To label the teenager Daniel Bartlam “evil”, as the Daily Mirror does this morning, is a gross oversimplification, not least because implicit in this label is the idea that he is somehow not human, something other, an abomination. He is none of these. Rather he is all too human – an isolated, troubled and destructive young man – who, lost in a violent and nihilistic virtual world of soap operas, video games and the internet, was driven to commit an evil act. We would do better to look into our own damaged and troubled hearts, rather than simply consign one teenage boy to hell. We cannot, and should not, let ourselves off so lightly.

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