expert advice MORE
Q: I'm a 15-year-old schoolgoer in England, writing about a fellow student who's smart and funny, but when he loses his temper he talks with his fists.
He slams doors, and hits people who get in his way, almost as though he has two personalities. He has been talking to people about how he hates a girl who has not returned his affections and wants to beat her up or kill her.
I read your warning signs for violent kids. He's detatched, makes threats, and has a preoccupation with violent weapons, videos etc. Once, he had a crush on me, and when I didn't return the feelings, he bullied me and at one point had me up against a wall threatening to strangle me to death.
When I ask him what's wrong, he goes quiet and says "Amy" and "family problems." I want to help him, but I'm not sure what I can do. I know he regrets how he loses control when he gets mad.
A: His regret after his bad behavior is absolutely irrelevant. His regret is what keeps you hooked on the image of him as the person you want him to be (smart and funny, a normal guy). This friend of yours is troubled.
Indeed, he likely does have troubles at home, and he likley does need help -- but so do those whom he might harm.
How about giving a copy of this posting to your school headmaster? You can delete your name if that's more comfortable, but this situation is beyond your ability to handle on your own.
More on: Expert Advice
Gavin de Becker is widely regarded as the leading U.S. expert on the prediction and management of violence. His work has earned him three Presidential appointments and a position on a congressional committee. He is currently co-chair of the Domestic Violence Council Advisory Board, and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy.