When teens make treaths

Children and adolescents are probably the most emotional, dramatic and vocal creatures on earth. They often over react and express their emotions verbally by making threats, cursing and sometimes they even resort to violent behavior, either hurting themselves or others. But how can parents know when their children’s threats mean something else, something serious that demands attention?

It is important to know why teens make threats in the first place in order to determine if they are just being overly dramatic or if they are on the verge of exploding. Here is a list of potentially dangerous threats that should at least be taken seriously.

  • threats or warnings about hurting or killing someone
  • threats or warnings about hurting or killing oneself
  • threats to run away from home
  • threats to damage or destroy property

It is very difficult to predict teen behavior based on what they say alone, thats why it is important to review and reflect on their past behaviors. There are a few predictors that parents should look for. Past and current behaviors and other factors that can increase the risk of violent and dangerous behavior include:

  • past violent or aggressive behavior (including uncontrollable angry outbursts)
  • access to guns or other weapons
  • bringing a weapon to school
  • past suicide attempts or threats
  • family history of violent behavior or suicide attempts
  • blaming others and/or unwilling to accept responsibility for one’s own actions
  • recent experience of humiliation, shame, loss, or rejection
  • bullying or intimidating peers or younger children
  • a pattern of threats
  • being a victim of abuse or neglect (physical, sexual, or emotional)
  • witnessing abuse or violence in the home
  • themes of death or depression repeatedly evident in conversation, written expressions, reading selections, or artwork
  • preoccupation with themes and acts of violence in TV shows, movies, music, magazines, comics, books, video games, and Internet sites
  • mental illness, such as depression, mania, psychosis, or bipolar disorder
  • use of alcohol or illicit drugs
  • disciplinary problems at school or in the community (delinquent behavior)
  • past destruction of property or vandalism
  • cruelty to animals
  • fire setting behavior
  • poor peer relationships and/or social isolation
  • involvement with cults or gangs
  • little or no supervision or support from parents or other caring adult

The best course of action to take when a teen threatens to do something violent or dangerous either to himself or others is to not dismiss or ignore it. They have something to say and it maybe caused by their reaction to something that is worth checking into like bullying or abuse. Most of the teens who make threats need the attention and love and if that doesn’t work, there are interventions and programs that can help them.

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