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Phillip McKay



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If you ran a program for teenagers. How would you do it? How would you address the concern of anti-social behaviours?

I'm asking for your contributions to be considered for a funded program. Its up and running but I am always looking to improve and would value your comments. Designed to divert young people from the Youth Justice System, it presently holds restorative principles at its core. With the objective of increasing health and well-being ( and reducing offending behaviour). Share with me your ideas, suggest practical activities, models of working and ways of healing. Our teenagers can do it hard, in this stage, as reflected in the mental health and suicide statistics and through a question raised recently in these conversations by a young man. The young people I work with have come from poor backgrounds, with broken families, disengaged from school and with alcohol and other drugs and mental health concerns. There is often intergenerational offending and a variety of criminogenic needs. Their risk of continuing to offend is high with many having already served periods of detention. The limitation or advantage is that four staff can work intensively with these people for 10 weeks. Is my mission doomed? Is ten weeks enough? Staff ratio is good but time is poor. How do you maximise your impact? This conversation may well be doomed with minds that have forgotten both the delight and angst of teenagerhooddom - perhaps the answer is more likely found listening to the young people? Not that you’re old and not that there’s any matter with old. Still lets give it a go and see. I'd value your thoughts.


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  • Oct 10 2011: Ask them what they want to do...what I mean is ask them what their opinion is and what are their troubles. Share some of your own experience when you were young. Try to relate to them but do not patronize too much. Listen! Save time but don't push it too much since teenagers tend get offended when they notice they are less important than logistics and projects. One of my major problems with a group of teenagers was miscommunication. Use full setances, speak in a simple, down to earth and honest way and don't be too serious nor prejudiced to what may seem as banal teenage problems. Ask them what they want to see, acomplish and experience. Provide examples if they keep silent. Let the know they can express themselves but not to impresss others or beacuse of peer pressure to be cool.....but to express what they need adn want now and what truly troubles them. What makes them so angry? Situation at home, situation in society? They need to vent that energy somewhere and just writing it all off as teenage angst is what got them in trouble in the first place. Show them, either by video, documentary or real life examples of people that went through a lot in life (better yet in their teenage years) and how they got through and survived. What did they learn and what do they regret?
    I like this video...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8ZuKF3dxCY
    Make them realize that they can and have a power to change their circumstances and or path in the long run with adequate support if they wish it so.
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      Oct 11 2011: Thanks for the advice, these ways are useful. I'll check the youtube out as well Cheers Mate.
      • Oct 11 2011: No problem. Hope it helps. However in the end this is a huge challenge. Having met quite a few suicidal teenagers, self destructive etc I can hands down say....there is no final answer or solution. Maybe that is the best answer...nothing in life is for certain but that is what makes it great since nothng is set in stone. Usually the kids I worked with, liked to be listened to and have my promises kept on time. Also, make sure you do not give way too much of yourself. They need an example, something more stable but they don't need you to get emotinally and mentally exhausted.

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