What is a parent supposed to do when their teenager is acting out: maybe she’s dropped out of school, turned to drugs, run away from home or verbally abused her parents; maybe he’s taken up drinking, become sexually aggressive, or stolen from his friends and family; maybe there’s a combination of these.
Parents can reach a point of desperation, unsure of what to do or how to help. They’re afraid to act, and afraid not to.
An entire industry has developed to help them. It’s made up of educational consultants, youth transport companies, wilderness schools, and therapeutic boarding schools. Mount Bachelor Academy — which we talked about yesterday — was just one of many options. And it is one that most people in the industry will say doesn’t reflect the many good options that are out there for at-risk teens and their families.
But opinions — not just about Mount Bachelor, but about the troubled teen industry as a whole — are very divided. Some people believe they offer the best solutions to helping teens who are at risk. Others think they do things that are illegal and unethical.
Do you have a teen who needs help? Have you considered a wilderness training program or a therapeutic boarding school? What is your experience? How do you know who to trust?
- Christine Meade: social worker for Providence. Her daughter was an at-risk teen
- Deode Castro: owner of Crossroads Youth Transport Services
- Patricia Phelan: co-owner of Educational Connections
- Ann Davidson: co-owner of Educational Connections
- Maia Szalavitz: author of Help at Any Cost and health writer at Time.com