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George Cobbold

Children are born evil. Which areas of primary and/or secondary

socialisation could explain this and how? Refer to the James Bulger case
and one other of your choice.
On the 12th February, James Bulger, a 2 year old boy, was brutally
murdered by Thompson and Venables; both only 10 years old themselves.
This case could be categorized into two categories: born or made evil.
George Herbet Mead believes Becoming a human is not just about being
born, suggesting Venables and Thompson received poor socialisation,
thus not feeling remorse, and committing such an act. Socialisation is the
life long process of inheriting norms. This essay will explore two types of
socialisation: primary and secondary, and whether someone can truly be
born evil.
Infants learn through imitation. This is an example of primary socialisation
and usually occurs through primary socialisation. Being reared in a
household of abuse or violence has a long lasting print on children.
Although many see the wrong in this, others assume it normal, therefore
accepted, behaviour. This could explain the level of violence in the actions
of Venables and Thompson. Herbet Mead says being human is about all
about becoming a social being, which happens through interactions,
between the child and those around it. This supports the argument that
the authority figures in Venables and Thompson lives could hold
responsibility, thus primary socialisation could be a root cause of the
incident; suggesting children are made evil.
However, the family home of both boys was not a setting of domestic
violence. Both two sets of parents were separated. This often has impact
on children, suggesting that socialisation is not only deemed by direct
influence but also circumstance. Venables, in particular, was a product of
a broken home. Thompsons mother, deserted five years earlier, was an
alcoholic, and Thomspon himself was one of seven children. This implies
both boys lacked parents giving of affection, guidance and morality. The
environment of Venables and Thompsons childhood was that of
deprecation and poverty this is primary socialisation. New reports
confirm there was a massive cut of social services. This implies, with a
weak support system, destructive behaviour is more likely to occur.
Sanctions reinforce behaviour. The lack of social services, who may have
usually intervened in the lives of these boys, is profound. If Meads theory
of interactions is applied, if the everyday experiences of the boys had
been altered, then the chance of their actions would have been reduced.
This is all primary socialisation, as core morality is usually established in
the early years of childhood.
A childs socialisation is majorly affected by influences from agencies, this
is secondary socialisation. Both boys had parents who had separated;

each had difficulties with attendance, learning and behaviour at school.

They bunked off, they shoplifted, they were violent; all these pieces in a
pattern that made up a pair of empty, broken young lives - Audrey
Gillian. This evidence informs their lack of education. At school, social
skills and consciousness is one of the biggest influences on children.
Arnett believes the goal of socialisation is to develop consciousness and
prepare for the values of civilisation. Therefore, estrangement from
children their age, make them social outcasts of society, as they had been
socialised in the norms of it.
Another form of secondary socialisation is the vehicle of advertisement.
For example, mass media reinforce societys expectations of gender.
Venables and Thompson were raised in a society where masculine
childhood toys were predominantly military based, instilling violence. This
influences their behaviour. Childs Play 3 was a horror form both boys
allegedly saw, and contained fictional scenes similar to the set up found at
Bulgers murder location. This could suggest the boys were inspired by the
film. This is an example of media influence, implying Venables and
Thompson were made evil.
There is evidence to suggest people with paedophilic desires all have
brains with threads of similarity. Although this is fully agreed on by
scientists; it suggests the majority of people committing evil acts have a
similar mental state. However, there will be a lot more people with the
brain structure who do not act on their desires. This could be do with
socialisation, as although they have desires they have been combed
through society, understanding the values and norms of it, thus adhering
to them.
Mary Bell was a young girl who strangled and killed 2 toddlers. She came
from a very dysfunctional family and was sexually abused from the age of
four. There is evidence to suggest her mother had attempted to feign
Marys attempted suicide without success. This links to faulty primary
socialisation and supports the theory that children are made evil.
In conclusion, children are made evil. Although people are of different
mental standings, socialisation, especially in the early years of a child life
(primary), has a direct link to actions of a child in their later life. This is not
always the case as many scarred children grow up to be loving and
adhering to the values and norms of a healthy society. However, this also
means, that 2 Ten year old boys found it acceptable, thus succeeded in
delivering one of the most shocking murders of British history.