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Terrible Teens: What Scary Stuff They See

During my teen group the other evening the kids started telling all their tales.  Tales of hospitals, cutting, stalking, drinking, pregnancy, suicide, fears, predators, rape, vape, hookah, cleaning fluid, hand sanitizer, dabbing, sexting and overdoses. These kids are 14.

No longer am I completely shocked.

However, it makes me sad, mad and powerless to hear these harrowing tales.  I wonder how they will survive at this rate.  We discuss how they handle the absolute barrage of inputs they face on a daily basis:

  • One girl said she calms herself through poetry,
  • another by singing,
  • and yet another with artwork.


As a parent what do you say or do when a teen confronts you with these truly mind-numbing scenarios.  I have heard, “don’t ask, don’t tell” parents; lock them up parents, and anything goes parents.  Of course there is no one-size-fits-all in this world.  How do you begin to set limits and boundaries for kids when the whole world is parading before their screens in fireworks of violent display.  Throw your hands up and say hope they’re smart enough to figure things out?  The schools make efforts to create a culture of cooperation and spirit just as workplaces do.  But how often do we see the headline stunners, “Happier employees make better workers!”  No kidding.  So why can’t that spirit sustain us?  Is it just too simple?  The world of terror and danger has encroached in our kids’ daily lives at rapid speed, and we fear it.  We long for the time when we used to ride our bikes until dark, no cell phones, coming home for dinner at dusk.  Talk about “free-range parenting.” That time is now lost.  We must be ever-vigilant.  But worrying doesn’t do one bit of good.  Neither does praying.  Or helicoptering.  Or getting a second job.  It seems our teens must live a leap of faith.

Encourage them to be creative, to care, and to try new things.  For being caged in their rooms is not enough to keep them safe.  Not at this time.  Not at all.

Terrible Teens: What Scary Stuff They See

Donna C. Moss

You can learn more about Donna's work at her personal website.

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APA Reference
Moss, D. (2016). Terrible Teens: What Scary Stuff They See. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 19 Apr 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Apr 2016
Published on All rights reserved.