Editor's note: HLN's Raising America will take a deeper look at what motivates teens to kill today at 12 p.m. ET on HLN.
Three Oklahoma teens are accused of killing a student from Australia because, according to police, they were bored. A New Mexico boy is on trial for killing his dad at age 10. And teens in Georgia are accused of murdering a 13-month-old. What’s driving our children to violence?
We’ve asked a panel of mental health experts to identify the top three red flags to alert us that someone is on the edge. What are the warning signs parents need to watch out for?
1. Look for a history of mental illness, especially if it is untreated, not medicated, and the child is destabilized.
2. Watch for a pattern of violent acts, especially if they escalate from minor to severe over time.
3. Thought, plan, intent: Have they verbalized thoughts about the violent act? Do they have an actual plan for said act? Do they intend to actually carry it out?
1. Keep an eye out for the typical sociopath trio of prolonged bed wetting (over age 12), fire-setting and torturing animals. The latter two are more worrisome and characteristic of killers than bed wetting.
2. Watch out for an angry or aggressive child who becomes suicidal.
3. Social media outcries or gestures for attention are also warning signs. Does the child's Internet activity suggest he or she is preoccupied with violence?
1. Watch for mounting anger and behavioral aggression with a history of acting out.
2. Keep an eye out for increasing isolation, with disturbed thoughts and fixation.
3. Is your child not able to see things from another's point of view? Do they lack empathy? This is especially troubling when seen together with #1 or #2.
1. Intuition is perhaps the most often ignored indicator of whether a child suffers from mental illness. Parents frequently ignore their intuition, because they don't want to believe that their child is "different" or struggling with a mental illness.
2. Communication is key. It's up to parents to communicate with their children, to know their children, so that they can recognize when things are off.
3. Watch for changes in behavior, dress, grades, friends, sleep-wake cycles, etc.