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Who are our Troubled Teenagers?

March 22, 2013

Overview of our troubled teens

Troubled teens are teenagers who are, for lack of a better word, “troubled”. They are teens who are affected by issues and disorders beyond what may be ordinary for teenagers during the teenage years. They include teens with social, behavioral or learning disorders, mental health issues such as depression, those who are violent, aggressive or suicidal and who may be suffering from an eating disorder. Troubled teens may be involved in substance or alcohol abuse and may have committed crimes.

Some statistics on troubled teens

These statistics are reflected across the Western nations such as US, UK, Canada and Australia.

  • More than 3/4 of teens would have consumed alcohol by the end of high school
  • Rate of illegal drug use in teens is 10%
  • One out of five 12th graders is a smoker
  • Approximately 10-15% of teens will have been involved in a physical fight by the time they reach 12th grade
  • Teen violence is the second highest cause of death in the US and number of incidents of teenage violence in many countries are growing including Australia
  • Approximately 20% of teens have reported being bullied each year
  • Around 40% of teens will have experienced some mental or behavioral disorder
  • Teens who require mental health services are predominantly depressed or have suicidal thoughts or have made suicide attempts or have some form of social misconduct or problems with home
  • One out of five teens are rarely or never happy with their body image
  • Over 60% of teens are afraid of gaining weight

Signs of teenagers in crisis

Troubled teens tend to have mood changes and changes to behavior, personality and relationships with the family, friends and peers. Families will normally be the first ones to notice changes in the teen’s behavior. Signs of changed behavior include the following:

  • becoming increasingly rebellious
  • withdrawing from family and friends
  • seeking new friends who exhibit questionable behavior
  • becoming violent
  • taking on compulsive obsessions
  • becoming sneaky
  • starting to lie about whereabouts
  • sudden drop in school performance
  • extreme mood swings
  • disappearance of items including money.

On noticing negative changes, parents and carers should take immediate steps to resolve the issue. Non-confrontational means of communicating with the teen should be implemented by parents and carers. If in doubt, seek professional help with the teen.