He Said, She Said: Parents unsettled by sonís dangerous behaviors Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 April 2015
By Shaun and  Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

We are a military Family that recently completed our third PCS in five years.

Our kids have been pretty good with the adjustments that come from multiple moves, up until this one.

Our middle child, now 14, has always adjusted the slowest but has bounced back to his normal happy personality. This last move he seemed to adjust well, at first, but he has since developed a violent streak and has threatened suicide. He has pulled a knife on his brother, and has attacked his sister. We are not sure why this complete 180 with him and have sought professional intervention. Nothing to this point has helped, and his violent outbursts have only become more frequent. What can we do?

HE SAID:  Normal adjustments to PCS stress in children can generally include some level of depression, which is a reasonable reaction to children having to change school, move away from friends, etc. Although children are very resilient and tend to bounce back quickly, I believe you are rationalizing your son’s behavior by tying it to the PCS move.  

The behaviors you described are both deeply disturbing and are much more indicative of a psychological disorder than “acting out” because of a move. His suicidal and homicidal ideations and associated behaviors are much more significant than I think you realize. Many other children, who are not in military Families, have engaged in some of these same behaviors and in some cases the children continued on until they harmed themselves or others, in extreme cases – these include mass attacks on classmates and other forms of unbridled rage.  

It is my non-professional opinion that you need to aggressively seek professional intervention by someone who specializes in these particular disorders and behaviors. Seeing a Family therapist or simply treating him for depression could have catastrophic results that I’m certain you do not want on your conscience. I am not saying this to frighten you, but you have to consider the fact that he could seriously harm or kill one of his siblings, himself, or God forbid, members of his school or community.  

This is not something you can hope will resolve itself. Treatment may include a period of institutionalization and intensive treatment, which I strongly urge you not to resist. Protecting him means doing what is best for him, not hiding from the seriousness of his actions. You need to get ahead of this and that means taking serious action now. You also need to ensure he has no access to weapons and that parents of other children he spends time around know what he has been doing, so they  too ensure he does not gain access to weapons at their residences.  

Please do not hesitate, you need to take such actions very seriously — see a specialized professional today!

SHE SAID:  I would say I remember 14, and it was not pretty. But this goes beyond normal adolescent angst.  You are right to think there is something going on that cannot be ignored.  

You say you have sought professional intervention. I would be curious to know what that involves. Are you seeing a child counselor? Is it someone your son feels he can talk to? If not, perhaps you need to find someone he will talk to. I will tell you that this is not normal behavior for a child who has been uprooted from his environment. He acts as if something has happened to him that he clearly is not comfortable talking about but it has caused him to lash out in irrational anger.  

First, talk to him. Tell him there is nothing that he can tell you that will change the way you feel about him. Ask him if he is comfortable or feels safe disclosing to the professional he talked to. If not, ask him if he would talk to someone else.  

Your first step is to get him to tell you what is going on. And whatever he tells you, do not react or judge, it will shut him down.  

Finally, I wouldn’t wait to engage this more aggressively as he has shown himself to be a danger to others, and he may be a danger to himself.  

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 April 2015 )