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How Do You Know If A Teen is At-Risk?

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It's not always as easy as we think it should be to spot a teen at risk. We often think that some actions and behaviors are just kids being kids; however, that is not always the case.

Pay close attention to Who Is your child hanging around with offline as well online, plus are there any noticeable change in dress, has their mood changed, do they smell? Yes, smell.

You can smell alcohol, marijuana, etc. If they have cologne on, it could be they are using it to cover something up. Keep an eye on their school grades as well. See below are some tips from Author, TV Personality, Speaker and Teen/Young Adult Expert., Larry Lawton

Identifying At-Risk Teens

If a teen is experiencing more than four of the following warning signs, they could be at risk and an intervention should be considered before the problem gets worse.

24 Warning Signs

  • Has the teen ever been suspended, expelled, been truant, or had their grades drop?
  • Is the teen verbally abusive?
  • Does the teen struggle with basic family rules and expectations?
  • Does the parent have difficulty getting the teen to do basic household chores and homework?
  • Has the teen had problems with the law?
  • Does the parent have to pick their words carefully when speaking to the teen, so as not to elicit a verbal attack or even rage from them?
  • Is the teen in danger of dropping out of high school?
  • Does the teen associate with a suspect peer group?
  • Has the teen lost interest in former productive activities, sports, hobbies, or childhood friends?
  • Has the teen ever displayed any evidence of suicide?
  • Does the teen seem depressed / withdrawn?
  • Does the teen ever display violent behavior?
  • Is the teen sexually promiscuous?
  • Has the teen’s appearance or personal hygiene changed?
  • Is the teen deceitful and manipulative?
  • Has the teen been caught stealing money or personal items from their family?
  • Is the teen severely lacking in motivation?
  • Does the teen sometimes lie regarding their activities?
  • Does the teen display outbursts of temper?
  • Does the teen lack self-worth and self-esteem?
  • Does the teen defy established rules regardless of the consequences?
  • When trying to deal with the teen, do the parents feel powerless?
  • Does the teen have a problem with authority?
  • Do the parents suspect the teen is experimenting with drugs or alcohol?

Any parent who has had trouble with their teenager can tell you it's not always easy to see the warning signs. Teens can be extremely clever at hiding their behavior and even a caring parent can be the last to know their child is in trouble. There is no one way to reducing risk in teens' lives. But there do seem to be some essential ingredients to the process.

So what can a parent do to when they realize their teen is at-risk?

  1. Communicate
  2. Listen
  3. Take an interest
  4. Show Love & Concern

If you suspect that a teenager in your life is at risk, speak up right away even if you’re unsure.

In a loving and non-judgmental way, share your concerns with your teenager. Let him or her know what specific signs you've noticed and why they worry you. Then encourage your child to share what he or she is going through.

Your teen may be reluctant to open up; he or she may be ashamed, afraid of being misunderstood. Alternatively, at risk teens may simply have a hard time expressing what they’re feeling.

If your teen claims nothing is wrong but has no explanation for what is causing the at risk behavior, you should trust your instincts. Remember that denial is a strong emotion.

In Part 2, will be talking about and sharing Tips for Talking to a Depressed Teen...

Resource: Larry Lawton

Resource: Keeping Our Kids Safe

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