Psychologist looks at teens who are victimized - WSMV News 4

Psychologist looks at teens who are victimized

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Tad Cummins (Source: Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office) Tad Cummins (Source: Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office)
Daniel Clark (Source: Metro Nashville PD) Daniel Clark (Source: Metro Nashville PD)

Two 15-year-old Tennessee girls both took off with older men.

Amber Alerts were issued in both cases, but in the eyes of the law, one is a victim and the other a criminal.

Bridging the gap between mental health and criminal justice has been a long-fought battle.

The Maury County teen former teacher Tad Cummins took off with is a kidnapping victim.

Trinity Quinn is the same age, but police say she is not a victim because she quote "went willingly" with Daniel Clark.

They also say she is partly responsible for the murder of a gas station clerk because she stood by while Clark pulled the trigger.

Neither Cummins’ victim or Quinn appear to have been physically forced to stay with the men they ran off with, but child psychologist Daniel Goldstein said that doesn't mean they had free will.

“The individual might manipulate them by making them feel guilty if they don't go along with them or threaten to leave them,” Goldstein said.

Investigators say Cummins and Clark were two men who gained the trust of teen girls. One is a former teacher, the other, a close family friend who Quinn's mother say she called "Uncle Dan."

“If their self-esteem or belonging needs are not being met, then they ultimately will look for getting those needs met elsewhere, outside of home, outside of friend groups,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein said when children take off with older adults, it’s most likely because that adult is filling a void.

“Their reward center of their brain is lighting up when they come into contact with these older males,” Goldstein said.

When the law comes into play, Goldstein said it gets complicated.

Investigators say the teen Cummins ran off with is a victim because she was minor who was manipulated.

Quinn, on the other hand, could be charged as an adult in a murder. Police say she just stood by and watched.

Could she have been manipulated as well?

“That’s a really fine line to walk. Where do you say they do have responsibility if they can't give consent?" Goldstein said.

Goldstein’s advice for parents is to get to know everyone your child spends time with, including parents and older siblings of their friends.

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