What parents can learn from the Boston bombings

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The tragic bombings has been on our minds over the past week. What can parents learn from this case? Sometimes sibling influence can be more dangerous than peer pressure!

Sibling influence
Learn more about sibling influence from the Boston Bombings case

The Boston Marathon Bombings that caused the death of three and wounded over 170 people has been on most of our minds over the past week. Boston was virtually shut down for the manhunt of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, while his brother Tamerlan, 26, perished in a shootout with the police. Sibling influence cost many lives.

If authorities had not caught up with the alleged bombers, they may have gone on to kill more people. In a CNN report Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis revealed: “We have reason to believe, based upon the evidence that was found at the scene — the explosions, the explosive ordnance that was unexploded and the fire power — that they were going to attack other individuals.”

Sometimes sibling influence can be scarier than peer pressure. What happened to these young men? Were they inherently evil, was it bad influence or were the parents to be blamed?

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A “walking angel’?

People who knew Dzhokhar (the younger brother) can hardly believe that he can commit such atrocities. In a CNN report, a former classmate had described him as a “walking angel” who may smoke marijuana but isn’t “some foreign dude”.

According to USA Today, 19-year-old Rose Schutzberg, who graduated from the same high school with Dzhokhar said: “I’m in complete shock. He was a very studious person. He was really popular. He wrestled. People loved him.”

Along the same lines, his former wrestling teammate, Asa Benjamin, said: “He was a nice guy, he seemed really normal. He didn’t have any weird personality issues. He was a friendly kid.” He was even awarded a USD2,500 scholarship by the city and named student athlete of the month making state playoffs! So the question is what went wrong. Was it sibling influence? Did his older brother who was becoming more radical influence him to commit such acts?

Tamerlan Tsarnaev

News clips of Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Sibling influence?

According to CNN reports, older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been getting more radical over the past three to four years based on the analysis of his social media accounts. However, there is no hard evidence that Tamerlan is in active association with jihadist groups worldwide. Could Tamerlan have pushed his views on his little brother and caused a change in character. After all boys always look up to their older and “wiser” brothers.

On the topic of sibling influence, Laurie Kramer, a professor of applied family studies in the department of Human and Community Development at Illinois says that siblings function as “agents of socialization” which may answer questions as why some kids fall into antisocial acts and behaviours.

Kramer confirms: “A lot of current research looks at how children learn undesirable behaviors like smoking, drinking and other delinquent acts, from exposure to an older sibling’s antisocial behaviors as well as that of their sibling’s friends. For example, a female teen is at higher risk for getting pregnant if her older sister was a teenage mother. Developing a better understanding of sibling influences can help us design effective strategies for protecting younger children in families.”

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Struggle and hardship

The whole family came from the war-torn homeland of Chechnya, so they moved to neighboring Russian republics before their final destination of the United States. Dzhokar went to the USA first with his parents while Tamerlan was left behind with two other sisters but the family of six eventually reunited—not without struggle and hardship.

Aunt speaks out to reporters –trying to understand why the brothers did what they did.

The uncle speaks up

Ruslan Tsarni spoke out loud and clear about the acts committed by the two brothers. When asked about the reason that may have brought upon these atrocities, he answered: “Being losers; hatred to those who were able to settle themselves. These are the only reasons I can imagine.”

However, he insisted that religion should not be blamed for the attacks even though the family is Muslim because according to him his family was peace-loving–“Anything else to do with religion, with Islam, it’s a fraud, it’s a fake. Somebody radicalized them, but it’s not my brother, who just moved back to Russia, who spent his life bringing bread to their table, fixing cars.”

Keeping an eye out for your children

No parent raises children with the intention that they become monsters. You can try to instill love, compassion and all the good values you can think of but still run the risk of your children exploring the other side. We can only try our best to monitor our children’s movements, interests, peers and passions. We will do what we can to build that solid foundation and be aware that sometimes bad influences may come from within –a family member, a sibling or even a spouse.

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