NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- In the past year and a half there has been an alarming rise in the number of teenagers charged with murder in our area. A local child psychologist says she fears if something is not done soon with today's youth, more cases of teenage killers will come up. According to our records nine teens in New Hanover County have been charged with murder and three in Brunswick County since January of 2006. Dr. Arthur Costantini, who runs the southeastern center for mental health, says a child's parents and their surroundings could be to blame for the rise in violence among young people. Dr. Costantini says teenagers often don't consider killing someone murder -- they view it more as eliminating that person from their life. He also says teens are less likely to use rationale and think about the consequences before they act. Dr. Costantini says there are two reasons teens kill. "Either they saw those people or those things trying to block them or getting in the way and they thought to themselves, I have to eliminate that person that is preventing me from getting my way." Or he says, the teen is trying to get attention. "What we need to do is get to our kids before they learn what consequences are and get them to understand before they are searching for their identity." Dr. Costantini says parents need to keep their kids involved in after school activities so they can have structure and rules in their life. He fears otherwise teens could turn to gangs to find their identity.
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