Kentucky Murder Shows Importance of Getting Help for Troubled Teens

Jason Hendrix, a 16-year-old from Corbin, Kentucky, allegedly killed his parents and younger sister before fleeing and being eventually killed in a police shoot-out. Hendrix was reportedly angry at his parents for taking away his computer privileges, but Corbin police chief David Campbell said he showed no signs of being troubled when he met up with friends at church that Wednesday evening.

Shock to the Community

Hendrix was a member of the ROTC and was known for his politeness and helpfulness - he helped set up equipment each week for church services. His pastor, Drew Mahan, said "People want to ask questions. Why? How? I simply looked at folks today and said, 'I don't know," Mahan said after finishing the Sunday morning service. "The guy has been here. He's been an influence on our students, he's been an influence on my own kids. They love him."

Thankfully, most teenagers don't explode like Hendrix did, but many troubled youngsters get caught in a loop that leads them to the juvenile court system. The American Psychological Association (APA) says that more than one million teens go to court each year, with 160,000 being placed in detention centers or other residential programs.

Signs of a Troubled Teen

How can you recognize warning signs in a teen before they lead to trouble with the law, violence, or even suicide? MedLine Plus says that signs like being deeply sensitive to criticism, frequent irritability, angry outbursts, withdrawal from family and friends, being tired, being plagued with physical issues like headaches or stomach aches, feeling sad, and not enjoying favorite activities are all red flags. Trouble sleeping and problems with concentration and making decisions are cause for concern, too, as is substance abuse.

Some teens will show more obvious signs of trouble ahead. According to the American Psychological Association, these include lack of empathy for others, cruelty to animals, being abused at home, being victimized by bullies, committing acts of vandalism, and a history of violence in the past.

If you suspect your teen might need help, there are many options available. Support groups and individual counseling are popular options, but the APA stresses the importance of having the whole family involved in treatment. The youngster should learn more effective life strategies, how to learn from problems that may have already accursed, and how to decide on more effective and appropriate actions to deal with difficult situations.

WebPsychology has many helpful articles on understanding your teen. They can be found on this page.