Troubled Teen Issues

Expelled Teen

Your child has been suspended or expelled from school. Maybe this isn’t the first time. Maybe it’s not the first school. Please understand you are not alone. Hundreds of children, beginning with kindergarten age, are suspended or expelled from school each year. These are bright kids who have a lot of potential yet they enter into the type of behavior that necessitates separating them from the other students.

Each school district has its own list of behaviors for which students are suspended or expelled but they are much the same.

1. Threatened, attempted, or caused physical injury to another person.
2. Possessed, sold, or furnished firearm, knife, or other dangerous object.
3. Possessed, used, or sold any controlled substance.
4. Offered, furnished or sold any substance represented to be a controlled substance.
5. Robbery or extortion.
6. Caused or tried to cause damage to the school or private property.
7. Stole or tried to steal school or private property.
8. Possessed or used tobacco.
9. Obscene acts or habitual profanity.
10. Offered or sold drug paraphernalia.
11. Disrupted school activities and defied authority of school personnel.

In our society these behaviors are not tolerated. People committing these acts are jailed and those who love them wonder why they made the choices they did.

Let’s not let it get that far. Let’s figure out now what the problem is and take the necessary steps now to turn a life around.

Behavior is only the outward manifestation of what is going on in the mind

Your teen didn’t get to this point overnight. It is important to not only find the problem but to help the student overcome the problem and be able to experience success.

It is very difficult for families to realize a child has a behavior problem. Parents may not think the child’s behavior is unusual for his age and that he will grow out of it. They may think the behavior is only an individual trait.

In making a determination, it is helpful to consider how much your child’s behavior is upsetting you, the child, and the family as a whole. If your child’s aggressive, argumentative, or withdrawn behaviors are upsetting to the family, it’s time to seek help.

Additionally, there are three guidelines to help determine whether your child has a behavioral disorder. First, how long has your child been exhibiting the behavior? Second, how intense is the behavior? For instance, most children will have temper tantrums but do these actually frighten you? Third, how old is the child? How does the behavior compare to other children of the same age?

If your child is exhibiting thoughts of suicide, hurting himself, or being so withdrawn that he cannot interact with others or go through daily routines, you need to seek immediate help from mental health professionals.

While your child is in school, he has access to school counselors and other education specialists who know which behaviors are normal and which show a need for help. When a child is suspended, parents can still get help from these sources and possibly get recommendations for other health specialists who can help.

What options are there now that your teen has been expelled?

– Home School? Yes, your teen may get the academics, the grades, and the knowledge. But he will not learn to interact with others in a positive manner, and the original problem still exists.

– Alternative School? The focus at an alternative school is to finish the coursework for graduation. There is no focus on the original problem of why the student could not succeed socially in the regular school setting and again, the original problem still exists.

– Specialty School? There are several different kinds of specialty schools and programs. There are wilderness programs “boot camps” military schools, and religious schools. Some include academics and some do not. Some programs are an intense “wake up call” that last about a month, and others are long term. Some focus only on the child and some involve the entire family in the healing process.

If your child has a behavior disorder, one month of intense “wake up” won’t change anything. It also won’t change the peer group he has or his involvement with drugs and/or weapons.

Where Do I Start?

A good place to start to find the right answer for your child is to make a list of the problems you can see such as drugs, violence, failing grades, abuse of family members, withdrawal. Once you have your list, contact us!

An educational consultant will be able to address your child’s specific needs and suggest some schools or programs that can meet those needs.

I know that at this point it feels overwhelming but there are a lot of people who can help. I have seen it work; I have seen kids go from angry, violent, addicts who “hate” their families to happy smiling kids who cherish their families. Your teen can get the smile back too.

Troubled Teen Issues

Teen Truancy

Teen Truancy

Compulsory education is mandated by law in all 50 of the United States. In general, an unexcused absence from school is an instance of truancy. But to be branded as a truant, a student must intentionally miss school with absences that are unexcused at an age at which education is compulsory in the state in which the student resides. Teen truancy is of particular importance and interest because of truancy’s link to other problems, the most obvious of these being failure to complete one’s education. To understand more about the issues of teen truancy, read on.

Because state laws differ, a student who is considered truant in one state may not be truant in another state. For example, in states for which the upper limit of compulsory attendance age is 16, a teen of that age may drop-out of high school without legal issues, whereas in a neighboring state with an upper age limit of 18, that adolescent would be a teen truant.

Understanding Teen Truancy

Because national figures on truancy have been collected from state data which do not use identical categories, it is difficult to build a precise picture of the teen truancy situation in the United States. Issues such as how to count teens who earn a GED, teens who run away, or teens whose whereabouts are not known have muddied the picture. Although the legislation referred to as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) instituted a requirement for states to create a shared definition of truancy and a school level data collection based on this definition, the fruits of this mandate have not yet been seen.

Causes of Youth Truancy

One thing that is important to understand is that students are truant for different reasons. Not all students who fail to go to school are up to no good on the one hand or irresponsible on the other. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) has reported that in 2003, 5.4 percent of high school students skipped a minimum of one day of school because they were concerned for their personal safety.

Negative factors contributing to teen truancy are considered as originating in three areas: the teen’s personal character and psychology, the teen’s family and community environment, and the school.

Personal factors include poor academic performance; mental health issues; substance abuse; the demands of pregnancy or parenting; and lack of understanding about the importance of education. Home and community factors include family situations that lead the teen to choose to work rather than attend school; a situation of abuse or neglect; parental substance abuse; negative role models; and disdain for education among role models.

School factors that can contribute to teen truancy include poorly designed and implemented attendance policies; policies that remove the student from school as punishment; poor instruction; poorly maintained facilities; an unsafe environment; and lack of quality special education for students in need.

Guilt by Association

What is known about teen truancy is the strong links with other problems. Truancy is, unsurprisingly, considered an indicator for poor academic performance, for example, on standardized tests, as well as dropping out of high school. But beyond an incomplete education, one of the greatest concerns raised by teen truancy stems from the fact that it is a risk factor for other problematic behaviors and outcomes, including:

  • social isolation
  • low self-esteem
  • feeling of rejection from parents
  • juvenile delinquency
  • substance abuse
  • teen pregnancy
  • unemployment
  • significantly lower earnings than high school graduates
  • adult criminality 

Addressing Truancy

There are a variety of programs in place to address truancy. They may be instituted within the school itself, in the community, or arise in the courts. These programs have different approaches and goals. Some focus on middle schoolers, hoping to address truancy before it becomes a high school problem. Others focus on making high school graduation possible for teens at risk.

Some programs work to make the consequences of their behavior more salient to teens. For example, as of 2004, 17 states linked school attendance and grade point average (GPA) to the right to have a driver’s license.

Truancy Sources

National Center for School Engagement
Federal Probation Newsletter, December, 2004