Working With Teens
Take a moment and think about a teen that you know. Research has shown that their social lives mean a great deal to pre-teens and teenagers, and their self-esteem is often dependent on the approval of their peers and adults. Sometimes it may feel like they make a big deal out of nothing. Just remember, what may seem like a trivial issue to you is not trivial to teens!
Now imagine that this young person has also dealt with a sexual assault. Knowing all of the different ways that sexual violence can affect a person, can you imagine how complex and painful dealing with an assault would be on top of raging hormones, developing brains and bodies, and overwhelming social structures?
Working with teens who are dealing with a sexual assault can bring on challenges of a different nature. Adolescents’ brains are not yet fully developed (usually not until ages 17-21), so it may be more challenging for them to think critically about their situation. Their social circles are essential to their lives, so be prepared to address ways for them to deal with social pressures and related stressors.
Depending on an adolescent’s childhood, home life, and/or social setting, it can be very difficult to get him/her/they to trust you enough to accept your help. It’s well worth your effort (beyond helping someone work through a sexual assault) – young people benefit when they have supportive adults to talk to outside of their families. Just remember, stay calm and be open – working with teens can be incredibly rewarding!
Here are some links to some great providers of free/low-cost services to teens in the Twin Cities:
– Sexual Violence Center
– West Suburban Teen Clinic
– Annex Teen Clinic
– Trans Youth Support Network
– The Bridge for Youth