Violent ...CHILDREN?

Monday, April 10, 2017
Gangs, drive-by shootings, drug sales, school shootings... where does it end? 

Why does it begin?

Parents, peers, caring adults, informed children are all part of the tapestry that will reduce and hopefully eliminate children killing children.

What can parents do to keep themselves and their children safe? 

Recognize that any child from any family of any educational social or professional background can be a victim or perpetrator of violence. Too many parents overlook the fact that their child could be the child who is harming others.  


Parents need to know what is happening in their children's schools and with their children's friends.

Contrary to your child's objections, you need to know who your child befriends,  you need to know where your children are going and you need to know when your children are coming home. This will not keep your child safe from harm 24 -7 but it will let you and your child know that limits are important and will be honored in your household. 


Children who are violent have been exposed to violence in some way. That violence could be in the home,  at school, in the community.   If your child believes that violence is the only option or the preferred option -  your child and your household is in trouble.

Monitor what your children watch on television and the games they play. If the games are disturbing - it is your right and responsibility as a parent to express concern and to do the best you can to determine what's going on with this child. It is not okay to write it off as simply he or she is going through a phase.

If your child seems to be particularly UNaffected by events that would ordinarily be considered disturbing, it is important to pay attention.   It is strongly suggested that you consider taking your child to a mental health professional - it is important to understand what is happening with your child. 

If your child seems unable to regulate his/her emotions this too could suggest a need for clinical intervention. 

The ability to harm someone comes from many places. However the experience of not feeling important, not being heard, being ignored, not having options - in varying degrees of combination  - depending on the individual, can result in violence. 

The child who routinely resorts to violent threats or abusive language , or is exposed to violent threats or abusive language could be in trouble.  

Be clear with your child that this is not acceptable behavior. Do all that you can to ensure that you are not modeling threatening or abusive behavior.  


The child who is using substances (and they are starting younger and younger these days) is a prime candidate for violence. 

The notion that you tried it when you were a kid, or that "all kids try drugs" can no longer be the comfort zone you used to allow it to be. Pay attention to the potential for drug use. Have your child tested if you believe there is an issue. Talk with your child's counselors. Take your child to the doctor  for regular physicals.  


If the company your child keeps disturbs you - pay attention. 

This can often feel like a fine line to cross as you struggle to know the difference between your child making troublesome choices and "kids being kids". Take the time to talk to your child and your child's friends as this will help you begin to get a sense of the difference. Talk with their parents. Know whom your child spends time with and is influenced by and pay attention to your instincts.

If a child does not have friends - this is an important and disturbing sign that your child may be trouble. Children who feel isolated often experience depression (among other things). Do not assume that your child's sadness is "just a phase". Pay very careful attention to your isolated child. Try to engage them in talk. Learn your child and how he/she feels. If the child's depressed mood persists more than two weeks or if the quality of the depression seems to far outweigh the identified stressor(s) during a shorter period of time, or you are unable to identify a stressor - Get help for your child now.

If your child exhibits a preoccupation with weapons there IS a problem.  

It is important to explore this carefully and continually with your child. If you routinely keep guns in your home, do everything you know to do and then just a little more to KEEP YOUR WEAPONS AWAY FROM YOUR CHILD. Consider removing your weapons from the house. Weapons and children just don't mix. Period.

If your child "enjoys" being cruel to animals, there is a problem. 

This child is in trouble. Get help. Today.

If your child routinely has little/no supervision, difficulties are bound to arise. Today's world is often very complicated and many parents are unable to provide the one on one interaction with a child that they would like. If you are one of these parents, think about your options. Is there an after school program, a relative, a mentor? Is there someone who can provide your child the contact he/she needs and deserves?   Think about the times when you have been lonely and multiply that by a million that is often what unsupervised children experience. Children need and benefit from supervision and attention.

If you/your child are experiencing violence in the home, 

This is a critical indicator that your child is more likely to become a victim of his/her own rage. Talk to your child constantly and do all you can to GET AWAY FROM THE VIOLENCE. Violence does not make a child stronger. It makes a child more vulnerable.  

There are many ways to neglect a child. You can be in the home and neglect your children. Don't do this. Many parents learn to listen to their child with one ear while focusing on something else. Bad decision. Try to have family meeting at least weekly. Know what is happening in your child's life. In addition to the fact that child neglect is a crime you may be creating a child filled with pain and confusion about his/her own worth. Be sure you do not unknowingly do to your child what well may have been done to you.

Be careful not to help your child look for ways to skirt responsibility. Children must be taught to accept responsibility for their own behavior. Be very careful that you are not the chronic rescuer. If your child learns that he/she WILL experience the fruits of his behavior both good and bad - your child will learn to be thoughtful and responsible. If your child learns that no matter what he/she does, you will swoop in to rescue, your child will learn to disregard rules, scoff at society and push the limits of societal norms in ways that can be harming to all. 

Too many time parents find children's behavior upsetting and get into arguments. There is nothing to argue about. Using violence or death is an unacceptable theme for a school project. If your child is doing this, talk to your child. Work to understand your child's thinking in this. Meet with school counselors. Keep an eye on her/his behavior.

Victims of bullying are potential perpetrators of bullying.  They are also very much at risk for depression, and self-harm. 

Pay attention to what your child has to say. Careful attention. This is not a feeling to be dismissed. It is hurtful and unfair for your child to have to fend for him/herself. Bullies can be dismissive and quite cruel. While you understand that bullies are also children struggling with their own self-esteem issues, don't help the bully to harm your child by attempting to diminish the hurtfulness of the bullying behavior when talking to your child. Don't try to handle this on your own. Meet with the principal. Meet with whomever you believe appropriate at the school. Recognize that your child needs a feeling of safety while at the same time helping your child to see that bullying behavior does not get rewarded with silence from his/her victims.

POST SCRIPT

A society can create violent children. It will take a society to heal the children who have violent thoughts and behaviors. It will take the efforts of us all working very hard to teach children and each other that violence is neither funny or powerful or useful. 

Violence kills.

Death is permanent.