Qin Xiaohong was shocked to see her 13-year-old daughter beating the family's pet cat.
She decided to have a talk with the girl who is getting more and more distant from her parents.
"My daughter told me she might be suffering from mental illness," Qin said. "At one time she was very fond of the cat, but attacked it when she thought no one was at home."
The daughter also told Qin, a journalist, she had thoughts of suicide, and often banged her head against a wall.
"Teenagers tend to have psychological problems. Parents must pay more attention to them," Jiang Li of the Shenzhen Women and Children Psychological Consultant Center told China Daily.
During the summer vacation, the number of teenagers visiting the center daily had shown a marked increase.
Deng Menghong, a psychological consultant with Yangguang Yizhan Psychological Consultancy Co, urged parents to seek treatment for their children once they showed early signs of abnormal behavior.
"Teenagers are very sensitive. When they cannot find a normal channel to release their emotions, they start to behave irrationally such as abusing animals or hurting themselves to attract attention," Deng said.
"Living in a city like Shenzhen, working parents have little time to communicate with their children - a major reason for the rising number of teenagers with psychological problems."
A survey by a group of psychological consultants last year, showed 17.3 percent of middle school students in Shenzhen had various psychological problems.
(China Daily August 31, 2007)