I just want to share. I started going to NAMI (finally!!!). It is just a friendly class, information sharing and support for people who are close to someone w a mental illness. Or for someone who has one. There is no dogma, or religiosity at all. What I learned is the mean behavior often is about protecting the self. They are different, they don't get the casual social support the rest of us do. They also criticize themselves terribly. They tend to have very low self esteem. My son is very mean. Very intolerant, scornful of anyone who is different, or anyone who uses drugs besides weed. His teachers, the police in some cases, tended to see him as a "bad kid" and wanted me to be a lot stricter, etc. (How can you be strict when your child is dangerous, and out of control?) This morning, I am wondering if he is angry, and acted out because he is stubborn - does have ODD, but also was a sweet kid, we used to be so close! But right when it was time to start making his own identity in the world - middle school - the world didn't make sense to him. I wonder what I would have done differently if I had been going to NAMI since he first started acting out. I don't know if mental illness, or not being neurotypical is obvious in the younger or mid teen years. A "bad kid" really might be frightened, angry, etc, and to get angry with them makes it worse, I think now. He lives with his dad. I know it is not healthy, but he just can't be with me.