VISTAS Counseling Children and Adolescents

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

Inside the Heart of a Teenage Killer: What Kids Need in Order to Not Have to Kill

Jill Riethmayer


Across America both educators and parents are asking the question: Why does a teenager kill? If one was able to look inside the hearts of teenage killers, what might one see? What common thread can be found woven throughout the lives of those young men who have killed classmates in the schools throughout the United States? If one closely examines the lives of Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, T. J. Solomon, Luke Woodham, Kip Kinkel, Michael Carneal, Larry Golden, Mitchell Johnson, and Andy Williams, one of the common issues for each “killer” was the struggle for a strong sense of self– a good self-esteem or self-image. The individual young men had received strong messages from peers that somehow each did not “measure up” (Begley, 1999; Canon & McGraw, 1999; Gibbs & Roche, 1999; Labi, 1998; Lacaya, 1998). What might it be that these teenage killers need in order to not “have” to kill? Perhaps, the answer is not complicated, but more basic. When the five roots of violence (abandonment, shame, ungrieved losses, depression, and anger) are traced, one finds the roots all involve a failure to meet the basic needs in the lives of these teenagers. Could the answer lie within meeting kids’ six basic emotional needs? How powerful is the impact of unmet emotional needs in the life of a child or teen? Is it potent enough to drive a child or teen to kill? Is it truly a life or death issue? Each individual born comes into the world with six basic

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