All teens have their struggles. It’s a difficult time of life as they are figuring out who they are, discovering their values and interests, and fighting to belong. It’s hard to know when a teen is going through the normal ups and downs of adolescence and when their issues are serious enough to warrant stepping in. If you work with teens in any capacity, whether you are a teacher, parent, coach, or mentor, you need to know when intervention is essential.
When They Are in Crisis
A crisis situation is any situation in which your teen could be in danger. This might include mental health issues, abuse, substance abuse, unhealthy sexuality, and law-breaking. If you know what signs to look for and foster a close connection with the teen, you can provide the early intervention that they need. Look for changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, loss of interest in normal activities, social isolation, extreme irritability, frequent bruises or other injuries, signs of self-harm, hopelessness, and feelings of worthlessness.
When You Are in a Position of Authority
Any time you are in a position of authority it is your responsibility to intervene if you suspect abuse or other crisis situations in the life of a child or teen. In fact, every state has a list of mandated reporters and laws pertaining to what must be reported. If you are a mandated reporter and fail to report abuse or neglect to the proper authorities you could be in legal trouble yourself. If you suspect abuse or neglect, contact the Police or Sheriff’s Department, the County Probation Department, the County Welfare Department, or the County Child Protective Services.
When They Can’t Do it On Their Own
If a child is in a risky or dangerous situation and they don’t have the ability or resources to get out of it on their own, you should intervene. Walking the line between allowing teens to overcome their own challenges and deciding when to step in can be difficult. Don’t step in if you are certain that the teen can work out their own problems. Instead, offer unconditional love, undeviating support, and a listening ear. However, if the teen can’t navigate the issue on their own then it is time for intervention.
This is a tricky time to grow up. Teens deal with a lot of heavy issues, including sexual exploitation, substance abuse, family struggles, depression, anxiety, and body image issues. No teen should have to fight these battles on their own. Stay close, keep a watchful eye, and step in where necessary.
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