Safe Place

How to Talk to Teens About Drugs

Written by: Sonia Tagliareni, writer and researcher for www.drugrehab.com

Adolescence is a period of uncertainty, during which teenagers are not inclined to share anything with their parents. It may be challenging to broach the drug and alcohol conversation. Your teen may try to avoid the conversation, or you may not know how to begin.

The conversation must be rewarding for both of you so it is important that you consider the issues you wish to discuss before the talk. Communities have plenty of substance use prevention resources that can help you. Your teenager will be more receptive if you remain calm and collected during the discussion. Be prepared to address any concerns and questions your child may have after your conversation.

Educate Yourself

Understanding the different types of drugs and their effects on the body will help you answer any technical questions your child may have. It is important to explain to your teenager that addiction is a chronic brain disease and to teach them about the cycle of addiction. You should emphasize that drugs affect a person’s judgment and often land them in trouble.

Don’t Lecture

Anticipate your teen’s possible reactions and you approach the conversation. Talk to your teenager when you are both relaxed and free of distractions. You don’t want them to think that the conversation is a lecture; they will not be receptive to you and may become rebellious.

Establish Expectations

Discuss your expectations about drug and alcohol use and provide sound reasons for avoiding substances. If you adopt a negative and authoritative attitude, your teenager may rebel by consuming alcohol or drugs. Also lead by example; your teenager will more likely take your advice if you lead a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t Interrupt Your Teen

Do not interrupt your teen when they are expressing themselves, even if you disagree with them. A good way to respond to your child when you think they are wrong is to show them the source of your information. If you do not know the answer to a question your teenager asked, you should simply say that you do not know and suggest looking for the answer together.

Create Scenarios

Role-playing with your teenager may be a fun way to teach them strategies for avoiding substance use. Create a few scenarios in which your teen is confronted with the choice of using or not using. If they have trouble saying “no,” teach them other ways in which they can refuse the person offering drugs or alcohol, including suggesting a different activity or simply walking away. Teenagers should know that it is acceptable not to consume alcohol at parties or use drugs with their friends.

Talking about the dangers of substance use multiple times over the course of your child’s adolescence reinforces the message. Your teenager will see you as a concerned parent and will be more likely to come to you for advice when faced with difficult situations. The goal of talking to your children about drugs and alcohol is to provide enough resources for them to make good decisions when you are not around.

Aug 2016 - Monthly Tip - Talk to Teens about DrugsImage credit:  https://www.drugrehab.com/teens/prevention/ 

Sources:

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2009). Make a difference. Retrieved from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/MakeADiff_HTML/makediff.htm#Talkingwith

About the author:

Sonia Tagliareni is a writer and researcher for www.drugrehab.com. She is passionate about helping people. She started her professional writing career in 2012 and has since written for the finance, engineering, lifestyle and entertainment industry. Sonia holds a bachelor’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Seton Youth Shelters’ Spring Cleaning Campaign

Written by: Karlaa Williams, Public Relations & Donor Associate, Seton Youth Shelters

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Seton Youth Shelters has just finished celebrating 30 years of Changing Lives, Building Futures for more than 250,000 teens and their families, free of charge since 1985. With our three main program areas – shelters, mentoring children of prisoners program and street outreach programs – donations are always needed, from bathroom tissue, to non-perishable food items, to hygiene items and household cleaning products.

In this age of social media, online giving sites like GoFundMe, and others, pinpointing a specific audience can be a bit difficult.

Here at Seton Youth Shelters, we attempt to think outside the box and engage the community on a regular basis. Many of our donors are have families with small children and teens, just like many of the youth we serve. The Hampton Roads area is seven cities clustered on the southeastern coast of Virginia. Last year, in celebration of our 30th anniversary, we had a year-long calendar of events from open houses, to a bench dedication in honor of a longtime supporter, to our Spring Cleaning Campaign. We even opened a “Seton Shop” featuring Seton-branded mugs, shirts, caps for those dedicated supporters.

Our favorite and most successful campaign is the Spring Cleaning Campaign. Seton Youth Shelters is the official designee for Thrift Store USA, ranked as one of the nation’s top thrift stores by Lucky Magazine.  A Norfolk stop for all thing vintages, chic and….of course thrifty. This 26,000 sq. feet store has furniture, mattresses, shoes, jewelry and clothes. Many thrift stores are known buy their items from warehouses because of a lack of donations. Not so with Thrift Store USA! They have placed more than 100 donation bins around Hampton Roads. It’s in these distinctive, bright blue bins sporting the Seton Youth Shelters’ logo, on which our donors to place many items to be sold. The Spring Cleaning Campaign directed donors to the bins!

When designing our campaign, we thought of this:

You and your family are cleaning up all the old clothes from last year that you didn’t wear and placing them in these large plastic bags. The house is clean! But where do you put all of these bags?

That is the scenario that I believed many area families and donors were going through. Thrift Store USA’s truck will pick up bulk donations free of charge, from your home. Don’t have that many items? There are plenty of Thrift Store USA bins, you can surely do a quick drop off. Voila! Donations gone…and you have done a great deed!

Interested in campaign ideas? Here are some tips!

  • Identify your audience
    • Families
    • Small children
    • Teens
    • Churches etc.
  • If you have a bulk list of donation needs, condense it down for social media. Ask for one to two things.
  • Ask donors to sponsor a single item that you really need. Maybe they don’t have the time to go and buy it for you, but are willing to give you $50 to buy it yourself or towards to total purchase price.
  • Get creative! Think seasons or the nearest holiday and how to integrate that into your needs! Need more sunscreen for outings? Seedlings or flowers as a gardening activity? Holiday tree decorating?
  • Use social media to get the word out. Create custom hashtags that specify your campaign.
  • Encourage your followers to share! Sharing your posts increases the views, and helps you spread the word.
  • Spend some money! Boosting social media posts for $10 can be very beneficial, especially when spending that $10 gets you over $100 in donations.
  • Always say “Thank You”. Whether it’s a photo posted on your social media pages, a handwritten thank you, a phone call, or a “shout out” at your next fundraising event. Just say it!

National Safe Place Week 2016

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National Safe Place Week 2016 (#NSPWeek2016) is upon us! This nationally recognized week serves to raise awareness of Safe Place, an outreach and prevention program for youth in crisis. NSP Week is also a dedicated time to recognize the various partners who collaborate to offer immediate help and safety for young people. Partners include licensed Safe Place agencies, businesses, civic and social services organizations, volunteers, donors – both on the local and national levels. These partners stand together to strengthen the safety net for youth in America and that’s exactly the reason we’re celebrating this week!

To understand more about the program, let’s look back at its origin:

Safe Place launched in Louisville, Kentucky in 1983 as an outreach program of the YMCA Shelter House, a youth and family service organization of the YMCA of Greater Louisville. Access to emergency counseling and shelter for youth was raised as a community need and YMCA Shelter House figured out a solution – the creation of Safe Place. Neighborhood businesses and community volunteers stepped up to the plate and designated their business locations as Safe Place sites, creating multiple “front doors” through which youth could access the local shelter program. Who knew this local outreach effort would become such a successful and impactful program and go on to become a nationally recognized prevention and intervention initiative?

Safe Place logo

 

How Safe Place works:

  • A young person enters a Safe Place location and asks for help.
  • The site employee finds a comfortable place for the youth to wait while they call the local Safe Place licensed agency.
  • Within 20-30 minutes or less, a Safe Place representative will arrive to talk with the youth and, if necessary, provide transportation to the shelter for counseling, support, a place to stay or other resources.
  • Once at the Safe Place agency, counselors meet with the youth and provide support. Family Agency staff makes sure the youth and their families receive the help and professional services they need.

Here are some facts about the national Safe Place program:

  • More than 333,000 youth have been connected to safety and support as a result of Safe Place outreach and education.
  • Safe Place is managed by 132 licensed Safe Place agencies in 37 states and the District of Columbia. 
  • Safe Place serves more than 1,400 communities across the country.
  • There are more than 19,000 designated Safe Place locations nationwide. Locations include convenience stores, libraries, schools, fire stations, social service agencies, public buses and more.

Fire station 2

Did you know there are ways you can get involved right now to help us expand the national safety net for youth? Here’s how:

  • Raise Awareness of Safe Place on social media channels. Below are a few sample posts you may share on your Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram to show support for youth safety:
  • Sample Facebook Post: [Image of Safe Place sign] Have you ever seen this sign? It’s the universal symbol for youth safety. Safe Place is a national outreach and prevention program for youth in crisis. Businesses and organizations display the Safe Place sign which means any young person can go inside, ask for help, and immediately connect to safety and supportive resources. Learn more and get involved: www.nationalsafeplace.org.
  • Sample Instagram Post: Snap an Instagram photo of the Safe Place sign in your community and share it along with the following post:Have you ever seen this sign? It’s the universal symbol for youth safety. Safe Place is a national outreach and prevention program for youth in crisis. Businesses and organizations display the Safe Place sign which means any young person can go inside, ask for help, and immediately connect to safety and supportive resources. Learn more and get involved: www.nationalsafeplace.org @nspnstagram
  • Become a TXT 4 HELP Ambassador. Share information about TXT 4 HELP, a nationwide text-for-support service for youth. How TXT 4 HELP works: Teens simply text the word SAFE and their current location (address, city, state) to 69866 for immediate help. Users will receive information about the closest Safe Place location and / or youth shelter and they will also have the option to text interactively with a professional for more help. It’s quick, easy, safe, and confidential. To learn more about TXT 4 HELP, please visit: http://nationalsafeplace.org/text-4-help/

NSP Week - TXT 4 Help Tuesday

  • Donate to National Safe Place Network. Help us expand the Safe Place program into more communities across the country and connect more youth to supportive resources: http://bit.ly/nspngive

We also offer more advanced opportunities to get involved:

  • Volunteer with a local licensed Safe Place agency or a youth service organization in your community. To find a licensed Safe Place agency near you, please visit www.nationalsafeplace.org and choose your state from the “Find a Safe Place” drop down menu. Not in a Safe Place community? Ask us how you can help introduce Safe Place to a youth service organization in your area. You can also make an impact by volunteering for a youth serving agency in your community.
  • Help start Safe Place in your community. The implementation and ultimate success of the Safe Place program depends upon support from entire communities – from corporations and government leaders to youth service organizations and individuals. Please contact Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations, to learn more about what’s involved in implementing Safe Place in your community. Susan may be reached at 502.635.3660 or sharmon@nspnetwork.org.
  • Become a corporate / individual sponsor of National Safe Place Network. Are you interested in helping advance the Safe Place program through a personal or corporate sponsorship? Sponsorships enable NSPN to positively impact more youth, assist young people with services they need, expand Safe Place into new communities, and ultimately build a stronger safety net for youth. If you’re interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Laurie Jackson, NSPN President/CEO at 502.635.3660 or ljackson@nspnetwork.org.

All of that is to say – Happy National Safe Place Week, everyone! Your support strengthens the national safety net for youth, and for that we are grateful!

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Written by: Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations

By now you have probably seen, heard or read a great deal about human trafficking – what it is, who the victims are and where they are.  Here are just a few statistics NSPN would like to share with you:

  • In 2014, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.  Of those, 68% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.
  • The Polaris Project reports that there is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S.
  • Polaris estimates that the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.
  • According to DoSomething.org:
  • The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
  • California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas on the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
  • The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the US. 15% of those calls are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

How does Safe Place fit into this issue and how can it help youth that are being trafficked or at risk for trafficking?  Safe Place is a national youth outreach and runaway prevention program with a presence in over 1,500 communities in 37 states.  National Safe Place Network partners with licensed local agencies to provide quality and consistent Safe Place outreach services making the Safe Place logo a familiar and recognizable symbol for youth in crisis situations needing immediate help and safety.  The national safety net that has grown across the United States since the Safe Place program started in 1983 has helped over 329,000 youth at Safe Place sites or by phone. The Safe Place TXT 4 HELP initiative has had almost 54,000 texting situations, including 2,904 interactive texting incidents.  Almost 13.5 million youth have heard a presentation about Safe Place and local services available for youth and families in crisis!

Safe Place can connect youth in need to immediate help and supportive resources:

  • Safe Place is a national program – a young person in an unfamiliar place may recognize the Safe Place logo from “home” and utilize a site to get help.
  • TXT 4 HELP can also be a way for youth to access help. Text the word “safe” and a physical address including street address, city and state to 69866 and local resources will be sent. Interactive texting with a professional counselor is also available.
  • National anti-trafficking groups can disseminate information about Safe Place and TXT 4 HELP
  • Local/national agencies may partner with transit associations that have electronic message boards inside their vehicles and post a Safe Place message.
  • Promote Safe Place/TXT 4 HELP:
    • Bus stations, 24 hour eateries like Waffle House, etc.
    • Truck stops and major trucking companies
    • Law enforcement/state patrols covering interstate highways
    • State highway departments/at rest areas
    • Businesses along interstates and known trafficking routes

Miracles in the Face of Many Challenges

Written by: Steve Tarver, President / CEO, YMCA of Greater Louisville

It’s Christmas Eve, after six in the evening. Most of the stores are closed and the streets are starting to get very quiet with little traffic. The daylight hours are few, so it’s dark outside. Cars parked in driveways and lights on in most homes indicate that families are gathering for holiday celebrations.

It’s during this time that I like to stop by our YMCA youth shelter. Like many others, it’s a 24 hours a day, 365 days a year operation. Normally, I will have picked up some gift cards which I like to deliver to be handed out to the staff that are working that night along with one for each child that happens to be spending that evening with us.

This past year (2014), it struck me…Where would these children be without the opportunity to be at our shelter? And further, the same question applies for every day of the year. Not sure why it took so long for this to hit me, but I have thought a lot about it since.

Sometimes I have the opportunity to meet with some of the children that are with us. I am always amazed at their intelligence and resilience. So many of them are miracles that stand up in the face of many challenges. And a caring adult who is simply willing to look at them with respect and see them as an asset can be a life changing opportunity for the child as well as the adult. In my opinion, that’s the real magic of the work done by hundreds of the optimistic and welcoming staff that work with the population of homeless youth in our local YMCA shelter, and places across the country that provide the security, safety, and HOPE for these young people.

Of course, this goes far beyond the Christmas holiday. But the question remains, where would these children be without the network of shelters that serve this population? I wonder also, the extent to which the broader community recognizes (and appreciates) this network. Like the children that find themselves on the street, neglected, or abused, many of those that serve them operate “in the shadows.” Shifting the outlook around youth development from a deficit model to an asset model is a huge story that needs to be told. Can we get this work out of the shadows? Can we shift from the generations-deep paradigm that youth are problems that need to be fixed? Can we create a new custom that would start from a point of seeing the potential of youth without being fearful of high expectations? In my experience, only rarely have high expectations not resulted in high responses. These young people have the capability. I’ve seen it.

Hopefully, there will be more dialogue promoting the asset approach to youth development to more audiences. National Safe Place Network offers a platform: www.nspnetwork.org.

Resources:

The Youth Thrive framework is a strengths-based initiative to examine how all youth can be supported in ways that advance healthy development and well-being and reduce the likelihood or impact of negative life experiences. Click https://nspn.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/RHYTTAC/youth-thrive_advancing-healthy-adolescent-development-and-well-being%20report.pdf to review the Youth Thrive Advancing Healthy Adolescent Development and Well-Being report. If you’re interested in receiving the Youth Thrive training, please contact National Safe Place Network at info@nspnetwork.org.

Literature Review of Youth Development / Asset Tools: https://nspn.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/RHYTTAC/lit%20review%20of%20youth%20development%20asset%20tools%202002.pdf

Youth Resilience: http://www.cssp.org/reform/child-welfare/youth-thrive/2013/YT_Youth-Resilience.pdf

Protective & Promotive Factors for Healthy Development and Well-Being: http://www.cssp.org/reform/child-welfare/youththrive/body/youth-thrive-protective-promotive-factors.pdf

Developmental Assets: Preparing Young People for Success: http://www.search-institute.org/what-we-study/developmental-assets

Increase Kids’ Strengths by Building Development Assets: http://www.search-institute.org/publications/developmental-assets

To learn how to get involved, please visit www.nspnetwork.org or email National Safe Place Network at info@nspnetwork.org.

The Gift of Giving

Today is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed annually on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the U.S. and shopping events on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus their holiday and end-of-year giving. 

As an organization serving youth in crisis and those who provide vital services to this population, NSPN relies on gifts from individuals and corporate partners to ensure an effective system of response for youth across the United States. NSPN utilizes your donated goods, time, and funds to reach youth in need of help and safety. Many youth who seek our services are scared and alone, with no place to go. Others just need someone to listen. If your family is in-tact and the children in your lives have not experienced the fear of being bullied, the scarring that comes with abuse, or the hunger that comes with neglect, you and those children are incredibly fortunate. NSPN is there for each youth and family that experience these and many other issues that make life challenging. Without your contributions, NSPN simply would not have the opportunity to continue this necessary work.

Your dollars make a difference. Here are lives that have been impacted because someone like you cared and made a contribution.

Jayden - Being bullied.jpgJayden, 14, was being bullied by some of his peers at school. Every day as he walked home from school, the bullies would approach him and verbally abuse him and make threats against his life. Not sure where to turn or what to do, Jayden decided to ask for help at the local convenience store which displayed a Safe Place sign. Jayden spoke with counselors at the licensed Safe Place agency and they connected with his school counselor. The situation was handled appropriately and now Jayden feels safer walking home and has since felt comfortable making new friends.

Sarah - girl texting.jpgSarah, 17, utilized TXT 4 HELP (69866) when she realized she was thinking more about how to die than how to live. The professional counselors at the help line made a meaningful connection with Sarah and stayed with her via a call until the authorities reached her for support. Sarah told the counselors, “I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted help living.” Sarah continues to receive the counseling she needs to live a happier and healthier life.

Portrait Of Smiling Teenage Boy

Robert, 13, learned about Safe Place during a school presentation and decided to ask for help. He was suffering physical abuse at the hands of his step father and was living with his older cousins. After school one day, Robert went to the nearest Safe Place, a fire station, and asked for help. After speaking with agency staff, he decided to stay at the youth shelter. His mother left her husband after learning about the abuse. While at the shelter, Robert and his mother established goals and made a commitment to work on their communication with one another. Robert was reunified with his mother and now feels safe in his home.

Young black guy in red cap

Terrance, 16, had never felt accepted at home. Once he “came out” to his family as being gay, his father kicked him out and told him he was “dead” to them. Terrance attempted to find a place to live with friends but no one had the resources to support him while he worked to finish school. He was able to connect to a program of an NSPN member agency that offered independent living resources and support. Terrance now serves on a youth advisory board for that agency and is helping other youth learn how to give back to their community.

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NSPN shared resources on how to train staff and volunteers from a trauma-informed perspective. Staff were appreciative of the training when faced with a particularly challenging youth who was the survivor of years of abuse and neglect. The staff had learned how to support while maintaining safety. They also learned how to listen without feeling the need to have all of the answers. The youth maintained in the program and successfully completed her GED.

Help us continue to make difference in the lives of youth and families. Donate today at: www.tinyurl.com/nspndonation

Ways you can help:

  • Search the web and make purchases using Goodsearch / Goodshop: goodsearch.com/goodshop-invite/nspn-2219407. Each time you search the web using Goodsearch, you raise one cent per search for NSPN. Goodshop will also donate $5 to NSPN after your first purchase of $25 or more. Goodshop continues to make donations for following purchases.
  • Raise awareness! Here are some sample social media posts you can share on your page.

Twitter:

  • [Click here and save the Safe Place logo to your computer: http://bit.ly/1IwCEpD. Then, share it on your social media page with the following message!] Have you seen this sign? It’s the universal symbol for youth safety. Learn more at nationalsafeplace.org
  • I donated to @NSPNtweets! I’m helping to expand the safety net for youth. You can help at tinyurl.com/nspndonation #GivingTuesday

Facebook:

  • [Click here and save the Safe Place logo to your computer: http://bit.ly/1IwCEpD. Then, share it on your social media page with the following message!] Have you seen this sign? It’s the universal symbol for youth safety. @Safe Place is a national outreach and prevention program for youth in crisis. Any youth can go to any location that hangs this sign and seek help. Learn more and get involved: nationalsafeplace.org
  • Need to talk? @Safe Place is there to listen. Safe Place provides TXT 4 HELP, a texting service which gives youth the opportunity to connect with a mental health professional. If you’re a teen in trouble, need help, or just need someone to listen, text SAFE and your current location (address, city, state) to 69866. Within seconds, you will receive a message with the closest Safe Place location and contact number for the local youth shelter. After receiving this message, reply with 2CHAT to connect immediately with a professional. It’s quick, easy, safe and confidential. Learn more at: http://nationalsafeplace.org/text-4-help/
  • I donated to @National Safe Place Network! I’m helping to expand the national safety net for youth. You can help at tinyurl.com/nspndonation.

TXT 4 HELP Q & A

With: Maria Huebner, MSW, LCSW, Follow-Up Programs Manager, Behavioral Health Response (BHR)

*This piece was originally published in the Winter 2013 version of National Safe Place’s newsletter, “The Connection”

TXT 4 HELP is a 24/7 text-for-support service for teens in crisis. The service, which is available nationwide, was initially launched in 2009 and then re-launched in 2012 with a new interactive texting component. The interactive service is operated by Behavioral Health Response (BHR). Maria Huebner graciously agreed to participate in an interview about TXT 4 HELP Interactive.

A youth uses TXT 4 HELP and decides to text interactively for more help. Please explain the interactive texting exchange, how it works, and talk about the individuals replying to the messages. 

Youth in crisis can text the word “SAFE” and their current location to 69866 and they will receive an address to the nearest Safe Place site and contact numbers for the local youth shelters in their area. In cities that don’t have a Safe Place Program, users will receive the name and number of the youth shelter or if there is no local youth shelter, the National Runaway Safeline number (1-800-RUNAWAY) will be provided. At that time, users will also receive the option to engage with a live crisis counselor via text by replying with “2CHAT.” Then they will be connected to a crisis counselor at BHR. All inbound texts are answered by a Masters-Level Counselor at BHR, who will determine the teen’s needs, assess for any safety concerns, work to develop a plan to address needs and assist with linkage to appropriate referrals. BHR’s goal is to get youth linked directly to local resources via brief assessment, engagement and plan development to appropriate referrals.

What is the most common issue teens are struggling with when they use the TXT 4 HELP interactive service?

The main trend we see is youth seeking emergency housing because they report their parents have kicked them out of their home. Most of these youth are reporting no safety concerns, but requesting emergency housing.

What protocols do the operators follow when they believe a young person’s life is in danger due to thoughts of suicide or allegations of abuse?

BHR’s main goal is to ensure a young person’s immediate safety. BHR will first determine a teen’s reason for using TXT 4 HELP and assess whether the youth is currently safe. If the teen reports they are not safe, the crisis counselor will explore more about the nature of their safety concerns before taking appropriate action. The crisis counselor will explore the following safety questions: any current thoughts of suicide and/or thoughts of self-harming behaviors, any current homicidal thoughts, being abused and/or at risk of violence by others and/or is there any medical emergencies that needs to be addressed. If a youth reports any of these immediate safety concerns, and is unable to develop a collaborative safety plan and/or a youth is under 18, being abused and is with the abuser, then BHR will begin to ensure the youth’s safety. BHR’s crisis counselors will reach out to a teen via phone if they agree to gather more appropriate assessment information. If not, the crisis counselor will continue to build rapport via text to get the necessary assessment information and will contact local emergency services with the teen’s location information. The crisis counselor will also make an emergency hotline report to the young person’s local state child/abuse hotline when warranted. BHR always follows up on cases where local emergency services are contacted to obtain the final disposition of the situation.

Do you feel the interactive service is an effective way to help youth in need? If so, why?

National Safe Place’s TXT 4 HELP service is very beneficial for youth who are homeless, have immediate safety concerns, and/or being abused. Teens can easily access immediate help via TXT 4 HELP to connect with a crisis counselor 24/7 wherever they are. With the expansion of technology, youth are more comfortable and receptive to texting for help versus using the phone to call for help. Youth also find texting to be a safer way to express their needs, as they can remain anonymous when trying to get appropriate referrals. They like the non-judgmental approach of texting for help.

What is the biggest challenge regarding the TXT 4 HELP interactive service?

The biggest barrier BHR crisis counselors face when helping a youth via text is being able to help the work through the crisis situation in a timely manner.  Texting is very time-consuming versus talking on the phone. It takes time to build rapport with a teen and gather assessment information via text. Often times, youth who are texting can be easily distracted and do not text back right away when the crisis counselor is attempting to understand their needs.  When crisis counselors have the opportunity to talk to a teen via phone, they can assess for any background noise or distractions and gauge the youth’s mood, tone and affect by their voice during the conversation. Sometimes youth are not always cooperative or honest when responding to assessment questions and it’s difficult to further help them with referrals and safety planning steps if counselors do not clearly understand the youth’s needs. Youth also may text from a block number, and if a safety check needs to be sent, it is hard to locate the client to get them the help they need.

Do you have a TXT 4 HELP interactive success story to share?

Client Information:

Female, 17, Memphis, Tennessee

A youth used TXT 4 HELP Interactive and reported that her mother had threatened to hurt her. She was requesting somewhere urgent to stay. The youth reported that her mother threatened to pull a knife on her and she asked the crisis counselor what she should do that night. The crisis counselor inquired if she had called the police and she denied. The counselor then asked the girl if she could go a neighbor’s house or a friend’s house, and she denied. The teen agreed to speak with the crisis counselor on the phone and she reported her mother has taken the doorknob off her door and she does not feel comfortable sleeping at her house tonight. The teen agreed to make a three-way call with the crisis counselor to local police in her area and the counselor waited on the line with the girl until police arrived.  A week or so late, the counselor followed up with local police to get final disposition and they reported that they talked to the youth and her mother and no further action was taken.

To learn more about TXT 4 HELP and the Safe Place program, please visit www.nationalsafeplace.org

Safe Place logo

Back to School

Written by: Shauna Stubbs, RHYTTAC Principal Investigator, National Safe Place Network

Some young people approach the beginning of a new school year with excitement and anticipation.  Perhaps they see this as a fresh start – an opportunity to experiment with identity development.  Maybe they have a sense of confidence from previous experience that their desirable position in the social hierarchy of school is secure.  Some could be finely tuned toward academic pursuits, eager to continue learning with the intention to avoid all the drama.

Others experience this ritual differently.  School can be merciless.  Many of our youth find themselves at higher risk than their peers for being bullied; having learning difficulties, substance abuse and mental health issues; and insecurity of resources to meet their basic needs.

On the other hand, school can be a strong protective factor for the young people whom we serve.  Every year a student continues to attend school after 7th grade decreases risk of teen pregnancy, incarceration, and other significant stumbling blocks.  And youth who are engaged in extra-curricular activities tend to improve their self esteem and develop positive social relationships.

So how can we help young people get the most benefit from school with the least risk of social trauma?

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).  While SEL curricula are often designed for school implementation, there are opportunities to adapt these life skills training modules for use in RHY groups.  One example of an SEL life skill is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of being present and observing our experience while being aware that human beings are greater than our feelings, thoughts, and impulses.  Developing mindfulness is also a strategy in trauma-informed care.

Positive Youth Development (PYD).  The educational equivalent of what we know as PYD is Student-Centered Learning or Learner-Centered Education.  This approach challenges young people to learn more than content.  Students are encouraged to develop learning, critical thinking and problem-solving skills by practicing them.  Youth make choices about focus areas that align with their interests.  There are a number of ways this model can be implemented in schools to transform the educational environment, but individual youth in our care can benefit from opportunities to participate in decision making.  If we remember that every question is an opportunity to practice development, RHY staff can offer support to youth in seeking their own answers.

Reviewing Lessons Learned.  As young people in RHY programs are preparing to start a new school year, a life skills group could include discussions about previous successes, challenges or disappointments at school.  With supportive guidance, youth can consider possible alternatives and outcomes and determine how they might handle that situation differently if it happened again.  Young people in such a discussion can reality test their options with peers and learn from each other’s experience.

Providing Feedback.  According to Frank Kros, President of the Upside Down Organization (UDO) and evidence-informed child advocate, feedback for youth that is most likely to build self-efficacy and self-esteem focuses on three domains: effort, strategy, and perseverance.  Rather than telling young people they are smart, help them evaluate how pleasing or disappointing results were related to how hard they worked; what approach they used to read, study, take notes, etc.; and/or how persistent they were in overcoming obstacles and challenges.

Collaboration.  Develop partnerships with schools and other service providers in your communities.  Find ways to cooperate in building a local environment that fosters opportunity and supports learning.  Work together to advocate for effective education policy at the city, county, school board, state and federal levels.

Follow these links to school-related resources available from National Safe Place Network:

RHYTTAC McKinney-Vento and RHYA Programs: Partners for Student Success

NSPN The ABCs of Bullying (available through DOT for members with Training Center access)

Follow the links below for additional resources:

http://youthvoiceproject.com/yvpbriefsummaryDec2013.pdf

http://www.urbantech.org/

http://rippleeffects.com/ripple-effects-whole-spectrum-intervention-system/

http://www.upsidedownorganization.org/

Recommended Reading for Youth:

http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/school/middleschool/print_books.html

http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/school/highschool/print_books.html

Launched Today: Voices of Youth Count

VoYC logo

NSPN is pleased to announce the launch of Voices of Youth Count – http://www.voicesofyouthcount.org/.

Voices of Youth Count, led by Chapin Hall in collaboration with NSPN and partners across the country, seeks both a reliable national estimate of youth homelessness and a clearer picture of what it means to be young and homeless in America today. All efforts are aimed at finding and widely sharing solutions to preventing and ending youth homelessness.

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness has spoken to the need to fill gaps in our knowledge about this highly vulnerable group, stating “…we know too little about the scale and nature of youth homelessness.”

Chapin Hall and its partners are ready to take on that challenge.

Beginning in mid-2015 through 2017, Voices of Youth Count will collect original data by interviewing and surveying youth and those around them, conducting quantitative analyses, rigorously examining the effectiveness of investments we are making as a country, analyzing existing federal, state, and local policies, and connecting findings to the existing knowledge base.

Evidence and recommendations will be purposefully linked to current local, state, and federal policy efforts with an eye on authorizing legislation, how programs are structured and funded, and the way in which services are delivered.

NSPN is excited to join Chapin Hall, myriad national and local advocates, community providers of youth services, philanthropists, policymakers, and youth in this effort. As the project evolves, learning will be shared on http://www.voicesofyouthcount.org/

Thank you for taking time to learn about this innovative research effort. We hope you will join NSPN on this journey of learning.

*Check out the official Voices of Youth Count launch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks6SwFCX-yM 

Pride Isn’t an End. It’s a Beginning.

By: Jama Shelton, LMSW, PhD, Deputy Executive Director for True Colors Fund

Pride Month is not only an opportunity for homeless youth programs to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) young people with whom they work, it’s also a time for youth-serving agencies to come out as visible allies of all young people. Sometimes youth serving organizations may not celebrate Pride Month if they think it isn’t relevant to the youth within their programs. Even if you aren’t aware of any LGBT identified youth (or youth who may be questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity) within your programs, chances are, they’re there! In fact, 99% of the service providers we surveyed for our Serving Our Youth Report said they work with LGBT youth in their homeless youth programs. Less than one percent reported not working with LGBT youth. Pride Month is a perfect opportunity to let these young people know that you see them, stand with them, and support them.

Pride Month is a time to be, well… proud! It’s a time to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBT people and communities. And we’ve had no lack of accomplishments lately! Laverne Cox continues to excel at her craft, while also raising awareness about the unjust treatment of transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, in our country. Over the past few months, Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to live as her true self has made headlines worldwide, and introduced the topic of transgender identity to a whole new audience. Let us be proud of and celebrate these incredible women!

Let us also recognize that many LGBT young people struggle to survive in families and communities that are not yet able to accept or celebrate them. According to service providers we surveyed, LGBT youth continue to be overrepresented within the population of youth experiencing homelessness, and identity-based family rejection continues to be the primary reason for their homelessness. While Laverne and Caitlyn are making their ways into households all over the world via mainstream media, transgender youth are being forced out of their homes and face great difficulty finding adequate support once on the street.

While updating our report this year, we asked service providers about their experiences working with transgender youth separately from their experiences with cisgender LGB youth in order to better understand how to support transgender youth. Here are some of the key findings from the report:

  • Organizational staff report average increases in the proportion of LGBT youth they serve. This change is higher for transgender youth.
  • Service providers were more likely to report that transgender youth experience homelessness for longer periods of time than cisgender LGB youth.
  • Transgender youth were estimated to have experienced bullying, family rejection, and physical and sexual abuse at higher rates than their LGB counterparts.
  • The number one need for LGBT youth experiencing homelessness, as identified by providers, was housing. Providers also identified transition-related support as a critical need for transgender youth. Transition-related supports include access to legal support, name/gender marker change, access to healthcare specific to transgender youth, access to hormones, and emotional support.

So why am I bringing this up during Pride Month, a time when celebrations of LGBT identity abound? Because not all LGBT community members are accepted, much less celebrated, in their families and in their communities. This June, I challenge you not only to celebrate, but also to educate within your organizations and communities. Increasing visibility is important, but let’s not stop there. It’s an important first step in creating a safe and inclusive society, but when Pride Month is over and the parades have ended, what will have changed for the LGBT youth experiencing homelessness in your community?

This June, I am proud to work alongside many of you in communities around the country as you commit to making your programs and services safe and affirming for all youth. I encourage you to celebrate the LGBT youth you serve not only during the month of June, but all year. If you’d like suggestions on how to do that, contact us at the True Colors Fund. We’re happy to help!

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015