Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Diamond Ranch Academy and Teen Help Programs

As a parent advocate I am always receiving emails and phone calls on a variety of schools and programs from parents and students that have first hand experiences.

My personal experiences are with Carolina Springs Academy that is now closed -- I have heard it is reopened as Seneca RanchWWASPS (Worldwide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools) is the umbrella  organization that runs these programs.They also have others in the United States - at last glance there was Red River Academy (now US Youth Services), LA, Second Chances, River View, UT and you never know when more will pop-up in different names. Although the like to claim they have no affiliation  -- when people dig deeper, the roots can get exposed as it did last summer with Midwest Academy (which was shutdown).

Diamond Ranch Academy, sadly, though I don't have first hand experiences, I continue to receive negative feedback about the program.  I wrote about them in June 2012 and in 2013

As I mentioned in an earlier Blog post, when I heard they use the same marketing arms and techniques that WWASPS did/does, that is a red flag to me. I have no reason to believe they are related, however I know these marketing arms aren't always in the best interest of the child. 

For me, I know there are many excellent programs in our country.  I am not of the mindset that all programs are bad.  This type of information only solidifies that parents need to take their time and do their due diligence before selecting a program.

This is one of the reasons I created Parents Universal Resource Experts, Inc. (P.U.R.E.) - with helpful hints to guide parents through the big business of teen help.

I don't own, operate or manage any schools or programs - I help educate parents on researching schools and programs.  I also have no connection with Diamond Ranch Academy - - however it seems they are marketing very similar to WWASPS - and that alone scares me.  However that is only my opinion.

I just caution all parents to do your homework - take your time - this is a major financial and emotional decision.  I firmly believe you can't ignore getting your teen help, but take trust your gut.

The moral of this Blog is - if you are considering Diamond Ranch Academy or any program - just be sure you are doing your homework.  Don't ignore getting your teen the help they need, just be sure you are getting them safe and quality help.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

US Youth Services and Teen Help

As an organization that helps educate parents on researching residential programs for their struggling teen, Parents' Universal Resources is proud that since 2001 they have assisted thousands of families through their trying times.
The internet has made it more confusing for most, but in many ways it can also be a tool. It's about sorting through the cyber-fiction to find the facts.
We are contacted on a regular basis by parents, students and others that have been involved in residential therapy programs to increase our knowledge on what is happening in the field of therapeutic boarding schools. Firsthand experiences are priceless.
My story continues to be a familiar one to parents. Having a good teen that suddenly is someone you don't recognize -- as they start making bad choices, failing in school and hanging with a negative peer group.
I share with parents frequently, learn from my mistakes, gain from my knowledge.
My daughter suffered at the hands of an organization that is good at manipulation in my opinion.
This organization is also good at changing their name when things get bumpy in the press.
Why do people or business change their name?
One article suggests this:
The current name has been fundamentally and irreparably damaged by a scandal, tragic event or crisis.
Red River Academy changed their name to US Youth Services.
Red River Academy (although they will continuously say they're not connected to WWASP), as Midwest Academy did for a long time, many still question that for a variety of reasons.
We're not telling parents where to place their children, we're educating you to do your due diligence before making your decisions. Many will decide because of price-points. Keep in mind, one program at a lesser monthly fee may not be as qualified so it will take your child twice as long to be there -- which will add up to going to a quality program at half the time. A youth really shouldn't be sent away for over a year from their family.... should they?
Trust, but confirm. Always stay skeptical.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Teen Help and Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Parent Universal Resources is a service to parents and families to assist them with Parent Awareness regarding Therapeutic Boarding Schools, Residential Treatment Centers and Teen Help Programs for troubled teens on the East Coast.

This industry is extremely competitive and can be very confusing. The “desperate parent" is at high risk of making wrong decisions that may be detrimental to you and your child.

Since we were once in that position, we want you to take comfort in the fact that you are not alone and give you the opportunity to learn from our experiences and more importantly, gain from our knowledge. 

Researching can be time consuming and tedious, yet very important. How do you know if a program or school is right for your child or if they really are who they claim to be? We speak from our hearts and our experiences to give you a feeling of ease. Restricting your search to a geographical area limits your chances of finding the right placement for your child. We encourage you to review what is best for your child, not what is closest to home.

We believe in finding a positive and encouraging setting for children. Placing a negative child into a negative environment can usually build resentment and anger, especially to the family that placed them there. Peer pressure in today’s society is making it very difficult for our children. Let's help them, not punish them. P.U.R.E.™ believes in bringing families back together... You can contact us or request information by filling out the Free Consultation Form.

 Since 2001 we have been helping families with their troubled teens. Call P.U.R.E. today: (954) 260-0805. Our Mission Statement: We are dedicated as professionals and parents to assist families that are looking for placement for their struggling teens.

Our personal motto is "Bringing Families Back Together™."

For additional information about our services please read our Frequently Asked Questions section.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Teens, Drugs and the Internet

I’ve spent a lot of my life watching children — as a parent, and then working with parents of troubled teens. I’ve seen so many adolescents gravitate towards the wrong thing like moths to a flame. Even if they don’t dive into the fire, they almost can’t help but be drawn to it.
It’s nothing new that teens put peers’ input above that of their parents. But what has changed? The input comes not just from classmates and neighbors, but from complete strangers who enter our children’s lives through their virtual world — the Internet.
When it comes to teenagers, it’s no surprise that social media is their virtual playground with 93 percent of teens checking YouTube weekly

Why does this concern me?

Over the last year, we’ve gotten just a rough idea of how much bad stuff kids can find on YouTube. Last May, researchers from a non-profit consumer group, the Digital Citizens Alliance, searched YouTube for videos that came up after entering “buy drugs without prescription.” The organization’s researchers found 38,000 videos and these findings were featured in newspapers and network television newscasts.
This news coverage of Digital Citizens’ initial research forced YouTube to take downmany of the videos. However in February, less than a year later, Digital Citizens did a second review on the same search term and it still produced 17,000 videos! More disturbing was that it showed a sharp increase in videos for Percocet (up 37 percent), tramadol (up 42 percent), and Oxycontin (up 108 percent), with many pushing purchases of these painkillers without a prescription.
Teens, drugs, and the Internet: it sounds like the perfect storm.
Many question why Google, who owns YouTube, would allow this type of behavior to continue.
Follow the digital trail.
Digital Citizens showed that these videos come with advertisements running alongside them. That means Google makes money on them... a lot of money. Of course everyone is allowed to make money; however, when it puts people — especially children — at risk or in danger, shouldn’t there be guidelines or protections in place?
Google confronted.
When a reporter asked Google for a comment last June about Digital Citizens’ first report, the company’s response was:
“We take user safety seriously and have Community Guidelines that prohibit any content encouraging dangerous, illegal activities. This includes content promoting the sale of drugs. YouTube’s review teams respond to videos flagged for our attention around the clock, removing any content that violates our policies.”
Another reporter asked about the newest research for a story this month, a Google spokesperson responded with virtually the same scripted reply.
No new answers despite increasing concern about how Google does business. ADigital Citizens survey showed that 88 percent of Americans agree that Google has a responsibility to make the Internet safer. More than half (53 percent) say Google isn’t doing enough. When asked if Google should not be able to profit by using ads from illegal or illegitimate products or services, 57 percent agree that Google’s conduct is not okay. As a parent, I want to be hopeful that Google wants to do the right thing for our children; it should be their corporate responsibility.
A recent spate of stories following the Digital Citizens’ findings — including news that YouTube has 200 “trusted flaggers” screening the site for inappropriate videos and a new, sanitized, kid-friendly version of YouTube with content designed for the 10-and-under set — indicates that Google recognizes there is a problem, but they plan to address it on the company’s own terms.
But why can’t Google just promise to stop running ads next to videos promoting illegal or illegitimate products or services, especially when they know that the youngsters like to frequently visit YouTube?
Everyone from parents, to young children, to veteran CEOs is looking to Google to see how the company deals with its YouTube problem. We all want Google to do the right thing; let’s face it, everyone young and old turn to Google at some point during their week.
As parents we are forced to blindly trust the giant (Google) to protect our kids in the virtual world when we aren’t there to monitor their activity.
The Internet is the neighborhood where the children of the 21st century hang out. Cleaning up the Internet, making it safe for all who visit there, has to start at the top with the biggest and richest company. If Google acts responsibly, or we consumers begin to hold them accountable, it is much more likely that small companies and other entrepreneurs will follow suit. Google has a mantra, “don’t be evil,“ but someone has to show Google that “don’t be evil“ is not the same as doing the right thing.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Digital Parenting: Offline Chats Means Online Safety

Your Child's Online Behavior Is a Reflection of Offline Parenting

Raising children in a digital society can be challenging. Today kids are exposed to technology and are sometimes given their very own keypads in their first years of life.

Generations earlier, the big talk was about the birds and the bees. Maybe parents would discuss this with us only a few times. A handful at the most -- sometimes not even that much in our adolescent years. Sex was (and is) a topic that many parents want to talk about as briefly as possible and then walk away.

When it comes to the digital world, there is no walking away. The reality for today’s youth is that their online reputation will someday determine their college admission and very possibly their future employer. Every keystroke, post, and comment counts.

Your child's online social skills are as critical as their offline people skills.

Where do you begin?

In tech terms -- by chatting. The tech talk is not a conversation you have once or twice, it's an ongoing discussion since the web is changing (as are your children) on a daily basis.

Unlike the sex talk, talking to your child about their cyber-life has to be done on a regular basis. It should be as common as, "How was your day at school?"

Short chats are better than no chats.

Whether you are riding in the car or sharing a meal, be sure you take ten minutes or more to talk about their digital lives.

The Internet is evolving every day, not only for our children but for adults too, so this can be a two-way conversation. Encourage them to show you new apps or websites they’ve discovered, and you can show them what you have learned as well.  Are you frustrated with your computer, tablet, or mobile device? Who better to teach you easier ways to work with new technology than your teenager?

Keep in mind, cyberspace is the 21st Century playground for our youth and teens. Not everyone they meet on this playground has good intentions. Just as you would discuss their offline friends and social activities, chat with them about the friends they mingle with online and the websites they visit. Building that relationship of communication and trust at home will empower them in the cyber-world. Again, it’s why your offline parenting skills are critical to helping your child make better digital choices.

Think CHAT:

C - Communication is key. Offline parenting will help online safety. Never stop talking about your child's daily cyber life. It is just as important as how their day was at school.

H - Help is always a call/text away. Be sure your child knows you are available to them. Note that the number one reason children don't report cyberbullying to their parents is fear of losing their lifeline to their friends -- the Internet. They should never have to fear your judgement, especially if they fall victim to online harassment. Make sure they know their safety is always your priority and that you are on their side.

A - Action plans. Talk to your child about action plans for cyberbullying. You are your child's advocate and you will be there to help them implement steps to prevent online cruelty. Starting with the child knowing to tell a parent or adult, and continuing with learning how to block and report.

T - Treat others as you want to be treated. It is the most important rule in real life and on the Internet. Always treat people with kindness. Make it a top priority.

With short chats, you can learn how to better protect your children from cyberbullying in a way that works for them and for you. Through daily check-ins, you can empower them to make better digital decisions when you aren't around. Teach them the phrase “when in doubt, click out,” so they know what to do when they feel uncomfortable in a chatroom, on a website, or using an app.

It is imperative to understand that in today's society the online world is as important to our children’s lives as their daily offline world. We must also treat it that way. Talking to them on a daily basis about their virtual lives, even if it is only for a few minutes, is just as important as getting their homework done on time.  You don't have to be a tech-geek or social media super-star, just be a caring parent.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bullying Prevention Month: 10 Ways To Be An Upstander

Bullying and cyberbullying is an issue that everyone is concerned about.  From verbal abuse to online harassment, words can be used as lethal weapons.
On the same measure, words can be used to build people up too!
Your words matter, keystrokes count — how will you use them?
One of the most important ways your child can be proactive in helping others that are victims of cruel behavior such as bullying, is to become an upstander.
10 ways to become an upstander by School Climate:
  1. Learn more about mean, cruel, and bullying behavior. Educate yourself and your community with the resources on For example: Why do kids bully? Where does bullying take place most often in your school? What are the effects of bullying? How can we prevent it? Understanding this information will help you if you are bullied, and will help you to stand up to bullies if a friend or classmate is being bullied.
  2. Help others who are being bullied. Be a friend, even if this person is not yet your friend. Go over to them. Let them know how you think they are feeling. Walk with them. Help them to talk to an adult about what just happened. (Just think for a moment about how great this would be if someone did this for you when you were being picked on or hurt!)
  3. Stop untrue or harmful messages from spreading online or in person. If someone sends a message or tells you a rumor that you know is untrue, stand up and let the person know it is wrong. Think about how you would feel if someone spread an untrue rumor about you. Don’t laugh, send the message on to friends, or add to the story. Make it clear that you do not think that kind of behavior is cool or funny.
  4. Get friends involved. Share this site (and other related sites) with friends. Let people know that you are an upstander and encourage them to be one too. Sign the Stand Up Pledge, and make it an everyday commitment for you and your friends.
  5. Make friends outside of your circle. Eat lunch with someone who is alone. Show support for a person who is upset at school, by asking them what is wrong or bringing them to an adult who can help.
  6. Be aware of the bullying and upstander policies at your school and keep it in mind when you witness bullying. What are the school’s bully prevention policies? Are there also policies that “catch” kids “being good”? How can you support school rules and codes of conduct support students and adults doing the right thing? If there isn’t a policy, get involved or ask teachers or front office staff to speak about how you can reduce bullying.
  7. Welcome new students. If someone is new at your school, make an effort to introduce them around and make them comfortable. Imagine how you would feel leaving your friends and coming to a new school.
  8. Refuse to be a “bystander” and be a role model to others instead! If you see friends or classmates laughing along with the bully, tell them that they are contributing to the problem. Let them know that kind of behavior is not okay in your school.
  9. Respect others’ differences and help others to respect differences. It’s cool for people to be different—that’s what makes all of us unique. Join a diversity club at school to help promote tolerance in your school.
  10. Develop an Upstander/ Prevention program or project with a teacher or principal’s support that will help reduce bullying and promote socially responsible behavior in school. Bring together a team of students, parents and teachers who are committed to preventing bullying, and create a community-wide project to raise awareness, share stories and develop helpful supports. Learn more about how to start an Upstander Alliance at and access free support to sustain your team.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Suicide Prevention Month: Warning Signs

A parent’s worst nightmare is surviving a child’s suicide.
It’s not natural to outlive your child, especially to suicide.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month however this topic is one that needs attention 365 days a year.
Kids In The House offers a library of videos by experts to help educate parents on teen suicide prevention.  Today’s generation of online peer pressure in combination with offline only complicates our teen’s stress and anxiety. The world of cyberspace has created a new level of concern for many parents – and they must continue to be in touch with their teen’s emotional lives both offline and online.  It’s why your offline chats are so important – frequently.
American Foundation for Suicide offers the following warning signs for parents of teens and youth:
  1. Take it seriously, even if your friend brushes it off
    1. Suicidal ideation (continual suicidal thoughts) is not typical and reflects a larger problem
  2. An angry friend is better than a dead friend
  3. Ask, listen, tell, if the threat is immediate stay with the person
  4. Bring friend to a trusted adult. If they don’t know what to do or don’t take it seriously find another adult
  5. Be a good listener but remember suicidal ideation reflects a bigger underlying problem such as depression, substance problems, abuse, problem-solving difficulties. You can listen but they need to speak to a professional.
  6. 30% of attempters tell someone before, many don’t tell anyone after.
    1. When some talks to you, that is the moment for intervention
    2. With each suicide attempt, risk of suicide increases
  7. Warning Signs
    1. Change in mood- sadness, anxiety, irritability
    2. change in behavior- isolation
    3. Change in sleep
    4. Change in appetite
    5. Increase in aggression or impulsiveness
    6. Agitation
    7. Feeling hopeless, worthless
    8. Saying things like “No one will miss me” or “You’ll be better off” (feeling like a burden)
    9. Feeling ashamed or humiliated or desperation, as after a break up or test
    10. Collecting means
    11. Talking about wanting to kill themselves
    12. Drop in grades
    13. Risk taking
    14. Giving away prized possessions
Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Teens and Dating

What teens need to know before they start dating.

One day, your little one is skipping down the sidewalk with her hair in pigtails and a firm grip on a teddy bear. The next, it seems like, she’s bouncing down the stairs on her way to greet her first date. Watching kids grow and mature, especially during the teenage years, can be a bittersweet experience. It can also be the harbinger of the most difficult period of your parenting career. Preparing your child for the world of adult interactions, romantic entanglements and independence isn’t always easy, especially when you’d much rather they stayed small forever. Just as you can’t keep a child from growing into an adult, neither can you stem the tide of romantic attraction and the desire to date. All you can do is hope that you’ve instilled the values that you set out to, and that you’ve adequately prepared your teenager for the complicated and sometimes painful world of dating.
The Friendship Code
There are certain rules that come along with both dating and mature friendships, and they largely go unspoken until one of them is broken. One of the most pervasive and important rules for your teen to know before he starts dating is that the “friendship code” shouldn’t be broken. This code entails everything from dating a friend’s ex to trying to date a friend’s current girlfriend, and everything in between. While you’re trying to instill an inherent respect for the opposite gender, be sure that you also discuss the ways that dating and friendship can become messy, and how certain decisions can have far-reaching implications when it comes to both friendships and romantic relationships.
The Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship
No parent wants to think about their child being the victim of dating violence, but the sobering statistics show that this is one conversation that parents simply must have with their teens before dating becomes an issue. A study published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations shows that as many as one in three seventh grade students have experienced “psychological dating violence,” and that up to one in six have been the victim of physical dating violence. A different study, headed up by the Liz Claiborne corporation, also shows that less than 25% of teenagers have discussed the subject with their parents. Both teen boys and teen girls need to know that dating violence or emotional abuse is never acceptable and should be aware of the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Once a pattern of accepting abuse is established, it can be a difficult and painful cycle to break. Make sure that your teen starts off on the right foot by ensuring that he’s educated and aware of the issues surrounding teen dating violence and abuse.
The Importance of Boundaries and Respect
Parenting comes with its fair share of awkward conversations and embarrassing situations, but it’s far better to weather that momentary discomfort to educate your teen about boundaries and the importance of respecting them than to send them off into the world of dating with no clear understanding of them. Teens need to know that “no” means no, and that pressuring their significant other into anything they’d rather not do is completely unacceptable behavior. They need to know that anyone who subjects them to such pressure is not a good friend or someone that truly cares about their feelings, and that there’s nothing wrong with breaking off a relationship if their boundaries aren’t being respected.
Popularity is Not a Sound Reason for Dating
At no other time in life is the prospect of popularity or gaining entrance into the “cool crowd” more valued or desperately sought than during the teenage years. Teens may date someone that they have little in common with or little regard for simply to maintain or achieve a position of power in their social circle. Conversely, teens often choose not to date people that they are compatible with and attracted to due to a perceived social stigma attached to dating outside of their circle. Before dating even becomes an issue in your child’s life, be sure that she knows just how irrelevant popularity will be to her in five years, and how much she could potentially miss out on if she’s dating someone solely because they’re popular and capable of affecting her social standing.
Your Expectations and Their Responsibilities
While you may think that your expectations and your teen’s dating responsibilities go without saying, it’s important to realize that your teen only knows what you tell him. Don’t assume that your teenager knows what you expect of him as he starts dating, or what his responsibilities are to both you and his significant other. Communicate the rules and what you expect clearly and concisely, so that there’s no confusion or pleas of ignorance later.