Therapy in LA
Therapy in L.A.


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August 2000
By Glenn Peters, Ph.D.

James Garbarino, Ph.D. in his book Lost Boys, Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them, discusses the factors involved in children and adolescents becoming violent. His report on current research makes it clear that this society is going through a crisis. The crisis concerns the amount of kids that are turning to violent behavior. He also discusses why some high-risk kids developed more positive life styles, even though many environmental and temperamental factors were loaded against them. One positive factor appears to be the availability of a positive attachment figure. He gives many specific case examples to back up his conceptualizations.

This checklist is a quick way to determine whether a child or adolescent shows some of the signs of being a high-risk kid. It is by no means an exhaustive list and is meant to be only an aid in understanding, not a complete categorization of high-risk kids. If a child or adolescent shows these characteristics it might be worthwhile to seek professional assistance to gain more information:

  1. Characteristically resorts to name calling, cursing or abusive language.
  2. Habitually makes a violent threat when angry.
  3. Has previously brought a weapon to school.
  4. Has a background of serious disciplinary problems at school and in the community.
  5. Has a background of drug, alcohol or substance abuse.
  6. Is preoccupied with weapons or explosives.
  7. Has previously been truant, suspended or expelled from school.
  8. Is cruel to animals.
  9. Has been a victim of abuse or neglect in the home.
  10. Is involved in a gang or antisocial group.
  11. Is often depressed.
  12. Has no close friends and is on the fringe of his or her peer group.
  13. Has a history of tantrums and uncontrollable angry outbursts.
  14. Tends to blame others for problems that he or she caused.
  15. Has been bullied and/or bullies peers or younger children.
  16. Reflects anger, frustration and the dark side of life in pictures, essays or writing projects.
  17. Consistently prefers TV shows, movies or music expressing violent themes and acts.
  18. Has threatened or attempted suicide.
This list was developed by the National School Safety Center, 1998 and revised by Glenn Peters, Ph.D. August 2000.

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