What Do You Know About At Risk, High Risk, Delinquent, Difficult, Defiant and Runaway Students?

 


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THE TRUTH ABOUT TROUBLED YOUTH

How accurate are your assumptions about troubled youth and children? In our recent on-site workshop for the Black Clergy Alliance in Daytona Beach, Florida, the issue of stereotyping came up a lot, and inspired this topic. Here is a quick quiz to test how much you really know about youngsters who struggle. You may be surprised or even shocked to discover how much of what you thought you knew is actually myth, not reality. If your skills are at least somewhat based on myth instead of fact, you may be quite limited in what you achieve with troubled students.

THE TRUTH ABOUT TROUBLED YOUTH

QUESTIONS

(Answers follow the list of questions. )

1. Are inner-city or suburban kids more likely to use alcohol?

2. Who is the most likely to be involved in a school shooting?

3. What are the top two most serious family problems?

4. Who has the highest rates of anxiety and depression?

5. Who is most likely to use tobacco?

THE TRUTH ABOUT TROUBLED YOUTH

ANSWERS

1. Are inner-city or suburban kids more likely to use alcohol?

Suburban youngsters are more likely to drink than their urban counterparts, according to a recent Psychology Today article. The article cites a Columbia University study that challenges our “cultural assumption that parents who make more money are more affable, more available to their children than parents in dire poverty. "

2. Who is the most likely to be involved in a school shooting?

If you listen to the mainstream media, you answered that bullied children are the most likely to become school shooters. The truth is more complicated than this simple sound bite would indicate. The truth is that while bullied children can blow up and become shooters, a more accurate answer would note that conduct disorders, thought disorders and extreme agitated depressed youth can be shooters. Bullied youth are severely depressed kids who explode, but not all severely depressed kids have been bullied. While bullying may or may not have occurred, the depression will be present. If you just watch for bullying, you will miss identifying some non-bullied, depressed students who are at risk of extreme violence. If you watch instead for depression- that may or may not include bullying- you won't miss anyone. Of course, you must be sure to also remember the two other types of students who can be of concern: the conduct disorder and thought disorder, who were covered in the second and third issues of this magazine, and on our web site.

3. What are the top two most serious family problems?

We ask this question in each of our workshops. Most youth professionals say “poverty" and “divorce. " But the real answer may involve problems that are often considerably more devastating to children. The top two most serious problems may be *** abuse, and physical/verbal abuse. Most mental health professionals would evaluate childhood *** and physical/verbal abuse to usually be far more destructive than poverty or divorce. In our culture, we don't like to think about abuse- especially *** abuse- so your training may not include much preparation to help children with the two biggest problems they are actually encountering.

4. Who has the highest rates of anxiety and depression?

In general, suburban teens have the highest rates of anxiety and depression, but upper-class suburban girls are three times more likely to suffer depression than other teen females. (This data was included in the recent Columbia University study, as detailed in Psychology Today magazine. ) As our workshop has traveled around North America, we often hear from staff who work in affluent areas that “Our students don't have those types of problems here. " Staff with upper-class students are often particularly vehement that *** abuse doesn't happen in their region, however there is no data to support that contention. In fact, there is every indication that youth from wealthier homes endure the same amount of *** abuse as other children.

5. Who is most likely to use tobacco?

You may be pretty confident that inner city youth are the ones who are most likely to be smokers. That is the dominant stereotype, but it is an incorrect assumption. Surprisingly, suburban youth are more likely to smoke. If you now imagine that this discrepancy is due to suburban youth having more money, guess again. The Columbia University study attributed this occurrence not to relative affluence, but to inadequate parental involvement- a factor that is completely unrelated to income.

WANT MORE ANSWERS TO YOUR WORST “KID PROBLEMS?"

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