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Kaila Murphy Student Excellence Showcase Carroll Community College

Course: Serial Killers, CRIM-103
Bill Bergan
Assignment Title:
Childhood Abuse and Serial Killers

Assignment Details

My Honors Project covers the topic of childhood abuse and how it helps to create such evil people, or more specifically, serial killers. Through my extensive research, I dove deeper into the ultimate question about how childhood abuse contributes to the creation of serial killers. I explored childhood abuse as a whole, I then expanded that into further exploring mental illnesses, head injuries, and even potential genetic abnormities. With the thought of mental illnesses, head injuries, and genetic abnormities in mind, childhood abuse was always at the front of my mind through this assignment. The ultimate questions I explored through my assignment would be, “What happens when a child experiences childhood abuse?” “How does mental illnesses, head injuries, and genetic abnormities contribute to the topic?” “Is childhood abuse seen through the known serial killers?” From much research, I was able to answer these complex questions. I was able to put all of my research into a twelve-page essay, along with a PowerPoint to break important points down. I was able to break down my topics and further create an essay with the ultimate thought and topic of childhood abuse and how it contributes to the creation of a serial killer.       


In the future, I will be able to use much of the knowledge and skills that I gained through completing this assignment. For starters, I am planning on completing a Bachelors along with a Masters degree. Through getting those degrees, I anticipate needing to complete many research papers, along with research projects. Therefore, from completing this research assignment and gaining knowledge on how to write such an extensive essay, my future studies and papers will be enhanced. Furthermore, I gained familiarity with PowerPoint which will be very helpful in the future whenever I may have a need to use PowerPoint again. Another way in which I will use my gained knowledge will be within my future career. I plan to become a Genetic Counselor in the future. Through this research project, I did a decent amount of research on the topic of genetic abnormities. Though, I did not go in depth about the topic of genetics in my essay, as my research topic was not on genetics specifically, I did gain much knowledge on different types of genetic abnormities. I learned about a variety of genetic mutations and abnormities. I learned about what these mutations and abnormities meant, along with what they caused, and how they contributed to certain personality and/or behavioral traits that I was not aware of prior to completing this research assignment. Ultimately, the wisdom I gained on genetic abnormities will greatly help me with my future career.       


From my research, I learn there actually is a significant connection between childhood abuse and serial killers. While I was not super surprised about this finding, I was surprised as to how many of the known serial killers were abused as a child. I found that only thirty-two percent of the known serial killers did NOT experience any form or childhood abuse. However, the remaining percent DID experience some form of childhood abuse. When you think about it, sixty-eight percent of the known serial killers did experience childhood abuse, this is a fairly high percentage. Furthermore, I learned that mental illnesses, head injuries, and potential genetic abnormities, do in fact contribute to the creation of a serial killer, there are many known serial killers with one or more of these disorders. However, with that said, I found that almost every serial killer that had experienced or were born with a mental illness, head injury, or a genetic abnormity, had also experienced some form of childhood abuse. Childhood abuse has been shown to cause lower IQ levels, excessive awareness, along with issues regulating emotions. I found that even just witnessing a violent/abusive act can cause harm to a child’s underdeveloped brain. Ultimately, from my extensive research, while there is no true reason as to why a human-being turns into a violent serial killer, it is clear that childhood abuse can significantly affect how a child will grow up and who they will turn out to be.    

Challenges and Successes

As I worked on my research assignment project, I ran into a few challenges. The first challenge came when choosing a topic. Going into the course: CRIM-103, “Serial Killers,” I had at first thought that I would just take the class as a “fun” class (it was very fun). A few days into the class I thought that I could complete one of my honors projects through the course. It took a bit of time to come up with a topic that felt right, I knew I was interested in the development of a serial killer. After considering my interests, and the topics of the course, I came up with the idea of researching childhood abuse and how the overall abuse can help to build a violent person, such as a serial killer. Another challenge came with the overall research. I had a few issues with finding reliable articles in the beginning, but that challenge was solved further into my research.