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What Compels Teens to Commit Violent Acts?

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Duncan, Ok_In the aftermath of the Chris Lane killing, a lot of attention was given to a statement that one of the accused teenagers reportedly gave to police about being simply being bored.

That led to speculation about the suspects' home life and what makes boredom a cause of violent behavior.  Or could it be something more than lack of activity or interest that sparked this murder?

Youth experts in Stephens County said mental illness can be an underlying cause of violent acts that are oftentimes hidden under the disguise of boredom. But many cases could have been prevented with some basic routines at home.

"I've seen a lot of different things and so forth, but nothing of this magnitude.  You don't ever expect this to happen," said John Herdt, Executive Director for the Youth Services for Stephens County, a facility that also serves Jefferson and Cotton counties as well.

He believes that boredom isn't an excuse.  "We've had boredom with teens for years, but they've decided to do other things...Usually they'll find other avenues, they'll go swimming, they'll  get involved with sports or some kind of activities," Herdt said.

Mental illness is always on his mind as a potential cause, but more often than not, parental involvement is key to making sure kids are staying out of trouble. 

"I think that's really important...that the parents to be involved somehow, even if you're a single parent or whatever.  Even when there's two parents in the home, they may be working, they may be doing shift work, so it leaves their children a lot of times by themselves quite a bit," Herdt said.

Herdt also said parents being mindful of their children's daily routines and the relationships they have is crucial to keeping them out of trouble.  However, there are some warning signs. 

"If they become really withdrawn and aloof and everything and just kind of go off on their own and you don't know what they're doing...make sure you're getting them involved or getting them the help they need.  Keep up with them, find out who their friends are and what activities they're involved in. If they're not involved in any activities, get them involved in some kind of activity," Herdt said.

Herdt said parents also need to be responsible for what t.v. shows and video games their children have access to because some can have violent tendencies even if they're rated for general audiences. So all in all, you just can't go wrong with mindful and informed parenting.

The Youth Services Office is making an effort to be more involved in the community.  A committee has formed in Duncan to address mental health and mental illness awareness.

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