Help her to realize that having a child may interfere with her future career, but that many mothers have successful home and job lives. There are an infinite number of options, and a determined teenager can find a way to success. Do not skirt around the issues of danger, however, as teenagers are more likely to miscarry or have other complications with their pregnancy such as premature labor and low birth weight of the child. Teenage mothers are more likely to need bedrest during the late stages of pregnancy, and a cesarian section during birthing, and the child is at greater risk for any number of complications.
Of course, while supporting a pregnant teen is vital, the key to solving the problems faced by teenagers dealing with pregnancy is to stop it before it happens.
Provide accurate and unashamed information about sex and pregnancy to children and teenagers, and encourage other community members to do the same. Get parents and teachers involved in the process. Make sure that young people know what their options are in preventing pregnancy, ranging from abstinence to contraception, and allow teenagers the freedom and platform to discuss these topics with each other in a supportive environment. Teenage pregnancy needs to be viewed not as a taboo which must be kept silent, but as a real and active social issue that needs a proactive approach. The counselor must be able to balance a nonjudgmental opinion of pregnant teenagers and their children without becoming blind to the dangers that are faced by them.
Suicide is a frightening subject for most people. The idea that a loved one, family member, or friend could actually be responsible for his or her own death. The concept that someone could be so unhappy with life and in so very much pain that the death to which every living creature has such an overwhelming natural aversion could actually be the most appealing option. Often, those left behind by a suicide victim feel guilty and angry, feeling betrayed and abandoned by the now deceased loved one, not understanding why that person would be so selfish as to disregard the pain that would be caused by the death. Over the past 25 years, the rate of suicide has decreased. However, for people between the ages of 15 and 24, the rate of suicide has actually tripled. Suicide is one of the three leading causes of death among teenagers, and many suicides actually go unreported as such so the rates may be even higher than we currently believe them to be. Suicide is a significant and dangerous problem facing today's youth. Everyone involved in the lives of teenagers must be aware of the risk factors involved that most commonly lead to suicide, and it can fall upon the shoulders of the counselor to inform not only the teenagers but also the teachers and families of the youth of the facts relating to teen suicide.
One of the leading causes of suicide in any person is depression. Often unrecognized, depression is especially misunderstood and misdiagnosed in teenagers. Clinical depression is often overlooked as teenagers experiencing normal angst and pressure associated with high school and making the change into adulthood. Furthermore, the feelings of teenagers are often thought by adults to be fleeting and meaningless, or teens are accused of just trying to get attention by acting weird, angry, or sullen. Signs to look for in a depressed teenager include changes in appetite (both loss of appetite and compulsive overeating) and changes in sleep patterns (both fatigue and sleeplessness). A depressed teenager may suddenly become less active, or lose interest in things that were previously very important or exciting to them, like sports or movies. Depression often makes a person become socially withdrawn, and the person may even express through subtle or obvious means having thoughts of death or punishment towards themselves. These symptoms of depression must be taken seriously.
A second risk factor leading to suicide in teenagers is substance abuse. Often times, teens will turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to ease the pain of depression, but these will normally just make the problem worse. These substances will enhance the depression as well as lowering inhibitions, which means that suicidal thoughts that were kept under control before the introduction of drugs may now become a reality simply because of the altered state of mind. Addiction can also be painful, and even if the drug use was not introduced as means of easing pain but rather as a fun or social experience, it can lead to feelings of torment that can turn to suicidal thoughts as the teenager feels him or herself losing control over life.
Another risk factor for suicide is behavioral problems. Teenagers that are having legal problems with police or any kind of criminal activity are more prone to suicide. Teenagers that are getting into fights at school, or even getting into fights with their parents, are also more at risk of suicide. Not all suicidal teenagers sit in their bedrooms writing depressive poetry and contemplating the meaningless of life in quiet discontent. However, the teenager that participates in destructive behavior is more at risk for being self-destructive as well. Because these teenagers do not fit the stereotype for suicidal, the problem can be even worse as it is often not noticed or recognized until it is too late.
Additionally, parents must be aware that having access to the means by which to kill one's self makes a teenager more likely to commit the act. A bottle of prescription tranquilizers or razor blades left in an accessible place for a suicidal teenager can be the deciding factor to actually take his or her life. The most dangerous culprit is the gun, as use of a gun in a suicide attempt makes it far more likely to be successful. Having a gun in the house makes suicide five times more likely to occur within that home when compared to homes without a firearm. Teenagers that have already made one suicide attempt also need to have a closer eye kept on their behavior, as they are far more likely to try again. Many teenagers will spend years attempting suicide until they have finally been successful. It is unsafe and inaccurate to assume that a teenager has attempted suicide just for attention and not because they are actually in extreme distress. Teenagers who have experienced a tragic event recently or during childhood are also more prone to attempting suicide.
Before a suicidal teenager can get the treatment needed to prevent a suicide attempt, someone must be there to recognize the warning signs and approach the problem. Counselors can help parents to watch for these warning signs of depression and suicidal thought, as well as providing advice on how to best talk to the teenager. Counselors must be able to take every teenager's feelings seriously, and to never disregard any mention of suicide or self-harm. Teenagers are under a lot of pressure and often feel lost and alone in their pain. Educating young people about suicide so that they can stay on the lookout for peers in need of help, and so they can prepare themselves to deal with stress and loss without turning to suicide. Professional assistance through therapy, support groups, and sometimes medication is available to help.
Teenage sexual abuse
Sexual Abuse is a sensitive and dangerous subject for any professional working with young people to approach. Dwelling on the subject for too long may lead to accusations of perversity or moral decay, while not spending enough time seriously dealing with it can allow for horrible abuse to continue among young people. The sexual abuse of young children has become a topic of media-frenzy choice, with more and more attention being paid to children's claims of being molested, and more laws being passed to help protect children from sexual predators. However, teenagers are caught in a very awkward place sexually and otherwise. Puberty is a confusing and exploitative time, causing the young person to have increased interest in sex and sexual activity, even if the teenager is not ready mentally or emotionally to deal with the consequences of participating in sexual acts.
Sexual abuse cannot be ignored, it is widespread and far too common. One comprehensive study revealed that one percent of all young people have been sexually abused by a parent at some point during childhood. Three percent of all young people have been sexually abused by a relative other than a parent. Perhaps ten percent of young people report having been forced into a sexual act against his or her will before reaching the age of sixteen, usually by someone they know. While the majority of young people who report sexual abuse are female, males are not immune to the problem, and…