Once a child or adolescent engages in violent or aggressive behavior, the behavior is very difficult to change. This is partly because aggression often works as a strategy for children and adolescents to get what they want, and it is self-reinforcing.
There are several evidence-based strategies for helping children and adolescents control themselves and refrain from violent or aggressive behavior.
It is important to understand which strategy would be most effective given the needs of the children or adolescents, their culture, their situation, and the amount of support they may or may not receive from their parents or guardians.
Consequently, one primary focus in working with parents of aggressive children or adolescents is to help them learn how to say “no” and to stay firm, despite their child’s or adolescent’s violent or aggressive behavior.
Something else to consider in treating violent or aggressive behavior is when interventions need to be implemented. As a child or adolescent grows up, there may be warning signs, such as subtle or overt behaviors that could ultimately lead to more severe violent or aggressive behaviors.
For this Assignment, review the multimedia program Aiden Carter Reverse Timeline. This is a case study of a young man named Aiden and how events in his life led to his aggressive behavior and his violent acts. Consider what possible interventions or strategies, if implemented at different points of his life, might have changed the course of events.
Disclaimer: Please note that the pictures and story of Aiden Carter depict graphic details of school violence that may be disturbing. Please consult your faculty if you experience trauma related to the media. If after consultation you feel you need further services, please contact the Walden Counseling Center.
The Assignment (2–3 pages):
Aiden Carter’s Reverse Timeline
Today, Age 17 Adolescent
It is raining outside Middletown High School. As the sound of rain droplets is heard hitting the ground, the sound of a heartbeat is also heard. A figure wearing a hooded raincoat stands at the main entrance of the school.
Inside math teacher Robert Young’s classroom, the sound of the heartbeat continues. Students sit at their desks, and Mr. Young stands at the front of the class writing on the chalkboard. Aiden Carter appears in the classroom holding a gun.
There is a close-up of the gun; it fires six shots. The rhythmic sound of the heartbeat is now faster. A view of the classroom shows the teacher and several students lying in different positions, apparent victims of the shooting. Aiden Carter continues to stand, holding the gun in his hand.
An extreme close-up shows Aiden as he closes his eyes and raises the gun to his own head. The image of Aiden with the gun to his head fades to white. A single gunshot rings out.
The next image shows a female television reporter standing in the rain outside Middletown High School with police cars with flashing lights. The sounds of sirens, screeching tires, and police radio noise are heard.
Holding a microphone, the reporter says, “The shocking events at Middletown High School leave many asking questions. Why did five students and a teacher die in such a way before the gunman turned the gun on himself?”
As an ambulance crew rolls a gurney with what appears to be a body covered in a shroud, the female reporter continues, “This community will never be the same again and already is looking for answers to how such an event could have happened.”
6 Months Before the Shooting, Age 17 (Adolescent)
The exterior of Middletown High School is shown as a school bell rings.
Inside math teacher Robert Young’s classroom, students sit at their desks. Aiden Carter sits at his desk in the back of the room.
Mr. Young stands at the front of the class near the chalkboard. He asks, “Aiden, how should we approach this equation?” Aiden ignores or doesn’t hear Mr. young’s question.
Instead, Aiden continues to focus on the drawing he is creating at his desk. A closer view of Aiden’s drawing shows a person with a gun shooting three people; blood appears to be coming from them. Two of the people in the drawing are wearing sports jerseys.
12 Months Before the Shooting, Age 16 (Adolescent)
Aiden Carter walks through a crowded school hallway, while other students talk and lean against lockers. Aiden looks down and appears sad.
Suddenly, someone pushes Aiden into a row of student lockers, creating a loud crashing sound.
Aiden sits on the floor of the school hallway, his schoolbooks and papers scattered around him. Aiden looks up to see Rick, the high school football quarterback, standing over him. As Aiden begins picking up his books, Rick grabs and pulls off Aiden’s coat. Rick says, “Nice coat, freak. It’s too good for you.”
Rick puts on Aiden’s coat. Rick says, “Say hi to your other vampire friends.”
A girlfriend of Rick teasingly says, “Don’t let him near me, he might try and suck my blood!”
Rick and his friends laugh as Aiden picks up his schoolbooks and papers.
Another friend of Rick laughs and says, “Ha-ha, what a loser.”
Listening to the taunting of Rick and his friends, Aiden closes his eyes and lowers his head as the school bell rings, signaling the start of classes.
18 Months Before the Shooting, Age 16 (Adolescent)
Aiden Carter sits in a chair and listens to a conversation in the next room between his mother and a doctor. Aiden’s mother says, “But doctor is there anything that you can give him for this? You can’t just let him carry on like this. Can’t you see how he is? He just doesn’t care or show any interest in what’s around him.”
The doctor responds, “We can look to treat him with a prescription of antidepressants. This will raise the serotonin levels in the brain, which may help stabilize his moods. We should start out with a low dosage and adjust based on the results that we see.” Aiden listens to what the doctor is saying.
The doctor concludes, “Let me know of any changes in him and come back in a week or so for a follow-up exam.” Resigned to the situation, Aiden closes his eyes and lowers his head. A close-up shows the doctor writing the word sertraline on a prescription pad.
2 Years Before the Shooting, Age 15 (Adolescent) Aiden Carter looks at himself in a mirror and puts on his new black leather coat. Rock music blares as Aiden brushes his hair. Aiden then opens the top of his dresser and removes a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Aiden puts on his sunglasses and admires himself. Aiden’s mother shouts, “Aiden, your friends are here!!!”
3 Years Before the Shooting, Age 14 (Adolescent)
Aiden Carter is in his family’s living room playing a video game on the television. It is a war game with a lot of sound effects of guns shooting and explosions.
Aiden’s mother is on the phone trying to have a conversation. She says, “I don’t care. You said you’d be here an hour ago to take him to the tutor. I have plans myself and you said you’d be here.
Besides, you’re better at controlling him than I am. At least he listens to you!” A close-up shows the video game on the television set as Aiden increases the volume of the game’s sound effects of the gunfire and explosions. Visibly upset, Aiden’s mother yells, “I told you to turn that down!
Aren’t you listening? Now turn off that video game and get upstairs to your room!” The sound effects of guns shooting and explosions fade as we see Aiden’s shoe on the first step of a stairway.
Aiden walks up the steps toward his bedroom. From behind him, Aiden’s mother says, “I don’t want to see or hear you until your father gets home!”
6 Years Before the Shooting, Age 11 (Early Adolescent)
Birds chirp as Aiden Carter picks up a rock. Aiden then throws the rock at a bird that is perched on a branch of a nearby tree. The rock hits the branch, scaring the bird and causing it to fly away.
The rock then falls into a bush at the base of the tree, startling a squirrel from its hiding place. Aiden throws a second rock, hitting the squirrel. The squirrel occasionally moves its leg and head, signifying that it is just stunned. Aiden, holding a large wooden stick, says, “Stupid squirrel!” The large wooden stick moves down toward the squirrel. A loud thud is heard.
8 Years Before the Shooting, Age 9 (Childhood)
Small plastic army soldiers stand on the floor of Aiden’s living room. Suddenly, a man’s shoe comes down onto the plastic soldiers, knocking one over. Aiden’s father almost trips on the plastic soldiers. Aiden plays with the soldiers as his father yells, “What have I told you about having all your junk across the floor?
I could have tripped and broken my neck!” Aiden, looking scared, doesn’t say anything. 4 Aiden Carter Reverse Timeline Aiden’s father continues, “If you can’t pick up and take care of your toys, maybe you shouldn’t have them.” Aiden’s father smashes some of the plastic soldiers with his foot.
Aiden begins to weep. Aiden’s father then grabs Aiden by the collar of his clothes and begins dragging him away. His father tosses him into the far corner of his bedroom. As Aiden continues to cry in the corner of his bedroom, his father says, “Stop crying! You’re an embarrassment you loser.” Aiden’s father then slams the bedroom door. Aiden continues to cry.
12 Years Before the Shooting, Age 5 (Childhood)
A very young Aiden Carter runs around the yard of his house with a baseball glove on one hand and a baseball in the other hand. Near the house, his father digs a hole with a small hand trowel. Aiden’s mother sits in a chair, watching both Aiden and her husband.
A table separates Aiden’s mother from a neighbor who also sits in a chair. Both Aiden’s mother and the neighbor sip drinks. Birds sing in the backyard. Aiden rushes up to his father in excitement saying, “Daddy can we play now?” Aiden’s father is tired but continues to shovel dirt.
He says to Aiden, “Not yet. I’ve got to get this done before we can.” Aiden, still very much excited and wanting to play immediately, says, “When will that be?” Aiden’s father, now a little more irritated, in a more forceful tone says, “Not quite yet! When I’m done!”
A close-up shows the gardening trowel being dug into the dirt. Aiden, now more curious, says “But when? You said!” Aiden’s father, now angrier, interrupts Aiden. “I know what I said, so later!” Aiden is unsure how to respond and wonders why his father is angry.
Aiden begs, “But please, Daddy, I just want to play catch.” Aiden’s father yells, “Get away from me. I don’t want to play with you. You’re not any good anyways. Don’t ask me ever again!” Aiden runs toward the house as his mother says to the neighbor, “He just doesn’t know when to quit bothering us.”