​At-Risk Behaviors in Troubled Teen Boys

Every year, countless youth across the country are living in detention facilities. Some of these are for juveniles but an alarming number are in actual jails and even maximum security prisons. Teenagers are being tried and imprisoned right beside adults and the costs are dire.

Even those who are sent to juvenile detention facilities are seeing some serious impacts. Investigations have found that teenagers who are sent to these facilities are more likely to one day end up in jail. It is the first step in a long line of legal troubles.

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That isn’t the only concern that teenagers are facing. According to statistics, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US. But for those under the age of 21, it is actually the second leading cause of death. It shows a crisis in the United States that isn’t being properly addressed, one that could be life-threatening to the country’s children.

Male youth are especially impacted by the above issues and can see their lives drain away in an instant due to a single mistake. Intervention, when we see the warning signs, is the only way forward, to keep them safe from harm and ensure a positive future ahead.

Here are some at-risk behaviors in common issues to keep an eye out for.


Depression may be the most common issues facing teenagers today, with one in every five teens having faced at least one major depressive episode in their life. There can be a great deal of overlap between depression and other issues as well, including those on this list. When a teen is depressed they can lash out and even take greater risks with their lives and health.

Signs of depression in teens include:

  • Signs of apathy, just not caring
  • Sudden bouts of crying
  • Angry outbursts
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Reckless behavior
  • Lack of interest in former hobbies
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Signs of self-harm
  • Self-defeating or self-insulting language
  • Suicidal ideation

Any combination of these symptoms can be a sign of serious depression. Depression is a major risk factor for teenager boys acting out. The sooner it is caught and treated, the better.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders can be difficult to classify in teens due to their similarity in many symptoms to depression. Indeed, depression itself is one of the signs of a mood disorder. The difference is that a teenager with a mood disorder, such as Bipolar Disorder, will cycle from depression to mania.

Signs of mania include:

  • Sudden bouts of energy
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of or increase in appetite
  • Increase in risk-taking behavior
  • Euphoria
  • A sensation of feeling “wired”
  • Intense irritability
  • A sense of being invincible
  • Drop in grades
  • Lack of focus or concentration

During a manic phase, teens are much more likely to act out sexually, experiment with drugs, see a drop in their academic performance, put strain on relationships and take part in other high-risk behaviors that can have serious consequences for their life.

Other Mental Illness

There is no single list of symptoms of a mental illness. Each one is unique and has its own classification, with its own signifiers doctors use to recognize it. But you may have noticed some worrying trends in your child’s behavior and they may have included the following:

  • Disconnection with reality
  • Belief that people are out to get them
  • Irrational anger
  • Constant fear or anxiety
  • Isolation and refusal to leave the house
  • Avoiding things once enjoyed
  • Strange sudden change in beliefs
  • Claims of hearing voices
  • Losing time
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches or frequent muscle pains
  • General erratic behavior

Many prisons are filled with mentally ill prisoners whose condition played a part in their incarceration. Your son could be faced with a similar issue without professional help dealing with the onset of their mental illness.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a serious problem among teens today. The teen brain is not developed completely. The matter is still sensitive and can be impacted forever by choices made during the developing years. Drug and alcohol use may lead to addiction later in life or damage the brain itself.

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A total of 33% of seniors in high school admit to using alcohol and binge drinking. That is only the figure of self-reported users, meaning the actual number is almost certainly higher. That same demographic is familiar with and claim access to opiates, such as prescription painkillers. Studies have shown that they are more likely to mix them with other drugs, increasing their risk of overdose.

Signs of substance abuse include:

  • Repeated truancy
  • Drop in academic performance
  • Change in friends
  • Isolation from family or former friends
  • Secretive behavior
  • Missing items or money
  • Strange behavior and acting intoxicated

Personality Disorders and Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Personality disorders are a major concern for many parents who have troubled teens. These disorders are rare and hard to diagnose in children and teens given the overlap of symptoms with other conditions.

The exception is usually Oppositional Defiant Disorder, a condition that is more frequently diagnosed in children of a younger age. ODD symptoms include:

  • Refusal to respect authority
  • Extreme expressions of anger
  • “Flying off the handle” at nothing
  • Spiteful or vindictive behavior
  • Petty behavior
  • Attempts to deliberately upset others
  • Violent outbursts
  • Blames others for their shortcoming or behavior, even when caught

Finding Help For Your Teen

Whatever struggles your teen may be facing, there is help available for them. Extensive therapy, specialized programs like therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers are all viable options for moderate to severe cases. Each option provides monitoring by professionals who are well trained in handling your teen’s behavior.

Getting your child help is critical to keep them from going down a path of no return. The world today is full of dangers for young people who struggle with behavior. You can help them, as a parent, to overcome each one of their demons and turn a new leaf.

Find out more at Liahona Academy.

​Average Ages of Teen Boys Treated At Liahona Residential Treatment Center

Many parents are worried when they send their teen to Liahona that they will be exposed to much older, more experienced boys during the program. It is true that the ages of admission are 12 - 17, which raises some alarms for younger boys. We have a fairly even combination of ages within that range admitted at any given time.

What If I Don’t Want My Child Exposed To Older/Younger Boys?

For those with younger sons, they may want them to stay away from older boys who might have been exposed to activities that could be harmful to them. For those with older sons, they may worry about them doing the exposing.

At Liahona, we have treatment programs in many areas. For example, there is a separate substance abuse therapy support group for those who have struggled with drugs in the past. We keep this group separate and ask teens involved in the other groups to wait until that session to discuss their past drug troubles. This is a measure to keep teens from swapping “war stories”, which may glamorize drug abuse for younger students.

Your child will spend most of their time with others their own age, outside of therapy. Just as they would in schools separated by grade.

What If There Are Problems With Bullying?

We work with many troubled teens and so are aware of the possibility of bullying among students. We take such allegations very seriously and will do everything in our power to enforce a no-tolerance policy toward that behavior.

Liahona is a tightly monitored therapeutic boarding school. Our smaller class sizes and individualized attention, added to therapeutic sessions both in and out of a group setting, make it easier to spot warning signs. They will be dealt with as witnesses by staff, or based on complaints by students or their family.

Let Us Help Your Son

Liahona Academy is a unique institution that combines intensive therapy with academic programs to help your teen excel emotionally and academically. We provide various treatment options tailor-made for your teen based on their unique needs. We believe in the power of focused attention and care.

You don’t have to go through all of this alone. We will help you to navigate the process from the first application to the facility tour. We will also be there to help answer any questions or concerns your son may have about his journey with Liahona.

Find out more at Liahona Academy.


​What Research Has To Say About Residential Treatment Centers For Teens

Your teenager is depressed. Or they have been diagnosed with a mood disorder. Perhaps they have been struggling with ADD, ADHD or ODD. Which has been a strain now only on them, but on your entire family as you struggle to cope with the symptoms and their resulting behavioral problems.

This is not an uncommon issue. For the small percentage of families who are facing the worse, however, it can be utterly devastating. Not only that, but you may have tried absolutely everything to no avail...nothing seems to make a difference. They are just getting more out of control and handle to handle every day.

Why a Residential Treatment Center (RTC)?

Does the above sound familiar? Then it might be time for a residential treatment center (RTC). This is a facility that provides around the clock care for your teenager. This includes therapy, group sessions, recreation and individual therapy in a non-hospital setting.

Types of RTC’s

Short Stay - A short stay residential treatment center is one where the patient is only there for anywhere up to three months. Often the stays are within a week or two and used to stabilize the patient on medication and begin a treatment plan before sending them home.

Long Stay - A long stay RTC is one where the patient may stay anywhere from six months to several years. It is used for high risk patients who are not able to go home, either due to circumstances beyond their control, or for the safety of themselves and others.

Who Are RTC’s Suited For?

People who suffer from the following are potentially ideal candidates for an RTC stay:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Self harm
  • Anger triggers
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Addiction
  • Eating disorders

The Optimal Stay Time In an RTC According to Research

Only so much research has been done into RTCs, though it has been found that they are helpful in overcoming long term conditions and teaching patients how to better cope with life outside the facility. It is also an ideal location for severe cases where there is a high risk of harm to themselves or others.

Most research has been done into the ideal length of stay at RTCs. Most have found that there is no single time, but that longer stays are usually more beneficial. For short term stays, it has to be ensured that a solution following release is worked out with plenty of resources for follow-up.

Find out more at Liahona Academy.

​Could Your Son Benefit From A Residential Treatment Center This Summer?

Many troubled teens struggle during the summer. During the school year, they at least have something to occupy them, even if they still have issues during those days. But during the summer months, they are left to their own devices. Something that may have caused conflict within the family home since school let out.

If you are fed up and at the end of your rope, it may be time for more intensive therapeutic options. A residential treatment center could be just what your son could benefit from this summer.

What Do Residential Treatment Centers Offer?

A residential treatment center is an inpatient program that offers around the clock care and assistance to those who need some extra medical and therapeutic attention for anywhere from a few days to a few months.

Some of the issues leading to a residential stay include:

  • Drug abuse and addiction
  • Depression
  • Mental illness
  • Personality disorders
  • Disassociation
  • Eating disorders
  • Violent tendencies
  • Anger triggers
  • Suicidal ideation and self-harm

Other conditions and symptoms will also be treated, but the above represent a large number of cases that are admitted every day.

Residential treatment is not like outpatient programs you may have tried before. Therapy, both individual and group, are a part of the daily treatment. Medication is administered and monitored. But with staff on hand 24/7, teenagers are given a higher level of care.

The summer months are the perfect time to admit your teen. They will be able to focus completely on their own recovery and health without worrying about keeping up with assignments.

In their downtime, they can apply some of their energy to catch up on concepts they may have struggled with during the school year. All without the pressure of having to turn it in for a grade.

What About When School Begins Again?

Hopefully, their time during the summer in a residential treatment center means they will be prepared to return to school and better cope with the conditions that led to their acting out. But for some, it can be more complicated.

If your child is needing additional time in a round-the-clock environment, it might be time to consider a therapeutic boarding school. Similar to a residential treatment center, it allows for the same focus on intensive therapy.

At the same time, they have one on one tutoring, small class sizes and plenty of individualized attention for every student.

Find out more at Liahona Academy.

Independence Day


Getting Away From Video Games At A Therapeutic Boarding School For Boys

Playing video games in moderation isn't the worst activity for teenage boys, and many parents assume all age-rated video games are safe for their teens to play. However, some video games which are rated T for teens can still lead a teenage boy down a troubled path. From stealing a parent's credit card for in-game purchases to participating in explicit in-game conversations with other players, many parents have quickly found that they want to get their troubled teen boy away from the negative influence of video games.

By attending a therapeutic boarding school for boys, troubled teen boys have the break from video games that they need, and these boys find new hobbies as they work through the school's therapeutic program.

Therapeutic Boardings Schools Build Face-To-Face Bonds

Video games have an unfortunate tendency to disconnect young men from the people around them while desensitizing them to casual acts of violence. While attending a therapeutic boarding school, this damage to the teen boys' mental health is addressed in part by helping the troubled boys build strong face-to-face bonds. Some of the people these boys build relationships with are:

  • Therapist - To help address any existing mental health issues which a troubled teen boy is struggling to deal with appropriately, therapeutic boarding schools employ therapists which specialize in working with troubled teens. These specialized therapists are experts at building relationships of trust with the students so their mental health can be addressed and solutions can be found.
  • Other students - Rather than only connecting with friends online through video games, therapeutic boarding schools for boys provide a healthy place for friendships to form. From helping support each other in group therapy to working on service projects together, troubled teen boys are able to build good relationships based in the real world rather than virtual reality.
  • Role models - At a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teen boys, the attending boys will work with many strong people, from the program director to the direct care staff which helps the teens during their daily activities. By having regular interactive and support from these people, a troubled teen boy can build a healthy relationship with a good role model.

Teen Boys Engage In Activities While At Boarding School

We have mentioned a few of the activities which troubled teen boys will enjoy at a therapeutic boarding school for boys, but there are far more activities which help the students learn to love and engage in new activities. Some of the common activities for Liahona students are:

  • Hiking
  • Board games
  • Community service
  • Sports
  • Leadership training
  • Swimming

Along with the new hobbies which can be developed by attending students, therapeutic boarding schools supply nutritional training, a robust education program, and much more to help the boys achieve a healthy balance of fun and work.

Trouble Boys Return Home Less Interested In Video Games

Troubled teen boys enrolled in a therapeutic boarding school often spend anywhere from 6 months to several years at these schools. With these periods of distance from video games, many boys return home with a lower interest in video games as they have been away from its addictive influence.

If you feel like our program may help your troubled son with his struggles, contact us. Our program counselors will be able to help you assess if Liahona Treatment Center is the right place for your son.