Involving Law Enforcement with Bipolar Teen

Hi, my name is Elizabeth and we have a teen son with bipolar. I thought my husband was bipolar as well, but he now denies this. His mood swings grow worse and worse over time. My son is actually doing a little better, and has been on Abilify for approximately one month. We have called 911 several times in the past, and this is working against us.

The police who come tend to be very uninformed about bipolar and feel the need to lecture me (more so than husband) about how my son is a delinquent in need of DJJ more than anything else. They bring up how we have called in the past, how son has run away, smoke marijuana, and is now on probation--all "proof" that he should be in a detention center.

My most troubling issue is that they have said more than once that is ok, even desirable, to hit our son to "teach him who is boss." The officer who came out most recently actually said to both my son and husband that he has punched his own teens in the face for not obeying!

I do not think any of this is good for my family.

Dear Elizabeth:

I am very sorry about your experiences with law enforcement. Punching a child in the face is considered child abuse, and/ or assault. I'm not surprised to hear police officers come uniformed.

Police are not mental health professionals and therefore there advice about specific techniques is out of the realm of their area of expertise.

This is similar to a teacher telling you your child should not be on the medicine they are on. A teacher is not a psychiatrist and therefore that advice is not helpful because they are not an expert.

I think perhaps we have spoke on the phone and you know of my feelings regarding treating a child who is mentally ill as if they are a criminal. Unfortunately this is a common occurrence.

I tell my parents that I work with in some instances, when they are unsafe, to call the police, however, I speak to the police and tell them what to do to calm the family and child down.

I have in the early years of my practice had to call the police to my office when children became violent, and essentially it worked the same way. There presence, should provide a sense of safety and for you and the child. It is often enough to shake the child up enough to shift out of their state.

I am sorry you have had this experience


Kristen McCLure

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Dec 17, 2010
My bipolar teen
by: Anonymous

I have a bipolar daughter who is 14, she runs away, dose drugs and is hyper sexual,she feel she should be able to do what ever she wants, and when called on it, she will cuss me out and run off. She is missing now! I hope and pray she will return home safe.
I to have called the cops many times on my child, she has came at me with a knife,and attacked me many times, she has told me if i could beat you up I would every day! The police also said i should beat her. That not the answer.She as all bipolar people need help! Now how do we help them??

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