According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the top behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence include tobacco use, substance use (alcohol, drugs, etc.), sexually risky behavior, poor dietary choices, and physical inactivity. At Risk Youth Centers work towards helping struggling teens make better life choices.
Are these centers expensive?
There are many non-profit organizations in each state that help underprivileged young people realize their full potential and not start out their life as at-risk youths. Many of these at-risk youth centers are committed to helping troubled teens through persistent mentoring and counseling. They also get teens involved in activities that draw them away from self-destructive decisions and teaches them important values that will help them live more fulfilling lives.
Many at risk youth centers also have programs that are youth-friendly and are geared towards helping young people rediscover the pleasure and satisfaction of learning. Centers for youth at risk also recognize that troubled teens are often helped more by experiential learning than by a traditional classroom setting, so activities are built more on this.
There are also youth at risk centers that help young people deal with the consequences of their decisions. For example, NY Youth At Risk (New York) is a non-profit at-risk youth center that has a program which specifically deals with young parents. Young men are taught to be responsible providers to their children and to become more involved and engaged in their lives. Young women are helped realize their self-worth, become better parents, and prevent further unplanned pregnancies.
Are these centers really effective?
Not all centers have the same success rates, in the same way that not all of them implement the same program for troubled youth the same way. However, many at-risk youth centers do have significant success with the young people that they are mentoring. For example, national data indicate that only around 30% of teenage moms complete high school after giving birth, and many of them give birth to a second baby less than three years after their first, indicating that they make the same mistakes. However, the NY Youth At Risk center shows 90% of the young women they mentor stay in high school or earn their GED. About 91% of these young women also were able to prevent unwanted pregnancies after their first pregnancy.
Young people who get actively involved in good at-risk youth programs find the support that they need to stay away from gangs or getting involved in criminal activities. It helps young people to know that they can make better choices, and that they can have a better life.
Many centers also have after-school programs that aim to prevent delinquent behavior by helping children and teens become more productive during after-school hours. Many also have community service opportunities coupled by mentoring in order to help teens develop a desire to become a contributing part of their community, and to understand why this is an important goal to aspire after.
Like many other types of interventions for troubled teens, at risk youth centers are more effective when young people have a strong support system at home. It’s not a magic cure-it-all, and often works better when done together with other types of interventions for support.
Other options for troubled teens
Troubled teens can be better helped by actively finding other interventions in addition to encouraging them to get involved with at-risk youth centers. There are other struggling teens programs that can be useful, such as wilderness programs where struggling teens can enjoy experiential learning and counseling. Family therapy can also be very helpful, so that the family will also know what their role is in helping troubled teens find and stay on the right path. Non-residential or residential therapy also helps.
Some of these solutions may be a bit expensive, however there are a lot that offer financial help to families that cannot afford to send their troubled teens to such programs. In fact, a great place to start looking is by asking local non-profit at-risk youth centers. This is especially helpful for parents who need extra help in getting their teens back to school (or convincing them to stay in school), or are dealing with more serious behavioral issues that need a different approach.