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March 27 Dear Abby

Dear Abby: Good treatment is available for teen who's breaking bad
Published: March 27, 2012

DEAR ABBY: “Fed-Up Father in Minnesota” (Jan. 20) caught his difficult 16-year-old daughter smoking pot and is considering sending her to a place for “troubled teens.” We sent our son to such a program and he almost didn't make it back alive. An untreated mental illness had been misdiagnosed as a behavioral problem, and went from bad to worse. You gave the right advice. Get an evaluation from a reputable clinic or mental health professional, then look for options as close to home as possible.

Ann, Chapel Hill, N.C.

DEAR ANN: I advised “Fed-Up” to have a psychologist identify what's troubling his daughter, and that sending her away should be only a last resort. Readers were eager to comment:

DEAR ABBY: “Fed-Up” should consider an intervention like the Scared Straight program. Teens are shown where their bad behavior leads, tour a prison and see inmates serving time. The inmates also share their stories in an effort to turn the teens' lives around.

Brittany in the South

DEAR ABBY: I was sent to boarding school because I was acting out. While there, I was exposed to more than I'd ever been at home. There were poorly supervised kids engaged in sexual activity, every recreational drug imaginable and free-flowing alcohol. I survived, but had the good sense to tell my parents and didn't return for a second year. What worked for me was attentive parents and a good therapist.

Boarding School Survivor

DEAR ABBY: “Fed-Up” said the problem with his daughter started when he married his second wife. There are obviously issues between his wife and daughter that need resolving. My stepfather was abusive to me and my brother, but our busy working mom didn't believe us. My brother began having behavioral problems at school and at home, so Mom gave in to our stepfather's suggestion to send him to military school in another state. My brother never forgave Mom for it. He left home at 17, and they have been estranged for 33 years.

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