Seeing the Red Flags Before Tragedy Strikes

February 2008

Last week Stephen Kazmierczak entered Northern Illinois University and began a shooting rampage killing six, wounding 16, and killing himself. This devastating event came “without warning” to many of the the gunmen’s friends and family. It seems stories like these are becoming common place in our society. Names like Omaha Nebraska Mall, Virginia Tech and Columbine Massacre come rushing to our minds. But can such a horrific event really come completely without warning? Are there possibly some red flags that could help prevent these tragedies?

For the parents and family members of these shooters I am sure that is a question that runs through their minds everyday. No parent could ever imagine their child to be capable of committing such a horrible act, but it is only fair to those who have died that parents start taking a better look at their own children and asking what if? Before it is too late.

Red Flags

Although it is impossible to make an exact profile of a teenager who would commit a school shooting or other violent act, it is easy to list a couple of red flags that every parent should be aware of:

  • Behavioral Problems – Stephen Kazmierczak, NIU shooter spent time in a psychiatric facility because of behavioral problems during high school age years.
  • Self Mutilation – Kazmierczak reportedly used to cut himself in high school for attention.
  • Doing Poorly, Lacking Interest in School a sudden change in behavior in your teen can be a source for concern. One example would be a smart teenager who has suddenly lost all interest in school.
  • Defiant Behavior – The way your teenager treats you is a sure sign of how he or she is capable of treating others. Though teenagers do not typically call their parents their best friend, abusive, non compliant behavior should be addressed. If it is left unchecked in the home, who else could suffer from such behavior?
  • Having Suspicious Friends – Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Columbine shooters, had been planning their attack on the school for about a year. This means they spent a lot of time together. Knowing who your teenagers friends are and what they are doing when they are “hanging out” could help parents know when something isn’t right with their teen.

Knowing When to Get Help

It is important that parents know there is help out there. If you are a parent who is worried about your teenagers behavior now is the time to act. Though your child may never go as far as participating in a school shooting, if the red flags persist some type of tragedy will eventually unfold. If you would like to get more information about help for your teen call Parent Help today at 1-844-622-6705 or contact us online.

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