Gay Teen Treatment: On Bullying
Bullying has become a very serious problem for teens in the United States, sometimes even leading to violent acts, either against others or against self. What was perhaps once just the discomforts and lessons of growing up and making friends, is now often a form of torment and ganging up, with the power to cause severe negative effects in the targeted teens, including but not limited to feelings of anxiety, Depression, and overall disengagement of life. There’s no argument that gay teens aren’t vulnerable as targets of such bullying, especially in school. Because of this, it’s extremely important for Gay Adolescent Treatment to have anti-bullying tactics and practices in place, to ensure that such behaviors do not affect gay teens, while in treatment.
Protecting gay teens from bullying while they’re in treatment for either Substance Abuse or Mental Health Disorders is part of a bigger discussion, which is that of how to ensure that the treatment environment is a healthy, safe, supportive place for all teens. This can, at times, admittedly be difficult to ensure, namely because of the interaction that teens have with one another, which can be monitored, though not always controlled. Therefore, how do you make sure that the teenagers in treatment together don’t behave disrespectfully to one another, in any way?
What we find is that such behavior must be an expectation from the outset, and ingrained into the ways of the treatment center itself, modeled first and foremost by the staff and treatment teams. The more supported teens feel by others, the more likely they are to extend that support to their peers. Beyond this, the dynamics created within group sessions as part of Gay Teen Treatment can help educate the teens as to how to interact and speak with others that are different from them. This includes differences such as gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, religion, and others. In these sessions, the therapists can set the tone as to how the communication is going to go, and very often, teens will begin implementing this same respect in their own communication, even beyond the official groups.
It’s also worth mentioning that in some respects, it can be easier to create, and protect, these positive dynamics and relationships among peers in treatment in smaller groups. Just like a classroom with fewer students, smaller staff-to-teen ratios can be more manageable overall. This certainly isn’t to say that the number of teens, large or small, guarantees a certain type of treatment; it’s rather to say that it’s a contributing factor as to how dynamics and behaviors in treatment centers are created. Lastly, it’s worth noting that while therapists and treatment teams should be aware of the possibility of bullying against teens during Gay Teen Treatment, this isn’t to say that gay teens should be singled out in any way or given any special treatment. The goal, after all, is to provide the best possible treatment to all teens, equally and consistently.