Problem Teens: Residential Therapy and Making that Difficult Decision

Seeking residential help can be daunting online.

Seeking residential help can be daunting online.

Summer is here and some parents will be considering summer camps while others are in the midst of hoping their teenager passed the school year, or had enough credits to graduate. If you are the parent of a teen who is struggling with school and acting out, it can drive you to your wit’s end.

Maybe your once fun-loving teenager who is good looking, intelligent, and has lots of good friends is now talking back to you, staying out late or sneaking out, defiant, and possibly sexually active? On the flip side, your once sweet child might be a teenage misfit who is acting out because of bullying, or is experimenting with sex, drugs, and/or alcohol in a desperate attempt to find acceptance.

What happens when you have a teenager that decides they don’t want to finish high school when they are more than capable? Perhaps they were consistently getting excellent grades and now they are just getting by or failing completely.  From an overachiever to an underachiever.  Or you have the teen that used to be a great athlete, was a popular kid in school–suddenly your child has become withdrawn and is hanging with a group of new peers that are less than desirable.

Is this typical teen behavior?

Possible, but how do you know when it is and when you need to intervene?

As the school year is coming to an end, it is a good time for parents to evaluate where their teen is at both emotionally and academically–especially if they are in High School. These are your final years to make a significant difference in their lives, and get them on a positive road towards their futures. When a child is crying out for help by using illegal substances,  running away, flunking in school, becoming secretive, possibly affiliating with a gang, or displaying other negative behavior it is a parent’s responsibility to get involved, as painful as that is, and seek treatment.

When adolescents reach the point of rebelliousness, many parents will try therapy, and this is a good place to start. But the success of local treatment will depend on the child and how far their behavior has escalated. Unfortunately many parents I have spoken to have reported that the one-hour session once a week–or even twice a week–rarely makes a difference in their teen’s behavior. For many parents there comes a time when residential therapy is taken under serious consideration–especially if drugs and/or alcohol are an issue. It is important to seek outside help, and removing a teen from their environment can be critical in getting them the help they need to heal. This is particularly true when a teen needs to be separated from undesirable peers that are instigating or perpetuating their negative behavior.

Though the majority of teens are unwilling to attend residential treatment, most of them are professionally transported by experts in the field. Parents spend a lot of time and stress about this part of the decision, but hiring a professional in this field can lessen the worries. They are trained to work with at-risk youth and will ask you all about your child before they arrive. In speaking with many parents and teens that have successfully used transports, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

At the end of the day, your teen truly wants to feel good about themselves again, too. They want to be that happy child that you remember. Remember, they were once that a good kid, and they can become that good person again.  Being a teenager isn’t easy, and parenting that child when you have reached your wit’s end is a challenge. Knowing you are not alone helps!

Take away tips for parents:

When seeking residential treatment, I always encourage parents to look for three key components that I call the ACE factor:

  • Accredited Academics (Ask to see their accreditation): Education is important, some programs actually don’t offer it.
  • Clinical (Credentialed therapists on staff): Please note–on staff.
  • Enrichment Programs (Animal assisted programs, culinary, fine arts, sports etc): Enrichment Programs are crucial to your child’s program. They will help build self-esteem and stimulate them in a positive direction. Find a program with something your teen is passionate about or used to be passionate prior their path in a negative direction.

I also encourage parents to avoid three red flags:

  • Marketing arms and sales reps (All those toll-free numbers, be careful of who you are really speaking to and what is in the best interest of your child.)
  • Short term programs (Wilderness programs or otherwise, rarely is there a quick fix. Short term program are usually short term results. They usually will then convince you to go into a longer term program after you are there a few weeks–why not just start with one? Consistency is key in recovery. An average program is 6-9-12 months, depending on your child’s needs and the program.)
  • Statistics that show their success rate (I have yet to see any program or school have a third party–objective survey–perform a true statistical report on a program’s success. Success is an individual’s opinion. You have to do your own due diligence and call parent references.)

For more information about researching residential therapy and helpful tips, visit http://www.helpyourteens.com and don’t forget to review the list of questions for schools and programs so you can make an educated decision.

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National Drug Facts Week: Help Stop Teen Drug Use

Shatter the Myths!

National Drug Facts Week is Monday, October 31st through Sunday, November 6th, 2011.

Why do people and teens smoke when they know it is bad for them?

Maybe they smoke because they can’t stop. People start smoking for different reasons,but most keep doing it because of one reason—they are addicted to nicotine.

DID YOU KNOW? Research says that teens who see a lot of smoking in movies are more likely to start smoking themselves. Sometimes characters smoke to look edgy and rebellious; but sometimes it’s justabout “product placement” — the tobacco industry trying to get into your head and your pockets.

Teen Drinking:

FACT:  More than 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics.

Teen Prescription Drug Use:

FACT:  In 2007, prescription pain medications like Vicodin and OxyContin were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

Want to learn more FACTS about teens and substance use?  Download Shatter the Myths.

Be an educated parent – you will have safer and healthier teens.

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Third Annual BLUE SHIRT DAY – World Day of Bullying Prevention

Love Our Children USA announced today the Third Annual BLUE SHIRT DAY™ – WORLD DAY OF BULLYING PREVENTION to kickoff  National Bullying Prevention Awareness month during October. The Blue Shirt Day™– World Day of Bullying Prevention is an initiative of STOMP Out Bullying™ to combat bullying and cyberbullying.

This time of year should be an exciting time for students returning to school …learning, seeing old friends and making new ones; but the reality for many is often very different. They’re the victims of bullying at school, on playgrounds and online. They’re afraid to go to school for fear of being bullied.

To signify the importance of National Bullying Prevention Awareness month, STOMP Out Bullying™, a signature program of Love Our Children USA™, created Blue Shirt Day™- World Day of Bullying Prevention which is observed on the first Monday of October. On this day, we ask kids and adults alike to make Monday, October 3rd, the day that bullying prevention is heard around the world by wearing a Blue Shirt in solidarity to STOMP Out Bullying.

With the new school year beginning, this is a call to action for students, schools and workplaces across the country. Hundreds of schools across the country have agreed to participate and many more are expected to join.

This year’s campaign not only offers a newly designed “limited edition” blue shirt, it will create an even greater awareness with a PSA. The PSA will air on major TV and cable networks, as well as online.

Ross Ellis, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of STOMP Out Bullying™ said: “Kids who are intimidated, threatened, or harmed by bullies and cyberbullies often experience low self-esteem and depression. Some take their lives as an alternative. Many do not understand how extreme bullying can get. Parents, teachers and school administrators must use sensitivity in handling these issues. They must also work to make the victims more resilient, as well as working to help change the behavior of the bully. Schools can no longer sweep the issue under the rug.”

STOMP Out Bullying™ offers students a safe haven. From information and resources, to an online area where youths can talk about the issue, to getting involved in social media efforts, signing a petition, raising awareness, Blue Shirt Day and celebrity PSAs and a HelpChat Line for kids and teens who are bullied, cyberbullied and at-risk for suicide, and a soon to be launched area where students can upload videos about their experiences with bullying and why they want to end bullying.

We ask kids, teens and adults to participate BLUE SHIRT DAY™- WORLD DAY OF BULLYING PREVENTION by wearing the STOMP Out Bullying™ “limited edition” blue shirt or wear their own blue shirt.

And from September 29th – October 19th the biggest celebrities will participate in the Fourth Annual STOMP Out Bullying Auction on charitybuzz.com. Some of last year’s celebrities include: Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bill Joel, Bette Midler, Ellen Degeneres, Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Dancing With the Stars and Tom Bergeron, American Idol and a host of other very notable stars.

Ellis said: “We are so grateful to all of our partners joining us in this fight to STOMP Out Bullying. Bullying can be so painful and clearly has played a role in recent suicides across the country. And cyberbullying is in full force with the use of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and other sites popular with kids and teens. This social online cruelty is used by individuals or groups intending to harm our youth. Bullying starts as early as kindergarten. We have to look at prevention as a community issue. It’s up to parents, schools, law enforcement and the students to work together to educate and prevent – putting an end to the violence and to the suicides.

The parents of Scott Walz, Sladjana Vidovic, Phoebe Prince, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, Jesse Logan, Hope Witsell (Florida), Ryan Halligan and all of the others who took their lives know only too well, because they their kids could no longer take the daily torment.

They might be here today if their schools had listened and taken a stand against all forms of bullying.Students should be educated about the harmful effects of bullying and cyberbullying. They can begin by observing and participating in National Bullying Prevention Awareness month and BLUE SHIRT DAY™- WORLD DAY OF BULLYING PREVENTION.

Recent Statistics Show:

  • 1 out of 4 kids is Bullied.
  • Approximately 160000 kids stay home from school each day due to the fear of being bullied
  • 43% of teens, 97% of middle schoolers and 47% of older teens 18-24 are cyberbullied
  • 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school

To learn more about hoe you can help your child handle bullying or if your child is a bully, visit www.stompoutbullying.org.

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Behaviorial Modification Programs – Teen Help -Parent Frustration

Coming to the conclusion you are in need of residential treatment for your teen is not an easy admission for any parent.  It is a point of realization that you can no longer help them and by denying them the opportunity of an intervention, you may be enabling them into a dark future.

As my previous Blog post stated, finding the right placement for your teen is a tedious and time consuming job, however extremely necessary.  This is a major financial and emotional step and as a parent, you need to take the reins and be part of this process.


Some thoughts and tips (from my own experiences) are the following:

  • Beware of all these toll free numbers that go to places unknown – are marketing arms for a variety of programs and usually don’t have your child’s best interest, rather they are suggesting programs or schools that will “pay” for the referral.
  • With this thought- always speak with the owner or the director.  Someone that has a vested interest in your child’s recovery since it will reflect on their reputation.  It is always beneficial, if you are working with a local therapist, to have them speak with the program you are considering to find out if it is a good fit.  Remember, if your therapist has recommended residential – this is a step you should take, but sadly there are some therapists that don’t recommend residential therapy since it usually means they are losing a client.
  • Are you determined to find a “religious” based program or school?  Convinced that the bible will guide your teen back to you?  Maybe – but remember, “religious based” programs rarely have to meet the same regulations that normal schools and programs do.  A perfect example is where my daughter attended (that abused her and harmed her, while defrauding me): It was called Carolina Springs Academy.  The changed their name to Magnolia Christian School. Why?  They no longer have to report to DSS.  Read a recent news article.
  • Are you finding all these horror stories online about these types of programs? Remember, you need to take it from the source.  Many of them are disgruntled teens that didn’t want to go to a program and obviously attending didn’t help them, however the majority is quite different.  To sooth your mind, remember the Internet is full of fact and fiction, sometimes it is different to decipher.  However looking into public records for legitimate lawsuits filed against programs can give you the real answers.  My name is either famous or infamous – but when you look at my past, my court records prove that my stories are accurate and I actually won an $11.3M jury verdict for the slime that was written about me online.  As the jury spoke loudly in the case with WWASPS – I defeated them to keep my story online – www.aparentstruestory.com – since it was told truthfully as I and many others experienced.

For more information on residential therapy and hints visit www.helpyourteens.com.

I will have more tips to come….. If you are looking for help ASAP – feel free to contact me.

Read more tips.

Sue Scheff: Massive Support for Teen that was Set on Fire

On October 12th, 2009 the entire country were shocked when they heard the news of 15 year-old Michael Brewer.  He was literally doused in rubbing alcohol and set on fire by other teenagers!

As of today he has had three skin grafts and is in stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Burn Center in Miami.

Today New Times of Broward-Palm Beach County reported that Michael Brewer has over 7000 fans on Facebook all praying for his recovery. After just checking it is confirmed that there are 7484 fans to date!  Be sure to join and support his family in pray or otherwise.

People are also writing Extreme Makeover in hopes of helping the Brewer family.  

On Monday, December 14th, ironically the same day Michael Brewer had his third skin graft, the mother of one of the defendants accused of this horrific act appeared on the TODAY Show.  Sherry Jarvis believes that her 15 year-old son, Denver Jarvis shouldn’t be tried as an adult.  Denver is charged as an adult with second-degree attempted murder.  Read more.

Sue Scheff: The High Price of Bullying

MichaelBrewerAfter one of the most horrific acts of violence by teens in South Florida, which left 15-year old Michael Brewer with burns over two thirds of his body, 3 of the 5 teenagers accused of this despicable crime will be tried as adults.

This is a strong and solid message by Broward Circuit Judge Lee Seidman. What type of child or teen does this unconscionable act to another person?  It is very disturbing to believe this type of violence exists and that bullying can reach a level of nearly killing another person. 

Should minors be charged as adults?  In some instances, such as this one, many believe that to be true.  This crime was so heinous that adults have a hard time comprehending how anyone could do this to another person. 

As a parent we need to take the time to talk with our children about this incident. Open up your lines of communication, talk about bullying, discuss consequences and answer their questions and concerns honestly.

Neighbors 4 Neighbors has created the Michael Brewer Fund to help the Brewer family with the high hospital costs.  Additional fund raising is taking place throughout South Florida. Visit and join their Facebook Michael Brewer Foundation.

For more information on this story: Miami Herald, CBS4, ABC News

Learn more about bullying at Love Our Children USA, STOMP OUT Bullying, National Youth Violence Prevention Center.

Be an educated parent, have a safer teen.

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Sue Scheff: Parenting Struggling Teens

schoolAs school opens, our phones start ringing.  Is your teen starting off on the wrong foot already?  Are you considering a Boarding School?  What will be best for “your” child? 

THIS IS MY CHILD

This is my child, where did I go wrong? Most likely you didn’t, sometimes life gives us stumbling blocks that are put there for a reason. None of us is perfect, parenting is not easy, children don’t come with manuals, and we can’t be blamed for all the bad in this world.

Parenting is probably one of the most difficult jobs to do. That, combined with working a full-time job and juggling household chores, as well as many other activities in life, can lead to turmoil in many lives. As a parent, we need to consciously make time to get to know our kids, and our kid’s friends. This can be very difficult with our schedules; however, a necessary step to be able to get to know your child and build trust.

This is my child. Good or bad, they don’t deserve abuse. If your child needs help from outside sources (Therapeutic Boarding School, Residential Treatment, etc), you need to feel confident there are safe and qualified schools and programs. Although sometimes hard to locate immediately, after time and research, you will finally find the best school or programs for your child’s individual needs. After all, this is my child. They are our future. Take the time to research, research, and research. Good kids making bad choices – that is the way of most of today’s teens.
 

  • School Opens

As a new school year opens, our phones become very busy. Many of the parents who call are at their wits end with their child’s lack of motivation toward school and desire to be less than the child’s potential is. The phrase ‘my child is a good kid, this is not like him/her’ is very common. Many children embarking on a new school year try to figure out where they fit in.  Peer Pressure can be extremely difficult for adolescents.

Today, the most frequent statement is how intelligent a child is, yet he/she not working up to their potential – an underachiever.  They are capable of the work, but lack the motivation to complete it.  How many kids achieve great test scores, however fail a class since they don’t finish their homework?  Unfortunately this is very common.

Making mistakes and falling is all part of growing up and maturing. Although our instincts are to love and protect, we must, at times, let them learn from their mistakes. Loving them is unconditional, and protecting them is natural. Watching them fail can be painful; however, watching them learn from it is fulfilling.

Although there are no standard answers in today’s society of teens and pre-teens, one issue is clear, they need our support and our guidance to help them through the rough spots. It seems very difficult to determine when to let them fly and when to intervene. Each family and child, with their own unique dynamics, knows what works best for them.  The influences of today’s peer pressure can be overwhelming.

Locating a smaller private school or residential program may lead to success depending on the child. Unfortunately, costs may be prohibitive for some families. Some of the schools offer scholarships or financial aid. If they don’t, you may want to ask them for a resource that may be able to assist you.  There are lending institutions for Educational Loans.

Military Schools are an excellent choice for children that flourish with structure and positive discipline. Many parents are under the misconception that Military Schools are for troubled children; that is false. Military Schools are a privilege and an honor for children to attend. Most Military Schools start at $20,000.00 per year. Some have scholarship programs.

Military Schools can build your child’s self-esteem and confidence to start making productive choices and help the child in reaching his or her potential academically. The social environment can be a positive atmosphere for both boys and girls. Again, with Military Schools, it is not for children that are out of control, at risk or using substances.  Many ADD/ADHD students flourish in the structured environment.

Traditional Boarding Schools are a great opportunity for children to enhance their ability to achieve academically. Like Military Schools, they are not for troubled children or out of control teens. They are prestigious and usually offer more academic attention for the child. There are many that offer classes for the children that have Learning Differences including ADD and ADHD. Most Boarding Schools start at $25,000.00 per school year. In some instances, finding a Boarding School for your child that offers their special interest (e.g. Arts, Music, an Equestrian program, Sports etc.) could also encourage progress in their future.

Parent Beware-ness

Since the establishment of Parents’ Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E. )years ago (since 2001), there have been companies attempting to duplicate P.U.R.E.  We have yet to see any organization offer the emotional and parent support that we offer to families. P.U.R.E. is parents helping parents. We encourage all parents, friends, and relatives to research, research, and research. Our homepage offers a link to a list of Helpful Hints as well as Questions to ask Schools and Programs that can be beneficial in making the best choice for your child.

Until our United States government enacts federal laws to provide oversight standards for private schools and private residential programs, you must rely on your instincts and investigations. P.U.R.E. encourages our Congress and United States Senate to enact consumer protection laws for families and children that will help reveal widespread deception that is regularly used by some programs.

We don’t want parents to become fearful from finding help for their children, but parents must do their homework. It is the most important component of finding the best school or program for your child. Building your child back up, enhancing their self-esteem, and working with professionals can help your child to mature into a productive adult.  It is about giving your child a second chance to be all they can be.

Programs/Schools that use food and/or sleep deprivation, expect the children to live in unsanitary conditions, deprive them of an education, or isolate them from others for extended periods of time are Red Flags. Continue searching until you feel 100% comfortable with your decision. Although your child is acting out negatively, putting them into a negative and poor environment is more likely to build more anger and resentment. They don’t need the Hilton; however they do deserve basic human needs. Eating right and healthy combined with good sleep habits is more likely to enhance your child’s desire to change for the positive.

Parent Information

Many parents think if they pay an Educational Consultant or someone that has an association with a group that is self-made (not regulated by any governmental agencies, i.e. IECA – Independent Educational Consultants Association) they are going to the experts. The old cliché kicks in, “since they cost so much, they must be good.” Although there are some reputable Educational Consultants, you must continue to do your research to find one if you choose to hire one.  It is part of being a proactive parent.

Too many times we have heard from the parents that have been misled by this type of organization. Trusting someone to place your child is a major responsibility. Are they liable if something happens to your child in the programs “they” believe is best for him/her? Why do many refer to the same group of schools and programs, usually after recommending a Wilderness program? With the many parents that call us, those that have used Educational Consultants have given us the same program referrals and most, if not all, have been recommended to Wilderness first. Is there something more to this that we cannot see? We are not insinuating they are bad programs; however, the continuity can be a red flag.

Although we are not advocates of Wilderness programs, the pattern of the Educational Consultants using them first prior a Therapeutic or Residential program, could be viewed as a double dip. Wilderness programs may be good for some children; however, to assume they all need that step seems a bit suspicious. In many cases, Wilderness programs are never long enough to offer lasting results – and they are extremely expensive. Unfortunately, some parents are misguided that a 60-90 day program may be a fix-it-all. Why not start where you want to finish? We have seen much success in a solid and qualified 6-9-12 month programs.  Where a child can start and finish with a sense of accomplishment. 

Another RED FLAG is while surfing the Internet, you are overwhelmed with different toll-free numbers, different web designs, even different marketing names; however, they all lead to the same group of schools and programs. Have you used the Key Word “Military School” and your results are anything but Military Schools? The unfortunate misconception may add more stress and confusion to an already desperate situation. We cannot control the spamming of the Internet, which means you need to be extremely careful as to who or what you are calling.

At P.U.R.E. we offer parents resources offer parents resources and our personal experiences with many programs and schools. We do not place children into schools and programs; we give families resources and options that may be appropriate for their child. We also encourage parent and child feedback from all schools and programs. We like to share it with others who could be looking at the same program. We do not claim to be members of any big organizations, nor do we claim to be Educational Consultants. We are professionals and parents doing our best to help others find safe and qualified settings for their precious cargo.

As a Member of the Better Business Bureau we take pride in our organization and will continue to assist families in need. Keeping your family safe is our priority. P.U.R.E. is “bringing families back together…”

Who to trust? The answer is easy; trust your gut, your heart and yourself as a parent that knows what is best for their child. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Don’t assume your emotions are getting the best of you; your emotions can be your red flags flying.