A youth in this article is a teenager. It is a boy or a girl in their teen years. They are of high school or college age. That’s the easy definition. The tricky explanation comes when describing the ‘at-risk’ bit.What makes a young person at risk? There are many ways of defining ‘at risk’. Your child can be involved in a totally different situation to another teen yet both can be at risk. Probably the best way to discover if your teen is at risk is to ask if they fit into one or more of the categories below. Is this your teen?

  1. Is your teen in trouble at school? Are their grades dropping? Do they clash with other students and/or with members of staff? Are they disinterested in school? Are they playing truant?
  2. Is your teen in trouble at home? Do they refuse to obey their parents? Do they spend long periods of time in their room? Do they argue with their siblings? Are they abusive to family members? Do they refuse to help out with family chores or perform them badly?
  3. Is your teen running around with the wrong crowd? Do you know where your teen is, especially at night? Do you know what your teen is doing when they go out? Do you know the family of the friends your teen hangs out with?
  4. Is your teen in trouble with the law? Obviously if they have been arrested you will know they are in trouble. But has your teen been warned by the police? Are the police keeping an eye on the gang your teen is a part of? Does your teen regard law enforcement officers in a derogatory and prejudicial manner?
  5. Is your teen sick? Taking drugs even the so-called soft drugs can have a bad effect on your child’s health. Have they lost their appetite? Do they seem depressed? Have they lost their self-respect? Do they take little or no interest in their appearance?
  6. Is your teen sexually active? Are they aware of the dangers of unprotected sex? Are they mature enough to develop a responsible attitude to intimacy? Are they sexually ignorant and likely to be part of an unwanted pregnancy?
  7. Is your teen a thief? Do you notice money missing from your purse or wallet? Does your teen have items for which they couldn’t pay considering their allowance? Do you suspect your teen might be involved in shoplifting or other crimes?
  8. Is your teen involved with drugs and/or alcohol? Have you found evidence of these substances in their room or in their clothes? Does their behavior suggest they are involved with drugs? Do they drink alcohol openly at home?
  9. Is your teen emotionally unstable? Do they fly off the handle? Are they often angry? Do they react strongly when questioned?
  10. Is your teen unable or unwilling to communicate? Have you tried to talk calmly with your teen but hit a brick wall? Does your teen avoid talking to you?

So having studied the points above, it should be easier for you to discover if your son or daughter is at risk.

Here are additional resources you might be interested in:

What Is an At-Risk Youth Camp?

Working With At-Risk Youth