Humans are Natural Predators

According to a new study, genetics and evolution have made an impact on the murderous behavior of the human species. However, becoming civilized has tamed some of these instincts.

7HScientists have looked at the homicide rate of more than 1,000 species that kill their own, and noticed that there are similar rates of lethal acts. Essentially, this means that the evolution of these species can tell us a lot about how violent the species is.

This study, which was published in Nature, says that humans lie in the middle of a quite violent group of mammals that have all evolved together…and these mammals have a very violent and murderous past. What does this mean for us? It means that humans have likely inherited violent tendencies from our ancestors.

Let’s look at the numbers. When looked at as a group, the rate of all mammals murdering their own is about three in 1,000. However, when we look at our ancestors, and many primates, for that matter, this number is closer to about 20 in 1,000. In certain periods of time, this number even rose to about 120 in 1,000, such as during the medieval era, which ran from around 700 to 1500 A.D. Fortunately, we have seen these numbers fall, and when you take humans, alone, the current rate is about 13 in 1,000. So, we are now much less violent than we were just 1,000 years ago.

It’s true that we, as humans, are killing each other less than we used to, but we are still not as peaceful as some of our mammalian cousins. For example, killer whales, which are one animal that has a high level of intelligence, has a rate of violence against its own of around zero. In fact, most whale species are quite peaceful to their own kind.

So, we are more violent than whales, but when compared to mammals such as baboons, cougars, and lemurs, we are far less violent, as these animals have murder rates closer to 100 per 1,000.

Since this study examined violence in a way that compared closely related species, it’s not a surprise that these species had similar levels when looking at violence. Furthermore, the more closely related a species is to another, the more similar their levels of violence.

It is difficult to calculate rates for lethal violence for our ancestors, but we can get a rough idea based on looking at archaeological findings. What was found after looking at thousands of these sites is that things such as culture and government lower the rates of lethal violence. This also suggests that the level of murder among species is reversible, and that it might increase or decrease based on social, ecological, or cultural factors. These findings are similar to a previous study from Harvard that looked at the history of violent crimes, such as rape, as well as war, murder, and bigotry.

When we look at all of these facts, humans are social, territorial, and naturally violent. But, as modern society has become developed and we have engaged in more civilized activities, the rates of violence have fallen. What’s really interesting is that this study shows that most mammals are not murderous towards their own kind, but others, such as wolves, lions, and primates, including humans, actually do engage in this behavior. What it could come down to is that mammals that are murderous towards their own kind are both territorial and social.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

9-Year-Old Kidnap Victim convinces Abductor to Release Her

Jeannette Tamayo was nine when she was abducted in June 2003, and exhibited a presence of mind that few adults would have in a similar circumstance.

10DHome from school, Jeannette entered her house, unaware that a man had been following her; he entered too, and that’s when the nightmare began. Soon after, her mother and brother arrived but were promptly beaten up by the man, and he then handcuffed the girl and crammed her inside a box inside his car.

The man took her to the second story of a house where he raped her for a few days and threatened to kill her. As a story on reports, Jeannette realized that her only chance of survival was to gain the man’s trust.

Predators see their victims as objects more than as human beings. Instead of constantly screaming and crying, Jeannette communicated with thoughtful words and kept her cool. To her abductor, she wasn’t some shrieking, pleading object. She was a person who started conversation. This approach is highly tactical and is considered a life saver in many abduction and hostage cases.

The young girl said she treated the man like a “normal” person. Soon after that decision, he took off her handcuffs, even allowing her to roam the house. The girl was too infuriated to let Stockholm syndrome poison her, but she continued keeping collected, even sharing with him her plans for the future.

While watching TV Jeannette saw something about asthma tests. She told the man she had asthma and would die without her medication. Next thing she knew, he drove her to a street corner and dropped her off.

However, Jeannette had made a point during the ride to his house to imprint the directions. She relayed them to the police and they arrested him.

Who knows, this could have ended up a Michelle Knight or Jaycee Dugard type situation. Instead of being blindly compliant, this little girl was strategic. Had she been nothing more than a crying, shrieking object, it’s easy to believe that her captor, David Montiel Cruz, who was sentenced to 100-plus years, would have killed her or kept her hostage for years.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

10 Ways to Prevent an Abduction

A recent article I wrote, titled “A Predator is Always a Predator,” discussed the 750,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S., the thousands more unaccounted for, the thousands more who’ve never been caught, and the fact that predators live amongst us. In Cleveland, Ohio, the residents know this all too well. Shock and disbelief is the common vibe in reaction to the news that three evil men abducted three innocent teen girls and held them captive for roughly 10 years.

In a 2009 horror story also out of Cleveland, a convicted rapist lured a 21-year-old woman to his bedroom back in 1989, spent 15 years in jail and then got a free pass in 2005. And, of course, he did it again. Why? Because that’s his brand of normal. It’s not OK, but it’s normal in that it’s his nature. A psychologist said to me years ago, “You would be amazed at how many levels of normal there are.”

A recent report of “Brooklyn Missing Boy: Police Arrest Man the Dismembered Child Had Asked for Directions” reminded us about how there always have been predators, there are predators today and there always will be predators—and we have to take steps to protect ourselves and those we care for.

When a true stranger—not a family member, not someone known to the child—steals a child, that child often won’t survive beyond three hours.

No matter what the statistics are, child abductions are real—and they happen far too often.

The last thing you ever want to think about is your child getting taken away from you by a stranger or even someone you know. And while the statistics aren’t nearly are bad as one would think, parents think about child abduction all the time.

The old-school training a lot of us received early on was, “Don’t talk to strangers”—as if strangers were the dangerous ones. Actually, most abductions occur when a family member takes the child after winding up on the losing end of a custody battle.

Today, most so-called helicopter parents won’t take their eyes off their kids—and I don’t see that as a bad thing. I know many will argue that point, but I don’t care.

Protecting yourself and your children begins with understanding basic security.

  1. As simple as it sounds, do not engage in behavior that creates an opportunity for the bad guy. Example: being too nice and accommodating. Recognize a potential lure.
  2. In the event that a child were to be approached, the best defense is a good offense. Resistance has often been a proven tactic for removing oneself from a dangerous situation. Running, screaming, biting, hitting and kicking may feel unnatural to teach your kids, but they are certainly natural traits they possess. I say if they are good at it now, train them to do it better!
  3. As soon as your child is at an age where he or she can comprehend this issue, it’s time to discuss it. By age four kids have a pretty good grasp, but age five they seem to be on solid footing.
  4. Role play with your kids. This is a delicate balance of awareness and play. Intellectually introduce scenarios for them to respond to. See how they articulate a response. Let them figure it out on their own. Then, if they don’t give you the answer you were looking for, work with them to understand the nature of their choice and its negative impact.
  5. Be specific, but be careful how you associate your analogies. Example: “If a white van pulled up next to you” will freak your kid out every time he or she sees a white van and will only make the child wary of people in vans, as opposed to those in cars or on foot.
  6. Make sure to discuss the internet and online predators. I’ll discuss this in depth in a future post, but in the meantime, do your research and know what risks your kids face. Take control of their access to PCs and monitor everything they do.
  7. Most importantly, this kind of education is about empowerment. It’s about taking control. It’s a gentle awareness that can very well save their lives. Don’t guilt them into making the right decisions and make them feel bad about not understanding the issue. If they aren’t ready to comprehend the issue, then back off for now.
  8. Always keep an eye on people who look out of place. Don’t take your eyes off the ones who belong, either. Predators often know their victims.
  9. And because your kids spend the majority of their time at home, do all the necessary things to strengthen your fort. Invest in home alarm systems. Install home security cameras inside and outside the home. Install proper fencing that keeps them in and others out.

10. Finally, live in peace and harmony. The chances that something like this can happen are very, very slim. But there is a chance, so these are your options.

Here’s more from Psychology Today on keeping your family safe.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures

A Predator Is Always a Predator

With the 750,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S., the thousands more unaccounted for, and even the thousands more who’ve never been caught, know that predators live amongst us.

The question always arises as to whether or not a sex offender can be rehabilitated. I’m sure that a handful of Level 1s and 2s can be, but once a predator, always a predator. It’s their nature. It’s their normal.

There are a bunch of free sites you can go to that will let you know the current living situations and general whereabouts of registered sex offenders in your town. Take advantage of every opportunity you can to learn where the bad guys are.

Know how to fight. Know how to defend yourself from a predator. Understand all the vulnerable points of the human body and what parts of your body can be used as weapons. Go for the eyes, nose, throat, groin, and instep of the foot. Know how to fight from the ground, if attacked from behind, or when a distraction is used in front.

Determine if you want to carry a weapon, but know that your brain is your best defensive weapon. Carry a weapon if you’re properly trained, and not a day before. Years ago, my childhood hero was a Chicago cop named J.J. Bittenbinder. He would say, “If all else fails, let them kiss you, then bite down on their lips until your teeth meet.”


Complacency can result in bad things happening. Install a home security system, be vigilant, be alert, be aware, and know your options.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.