Social struggles

Social struggles

Social anxiety is common among teenagers. Young people find strength in cliques and well-defined social circles. Young men looking in from the outside, as it were, will react differently to the pressures of trying to conform in some of the following ways:

  • Isolation and withdrawal

  • School issues

  • Defiance

  • Running away

  • Functional illiteracy

Isolation and withdrawal

It is normal for a teen to create his own space—this is part of forging his identity. When a teen turns inward and shuts down emotionally and verbally, he is asking for help—despite the irony of not asking for anything. He may be experiencing a crisis of self-doubt. He may have experienced an unpleasant incident related to school. A relationship may have ended. This is a vulnerable time for the young man. Drugs, alcohol, forging a new identity with troublesome companions—teens rise or sink to the level where they feel safest.

School issues

Poor academic performance is one of the first indications a teen is struggling. Disciplinary problems, such as fighting, acting out, tardiness or truancy, point to deeper issues than the normal trials and tribulations of adolescence. It is important to consider his behaviors may be rooted in a medical condition, such as an undiagnosed mental health issue.


Defying authority—teachers, parents, administrators, police—can feel empowering. A young man who rejects authority may do so for philosophical reasons. Typically, young people commit acts of defiance either for the attention or as a way of venting their anger. A teen who habitually challenges is asking for help. His anger is misplaced. Authority figures may represent the power he feels emasculates him. Most teenage rebellions peter out after a few months. If a young man continues to act out, he needs help.

Running away

Run away once, it’s a statement. Run away twice or more, it means there are troubles at home. A young man who leaves home lacks prescience. Unless he is escaping abuse, a teen who habitually runs away wants acknowledgment. His defiance is a mask for other issues. Communication is the only way to resolve a flighty teen’s tendency to run.

Functional illiteracy

Unbelievable as it sounds, some young people make it through the 12th grade without learning to read or write. Obviously, a person who cannot read or write has very little chance of surviving in this world. Three-quarters of the prison population are illiterate. If a person is able to secure employment, he can expect to earn minimum wage at best. Should his secret be discovered, he will become the subject of incessant ridicule. Functional illiteracy is not a social struggle—it is a formula for a lifetime of misery.

Treatment at WRA

The first step toward healing your son is an examination by a physician. This will eliminate causes for his behavior. Depending on your son’s behavior, the physician may prescribe antidepressants or other medication. She may also refer your son to a therapist. White River Academy’s mission is to improve the lives of troubled young men. We treat substance abuse, behavioral and mental health conditions. Our school is located near the Great Basin in Utah. We combine challenging academics with a myriad of outdoor activities. Students receive individual counseling as well as group therapy. We specialize in treating young men in emotional toil. For more information about our programs, call 866-520-0905.

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Justin Nielson

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It is natural for parents to worry and have concerns when sending their son away to a residential treatment center. We hope this detailed description of the admission process at White River Academy will answer some of your questions.

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