Being the parent or guardian of a teenager is never an easy task. There is often a fine line between typical teen behavior and definite warning signs of a troubled teen. Dealing with problem teens is where I come in.
As a private investigative firm, we are contacted almost daily from parents who have children that have run away from home. Many come to Los Angeles or Hollywood in hopes of chasing movie star dreams.
There is another group of parents who sometimes wish their teenagers would leave their homes. These parents are desperate and feel trapped in their own homes by defiant and violent teenagers.
What is normal? What is not? What can you do for your teen before they run away or go missing?
Here are some warning signs for troubled teenagers, and some specific recommendation to help your teen.
Warning signs of troubled teenager:
- When the use of alcohol or drugs becomes routine and creates problems at school or home. Substance abuse is a serious issues caused by many underlying issues. Left to fester, the consequences can be deadly for both the parents and the teenager.
- Quick and rapid changes in personalities.
- Failing or falling grades in school.
- Continuous sadness, depression, persistent anxiety or one of the most challenging emotions, anger.
- Any suggestion of suicide should be taken seriously.
- Escalation of arguments at home or school.
- Not attending school.
- Run-ins with the law enforcement community.
- Radical changes in appearances, self-mutilation or cutting or extreme gain or loss of weight.
- The outright refusal to obey the most basic and reasonable rules and regulations.
Every teenager’s case is different and has to be initially evaluated by parents, school administrators and those in the medical field. We have been involved in hundreds of these cases and have come to know what recommendations work and the ones that do not. Parents are generally the worst at evaluating the problems and long-term remedies. In addition, their children do not listen to them. School administrators generally expel the problem children from the system. Psychiatrists, therapist and psychologist can be of value but in most of the hard-core cases we see, they do not prevail or change the negative behavior.
One thing is for sure. 99% of these teenagers must be extricated from their current environments be it physically, mentally, academically or spiritually. Early on in the 1980’s, I was an advocate for sending them to boarding schools which are plentiful in Utah. When I met with them upon their return to their homes after months at the school there was definitely a change in them physically and mentally. The problem was that, once back in their own homes, they quickly reverted back to the “troubled teenager” and all that encompasses. It was like the school “broke down the horse” but there was no long-term effect.
During the past decades we have come to know a few schools that have been very successful. Each teenager needs to be interviewed by myself or other seasoned former federal agents. Once that evaluation process has been completed, we suggest what we believe are the two or three best environments to place the teen. These programs are more therapeutic in nature and positive in design. The idea of a teenage living out in subfreezing weather to earn the “right” to come into a warm room simply doesn’t work in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, these schools are not a picnic or walk in the park. They are very structured with a disciplined environment that has great rewards for progress and severe penalties for non-compliance of rules.
Our goal is evaluate your child and set them on a course where there is an attitudinal change that results in a more self-reliant and disciplined person. The school’s goal should be to conduct a program that builds confidence and is mindful of developing a goal-orientated adult.
Our cost to meet with the parents and teenager separately, conduct the interview process, make school recommendations and assist in the evaluation process is done for a flat-fee retainer. Many of my clients have waited too long and the problems always increase. Hope of change is not something that will happen on its own. Be careful, they will be eighteen years of age before you blink. Another common mistake is waiting for the semester or summer to end and then start the process. Most top-notch schools take students year round so there is no need to wait. The application process can be long and somewhat arduous but worth the effort. Admission is not a sure thing no matter how much money you have.
Call our toll-free number if we can answer your questions or clarify any issues.