When news broke that local law enforcement was investigating a triple murder they suspected was committed by a 15-year-old boy, the first thought on many people’s minds was simply, “Why? “
As these agencies continue to learn more about William Quince Colburn III and try to understand why he was forced to kill his father, mother, sister – and ultimately himself – questions of sanity will arise.
It is not known if Colburn had a diagnosed mental illness. However, it is undeniable that over the past year and a half, even children and teens who had never shown signs of mental strain before are feeling stressed.
Family counseling serviceMaria Graciano’s director of clinical programs said one of the most important things a parent or adult can do is listen.
Listen to the kids and teens talk about their day and who messed up in school. And it’s just as important to listen when they’re not talking.
Graciano said a great sign of a teenager or child in crisis is silence. Rolling your eyes is normal. Responding is normal. No affect or interaction at all is not.
“It’s so important for them to say something,” she said. “As long as they say something. Like that when they talk, let’s listen.”
Graciano said that as parents it is instinctive to try to solve a problem or to minimize the problem in order to try and make children feel better.
“I think that’s our reaction to the kids, ‘You’ll be fine, man,'” she said. “I knew, and I know, exactly what you’re going through, and you’ll be fine. “”.
When, in most cases, she says, they’re just trying to be heard.
“I think that answer needs to be changed to ‘Hey man, I know this is tough and I’m here for you,'” she said. “Instead of ‘it’s going to be fine’ what I think isn’t what they want to hear anyway, it’s just, ‘I’m here for you and I get it. I understand that it is really difficult for you. “
COVID-19 has dramatically altered what is already a difficult development era. Before, teenagers’ biggest concerns were going to football games and going out with friends – getting to a good college.
Now, the new coronavirus has caused anxiety in some, and others are wondering if they will even be there to see the university, Graciano said.
“We are talking about this issue of mortality at a very young age from COVID, and before there was none,” she said. “Are my parents going to be around?” Is anyone going to die from this thing? I have had a few kids who have shared with me in my office “I hate COVID”, and I understand why, don’t I? Because we took it away from them. “
Isolation at the height of the pandemic in 2020 has forced teens to stay home, cutting off their ability to socialize with friends and reducing their world to four walls.
“You don’t have your own space and you can’t go out and do other things, and you can’t go out and explore the world,” she said. “Yes, it caused some problems because there is this feeling of ‘I have nowhere to go.’ It is very stressful having to do everything at home.
The deputy chief of the San Patricio County Sheriff’s Office said Adrian Rodriguez Colburn was homeschooled. Rodriguez also said Colburn made threats against anonymous local schools, apparently on a popular group chat site called Discord.
Social networking sites also add to the anxiety that already accompanies adolescence, said Graciano.
“” Are people paying too much attention to me? People not paying enough attention to me. How many people have watched my video? How many times have I posted? “” she said. “These are concerns that children have now.”
And they’re so focused on being seen online that they don’t think about the side effects; Which is natural, said Graciano.
“Adolescents behave the way they do because the part of their brain that controls judgment and emotions, which is the prefrontal cortex, hasn’t fully developed,” she said. “So what you want your child to do is have better judgment and control his emotions, but his brain continues to develop in that.”
Officials said Colburn posted photos of his family members after killing them, where law enforcement saw the photos and were eventually able to locate him.
“Not only did he do it, but now (his thoughts go to) ‘I’m also making sure everyone knows that,'” she said.
Graciano also said that between the internet and COVID-19, teens are starting to doubt adults more quickly than previous generations.
“We have the internet now, and (kids) can pretty much understand how we as adults haven’t even been in it (a COVID-19 deal), which creates this idea that, like, “Adults don’t even know what they’re doing, so clearly I’m not going to seek advice from an adult,” she said.
But not wanting advice from parents, however, doesn’t mean they still don’t need their parents.
“I think the underlying thing for teenagers, and the thing that we move away from as adults is ‘Am I safe?’ and ‘Is there someone for me?’ ” she said.