News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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January 15, 2013

Author battling teenage violence

Expert who’s interviewed 200 teen killers to speak at program tonight

TERRE HAUTE — Mass killings, such as the school shootings last month in Newtown, Conn., come with early warning signs, according to an expert on teen violence speaking tonight in Terre Haute tonight.

There are 20 warning signs according to Phil Chalmers, an author, television personality and long-time student of teen violence and culture, who is scheduled to speak at St. Patrick’s School  

“We need to get to parents,” Chalmers said, urging all area parents – whether they have a troubled child or not – to attend tonight’s program, which starts at 6:30 in the St. Pat’s gymnasium, 449 S. 19th St., as part of the school’s Family Resource Series.

A $5 donation will be requested at the door.

Chalmers has interviewed more than 200 teen killers, school shooters and serial killers, he says on his website, He has also been studying youth culture since graduating from high school in the 1980s.

Warning signs that a teen is about to become violent include clear statements threatening to “kill” someone. Other warning signs include a fascination with bombs and guns, with violent entertainment (including video games) and with the youths behind the 1999 Columbine school shooting in Colorado.

Some teen killers have “liked” the shooters in the Columbine case on social media sites, Chalmers said.

Chalmers, 45, said teen violence has grown more common since he began his work 25 years ago. That’s because things that cause the violence have also become worse, he said.

Violence in entertainment has clearly become worse, Chalmers said Monday in an interview with the Tribune-Star. A recent teen-oriented film he watched was “basically two hours of rape, sodomy and murder,” he said.

“Every parent needs to get this information,” said Chalmers, who will also be speaking separately to students at St. Pat’s earlier today.

Chalmers, who trains police about teen murder and performs school assemblies on bullying, believes youth violence will become more common in the future. He also believes parents can take concrete steps to help kids before they hurt other people. Those steps include taking a child to a mental health specialist or even removing him or her from home or school.

To stop school shootings, Chalmers recommends placing an armed police officer in every school. That’s because mass shooters look for places where no one has a gun to resist them.

“Guns are what stop these things,” he said. “They want a soft target.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes


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