A social worker specializing in youth violence and delinquency says police overreacted when they arrested a 15-year-old boy for writing a story about a tormented teen who planned to blow up his school.
"We know that kids who are bullied might very well harbour aggressive fantasies about their perpetrators," Ken Goldberg, executive director of Toronto's Earlscourt Child and Family Centre, said. "This is not an unusual reaction. I think it's unusual to have the fantasy and then to act on it."
Mr. Goldberg said victims of bullying who fantasize about revenge might act on their fantasies.
"Aggressive fantasies also mediated the effects of violence exposure and empathy mediated the effects of parental nurturance. The mediation pathways through which parental nurturance were linked to aggression differed across levels of violence exposure," wrote W. Su and colleagues, University of Alabama.
Children who reported seeing violent acts like beatings or shootings or who had to stay inside their homes to avoid gangs and drugs were more likely to be considered aggressive by their teachers and classmates in first through sixth grades.
The effects of community violence on the children's thoughts show up later, in the fourth through sixth grades, according to Nancy C. Guerra, PhD, of the University of California, Riverside and colleagues.
The researchers say that aggressive fantasies, particularly among girls, and beliefs that aggression is acceptable and normal are more common among these children.
Specifically, Aber, Brown, and Jones (2003) found that although pre-adolescent girls ages 6 to years had lower levels of aggression and higher levels of competent interpersonal negotiation strategies than boys, the rate of increase in hostile attribution bias and aggressive fantasies towards peers was sharper for girls in this age range. Aber et al. (2003) found a faster rate of deceleration in girls' competent interpersonal negotiation strategies from ages 10 to 121⁄2.
"Violence exposure in the community was related only to aggressive fantasies but not to other extemalizing or internalizing problems. High levels of violence exposure in the community attenuated the relationship between home violence and internalizing symptoms and school violence and extenializing problems. Cumulative exposure to violence was related to all aspects of adjustment, but the number of contexts in which violence occurred did not predict beyond the effects of cumulative exposure," wrote S. Mrug and colleagues, University of Alabama.
People are by nature afraid to disagree with powerful people or tell them no. Rightly or wrongly, they think if they speak up it will cost them their jobs.
The abuse creeps in when people in power start confusing their own needs for the needs of the company. At the lowest end of the spectrum are the people who use their subordinates to act out their sexual and aggressive fantasies.
Children below 8 years old are not mature enough to differentiate fantasy from reality, and the monstrous half-man, half-machine characters of television can be scary for children 4 or 5 years old. A few older children, already bent upon testing the limits of society, may selectively choose to play out their aggressive fantasies based on TV characters in real life.
Fantasising about raping a partner, who at first resists but begins to like it, is common among men. This is, again, a way of mastering feelings of guilt that the man is hurting women with his sexual desires. Why men are more likely to deal with this sort of guilt with a rape-type fantasy and women with a masochistic fantasy may be to do with different experiences of parenting. Those who have aggressive fantasies often had aggressive parents, and boys may be more exposed to this sort of behaviour.
Little boys no longer prefer the toy six-shooters their fathers grew up with, but sales of the most popular toys for males are still fueled by aggressive fantasies.
Toy robots, science fiction warriors and GI Joes were among the top-selling toys at the 1985 International Toy Fair. All involve fantasy battles between good and evil characters.
Unlike Klebold and Harris, of course, the vast majority of teens will not act on such fantasies. "It is likely that the social norm proscribing homicide effectively inhibits acting out aggressive fantasies to their ultimate conclusion," Crabb says.
Of those studied, 60 percent of males said they had had a recent homicidal fantasy, while the number dropped significantly among women, to 32 percent. The top reasons given for the homicidal fantasies were lovers' quarrels (21 percent), and trivial disputes, such as conflicts with friends, bosses and co-workers, acquaintances, businesses, and teachers (20 percent).