Concept of the Month -- June 2011

The Offender’s Parents as Victim: The New Film “Beautiful Boy”

In the aftermath of a homicide, the focus is on the perpetrator and the immediate victims. However, there are other people, the ignored victims who rarely are seen as victims – namely, the mother and father of the murderer.

Can you imagine learning that your son has died during a mass shooting, then finding out that he was the perpetrator of the massacre who turned his gun on himself and took his own life? How could you possibly cope in the aftermath of such a horror?

This is the subject of a forthcoming film, “Beautiful Boy,” an Anchor Bay Films production starring Maria Bello and Michael Sheen.

To make sense of such a horror, we would be desperate to discover an explanation. Why and how could this happen? If we could discover the reasons why this occurred, identify a cause, that might help us move on, although irrevocably scarred, with our lives.

Ascribing horrendous conduct to parental upbringing is a frequent direction that the search takes. “It must be the parents’ fault,” we think. Mental health professionals and society at large have readily laid blame at the parents’ doorstep.

In this wrenching film, we see the agony two parents go through as they try to absorb this life-altering shock and struggle to understand what happened with their “Beautiful Boy.” They find themselves instantly in the glare of the media spotlight. The film shows the young man’s mother and father as they experience a whole range of emotions and look in the mirror at themselves wondering what went so wrong and how did they not know it.

Watch for this film; it is well worth seeing. It may be unsettling because there are no “answers”, no illumination as to the reasons “why” it happened.

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