I have looked in the face of killer and it happens to be my daughter. The truth is far stranger than what people can imagine, and unfortunately, the profile of a killer is more common than most would expect in schools and around the country.
Four years ago, my wife and I felt a calling from God to take in a sibling set of four foster children to make a difference in the world. Over those years we have lost friends, battled the broken government system, government employees with “agendas,” insurance, and a woefully under-qualified therapist just to get our very high needs children the help needed. We have tried and failed at everything from aromatherapy, graduated tiers of specialized attachment and trauma therapy, psychiatric care, and a myriad of in-home treatments. We even tried staffed in-home support.
The problem is not parenting tools, hugs, therapists, or the lack of a better drug. Instead, it is a combination of the insurance and support system, and a complete ignorance of an extremely common disorder called Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Of note, most violent offenders are noted as having RAD. Want to know why my pretty, smiling, pre-teen daughter would likely stab you if you disagreed with her, read on?
RAD or Reactive Attachment Disorder is often—inaccurately—noted as a rare mental disorder, which it is not. According to the Scientific World Journal – Reactive Attachment Disorder in the General Population: A Hidden ESSENCE Disorder, just over 1.4% of the population has RAD.
The interesting contrast to that number is that other studies have noted that over 35% of all Foster children have RAD. Those studies also note those recorded RAD cases are only the more severe cases and the less severe cases are usually misdiagnosed or ignored. Currently, there are approximately 250,000 children in foster care, so there are almost 88,000 children with RAD just in foster care. When we look as the symptoms of RAD, those big numbers of children are terrifying when you consider the Florida school shooters psych profile would be considered tame compared to the reactions my daughter is exhibiting. Every mass killer has a severe RAD profile.
RAD is a disorder caused by a lack of attachment to any specific caregiver at an early age, and results in an inability for the child to form normal, loving relationships with others. In many cases, they are never able to bond with anyone. Mild RAD makes it hard for kids to have relationships throughout their life. Severe RAD manifests itself as a total disconnect and lack of care for anyone at a psychotic level at any point in their life. A psychiatrist who had firsthand experience with a child similar to our daughter noted that child had killed its foster mother in an attempt to “feel something” but they didn’t…at all in a cold remorseful-free way. Severe RAD is often noted as that emptiness in killers’ eyes.
Traumatic childhood events or poor-quality parents which lead to foster care and the foster care process is believed to be the root cause of the significantly high rate of RAD in children. The more they are bounced from home to home, the less the children can learn to trust and bond, and the more the severe RAD usually becomes. All four of our children bounced between an estimated 12 homes and were diagnosed with some level of RAD. According to experienced psychiatrist and therapist with foster and adopted child experience, it is rare that any foster or adopted child would not have RAD to some degree.
Most children with RAD are socially regressed, usually more than half their actual age, and therefore generally are either the idiots getting in trouble bullying, orthey are the ones getting picked on—both behaviors further increase the severity of RAD. For example, though a smart kid academically, one of our other kids is so socially regressed that his nickname at school was SPED (Special Ed), which certainly does not help the kid catch up socially.
His RAD manifests itself in severe Oppositional Defiance and that ability to control sleep to the point of not sleeping for over a week… We have sleep studies to prove it—one with a $1,000 electronic movement recorder. When this happens, he will finally collapse. However, in the process ,a serious amount of havoc has been raught. The result is a child who truly requires 24/7 management, which is relentlessly exhausting.
Due to our oldest daughter’s current placement, we will omit her from the discussion. However, she was noted clinically to have severe RAD. As a result of her extreme behavior, we had her removed her from the home very early in the placement.
Our older son’s RAD manifested in the form of oppositional defiance (defying anyone for any stupid reason), violence, and drug addiction. He ultimately left our family after we were unable to provide any level or control of his behavior. That left two in our home.
As we rolled into the holidays, we uncovered a huge amount of mind-breaking behavior which culminated in our daughter being institutionalized in a psychiatric lockdown facility. Just a few weeks into treatment, my institutionalized daughter noted to her therapist that she was going to kill one of the staff she hated, stand over them laughing, and dance in the pool of their blood. As the pretty, little, grinning pre-teen cheerfully explained how she was going to kill a member of the psychiatric staff, she also noted that she really wanted to also kill or hurt a few kids at school, her brother, and sometimes us, her parents. She also noted, the only reason she had not done it yet, was that she did not have a knife or know how to use a gun. Thank the Lord we had enough skilled people to note that these are not normal children, and we made the decision to never begin weapon or martial arts training.
Over the last four years, our home has had installed a similar level of security as your average bank and she still found a way around cameras, knew when they were on or off, bypassed locked doors, and circumvented our oversight to do over $60,000 of damage to our home. She even stole two knives, several razor blades, and also fashioned a few shives. Wait! It gets worse.
The terrifying part is that we had no idea that she had been stealing knives, had homicidal ideations, and had been having these thoughts her entire life—including over the last four years she had been living with us. This was not the first time we have heard about her wanting to hurt other kids, but as a parent you chalk it up to kids are being mean and your kid needs just deal with it.
In the middle of 2017 we found a knife missing and enemies list in her room, complete with drawings of her stabbing other kids and the kids bleeding. Yes, this level of sickness does exist and the problem is no one cares and no amount of time in the corner, a good spanking, loving hug, or accomplishments on a sticker chart is going to overcome this. Pure and simple, this level of deep mental illness requires facility level control which we seriously lack in the U.S.
Additionally, this level of severe mental health is the 1% of the 1% and no one ever expects to see it. These mental conditions are so severe that mentally, even trained psychiatrists have a hard time trying to judge the severity until things start actually happening as they did with our daughter. The picture forms terrifyingly quick as all the bits and pieces come together once and an event or events occur.
Despite her own on-record statements, and being a previous ward of the state requiring a higher level of care, the Medicare healthcare provider has decided numerous times to no longer cover her. Their notation is that she can be managed in a home environment. A homicidal little girl so dangerous that she requires three full time attendants, daily safety checks, physical restraint about once a month, and the care of a psychiatric lockdown facility—and the insurance says she can be released. The facility is so concerned with the general safety and welfare that they have noted that she will likely never be able to be introduced back into the general public. Joining with the care facility, we fight, weekly, with insurance to continue her care.
Ultimately this is the problem across the U.S. that leads to mass shootings, not the guns, not the knives, but the very broken brain behind it all. Statistically, there are hundreds of children and adults around the country which fit into this extreme situation of severe RAD where insurance has kicked them out of a care facility because of financial rational. Then, we all sit around and wonder why these heinous violent acts occur.
Do you think my daughter would care if you outlawed an AR-15, shotgun, knives, or even pressure cookers? Nope. In fact, they found a belt buckle which my young daughter appeared to be in the process of sharpening the buckle prong to fashion a shiv. After the realization late last year, we now know why she always wanted to know which household chemicals would kill someone—the girl is a planner. Our daughter is so sophisticated that she knows when all the building shift changes occur and when she can do things to herself and others while there is no observation.
Though we are legally fighting the insurance decision weekly to keep her in the facility for her safety and the safety of others, the recent shootings are a perfect example of what can happen when deep psychiatric needs are ignored in favor of saving a buck. When my wife and I have compared the publicized psychiatric profile of the Florida murderer, we see even more severe patterns in our daughter. In fact, our daughter is much more severe in all categories not just according to us, but according to teams of psychiatrist and therapist.
Homicidal ideation—check, animal cruelty—check, threats of harm—check, and self harm—check. Unfortunately, my daughter also pees and defecates on everything including in dishwashers, furniture, flooring, beds, food, … and even things unbeknownst to us like our toothbrushes. It has been a trying four years. Ready for this? Our daughter also eats poop, hers, that of others found in toilets, and also pet poop, dead animals, kills and eats wounded birds, and even eats the blood off public feminine hygiene products in public bathrooms because “she wants to know what people taste like on the inside”. Just breath… I know it is a lot to take in.
The most terrifying part is she hid it all and masked it under a pretty, little, highly-charming charismatic and athletic little girl that most people knew and liked. She was not a hideous little child, but super cute with a giant smile and, well, just terrifyingly disarming. If fact, she is an amazingly skilled charmer at a very high level, so much so that we have had to have un-skilled aid workers and therapist removed because they get sucked into her little charm and where actually being influenced by her to do things. If we look at the raging comic book psychopath Harley Quinn, and our daughter was her sister, Harley would be the good sister by a long shot.
We have also spiritually struggled heavily over the last four years to understand why we were tasked with such a insurmountable hardship, handed children who are truly broken, and have no emotional attachment to anyone including us. At least for the moment though, we have saved lives by keeping our daughter institutionalized. If the insurance had their way, she would be back in the classroom with everyday children … “ya know, as long as there is a camera.” As the therapy team attempts to strip back the layers, unfortunately it gets way worse before it gets better, and we are nowhere near the depths of her darkness. It seems hopeless as we attempt to find her a higher level of care as there just are none.
It has been a brutal time in our lives, wrought with a level of heartache that cannot be imagined. We see the pattern again and again with each mass shooting. People say it is the weapon’s fault, parents fault, bad parenting, that the kids needed discipline, a warm hug, an achievement sticker chart, or even a good hard spanking. I wish it was that simple. All I know is that statistically, the RAD problem it is not getting better.
This article was supplied anonymously to protect the identities and confidentiality of the parties involved.
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