his studies after gluing the room’s door shut to keep the smell of decay inside. We are all dumbfounded that an 18-year-old juvenile could be capable of such savagery.

It remains unclear what exactly led to the crime. The police are studying various factors including extreme pressure for grades, physical abuse and family problems. But we cannot simply blame such a violent act on a family’s disintegration or society’s obsession with education and getting into top universities.

Most other families in the country deal with the same problems and live normally. Under intense competition, many students make the most of their capabilities to get into good colleges. We must approach the bizarre case by looking more into our family lives. On the surface, the latest crime is quite similar to the murder committed in 2000 by Lee Eun-suk, a computer engineering major attending a top university. Lee Hoon-ku, an honorary professor of psychology at Yonsei University who studied Lee’s case, said his rage was an extreme reaction. “Lee was under immense and incessant pressure from his mother for academic excellence and the stress amplified and exploded in one moment,” he said.

Where does such uncontrollable anger come from? Many mothers want to realize their own forsaken dreams through their offspring and severely punish them when they fail to live up to their expectations. We cannot consider such a relationship normal between mother and child.

Children must be respected as independent individuals, not as possessions. Barbara Hofer, a professor of psychology at Middlebury College in the U.S., advises parents to let go and give space to their children to allow them to grow up as independent adults in order to remain connected to them. They must be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them on their own.

Schools also have a role too. Public schools in Britain hire parents who majored in anger management to offer counseling services to students. Through counseling and guidance, students can control their anger. Families and schools must join hands in order not to breed monsters.

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