Children are very malleable beings. Give them the right upbringing, and they will for the most part become model citizens. But steer them into dark avenues, and they will grow up to be vicious killers, a blight on society. It is for this reason that immense responsibility is placed on the shoulders of the people who raise these children. Sometimes it's the parents, sometimes it's a guardian, and sometimes it's the entire culture of the society itself. But whoever it is, they are responsible for that child, and it's their fault if the child turns out to be a cold-blooded killer. Can a child really be blamed for the crimes he or she was encouraged to commit under the direction of the adults around them? Whatever you believe, it's certainly distressing to see children who have been trained to kill with no remorse or mercy.
Truth be told, killer children are nothing new in history. We've been training children to murder since the ancient times. Whether it's the ancient Mongols, Spartans, or Shaolin monks, children have been trained to take lives since thousands of years ago. But in today's world, that practice continues with the growing number of child soldiers in armed conflicts around the world. These child soldiers are employed in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. But perhaps the most disturbing instances of children who have been raised to kill come from within our own first world countries. These children have been raised by families and people just like your own. They might be lurking behind houses in your own neighborhood, waiting to strike...
15 Lee Boyd Malvo
Lee Boyd Malvo was the accomplice to John Allen Muhammad during the DC Sniper Attacks, also known as the Beltway Sniper Attacks. Although Muhammad was not the boy's real father, they developed a bond of a father and son since the two met when Malvo was 14. Malvo's mother was deported to Jamaica, and Muhammad falsely listed himself as the boy's father. He was trained by this man to be a brutal killer, mixing marksmanship with "boot camp" style military discipline. Malvo later claimed that Muhammad had sexually abused him.
The attacks began when Malvo shot Keenya Cook at the door of her own home to prove his commitment to his father's ideals. These included two phases of shooting attacks, extorting the US government for millions of dollars, and then fleeing into Canada where they would train more orphans to carry out shooting attacks in America, while creating a Utopian society. The sniper attacks took place in three weeks, killing 10 people and wounding 3 in Washington, DC and Maryland, Virginia.
14 Colin Rideout
Another boy who participated in a murder alongside his encouraging mother was Colin Rideout. And even worse, the person he killed was his own father. Acid attacks have been on the rise lately, and that's exactly how this mother and son team disfigured their family member's face to prevent his body from being properly identified by the authorities. The fact that both the mother and the son have been found guilty of murder was picked up by the media only a few days ago, and this murder happened about a year ago.
The father's name is Craig Rideout, and he was found strangled in his own home. It was revealed that the son and the mother, Laura Rideout, were angry with Craig because of the impending divorce. They both blamed Craig and wanted him to suffer. They were trying to frame him so that they could get custody of the children that Craig was still in possession of. Colin was seen as a tool for his mother, being instructed by text messages on what to do.
13 The ISIS Kids
Children in areas controlled by ISIS are being recruited and trained to kill at an unprecedented rate. One example was eleven-year-old Abu Imara al Omri, who blew himself up in a truck filled with explosives in a suicide attack. These boys are trained in special ISIS schools, where there is an emphasis on military tactics, physical fitness, and of course adherence to the word of the Quran. The vast majority of these children are from Syria, recruited from areas that ISIS has taken over.
The majority of these children are used in suicide bombings. The next biggest proportion of child soldier deaths within ISIS forces are from children who died as foot soldiers. But perhaps the most disturbing detail is that the children are not being kidnapped or used against their parent's will; often these children are handed over to the ISIS forces with full parental consent.
12 Dustin Robert Blue Moir
Dustin Robert Blue Moir is the son of Jesse Blue West, both of which participated in the brutal murder of a 14-year-old girl named Chelsey Acorn. These two Canadian men were long haul truckers living in British Columbia. Chelsey disappeared from her home in Abbotsford in 2005, as she had run away from home. Her body was later found in Hope, BC by two hikers. The two men picked the girl up, raped her continuously, and then discussed how they were going to kill her while she waited inside a tent.
They later left her in a shallow grave in the forest, where she was found with a crushed skull. There were also large rocks laid on top of her. It seems pretty obvious that the father must have had a big influence on his son, as he probably took the lead in the method they used to kill the girl, as well as the method they used to hide the body. Now the only question is if they've done this before to other women.
11 Chechen Children
Another group that raises their children to be fighters from a very young age is the Chechens. Chechnya is a republic within Russia, and its people have gained a reputation as some of the hardest fighters on Earth. Sporadic fighting within this area continues to this day, although the fighting definitely reached a climax during the Chechen wars with Russia. This was basically Russia's version of the Iraq wars, and it cost many lives on both sides.
A UN report stated that "Child soldiers in Chechnya were reportedly assigned the same tasks as adult combatants, and served on the front lines soon after joining the armed forces." Some were allegedly as young as 12. Chechen children typically know how to operate a firearm at a very young age, and every single one is a potential fighter when it comes to future and present conflicts.
10 Kony's Child Soldiers
Another group of children that were trained to be killers is Kony's group of child soldiers. This group has received a ton of attention in the media, and for good reason. This is one of the worst cases of child soldiers being used that the world has ever seen. Joseph Kony formed a guerrilla terrorist group called the Lord's Resistance Army, which operated primarily in Uganda. He has reportedly abducted over 30,000 children to serve in his army, either as soldiers or sex slaves.
Often, he would force the children to kill their own parents with machetes. They are also told to take so-called "magical potions" that will increase their fighting power. These are usually drugs. They were also told at times to return to base with the testicles of the men they had killed. Only a few children managed to escape, but those who did returned home with only brutal horror stories to tell.
9 Rachel Staudte
Rachel Staudte is a woman who teamed up with her mother to kill almost half of her own family. Her mother, Diane, encouraged her to help her with the murders and instructed her on how to do it. Both her father and her brother were killed by poisoned drinks supplied by the mother and daughter team, and a third member of the family, Rachel's sister, survived the poison only with severe brain damage. Their poison of choice was anti-freeze.
Rachel and her mother almost got away with it. The choice of anti-freeze as a poison proved to be incredibly hard to detect for police, who concluded that the father and brother died from natural causes. It was only when the sister, Sarah, began to get sick that suspicions started to be raised. Then a Pastor came forward and told police that Rachel and Diane were responsible for the strange set of "tragedies" in the family.
8 Al Shabaab
Another group that is famous for using child soldiers and turning them into cold-blooded killers is the militant group Al Shabaab. This group operates primarily out of Somalia, although it does have foreign individuals in its ranks, usually for training purposes. This group is also allied with Al-Qaeda, and cooperated with them regularly. Interestingly, there is strong opposition within this group to ISIS, and members are strongly discouraged from showing any support for this group.
Al Shabaab is one of the most famous proponents of child soldiers. They are trained at a young age for a wide variety of roles. Many of them are placed on the front lines with the adult soldiers. Others are trained in espionage, transport of explosives, and carrying ammunition. Many of these youngsters are promised jobs and an education if they join Al Shabaab.
7 Randy H. Tundidor
Another kid who was encouraged to commit murder by his father was Randy H. Tundidor. He and his father, Randy W. Tundidor, killed a university professor named Jospeh Morrissey. The whole conflict began when Morrissey sent the Tundidor family a letter demanding overdue rent. They were renting the place from the professor. At the time of the murder in 2010, Morrissey had begun the eviction process of the Tundidors. The father and son then went to the professor's house, where they forced him to withdraw money from his bank, and then put a pillow and a gun to his face before pulling the trigger. But the gun jammed. So they stabbed him instead. They then tied up the mother and young son of the professor before they set the house on fire and left. Luckily, the mother and son survived.
The boy's lawyer said, “He’s always just been a tool of his father, for good or bad,’’ Rastatter said. “His father was an evil person who controlled and dominated junior and would have him do evil things.’’ He was recently given 40 years behind bars for his participation in the murder, while his father was given the lethal injection.
6 Spartan Children
Another ancient society that trained their children to be killers almost from birth were the Spartans. This ancient Greek society occupied the city of Sparta, and were famous for being some of the most feared and professional soldiers the world has ever seen. When a child was born in Spartan society, his body was examined by an elder. If he was deformed or weak in any way, he would be cast off a cliff to be smashed against the rocks.
The Spartan boys then began their Agoge, or military training, at age 7. They were never given enough food to eat, and so were forced to steal to survive. If they were caught, they were beaten mercilessly. Pain tolerance and fighting skills were taught to the Spartans more than literacy or history. The boys who proved themselves were given authority over the other boys. When they were 12, they were put into special bands under the command of a 20-year-old Spartan. Some were encouraged to spy on, and in some cases kill, the slave population, the Helots. When they were 20, they were put into the Spartan army.
5 Shaolin Monks
The Shaolin Monks are another group of people that train their children to be vicious fighters from a very young age. The Shaolin Monastery in China is arguably the origin of all modern martial arts. Originally, they were incredibly secretive about their methods, but now they're beginning to share their abilities with more people, and Shaolin Kung Fu is becoming more mainstream. But for a while, their abilities took a near-legendary status, and their ability to seemingly bend the laws of physics is well-documented.
Traditionally, the Shaolin orphanage took in orphans from the local Chinese province that they were located in. They would then teach these children their own form of martial arts, as well as their take on Zen Buddhism. The children would start off with the "Childish Exercises." These were stretches and poses, not unlike yoga, that enhanced the child's flexibility and strength. These poses are so difficult that if you do not start them as a young child, you are incapable of achieving them. The children also train with swords, staffs, and other melee weapons, as well as hand to hand fighting.
4 Myanmar's Child Soldiers
Another country with a real problem with child soldiers is Myanmar. There has been a massive internal conflict within this country that has existed since the end of the cold war, and continues to this day. Both sides of the conflict are accused of using child soldiers, but the national Myanmar army is the most troubling, because it's the actual legitimate fighting force in that country. The official age of acceptance into the army is 18, but the actual age of a huge percentage of their fighters is much, much lower.
In fact, it is estimated that 30% of the army is made up of child soldiers. These children are bought and sold by military groups from civilians and police, and placed in the most dangerous positions in the army, forced to walk "point" and "volunteer" for dangerous duties. In response to international pressure, Myanmar continues to release more and more child soldiers from its forces, but many more still remain.
3 The Cantonists - Russian Child Soldiers
Another much older example of child soldiers comes from Russia while it was still ruled by the Tsars. Tsar Nicholas I made it a decree that the vast majority of Jewish children would be drafted into Russian military schools at the age of 12. The reasons for this were twofold. First, the Tsar wished to increase the ranks of the military by forced conscription. Secondly, he wanted to destroy the influence of Jewish culture in Russia. All of the Jewish boys who were known as "Cantonists" were forced to abandon their faiths and adopt Christianity.
Although the official age of conscription for the Cantonists was 12, children as young as 8 or 9 were also kidnapped from their families and exposed to brutal training conditions. If the child refused to abandon their Jewish faith, they were beaten, starved, or deprived of sleep until they complied. When they turned 18, the Cantonists were placed in the army where they would remain for 25 years. This effectively made the conscription a life sentence, from the age of 8 all the way to 43, if in the rare case they managed to survive that long. Many of these soldiers fought in the war of 1812 and the Crimean war.
2 Genghis Khan
One of the most famous military leaders of all time is Genghis Khan, the legendary Mongol warlord. At the height of his power, he controlled an area of land much greater than Alexander the Great or the Roman Empire, and a huge percentage of Asian men are genetically related to him. He grew up in the steppes of Mongolia, and as such his childhood was steeped in the traditional rites of passage of the Ancient Mongol culture. All boys were raised to be warriors in this society, and practiced wrestling, archery, and hunting from a very young age.
But Genghis Khan's upbringing was even more violent than the typical Mongol. When he was still in his preteen years, he murdered his older brother to win a role of increased power within his family. He was then captured by a rival tribe when he was just a teen, and was enslaved along with his wife. He then made a daring escape and won a reputation for himself. By the time he was barely twenty, he was defeating his enemies and uniting all of the Mongol tribes under a single banner that he commanded.
1 Children Being Taught To Shoot At A Young Age
In America, there is a growing trend of children as young as 5 or 6, sometimes even younger, being taught how to shoot a variety of firearms. Guns are inherently designed to kill people and animals, so it can be argued that all of the parents who take their children to the range and put a gun in their hands are essentially teaching their children how to be killers from a very young age. However, parents who defend these choices point out that it's important to teach children the values of gun safety.
One such story that got the media's attention was an instance where a 9-year-old girl accidentally killed a shooting range instructor with a 9 millimeter Uzi submachine-gun. The man was Charles Vacca, and was standing to the left of the small child when the recoil of the weapon made her lose control of the firearm, strafing the instructor with bullets. People pointed out that the instructor should not have been standing to the left of the girl, as that literally put him in the line of fire.