Definition of an “At-Risk” Youth

Is it tough to be a teenager today? Who is an at-risk youth? Social experts who study human behavior argue that today’s kids are under stress as never before. Gang warfare, street stabbings and shootings, proliferation of drugs, binge drinking and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases all make life tough for today’s teens. Tragically many young people are caught up in such a dangerous lifestyle placing their health and even their lives at risk.

Can you prevent your teen from being placed in the at-risk category? Can you stop any problems before they occur or at least become too serious? Here are some factors about teenage behavior. Is your teen involved in any of these situations? If so, the more situations the greater the likelihood they are at-risk.


  1. School life. Is your teen failing at school, are their grades dropping and are they in conflict with staff?

  2. Family life. Is your teen rebellious? Do they argue often with their parents and/or siblings? Do they threaten to run away or even go missing for periods of time?

  3. The law. Is your child with authority? Do the police come calling to interview your child about certain incidents?

  4. The community. Is your teen a dropout from sporting clubs, the church or other local group activities? Have they abandoned the things which once took pride of place in their life?

  5. Unusual behavior. Is your teen prone to lose their cool beyond what might be considered normal? Are they angry and abusive? Do they threaten you or other family members? Have the dropped long-time friendships with their peers?

  6. Depression. Is your teen spending long periods of time alone perhaps in their room? Do they speak less and make fewer comments in family conversations? Have they been medically examined for depression? Do they seem listless and disinterested in most things?

  7. Sexuality. Is your teen sexually active? Do you know their partner or partners? Is your teen aware of STDs? Is your teen well-informed when it comes to the dangers of unprotected sex?

  8. Truthfulness. Have you caught out your teen telling lies? Do they seem secretive and not open and forthcoming? Are they unwilling to give details of where they’ve been or with whom? Do you suspect them of stealing from home?

  9. Fear. Are you afraid of your teen? Are you worried that what you say or do will cause them to explode and use bad language? Has your teen threatened you or your family?

  10. Self-belief. Does your teen seem to lack confidence? Are they without motivation for most or many things? Do they have an “I don’t care” attitude to life? Have they dropped their bundle?

The above points cover most of how a troubled teen behaves. If your child fits into some of these categories, it is possible your teen is at risk. Now is the time to intervene. Talk to your family doctor and seek professional advice. Do not let the situation drift. The health of your teen may be at risk.


Ten Things Kids Can Do To Stop Violence


    1. Settle arguments with words, not fists or weapons. Don’t stand around and form an audience.

    2. Learn safe routes for walking in the neighborhood, and know good places to seek help. Trust your feelings, and if there’s a sense of danger, get away fast.

    3. Report any crimes or suspicious actions to the police, school authorities, and parents. Be willing to testify if needed.

    4. Don’t open the door to anyone you and your parents don’t know and trust.

    5. Never go anywhere with someone you and your parents don’t know and trust.

    6. If someone tries to abuse you, say no, get away, and tell a trusted adult. Remember, it’s not the victim’s fault.

    7. Don’t use alcohol and other drugs, and stay away from places and people associated with them.

    8. Stick with friends who are also against violence and drugs, and stay away from known trouble spots.

    9. Get involved to make school safer and better – having poster contests against violence, holding anti-drug rallies, counseling peers, and settling disputes peacefully. If there’s no program, help start one!

    10. Help younger children learn to avoid being crime victims. Set a good example and volunteer to help with community efforts to stop crime.



Weapons in the Home

When we talk about violence, we can’t ignore weapons. Nine out of ten murders involve a weapon- eight of ten involve a firearm. Most robberies involve the use of a weapon, most frequently a handgun.
One in seven teens has reported carrying a weapon – like a bat, club, gun, or knife – at some time to protect himself. Weapons can make violence more deadly and less personal. A gun in the home increases the likelihood of homicide three times and the likelihood of suicide five times.


Reduce the risk
Think long and hard about having weapons, especially firearms, in your home. Studies show that a firearm in the home is more than forty times as likely to hurt or kill a family member as to stop a crime.
Look at other ways to protect yourself and your home. Invest in top-grade locks, jamming devices for doors and windows, a dog, or an alarm system. Start or join a Neighborhood Watch. Check with the police, the YMCA/YWCA, or the recreation department about a self-defense class.
If you do choose to own firearms – handguns, rifles, or shotguns – make sure they are safely stored. That means unloaded, trigger-locked, and in a locked gun case or pistol box, with ammunition separately locked. Store keys out of reach of children, away from weapons and ammunition. Check frequently to make sure this storage remains secure.
Obtain training from a certified instructor in firearms safety for everyone in the home. Make sure it’s kept current.
Teach your children what to do if they find a firearm or something that might be a weapon – Stop, Don’t Touch, Get Away, and Tell a Trusted Adult.