7 Signs Your Teenager is at Risk for Violent Behavior

In the last week alone, four shootings/murders made headlines. They shared something shocking in common ? the alleged offender was a teenager.

1. A teenager was arrested and charged with attempted murder in the shooting of five people at a club.
2. Sentencing for a 16-year-old boy who admitted stabbing his mother 111 times was postponed.
3. The first of four teenagers to be tried in the killing of a Chinese restaurant deliveryman was found guilty of first-degree murder.
4. A teen in a middle school shoots two classmates, but is stopped by hero teacher.

Dr. Kathryn Seifert a youth and family violence and trauma expert who has over 30 years of experience believes that a recent study sheds light on the issue of teen violence. While some behavioral (aggressive) disorders have a biological base, they may also have roots in childhood maltreatment and in exposure to violence. The overlap between behavioral disorders and histories of childhood trauma is greater than has been previously recognized,? said Seifert. While not all traumatized children become aggressive, there are warning signs that can help parents determine if their child needs to get professional help.

Using recent studies, other scientific data, and 30 years of experience, Dr. Seifert has created 7 questions to determine if your teenager may be at risk of committing violent or aggressive behavior. The more questions to which you answer yes, the more likely it is that your child needs professional help. If the answer to 6 or 7 questions is ?yes?, then data shows that your teenager may be at risk of aggressive or violent behavior and needs immediate professional attention.

1. Has your child or teen witnessed or been a victim of violence?
2. Has the child in your care been abused, neglected or abandoned by a family member?
3. Has your child been cruel to animals?
4. Has your child had moderate to severe behavior problems (such as stealing, punching holes in walls, or staying out all night without permission) that began before the age of 13?
5. When your child hurts or injures someone does he feel sorry he/she got caught, rather than sorry for the harm caused to his/her victim.
6. In the past, has your child assaulted another person that was not in self-defense? (This is particularly important if it was a younger, weaker child or a parent, policeman, or teacher.)
7. Has you child had severe learning and/or behavior problems in school for more than a year?

Dr. Seifert warns that although these questions can be easily answered, their answers should not be taken lightly. Adults and caregivers need to take immediate action to seek help for families and teens that have experienced traumatic experiences. Without professional help, such as counseling from organizations like Dr. Seifert?s firm, Eastern Shore Psychological Services, many teens may never get the help they need. And without help, a troubled teenager could become the next headline. With the proper interventions, youth violence is preventable.


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