Saturday, March 29, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Understanding and Preventing Teen Runaways

Knowing the Difference: Runaway, Missing or Sneaking?

When a teen turns up "missing," parents must initially decide whether the child is missing, has run away, or simply sneaked out.

There are differences, and those differences are very important. A missing child could have been abducted by someone against his/her will and is being held, possibly threatened. A missing child can also be a child who is simply missing; the child did not return home when expected and may be lost or injured.

Runaway teens and sneaking teens are often confused, as both leave a supervised environment of their own free will. Sneaking teens leave home for a short period of time, with intent to return, most likely during the night or while a parent can be fooled. A runaway teen leaves home or a supervised environment for good, with intent to live separate from his/her parents. Runaway teens will likely have shown symptoms prior to running away.

In most cases, a teen runs away after a frustrating and heated argument with one or both parents. Often times, the runaway will stay with a friend or relative close by to cool off. In more serious cases, a teen may run away often and leave with no notion of where they are going.

Warning Signs your Teen May Become a Runaway

Attempts to communicate with your teen have only resulted in ongoing arguments, yelling, interruptions, hurtful name- calling, bruised feelings and failure to come to an agreement or compromise.

Your teen has become involved in a network of friends or peers who seem often unsupervised, rebellious, defiant, involved with drugs or alcohol or who practice other alarming social behavior.
A noticeable pattern of irrational, impulsive and emotionally abusive behavior by either parent or teen.

The Grass Looks Greener on the Other Side

Often, we hear our teens use "My friend's parents let her do it!" or, "Everything is better at my friend's house!" The parents of your teen's friends may be more lenient, choose later curfew times, allow co-ed events or give higher allowances. While you as parent know all parents work differently, it can be very difficult for your teen to understand.

Motivations of a Runaway

To avoid an emotional experience or consequence that they are expecting as a result of a parental, sibling, friend or romantic relationship/situation.

To escape a recurring or ongoing painful or difficult experience in their home, school or work life.
To keep from losing privileges to activities, relationships, friendships or any other things considered important or worthwhile.

To be with other people such as friends or relatives who are supportive, encouraging and active in ways they feel are missing from their lives.

To find companionship or activity in places that distract them from other problems they are dealing with.

To change or stop what they are doing or about to do.

As parents or guardians we strive to create positive, loving households in order to raise respectful, successful and happy adults. In order to achieve this, rules must be put in place. Teens who run away from home are often crying for attention. Some teens will attempt to run away just once, after an unusually heated argument or situation in the household, and return shortly after. More serious cases, however, happen with teens in extreme emotional turmoil.

Parents also need to be extremely aware of the symptoms, warning signs and dangers of teenage depression. Far too many teens are suffering from this disease and going untreated. Often, runaways feel they have no other choice but to leave their home, and this is in many cases related to their feelings of sadness, anger and frustration due to depression.

Teenage Depression

There are many causes of depression, and every child, regardless of social status, race, age or gender is at risk. Be aware and be understanding. To an adult juggling family and career, it may seem that a young teenager has nothing to be "depressed" about! Work for a mutual communication between the two of you. The more your teenager can confide his/her daily problems and concerns, the more you can have a positive and helpful interaction before the problems overwhelm them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sue Scheff - Teenage Runaways

By Connect with Kids
"I didn't like it there [home] because it was so strict and [there were] so many rules, and I wanted to do what I wanted to do."
-Abby Stoltz, 16-

Sixteen-year-old Abby Stoltz is just one of the almost half a million teens who run away from home each year.
"I didn't like it there [home] because it was so strict and [there were] so many rules, and I wanted to do what I wanted to do," Abby says.

From the age of 13, Abby's parents repeatedly grounded her for using drugs and staying out past her curfew.

"I felt like … I was so closed in that I didn't have any freedom at all," she says.

The lines of communication between Abby and her parents broke down, and the 16-year-old chose to run away.

"She [my mother] would try to talk to me; I wouldn't open up," Abby says.

According to the National Runaway Switchboard, children cite a feeling that their parents don't love them or that their parents are being too strict as the two most common reasons why they run away. Experts caution that parents need to pay close attention to their children's behavior in order to pick up any warning signs indicating their children may decide to run away from home. If your child experiences a change in friends, a drop in grades or he or she threatens to run away, experts urge you to open up a line of communication.

"The biggest thing is if you're not able to talk to your child, to get somebody who can talk to your child," says Brad Baker, a runaway investigator. "There's church groups, there's school counselors and there's educational consultants. There's plenty of people that you can get in contact with to help you in your situation."

After running away twice, each time for a week, Abby got professional help and got clean. But what may have influenced her to get the help she needed was her grandfather, who passed away.

"He told me to do better and that he knew that I had it in me, and it hurt to hear that because he was gone. And I never proved that to him that I had it in me, so that's what I'm going to do now, cause I know he's up there watching me," she says.

Communication Key to Runaway Prevention
By Kim Ogletree
CWK Network, Inc.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that each year, as many as 450,700 missing children are considered to be runaways. The National Runaway Switchboard and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) cite these additional runaway statistics:

One in seven children between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away.
Some will return within a few days; others remain on the streets never to return.
An estimated 1.3 million youth are on the streets each day.
Assaults, illness or suicide will take the lives of 5,000 runaway youth each year.
The median age for the cycle of running is 14 years old.
Most runaway youths remain away from home between one month and one year.
Females tend to return home sooner than males.
Teens run away for a variety of reasons. According to Child and Youth Health of South Australia (CYH), many teens leave home impulsively after an argument with their caregiver. Often, they don't know how to express their feelings and believe that running away will make their parents "come around." Others run away because they are afraid of punishment or they think their home has too many rules and limits. And still others flee because something seriously wrong is occurring in their lives. Consider these additional, specific reasons why a child might run away from home, cited by the Nemours Foundation:

Significant lack of family communication
Feelings of not belonging or not being good enough
Physical or sexual abuse
Fighting or violence between parents
Problems with parents or blended families (step-parents, step or half-brothers and sisters)
Problems with non-parental living situation (other relatives, foster care or group home)
Parental alcohol or drug use
Kids' alcohol or drug use
Loss of a parent due to divorce or death
Sexuality/teen pregnancy
Parental financial difficulty - ongoing or unexpected
Moving to a new area or school during adolescence
Friend or peer influence
Power of gangs
Before running away, your child's behavior will often give you clues to determine if he or she might consider leaving home. The Covenant House Florida, an organization that helps teens in crisis, cites the following warning signs of a troubled teen on the verge of running away from home:

Extreme mood changes or rebelliousness
Very poor self-esteem
Withdrawal from family and long-term friends and/or new friends of whom parents don't approve
Drop in grades or frequently skipping school
Remarkable change in appearance, such as major weight loss or lack of attention to personal hygiene
Isolation or depression
Lying or stealing
Beginning or increased use of drugs or alcohol
Suicide threats
Violent outbursts
Gang tattoos or paraphernalia
Possession of a weapon

What Parents Need to Know

In the event that your teen runs away from home, the CYH suggests the following strategies for coping and locating your teen:

Try to stay calm. Remember, most runaways return of their own accord.
Find out what you can about your teen leaving. Was it planned or impulsive? Did he or she go off with friends? Did your teen leave a note? What did he or she take with him or her?
Work out whether you think your teen is likely to be safe. Think about where he or she could run to and what you know about why he or she left.
Contact your teen's friends or the friends' parents. If your teen is with friends, let the friends know that you are worried and that you want to talk with your teen about what is upsetting him or her. Don't leave messages that are threats.
Be prepared to make some changes. If no changes are made to make the situation better, your teen will be likely to run again. You may need a third person to "bridge" any conversation in the beginning.
The fact that you are looking for your teen is reassurance that you care. It doesn't mean that you have to give in on everything but that you want to discuss ways to make life better for you all.

Have an open-door attitude to your teen's return.

If you can't find a reasonable explanation for your teen leaving and you can't assure yourself that he or she is safe, contact your local police.

The North American Missing Children Association says that developing a strong foundation of open communication with your child is the key to preventing most runaway cases. Try these tips to improve your relationship with your child:

Pay attention. When your child is talking with you, listen. Don't just nod your head while you're watching television, reading the paper or using your computer. Don't just pretend to listen - kids know the difference.

Give respect. Acknowledge and support your child's struggle to grow to maturity.

Understand. Try to sympathize with what your child is going through. Look at life - at least occasionally - from his or her point of view. Remember that when you were his or her age, your ideas seemed to make sense to you.

Don't lecture. All children hate to be lectured, especially teens. But all kids respond to clear information and direction, most of all when they know that the questions they ask will be answered.

Don't label. The throwing around of useless labels will only confuse the real issues that you wish to address.

Discuss feelings. Talk about what you, as a parent, feel and what you need. Allow your child to talk about his or her feelings, too.

Create responsibility. Give your child choices, not orders. Help him or her to understand the consequences of his or her actions.

Give positive praise. Describe your child's positive and negative behavior and how it affects others. Be specific, and give praise to reward good behavior. Do this at least as often, if not more so, than you criticize behavior that you don't like.
Stop hassling your child. Asking your child too many questions often shuts off information. Give him or her the opportunity to volunteer his or her thoughts and feelings while you show a sincere interest, without probing.

Don't always give the answers. You want your child to be able to find his or her own answers or solutions to problems. You can help by not giving your child the answers all of the time.

Use Teamwork. Work together with your child to evaluate the problems and find a mutually agreeable solution.

Provide support. You must tell your child that you will always love him or her, no matter what.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Runaways - Helping Parents

Taking Action: Get Educated Scary Statistics

21% of runaways are victims of domestic physical or sexual abuse at home prior to running away, or are afraid a return home would result in abuse.

19% of runaways are/were dependant on at least one substance.

18% of runaways are 13 years or older.

18% of runaways end up in the company of someone known to be abusing drugs.

17% of runaways end up using hard drugs.

12% of runaways spend time in a place where criminal activity is known to occur.

11% of teens participate in criminal activity while on the run.

4% of runaway teens have attempted suicide previous to running away.

4% of runaways are physically assaulted or the subject of an attempted assault while on the run.

The Power of Knowledge: Work to Be a Better Parent

Even the best parents can use skill training. Continue to improve your skills both as a communicator and a parent, as well as the problems facing teenagers today. Join your family through problem-solving skills to avoid conflict.

Evaluate yourself. Do your bad habits seem to rub off on your teen? Get healthy!

Develop a crisis intervention plan for your teen if the situation causing thoughts of running away involves a crisis or recurrent crisis.

Consider seeking professional help for your teen if he/she seems out of control, including self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or violent behavior. Emotional problems associated with anger, sadness or despair are very serious and should be dealt with accordingly.

Evaluate any use of alcohol or drugs by your teen immediately. Seek professional help if you think he/she may have an addiction problem.

Consider attending classes or educational workshops yourself to improve on your parenting skills. Even the very best parents can use support! Your city may offer training in communication and interpersonal skills that can offer help for dealing with divorce, anger, violent behavior, and conflict resolution.

Develop a plan throughout the family for conducting argumentative communication calmly and respectfully. Doing so will promote communication rather than argument.

For more information on Teen Runaways.

By Sue Scheff, Parents Universal Resource Experts

Do you have a struggling teen? At risk teens? Defiant Teen? Teen Depression? Problem Teen? Difficult Teen? Teen Rage? Teen Anger? Teen Drug Use? Teen Gangs? Teen Runaways? Bipolar? ADD/ADHD? Disrespectful Teen? Out of Control Teen? Peer Pressure?

Find about more about Boarding Schools, Military Schools, Christian Boarding Schools, Residential Treatment Centers, and Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sue Scheff - Struggling Teens, Troubled Teens, At Risk Teens

Do any of these labels sound familiar?

•Truancy (Excessive Absences)

•Multiple Suspension/Detentions


•Academic Failure/Grades Dropping - Underachiever

•Social Withdrawal – Isolating themselves

•Poor Decision Making

•Peer Relationship Problems; Fights; Arguments

•Choosing the Wrong Peer Group

•Defiant/Anger/Violent/Rage/Rebellious – Conduct Disorder

•Confrontational Behavior/Acting Out

•Refusal to accept Accountability for their


•Depression/Bipolar/Oppositional Defiance Disorder

•Involvement in Cult Activities – Gang Activity

Does any of the above sound familiar? If so it may be time to start searching for healthy and safe alternative schools or programs. Whether they are local or out of the area, after conferring with a school guidance counselor or therapist, you may determine that a different academic setting may benefit your child. Absences and Suspension Rates (or Incident reports) are useful indicators of student academic or behavioral problems.

Most truancy and incident rates increase with grade levels. Another words, this will most likely escalate rather than go away if not addressed. We always recommend parents to seek local adolescent therapy* prior to residential placement. Incidents rates are on the rise and school expulsion have increased, nearly doubled in the High Schools within the past three years. The zero tolerance rates may be attributed to this rise in numbers, however it is a clear indication that some teens are truly struggling and need outside help. This is has to do with many factors:

• Population Increase, which leads to overcrowding in the schools

• Lack of ACCEPTANCE of our Cultural Diversity

• Family Conflicts – Marital Issues (Divorce, Separation, etc.)

• Stress and Anger Management Problems

• Lack of Communication and the skills to communicate with Today's Teens.

• Ineffective or Inconsistence Parenting/Discipline Strategies

• Substance Abuse (Drugs and/or Alcohol)

• Undiagnosed Learning Disabilities – ADD/ADHD/LD

• Zero Tolerance Level at Schools


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Runaways a Growing Problem

One of any parent's greatest fears is a missing child.

Each year, one million troubled teens from every social class, race and religion run away from home. Unfortunately, for American families, that number continues to rise.
Confused, pressured and highly impressionable teens follow their peers into bad choices. In most cases, runaway teenagers want to escape the rules and regulations of their family and household. Disagreements with parents leave them unhappy and frustrated to the point of rebellion. Naiveté leads them to believe they could survive outside the nest; and dreams of a life without parental guidance, rules and punishment seem ideal.

The dangers of a runaway lifestyle are obvious. Afraid and desperate, teens on the street are easy targets for robbery, rape, prostitution, drug addiction and violent crime. While the official Runaway Hotline cites nine out of ten teens return home or are returned home by the police within a month, any amount of time on the street can change a child forever. Protecting our children from a potential runaway situation is incredibly important; the problem is serious, and the effects are severe.

My name is Sue Scheff™, and through my organization, Parents Universal Resource Experts, I am working to keep America's teens safe. A troubled teenager is a difficult and uphill battle, but you are not alone! As parents, we must work together to educate and support each other through the crisis. The best resource is that of someone who has been there; and at P.U.R.E.™, parents can find the information and support of so many dealing with the same situations.
Are you worried that your troubled teen will run away from home? We have compiled some of the most helpful resources on teenage runaways.

Looking for support or professional help? Visit our website, Help Your Teens. Our consultation service is free of charge and available to any parent seeking help. You are not alone!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Early Dating/Early Sexual Activities

First Comes Love

Will you be ready when your son has his first girlfriend? When your daughter has her first boyfriend? Will you be able to help them with the peer pressure to have sex? Will you be ready to address the warning signs of dating violence?

These are difficult topics for parents and kids to talk about together... First Comes Love helps you start the conversation. The program features real kids sharing their true dating stories – and suddenly the pressure is off of your children as you talk about the kids in the program. That, says experts, opens the door for communication and learning. The program also features advice from health experts and child specialists about the best way to protect children from the “dark side of teenage love.”

Connect with Kids is a wealth of information for parents. I refer parents to them daily and I am always impressed with their valuable new weekly parenting articles and DVD’s. In today’s world of teenagers - parents need to be a step ahead!