Born, Not Raised: Voices From Juvenile Hall

As I speak to parents on a weekly basis, I often hear how maybe if their teen spent some time behind bars they would appreciate what they have, or if they struggled through a rough primitive program, Wilderness program, militant style, boot camp or that type of model, they could scare their teen straight…. I explain to them if they thought about another approach – finding a a program that can actually determine where this negative behavior is stemming from?  From there work through it and start building to make it into a positive road to a bright future.

This recently released book almost seems to mirror what I have been thinking, though unfortunately, on a more extreme scale, these kids are incarcerated at a young age without a family that seems to truly care or without the means to get them outside help.

New Book Born, Not Raised: Voices From Juvenile Hall, Indicts Juvenile Justice System, Poor Parenting and Education Failures

San Diego Author Susan Madden Lankford, who explored homelessness and female incarceration in her two previous award-winning books, examines the plight of youngsters serving time in juvenile hall in her latest book BORN, NOT RAISED: Voices From Juvenile Hall  (Humane Exposures Publishing).

For two years, Susan Lankford and her daughter Polly Smith interviewed more than 120 incarcerated teenagers, eight of them weekly. In this book she features their voices, views, writing and drawings—along with interviews with pediatric psychiatrists, neurobiologists, judges, probation officers and other professionals.  In researching her previous book on women in jail, Lankford learned that a majority of them had at least two children in foster care, living with relatives or in detention. Because of the lack of basic parenting skills needed to produce productive individuals, many of their kids end up in jail, too.

“In studying these teens for BORN, NOT RAISED, I learned the major factors that added to or reduced the likelihood of their incarceration and recidivism,” Lankford explains. “One of the main things which I stress in the book is that there is a critical need for a family with a good-enough, consistent, loving and nurturing figure who helps children through the developmental stages to produce a curious, empathic and responsible youth, capable of resilience, adjustment, impulse control and good social skills.

“In this book I indict today’s educational system for its failure to respond to the needs of the global market and technology, as well as to the critical needs of students. I detail terrific programs which have discovered how to motivate kids who can’t meet classroom demands.

 “A third major point is that we need to start teaching parenting early. Fourteen-year-olds in juvenile detention often have kids but have no idea how to parent properly.  We also need to teach the reasons and means to avoid drugs, gangs and violence.”

Lankford believes that BORN, NOT RAISED contains information useful for university curricula, social work, psychology, criminal justice/corrections, medical school, law school, parents and parents-to-be.

In researching this book, Polly and I became convinced that early education and youth development are the most effective strategies for breaking the cycle of at-risk behavior and helping youth from difficult backgrounds to learn the skills that will enable them to thrive,” Lankford concludes.

Order today on Amazon.

Watch a preview on YouTube.

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Parent Support Groups: OPERATION PARENT

Parents helping parents.....So often I hear from parents looking for parent groups – parents they can talk to, parents that know the feeling of being at their wits end with their teenager today. Years ago many parents turned to Tough Love, however they disbanded and there has always been a debate whether it was the most effective way to handle teens of today.

The teenage years today can be extremely challenging!

Whether it is a sense of entitlement, peer pressure, society, or an attitude of defiance, it seems some teens today are literally holding their parents hostage in their own homes.

Operation Parent is an organization that has recognized many parents feel they are alone.  They have created support groups and have offered resources and information for communities to start their own groups.

Operation: PARENT is on a mission to educate, equip, encourage and engage parents of teens and pre-teens. Welcome to our website where you can purchase our Parent Handbook, register for one of our many parenting classes, delve into a tough issue related to parenting teens, or learn more about our exciting Coffee Series.

Bring part of a support group can help you and your family begin healing.  You are now part of our network of thousands of parents and their goal is to make sure no parent in any community ever feels alone while raising their teen or pre-teen. Together we can do this… together we can raise incredible teens!

For more information visit www.operationparent.org.

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Behavioral Modification Programs – Specialty Boarding Schools – Teen Help Programs

What exactly is a parent looking for when their once happy bouncing toddler has turned into an out-of-control teenager?

Second semester.  Some teens have had enough. They don’t want to go to school anymore.  They believe they know it all.  It is easier to get a GED, after all, some of their so-called friend are doing it!

As much as you are trying to ignore or just say it is a phase, you notice your teen is withdrawing from the family, failing in school, smell alcohol, maybe even marijuana, cigarettes, and overall have become a child you no longer recognize with a personality that is defiant and totally disrespectful the the family boundaries – what do you do?

Most parents try local therapy – which is a great first step, but when happens when therapy doesn’t work?  You can’t be afraid to take that next step!  A parent in a denial only harms your teenager.  Don’t be held hostage in your home by your teen’s behavior.

Sending a child to a residential program/school is a major decision. It is not one to be taken lightly or to be decided on overnight.

Usually a teen’s behavior has been slowly escalating and a parent knows that deep down things are not getting better.  As much as you hope and pray that things will change, this is only typical teen behavior, sometimes it just isn’t.

With drug use and substance abuse rising – more dangerous and deadly ingredients being used, such as spice and inhalants, parents have reason to be concerned.  It isn’t your marijuana of generations prior – it is so much worse and in many cases – addictive and deadly.

If you have reached your wit’s end and now surfing the Internet for help, remember, anyone can build a website.  Anyone can put up nice pictures and create great content.  You need to do your due diligence.

Years ago I struggled with my own teenager.  I was at my wit’s end.  I didn’t realize what a big business this “teen help industry” was.  Yes, my child needed help, but what we received was anything but that.  My story is a cautionary tale – not one to scare you into not using a program, however on the contrary, you have to get your child help, but you have to do your research in getting them the right help.

You can do it without spending thousands!

Here are some quick tips:

  • Your child is not for sale, try to avoid those marketing arms selling you a list of programs that are not in the best interest of your child’s individual needs.
  • Always speak with an owner or director – Someone that has a vested in your teen’s recovery.  Their reputation is on the line.
  • Wilderness and other short term programs are usually nothing more than a band-aid that will fall off as quickly as the program lasted.  They are expensive camping trips and in most cases the Wilderness program will tell you at about 4 weeks that your teen will need to continue on to a longer term program.  What? Yes, now you go back to the research board and worse than that, your teen will be deflated when he finds out he/she isn’t coming home in 6-9 weeks as they were lead to believe – and they will be starting all over again with a new therapist – new schedule – and new setting.  Don’t get caught up in this “shuffle.”  Start and finish with the same school/program.
  • The average stay should be about 6-9-12 months, depending on your teen.  Anything less is probably non-effective.  Anything more, you may be creating abandonment issues in my opinion.
  • Do you really need an Educational Consultant?  Absolutely not.  You are the parent and no one knows your teen better than you do – with a few tips, you will be able to make some sound choices.

For more helpful hint and tips, please contact www.HelpYourTeens.com for a free consultation. After the ordeal I went through, I created this advocacy organization to help educate parents on finding safe and quality programs.

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Red River Academy – Horizon Academy – A Parent’s True Story 2012

My story has been told and validated on many news networks.

Mention my name to any “sales rep” of Red River Academy or affiliate of their programs (see the listings here) and you will find out fast that I am not their favorite person.  They will send you to some very ugly websites about me, but will neglect to tell you I not only defeated them in a jury trial and in the appellate court, I also won an $11.3M jury verdict for damages of Internet defamation of all those ugly sites they are sending you to.  The funny thing about the Internet, it is the world’s largest tattoo machine, and like a tattoo – some things are hard to get removed – and trust me, I have tried.  However I have been legally vindicated.  And God knows they have tried to bury me – virtually and literally – but here we are going into 2012 – and my story is still going strong.  Read on….

As a victim of the WWASPS organization – I am often called or receive many emails about our (my daughter and I) experiences with them.  Obviously not pleasant.  Though I am happy to say the program she was at, Carolina Springs Academy, which attempted to go through a name change to Magnolia Christian Academy (or School) depending on the day you Googled it, is finally closed – it has been rumored some of the staff is now at their affiliate program – Red River Academy and/or Horizon Academy.

Let me be clear for legal purposes – these are rumors – but if I were placing my child in program, I personally wouldn’t take any chances – and furthermore, Red River Academy is clearly named in the current lawsuit which is extremely disturbing with allegations of fraud, abuse, neglect and much more – (click here) that is current.

So when the “sales rep” tells you that “Sue Scheff” is a disgruntled parent – I say – YES, I was – you put my daughter in a box for 17 hours, she was mentally and emotionally abused – food and sleep deprived – I was complete defrauded – and she also missed out on 6 months of education.  None of which I had signed up for.  Grant it, this was 10 years ago – a lot has changed – but those original owners haven’t – so in my humble opinion – I wouldn’t trust any of their programs with my pets….. BTW: I am the only parent to have defeated WWASPS in a jury trial.  Most of the other (many) lawsuits have settled out of court with silence agreements.  I don’t have one, which is why I can still share my story – which is why I get slimed online – which is why their sales reps have all sorts of stories about me – including “the jury made a mistake” – neglecting to tell you I won the appellate court too.  No one condones child abuse – period.

I have been called a crusader (and not in a flattering way) though I take it that way.  I have made it my mission to find the better programs and schools, since I do know what it is like to be at your wit’s end.  I know what parents need help. I am not against residential therapy, which brings us to many  of my stalkers that were formally abused in programs that believe all programs should be closed down.  That is being extreme – they are not a parent trying to save their child’s life and future.

I will share with you that there are more safe and quality programs than there are bad ones – it is just about doing your homework and research.  Today you are more fortunate than I was – you have more access to information and you can learn from my mistakes and  my knowledge.

Please – take 10 minutes to read my story and see the list of programs that are and were once affiliated with Carolina Springs Academy – and from there, you make your own choices for your child.

I had one parent that almost went to Red River Academy that actually said the sales rep said they could have their teen “extracted” within a few hours?  Extracted?  Really – is your child a tooth?  Please don’t get rushed into a quick decision – this is a major emotional and financial decision.

My organization is Parents’ Universal Resource Experts – and no matter what those “sales reps” or the Internet fiction – I don’t own, operate or manage any schools or programs!  We are about educating parents when they are looking for help for their at risk teen…. Don’t get scammed when you are at your wit’s end.

Oh – and when these “sales reps” send out these defamatory links about me – another FACT they neglect to tell you is I won the landmark case for Internet Defamation that awarded me $11.3M in damages for what was said about me online!  Lies and twisted facts!  Here is my recent appearance on Anderson Cooper.

This is strictly my opinion from my own experiences and you are free to make your own decisions…..

Facebook Status: What does it say about your teen? Red Flags parents need to know

“Forgive me.”

“When will this end?”

“I hate my life”

RED FLAGS and parenting.  Know them!

Facebook is the social hangout of the internet for all ages, but it is particularly true of teenagers.

Teenagers often are much more open about what they are thinking and feeling in this cyber environment than most older adults. Since teens experience many emotional ups and downs, it can be easy to dismiss most of their dramatic postings as nothing more than normal teenage drama. However, there have been too many instances in recent years when parents had wished they’d paid more attention to what their teenager had posted as their ‘current status’.

Here a few status updates parents should watch for and investigate further.

  1. I can’t take it anymore. Although, this could mean anything from homework overload to sibling irritation, it could also be a cry for help from a teen who is truly overwhelmed with life in someway. It is not a status update that you want to ignore. Parents should take the initiative and find out what prompted this entry.
  2. Text me. This may seem innocent enough, but, for some parents, it may be a signal that their teen may be trying to keep something hidden that needs to be in the open. Privacy and protection are always a fine line to walk with teenagers. Parents, however, should never hesitate to ask about the reason behind such a post.
  3. Really loaded right now. If your teen is high enough to make this post on Facebook without thinking about the fact that their parents might see it, there is drug or alcohol abuse going on. Ignoring these types of problems does not make them go away.
  4. Depressing song lyrics. Song lyrics are popular posts from teens. It may be what they’re listening to at the moment or a song that is running through their head. If the lyrics of the songs are continually negative and depressing, this could be an indication of the teen’s emotional state, as well.
  5. No one understands. This is a common feeling during teenage years, but it is also one that can develop into a true depressive state. Seeing this posted as your teen’s Facebook status should raise enough concern for their parents to pursue the reasons behind the posting.
  6. I hate my life. Again, this is not an unusual statement to come from a teen at different points in their adolescence, however, posting it as your Facebook status is similar to shouting it from the rooftops. It is always better to treat these statements seriously, than to ignore them as a simple impulse statement.
  7. Forgive me, Mom & Dad. This kind of post would be one that should require immediate connection with your child. If it doesn’t mention what they are asking forgiveness for, it may be a subtle plea for you to stop them from doing something terrible. Take this very seriously!
  8. You’re all going to die. In light of the terrible things we have seen happen in our schools, a teen who posts something like this should not be ignored. “I was just joking” is not an acceptable explanation for this type of post. A teen who posts such a statement publicly should expect inquiry from, not only his parents, but school and law enforcement as well.
  9. I wish I were dead. Never assume these statements are words only. Any type of suicidal expression like this should be taken very seriously. Many parents have had the misfortune of finding out that even a verbal statement can be an indication of suicidal thoughts. A public posting of that thought should be taken just as seriously.
  10. I hate my school. The key word in this status update is ‘my’. It doesn’t say ‘I hate school’, it is more specific than that. It would behoove the parents to find out what it is, about the child’s school, that made them post this statement, and what can be done to improve the situation.

Facebook status updates reach a lot of people, a parent of a teenager should definitely be one of those people who pays attention to what their child is broadcasting into cyberspace. It may be their way of trying to find out if anyone is really paying attention, and if anyone really cares.

Source: My ISP Finder

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Teen Drug Prevention: Red Ribbon Campaign

Did you know:  Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.

SAMHSA invites you to participate in the 26th annual Red Ribbon Week.

Red Ribbon Week—the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the Nation—is a way for people and communities to unite and take a visible stand against drugs. This year’s theme, “It’s Up to Me To Be Drug Free,” reminds us that we each share individual responsibility in creating a drug-free environment.

WHAT IS RED RIBBON WEEK?

It is an ideal way for people and communities to unite and take a visible stand against drugs. Show your personal commitment to a drug-free lifestyle through the symbol of the Red Ribbon, October 23 – 31st.

WHY?

The Red Ribbon Campaign was started when drug traffickers in Mexico City murdered DEA agent Kiki Camarena  in 1985. This began the continuing tradition of displaying Red Ribbons as a symbol of intolerance towards the use of drugs. The mission of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to present a unified and visible commitment towards the creation of a DRUG-FREE AMERICA.

WHO?

The National Family Partnership is the national sponsor of the Red Ribbon Campaign. We are helping citizens across the state come together to keep children, families and communities safe, healthy and drug-free, through parent training, networking and sponsoring the National Red Ribbon Campaign.

WHY SUPPORT THE NATIONAL THEME?

A theme unifies each year’s campaign and helps to broadcast one message creating a tipping point to change behavior.

HOW?

Plan a Red Ribbon celebration. Order and display Red Ribbon materials with the National Red Ribbon Theme.  Proceeds from the sale of Red Ribbon theme merchandise helps support prevention programs across America. Order  for your family, students, staff, patients, employees and customers and encourage them to wear the Red Ribbon symbol  during Red Ribbon Week, October 23rd-31st.

Sponsored by National Family Partnership.

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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.