The Onion has a satirical piece on how a funny but fictional study has found high numbers of psychopaths among the nation’s children who have “little regard for anything other than their own egocentric interests and pleasures”.
Mateo added that even when subjects were directly confronted with the consequences of their inexplicable behavior, they had little or no capacity for expressing guilt, other than insincere utterances of “sorry” that were usually coerced.
Because children are so skilled at mimicking normal human emotions and will say anything without consideration for accuracy or truth, Mateo said that people often don’t realize that they’ve been exploited until it is too late. Though he maintained that anyone can fall victim to a child’s egocentric behavior, Mateo warned that grandmothers were especially susceptible to the self- serving machinations of tiny little sociopaths.
While The Onion is riffing on how the ego-centric world-view of children has a vague similarity to being a psychopath, there is quite a bit of genuine research on psychopathy-related features in children.
Known as ‘callous-unemotional traits’ (described here) they have been weakly related to future offending and a diagnosis of psychopathy, but as there are many ‘routes’ to adult antisocial behaviour they are not a guarantee of later problems.
Link to satirical Onion piece on childhood psychopaths.