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on September 13, 2000
One of the most eye-opening (and sobering) aspects of this powerful book is the proof that teen killers and victims are not always "somebody else's kids." Dr. Shaw makes it painfully clear that all kinds of "average" families are touched every day by adolescent violence. We have to do something about this before it's too late. The author's advice is down-to-earth, practical, and meaningful -- you don't have to be a Super Parent to be able to follow his plan. And any parent who takes this book to heart will not only raise a happier and healthier child, but gain immense satisfaction from becoming the best parent possible. Lives are literally at stake here. I hope every parent of kids at risk will read this book and adopt its program before it's too late. For that matter, I think EVERY parent who cares about the safety and emotional well-being of his or her children should read this book. After all, parenting is the most important responsibility and opportunity we have in this life.
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on September 3, 2000
I was recently appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court, Juvenile Division. On July 3, 2000 I presided over my first case involving a child who allegedly killed another. I can't describe the utter despair I felt reviewing the case, and the thoughts that gnawed at me --- could this tragedy have been prevented? I've been almost obsessive, trying to learn more about why kids commit crimes, why they kill, which led me to Dr. Shaw's book. The book is comprised of information obtained by Dr. Shaw over years of interviews, and reinterviews of kids who are incarcerated at the California Youth Authority - the equivalent of state prison for minors who commit the most heinous crimes. Of the many resources I've reviewed, I've found Dr. Shaw's book the MOST helpful. Many of the other pieces I've reviewed I've found too scholarly, too academic, too removed from what is going on with these kids. Dr. Shaw knows these kids and these families, having worked with this population for many years. I bought a copy of Dr. Shaw's book and gave a copy of it to the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court, Juvenile Division. There is an alarming increase in violent crime in Los Angeles County, much of it reportedly due to gang activity. The juvenile court has been approached by law enforcement, and other members of the community to act. I know the information in Dr. Shaw's book contains is invaluable as we try to set in place an early intervention court, designed to minimize the kids who turn to criminal behavior. Dr. Shaw's book gives us direction, and hope. It's mandatory reading for anyone who cares about our kids.
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on November 15, 2000
I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Dr. Shaw about his research for Jack & Jill, Why They Kill and I can tell you, he is a very honest and genuine man. When I first saw the book I wasn't interested at all in reading about "kids killing kids", but I did read it, and the more I did, the more I realized that the information provided for parents was unequalled!! Now, I'm a great MOM! I've raised 5, yes FIVE, children and they are all great people!! However, the insight that Dr. Shaw shares is so valuable I would use it all if I could start the children raising process all over again. But actually, I can! I intend to use his suggestions with my grandkids as soon as they are old enough to talk!!!
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on June 13, 2000
Jack & Jill Why They Kill should be required reading for all school personnel, anyone working in the juvenile justice field and especially all parents.This book will hold your attention from the time you open the cover until the time you finish the last word in the book! Dr. Shaw is a visionary in the field and provides the answers for saving our children, saving ourselves.
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on March 19, 2001
Where was this book when I was a KID! I don't think my parents read anything to shape me. BUT I CAN! I found myself reading it as the little girl who could relate to certain situations. I don't have any children, YET, But I do take care of one child, me, yes,.. 35 year-old me. This book is helping me heal. I am overwhelmed at the intimacy of this book. The real life stories, the degree to which Dr. Shaw takes us into the lives of these kids, gives us their situation, then giving us the alternatives. As a standup comedian, I have a forum and responsibility to entertain and to educate. Dr. Shaw's research has peeked my interest. This is not a book that just sits on the shelf, this is an opportunity for me to enlighten a captive audience about some real problems with todays kids and some real solutions they should consider. I like to make people laugh, but think, as well: Without meaning to, the Media has done an excellent job of using Columbine to teach children at other schools-- how to kill each other. What's next, insisting that schools stop teaching dodge-ball, and start teaching dodge-bullet...?
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on March 19, 2001
In elementary school I remember reading, "See Dick run. See Jane run," now our children are running for a different reason. They are no longer running to play with Spot--they are running for their lives. The media exploits these events as a means of bolstering their ratings, but no one has offered any constructive answers or alternatives, until now. Jack and Jill Why They Kill is not only a profoundly revealing book about why children murder, but it is also a guide. Mr. Shaw knows his stuff and writes about it with an even hand along with some great advice for all parents.
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on December 7, 2012
This book arrived on time and in good condtion. The material in this book is a must read for parents and teachers. With the recent events in school shooting and violent crime amongst our youth everyone should read Dr. Shaw's book!
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on August 6, 2000
An seminal work of original research and scholarship, Jack & Jill: Why They Kill: Saving Our Children, Saving Ourselves is based on personal interviews by James Show with more than 100 children incarcerated for killing other children. Shaw explores the kid's rationales underlying their homicidal behaviors, then offers practical, insightful advice on how to save the children of today from resorting to lethal violence to settle their disputes, resolve personal conflicts, and establish themselves with peers. Jack & Jill: Why They Kill is essential and critically important reading for parents, juvenile justice system personnel, social workers, community center and youth group volunteers, as well as policy makers, school administrators and faculty, as well as anyone with a responsibility for the youth of their community.
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on June 16, 2000
I found this book to be fascinating. So educational! One can find many useful hints on child rearing and how to deal with difficult children. Some really good examples of extremely disturbed children. Excellent resource for parents, teachers and people who deal with children.
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on September 7, 2008
This well-meaning book deserves two stars for offering much sage advice to parents dealing with kids already on the downside of the spiral headed towards the teenage abyss. But despite the author's really helpful advice, the book still uses a flawed model that espouses what can only in retrospect be recognized as the "standard model" for "explaining away," rather than explaining, violence in the U.S. -- whether by children or by adults.

According to this un-critiqued and unimpeachable standard model, violence in America is always an entirely situational affair, and therefore is always sui generis, that is to say, effectively cut-off from and detached from the larger historical frame of a nation that worships violence at every level of its national culture and society. The "standard model" regurgitated here explains that while these "child murderers" may to some very limited extent be the by-products of bullying, poor parenting, lack of setting boundaries, gangs, inadequate love and self-esteem, and to a somewhat even larger extent a product of exposure to the implements of violence (whether symbolic or real) such as guns, violence oriented toys, music and movies, in the main, these kids are just the fruit of "their own violent (and evil) natures." To use the author's own carefully chosen words, these kids are "at risk," with a "disease of violence that poisons [them] with [thoughts of self-destruction] and death?" (The "best case exhibit" of this phenomenon was of course, the Colombine killers.)

From the vantage point of this author however, none of the string of carefully researched causes in his list has a thing to do with the culture of hatred and violence that our nation has come to represent. Every one of his causes is seen as a free-floating existential epiphenomenon, situated in the family or in the mind of a deranged individual. That is to say, not just detached from the general hatred and violence in the society at large, but totally disassociated from it. This is true despite the embarrassing and otherwise unexplainable fact that the U.S. annual rate for producing child murderers, just as is true for murders in general, is an order of magnitude larger than the cumulative totals for the next 35 Western nations?

The author's advice amounts to a virtual "declaration of societal detachment:" Each family must tend his own private garden in isolation to all others. It is an avowedly "tunnel vision" view of the way even extremely alienated societies operate and certainly unlike the way complex social problems are solved in any self-respecting society.

Murder in America is "a systemic fact" whether we wish to recognize it as a cultural sickness or not, and whether we incorporate it into our thinking and our theoretical models or not. A nation does not get to achieve an average of 25, 000 murders per year with 2.3 million of its citizens in prison and a suicide rate rivaled by only two other nations in the world, without that nation being a profoundly sick society.

Unfortunately, one has to read between the lines of this carefully prepared "societal script" to uncover the truth of the rash of teenage murderers: When striped of their novella like qualities, what these interviews really tell us is that when widespread alienation, pent up racial hatred and fear, is let loose and turns quickly to individual pain and social uncertainty, then inchoate anger and abuse follows as the night follows day. Unfocused anger and abuse turns to pain, self-hatred and thoughts and fantasies of violence and revenge (either against individuals or against the society). By now, the wheels of this "runaway psychological train" have already come off. Systemic pain, fear, self-hatred, and isolation have nowhere to go but down hill -- towards violence where it inevitably gets resolved by harming others or oneself; i.e. towards America's number one, number two and number three statistics: murder, suicide or prison.

Who are we kidding here but ourselves?

Our society will continue to be only as strong as its weakest links. The disease of hatred, alienation, fear and false religiosity and morality so clearly endemic to our culture, is the creator of the violence that sets loose the wheels of psychological self-destruction that affects the weakest psychological links the most. There is no way to parse or rationalize these facts except to admit that our culture is the carrier of a disease to which violence and murder have become the preferred answers. It is statistics of murder, mayhem and violence more than anything else that defines American culture, and has defined it throughout our history.

Respectfully, these isolated interviews, while instructive in and of themselves, are views of the problem from the wrong end of the societal telescope. As Bill Cosby has put it so nicely, the specimen we want to study is American society itself, not just the bugs running around in the Petrie dish. We already know their stories all too well. They fill our streets and our jails and have given our nation its black eye, undermined its moral foundation and caused us all great embarrassment, costs and pain.

When are our experts going to accept the fact that the disease of child murderers is just another of many symptoms of, the larger systemic and historical process of American internally generated hatred and violence?
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