It’s not easy to offer support to troubled youth. Often they feel they know it all and don’t want or need help. Off-putting anti-social behavior keeps those capable of offering assistance at a distance.
Essential ingredients in helping at-risk youth:
A caring adult capable of building trust, devoting time to listen to their frustrations by using I statements. Caring individuals can explain the advantages of releasing pent up emotions that often trigger emotional outbursts that end in unnecessarily burning bridges.
Share realistic and reachable goals. At-risk youth often have unrealistic goals based on what they see in the media. They need to know how to achieve realistic goals
because their future is on the line. Too many teens are heading towards a landslide instead of the finish line because goal setting is foreign to them.
Prepare them to overcome obstacles and help when they run into roadblocks.
Engage the youth and provide positive recognition so they build hope rather than feelings of despair. Youth become engaged when they receive positive recognition for their contributions even if it is not exactly how you wanted them to respond.
Praise participation and don’t judge their opinions. Accept where they are at the present moment. Praise will encourage them to stay engaged and learn new avenues to deal with life’s complexities.
Looking at the characteristics that tell us a person is at risk
- Commits a crime
- Bullies people
- School dropout
- Can’t read
- Abuses substances
- Childhood trauma
- Displays behavioral problems
- Pregnant teen
- Many absence from school
What the National Crime Prevention Council indicates youth need to prevent them from being at-risk
- Must be taught life and communication skills
- Have attachments to positive and caring adults
- Opportunities to build self-esteem
Statistics on Youth at High Risk from the Annie E. Casey Foundation
In 2006, there were 21.7 million* youth ages 14 to 18. Of these, 6 percent were at high risk for disconnection as estimated by their inclusion in at least one of the four high-risk categories:
- School Dropouts: 765,551
- Unmarried Mothers: 370,792
- Teens in Foster Care: 368,772
- Incarcerated Youth: 90,587
- Total: $1,595,702
What You Can Do to Help Youth at Risk
- Purchase the ARISE life skills curriculum specially designed for at-risk youth and learn the skills to work with these youth in interactive group settings by completing an ARISE online Life Skills Training.
- Want to know how to conduct these group sessions with the youth? Take the ARISE online life skills training and learn to conduct interactive group sessions with the youth using the ARISE easy to learn teaching formula.
- Find a mentor or become a mentor with organizations. Use the Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Prevention (OJJDP) website to find out about mentoring .