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What Defines An At Risk Youth?

Aug 17, 2007
Have you ever wondered which teenagers are at high risk for such behaviors as drug or alcohol use? How about which ones are susceptible to dropping out of school, becoming sexually promiscuous or even getting pregnant?

Or how about which ones will turn to violence, gangs, running away or suicide? And maybe you have even wondered which teens really do need help for their rebellious or disturbing adolescent behavior?

If you're a parent of a teen in our society today, then you're well aware of the fact that a major difficulty all parents of teens face is how to recognize the more subtle indicators of these types of behavioral problems and when and how to intervene. It's a known fact that one of the obstacles that can cause parents to delay getting help for their struggling adolescent is their confusion about the answer to this question... "What truly defines an at risk youth and when does a parent really need to seek intervention?"

This can be a troubling dilemma so many parents find themselves comparing their child to other children. Parents often vacillate between, "My kid isn't as bad as their kid!" and "Why can't my teen act like that so-and-so's child?"

Although it's tempting to compare your child to other adolescents or even to your own behavior when you were a teen in an attempt to measure the seriousness of the situation, this is not truly indicative of a teen's need for outside intervention. As parents of an adolescent you will be better off looking at your particular family's situation and actually deciding for yourself if your teenager is on a self-destructive path or just going through a phase.

This tactic can be most effective if you have the ability to be brutally honest with yourself and you're truly willing to pay attention to your youngster's behavior. In other words, you can't just bury your head in the sand or run from the disruptive situations. Or say things like "What problem? I don't see any problem."

This is not to say that parents should not avail themselves of support groups or other sources of information that might guide them in their choices. In fact, you definitely should use all the information and support available to you. It simply means that you know if your child is in trouble. Remember the saying "If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right." Although simple it actually is quite useful in these situations.

Now your next question just might be "What do I need to know so that I can pay attentions to my child's behavior? I don't have a clue where to begin" To actually pay attention to your teenager's behavior you need to know what the signs and symptoms are for these particularly disturbing behaviors. Knowing what to look for before a problem reaches the crisis point will give you a good chance of recognizing the problems before things get out of control.

So remember, get the facts for yourself. Trust your instincts and take action before the situation deteriorates and spirals out of control.
About the Author
Marsha Beslic, M.S. speaks as a parent and from 20 years as a therapist and parenting coach. Her goal is to help families work through difficult times so they can return to the happier moments of family life. Visit Marsha's website http://troubledteensolutions.com
for her free "Teen
Parenting Guide."
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