MALIBU (CBSLA.com) — The foiling of a plot by two teenaged students, who were allegedly planning to kill staff and students at South Pasadena High School, has plenty of parents nervous for their children’s safety.
Police said the two students had gone to great lengths to research weapons and tactics in their plot, and investigators agree that alert school officials are to be credited with reporting the suspects, and preventing a potential tragedy.
While the concerns over student safety remain, CBS2’s Laurie Perez spoke with a specialist to learn the warning signs for teens who are potentially dangerous to themselves or others.
Pepperdine Psychology Professor Dr. Judy Ho suggests parents should be aware if their child is spending more time alone, or if they are being more volatile than teenagers generally are.
“If you ask them about their activities and they get extremely irritable, not just the regular annoying ‘stop it Mom, stop it Dad’, but their really, really, really upset when you ask them details, that’s another warning sign as well,” Dr. Ho said.
Aggressive or threatening comments on social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, are also considered potential warning signs.
“Parents just need to not be afraid of the difficult questions, and if they see something alarming, ask that teen directly, ‘what did you mean by this, I saw this on your social media, tell me why you put this comment down’,” Dr. Ho said. “And if they still feel like they couldn’t engage the teen, that’s when the parents need to make the really hard decision of telling an authority.”
Furthermore, Dr. Ho suggests parents be vigilant about their child’s social media behavior, including knowing the sites that your child uses, know their passwords, and let your children know that you will be monitoring.
“Often times parents are wanting to shy away from really, actually putting boundaries on their teens,” Dr. Ho said. “They want to be seen as the good parent, the supportive parent. They may not see these as the same thing, but actually, the most supportive parent is the parent that really puts their boundaries in place for the teen.”