Psychology Of Children Who Kill
(Memphis) “The father came in, laid down and was watching TV. He came up behind him with a 22 rifle, shot him in the back of the head and killed him,” says former Police Officer Cliff Freeman as he remembers a case from the 1990s.
It was no stranger who pulled the trigger and killed the Southaven man, it was his teenage son.
What made him violently lash out at his dad?
Cliff Freeman worked the case, “That was over an argument about a pick-up truck, the child using the pick up truck. It just went bad from there. The child formulated this fantasy in his head about killing his father and taking the truck and everything was gonna be perfect from then on.”
Freeman now works in Forensics and helps profile killers.
He says there is no such thing as children snapping and suddenly killing their parents.
There are signs.
“It goes back to a deviation from what is normal to the child. If you see them start exhibiting behavior that is not normal, writing, if they are running away or cutting themselves. Any kind of deviation from what is normal for the child, that should raise a red flag,” says Freeman.
Last month, 45-year-old Gwendolyn Wallace died in her Hickory Hill home, trapped upstairs after a fire was set downstairs.
She had no way out.
Police say her 14-year-old son Johnathan watched as firefighters doused the flames he lit.
He was angry his mother wouldn’t let him see his girlfriend after he got suspended from school.
Family Psychologist Charlotte Freeman says parents must change their thinking of what their kids are capable.
“When parents see these behaviors, when their children become easily upset by minor situations and they have a difficult time getting that child to calm down or if they find their children are aggressing against others in the family or at school, for parents not to be in denial that their children could be having difficulties,” says Charlotte Freeman.
She says therapy and family counselors can work with children early on to pinpoint those things that trigger aggressive behavior and help young people learn other coping strategies so they won’t lash out for quick revenge that can have deadly consequences.
“A 15, 17 or 20-year-old their mind is not mature until they are about 25 years old. They don’t have the ability to formulate these plans in their mind. They don’t see beyond the right now,” says Cliff Freeman.
Therapists say the goal is to work with children, before they end up at Juvenile Court.
They say it won’t happen without parents and even neighbors stepping up, admitting changes they’ve noticed and the need for intervention.