How teens cope with parental neglect

How teens cope with parental neglect

YUMA, AZ – Wednesday's arrest of a Wellton mother on neglect charges raises a lot of questions like what effect does such a home life have on a 17-year-old?

KSWT News 13 spoke to a local psychologist to find how teenagers typically respond to an unhealthy living environment where there's no food, no adult supervision but plenty of drugs and weapons within hands reach.

As we found out, every teen responds to such a traumatizing experience in one of two ways: they either confront the situation or follow in their parents' footsteps.

Wellton Police tell KSWT News 13, Carla Harris lived in a modest home with her 17-year-old son.

But on the inside, police say the house was trashed with dirty clothes thrown all over the floor and it smelled really bad from rotting meat.

We wanted to find out the mental impact such awful living conditions have on a child - even one who is 17-years old.

Doctor Rod Nelson says every person reacts differently.

"Some individuals growing up in those environments are disable. Other individuals growing up in the environments become very capable of dealing with what they need to deal with, almost adult like," said Nelson.

In this case police tell us the 17-year old, whose mother neglected him, ran away once before.

They say he couldn't stand to live in a home with no rotting food, no electricity and no water but plenty of drugs and guns lying around.

Doctor Nelson says it's not unusual behavior - for the ten to want to return home - as he did.

"Even the worst environment, they want to go back to check, more or less to see whether or not 'I made the a good choice in leaving home,'" said Nelson.

Doctor Nelson says overcoming traumatic experiences, like this one, can easily be treated with counseling. 

The challenge is for them to seek the help they need in order to learn how to cope.

"I can't work with anyone that doesn't first request my help.">

As far as the parent-child relationship in this case, Doctor Nelson says there is no reason why they shouldn't reconcile.

That doesn't mean they have to get along but rather accept each other by who they are, whether that's good or bad.

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