You’ve probably heard the descriptors “troubled” or “at-risk” youth more than a few times. News media, education systems, and advertisements use these expressions quite often these days. While it may be an indicator of the times in which we live, what exactly do these descriptors mean? What exactly defines a troubled or an at-risk youth?

A Distinction

Not every guy arrives at our ranch with a record as a juvenile offender. Many are considered to be at-risk, which means they are precariously leaning toward a downright dangerous future, unable and ill-equipped to guide themselves along the path to self-actualization and success.

Most adolescents face common concerns—among them, bullying, peer pressure, finding their identity, and stress. Some wrestle with a distorted body image or low self-esteem. Others suffer from anxiety or depression that is carefully monitored by their therapist. But a wide range of disruptive, destructive, and delinquent attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, or actions that persist for an extended period of time could mean trouble is brewing.

11 Warning Signs

Common warning signs troubled youth may exhibit and signs to look out for include:

  1. Falling grades; truancy
  2. Extreme mood swings; volatile temper
  3. Persistent sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest
  4. Suicidal thoughts or actions
  5. Self-harm such as cutting of the skin
  6. Habitual tobacco, drug, and/or alcohol use
  7. Running away from home
  8. Sudden change in friends
  9. Secrecy, disobedience, rebellion
  10. Repeated lying to avoid consequences for misbehavior
  11. Finding humor in other people’s pain or distress

What Causes These Behaviors?

Causes can be due to any combination of a host of variables ranging from mental health issues—like ADD or clinical depression—to abusive family relationships or unstable homes. It seems each successive generation has to grow up quicker than the one before it, causing more stress factors and temptations at a younger age. If the home environment is unable to equip young people with healthy living skills, the potential for problems increases.

How Rawhide Helps

Whether a guy is struggling at home or at school, by himself, with his family, or his friends, Rawhide has a unique, specially designed program or service for every young man who walks through our doors hoping to get his life back on track. Our talented education and counseling staff members are dedicated to helping these troubled youth meet their academic, personal, professional, civic, and spiritual goals each and every step of the way.

If you suspect your son may be battling any of the above symptoms, he could benefit from alternative education or outpatient youth and family counseling services to overcome and rise above this difficult stage of his life. Please contact us.

Or if you are a social-services professional and think residential care is appropriate for your client; please contact us today to discuss options.