Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted by:Rocco--Monday, May 31, 2010


Look to the right of this page and you will find a link to “TIME TO ACT
presented by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America - Drugfree.org

Take some time to check it out.

Whether you suspect or whether you know for sure that your child is using drugs or alcohol; Drugfree.org presents a step by step guide on what steps you should take to address the issue.

As they note: The thought of your teenager using drugs is not a comfortable one for most parents. You don't want to believe that your child could be involved in using drugs or alcohol.

But more importantly you do not want to ignore the warning signs.

Realize that this is probably not just a phase your child is going through.

You want to act as quickly as possible but first take the time to read up on how to handle the situation. Knowing what to look for is a huge help in determining whether your child is drinking or using drugs.

Talk to your spouse or partner or the child’s other parent. Always try to present a united front.

Talk to your child. The first and most important thing you can do is to come right out and ask your child.

Expect denial and anger. Be prepared to be called a lot of things and to even be hated by your child.

Collect evidence. Destroying evidence was one of my own first mistakes (while I was still in denial) and one thing I find in common with a lot of parents. Collect Evidence. And keep it in a secure place where your child cannot get to it.

Set rules in your home and spell out consequences. Make sure that you always follow through with the consequences. If you think that you can’t follow through with a consequence it is better not to set it.

Get your teen and yourself help.

The “TIME TO ACT” site is a good tool to get started.

Do not hesitate or be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.

Your child’s life is at risk.

At Parent’s Survival Skills Training (PSST) we are here to support you and to help you become oriented as to what it means to be a parent of a child that is using drugs or alcohol. As my wife Sally said “We knew that we were good parents, but we were not good parents of someone who used drugs.”

PSST’s goal is to empower parents with the support, information, skills and techniques a parent needs to help a teenager save their own life. Our meetings and our blog are open to all parents who are serious about making a difference in their children’s life. There is no charge or commitment.

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Highest Duty: the Search for What Really Matters
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, May 28, 2010

I read Rocco's comment to another post where he mentions that he is reading and really enjoying this book by Chesley B. Sullenberger. I will reprint Rocco's comment here and try to upload this video interview about the book. I have not read it yet but I'm officially putting it on my things-to-read list.

"What an interesting analogy.

"I was just reading Sully Sullenberger’s autobiography “Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters”. One of the recurring themes throughout his book is people pushing themselves, learning and training how to “think on their feet”, to make quick decisions and most importantly to live with the decision that they make.

"We have received (and continue to receive) this type of guidance at the PSST meetings. There are a lot of good resources out there but at the PSST meetings we have a chance to learn about and to role play various parent-child situations out. Then when our teen confronts us we are prepared to think on our feet and to make tough decisions. If we do have second thoughts we have the chance to talk it over.

"Captain Sullenberger acknowledges that if it wasn’t for the “USAir Flight 1549 Miracle on the Hudson”, that we would never have heard of him. And if it wasn’t for his continued routine of training and preparing, the miracle would not have happened. But he would have continued training anyways, just in case. "We, the parents of troubled teens will probably never be known for anything outside of our small group. But we know that we have done whatever we could to save their lives."


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Mock Car Crash Day at Brashear High School 5-19-10
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two teens from Liberty Station joined a 24 year-old to warn Brashear High Students not to drink and drive. There were eight of us; Cathy Culbert from Wesley-spectrum Family Therapy and myself along with six young men in recovery. Three who had backgrounds that included a DUI, were scheduled to speak. Three were there to listen and to support the speakers.

When we arrived, the Firemen, paramedics, and police were busy using power equipment to cut up a car. Four volunteer high school students were inside the car and dressed up for the prom. They had liberal amounts of makeup to make it appear that they were seriously injured. It was like walking onto the set of movie. All the equipment was powered by a loud generator that never stopped.

Right in the midst of this chaos our three speakers and one of our other teens spontaneously formed a circle. Grasping each others hands and with heads bowed, they asked their Higher Power for strength and courage in delivering their message. Just watching our brave young men I started to feel emotional about all this. No one had even started talking yet. I also knew that one of the speakers had lost his girlfriend in a DUI.

He told a harrowing story of how he looked out the car window after the crash to see her body lying on the ground in front of the car. It was a powerful message to the audience and a truly inspirational experience to see the his courage and determination. He made no excuses for what he had done and he told the kids listening that he can never make amends for the harm he has done- and the only way he can even try to is by speaking to groups of teenagers.

Our other younger speakers were also inspirational and they too did not make excuses for what they have done or whom they have injured. One of the phrases, straight from 12-step, that kept coming up: "the wreckage of my past."

It's so easy to feel pessimistic when you have a teenager with a drug problem; however, on May 19th, our young men were so inspirational, both the speakers and the support guys, that you really can't walk away without believing in miracles.

Click "Read More" to see videos of the prom-related simulated Car Crash. They lift the top of the car off so that they can access the people inside.

Special thanks to School-based Probation Officer Christine Lisko who invited our young men as speakers; thanks to Brashear High School for having us and for arranging this powerful demonstration. Also, thanks to Cathy Culbert from Wesley Spectrum Family Services and Gateway Liberty Station Halfway House whose work with our young men is invaluable. Finally, big thanks to the brave young speakers who are just trying to save a few lives.

Note: picture on right used with the permission of the two volunteers.

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"Who Moved the Cheese?" or How Parent's Power Surge Perplexes Teen
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, May 20, 2010

This is an email that I received from Lloyd, who is Cisco's P.O. Lloyd and I have had several conversations over the last year about the manipulitive ways that Cisco tries to gain control. Rocco and I have made changes in our way of parenting. There has been a power shift and Cisco is left wondering "Who Moved the Cheese?" I have found a lot of insite in this email and thought it may be helpful for other parents.

Cisco admitted that some of the things he says to you he says not because he means it but because he wants to hurt you. You suspected as much. He perceives that some of the things you say are intended to hurt him. Actually, I think he kind of thinks that- but he also kinda knows that’s not true. What hurts Cisco is not the content of what you say- it’s the fact that you dared to say it to him. What hurts Cisco is really the feeling that he has lost power over you. That’s a really positive thing. He feels the shift of power and he strikes out to hurt you because feeling a power-shift is not pleasant.

Like my long-time (25-year vet) said at my Family Meeting last night, “When we see parents change, it often follows that teenagers change.") I think you and Rocco are driving the change process with Cisco. I mean, don’t get me wrong- Gateway YES is driving the change process in the short-term and they do a great job, even Cisco said they cover so much more than his last inpatient did) and Cisco himself is driving the change process in the short-term; however, you and Rocco are driving the change process in the longer-term.

What I mean by that is that any teenager will change enough “to get by” and Cisco because he is who he is, can do that extremely well- but he is “rattled” I guess is a good word, by the changes that he sees both of you going through. He is starting to believe that your changes are not short-term.

He is now faced with a similar dilemma that one of my other teen's was faced with. He will never be able to return to his chosen lifestyle and live at home and continue to “rule-the-roost.” Those days are over. Rocco and Sally have changed too much now. Now, he has to look at long-term changes or else he needs to plan to strike out entirely on his own. How is going to do that? Selling drugs for money? He’ll run the risk of going to jail- not a prospect that appeals to Cisco but he is smart enough to know that can really happen- no no no he has had enough of out-of-home placements and he does not want to start learning about real JAIL. Working at Burger-king? Not at all how Cisco sees himself and, once again, he knows that burger-king would not provide the lifestyle he has become accustomed to.

So you and Rocco have got him by the you-know-whats! He doesn’t like that. No one does like forced-change. And yet, part of him not only likes it (it feels safe for a kid when adults take charge- it really does- he knows that you are going to do what you can to see that he doesn’t hurt himself) but part of him is so very impressed with the change that you have made that he has gained a whole new respect for you. It’s part of the reason he has been striking out at you, Sally. He is testing you- to see if you really are that stronger person or if he can still break you down with hurtful things or with guilt. He needs to test for himself to see if you really are tougher, smarter, and more ready to take bold action on his behalf.

It’s ironic, that by seeing him go through the “testing” that he helped to convince you that you were doing the right thing by insisting that he go to Liberty Station when he finished this last inpatient. You passed the test. Rocco,he doesn’t test much. It’s because he always saw Rocco as a tough guy.

However, he was and still is closer to mom. But he didn’t see mom as a tough parent. He saw you as a loving, concerned, and basically a good mother- but he only lately has been seeing you as a “tougher” person. He actually respects and admires you for the changes you are making, in fact, what came out yesterday in our interview, is that he is so impressed with you, but you see, for him it’s a rather inconvenient thing, because he still planned on “ruling-the-roost.” Probably, without realizing it, he planned on “ruling-the-roost” till he was 25- living at home, doing drugs, working part-time, taking a few classes, spending his limited income on shoes, drugs and girls. No real rent, cable, internet, or phone bill to worry about- plenty of time for that later if and when he decided to finish “growing up.” Meanwhile he planned on having you both back off because he is (will be by then) 18 years old.

Now all of his plans must change. Why? Because his parents have “cut him off at the pass.” He can’t see that plan working anymore. You guys just won’t put up with it. So, now, he is looking at change in the longer-term. It isn’t enough for him to just skim by, he needs to pull out a change to match the change that you have made or, geeeez louize, he needs to start out on his own. That latter prospect is too scary for him.

Why is he so impressed that you have really changed? Lots of reasons and lots of little things that you do differently, but one huge glaring reason is that you did not rescue him from Liberty Station. He is still reeling from that although he wouldn’t want you to know it. He is stunned by your strength especially because he knows you better than anyone except Rocco and your other son, and maybe, in some ways he knows you even better than they do. Still, he does not want to believe that you have grown so much stronger. It perplexes and continually surprises him. Once again, it’s why he needs to test you – to assure himself that you aren’t just faking.

Now all we need in this recipe is a little bit of luck. You and I talked about luck the other day and while we hate to realize it- sometimes we can do everything right and the finished product isn’t what the recipe called for. Still, we have excellent chances. The perfect luck right now would be for Cisco to catch the 12-step bug. For him to set down some roots in 12-step that last and for him to feel really good about the new Cisco, who not only wants to stay clean but really knows how to do it. He has never really learned how to do it even though he learned many things.

Liberty Station is the very best chance for him to catch that bug. And it’s a perfect way for him to win the challenge with his mother that now or soon, if we are lucky, will exist. What challenge is that? Why it's who can make the bigger change in their life. He sees how both of you have changed. Now he has a chance to sort of out-shine you both. All it would take is for him to be serious about his 12-step program: to become a leader in 12-step, the way his parents have become a leader in PSST.

You’ll know it when it happens. Not at first probably, but the longer he is exposed to what’s going on down there at Liberty Station, the more likely this will happen. In the meantime- he will still test Sally. He still has to do that. He can’t believe the changes, and so when he tries his old manipulative stuff on you, and it doesn’t work, he feels angry, then he accepts, then he admires.

Change is perhaps the hardest thing we do as humans. I can’t predict when or how and I don’t think anybody can. But I believe strongly that you have given him the best chance to change. Now the rest is up to him. And I believe that Cisco will change as a result of all this- either now at Liberty Station, or later when things get really tuff for him out-there.

He has the tools- the seeds have been planted, now we need to have a faith that things are working out the way they are supposed to work out, even though it may or may not work in the time frame that we prefer. After all , it’s a miracle that we are looking for here, and miracles happen all right, but not always when we want them to happen.

Still, I am optimistic and I am so proud of both of you. I guess it’sanother way to look at the “doubt-prayer” that Rocco posted. Doubts cover not only “if” but “when.” Once again, it’s ironic, but as Cisco senses that you are prepared to patiently wait for the change, and that you aren’t going to return to enabling him while you are waiting, that tends to speed up his time-table for change. When he senses that you just have to have him make all these changes, and make them now, then he senses the power-shift coming back to him and that feeling of a power-shift is toxic to an addict.

What am I talking about? Translated: He can come home in three months- but that’s really up to him and we’ll see how that goes. It’s not OUR need (or your need) that he be home in three although we would like that. WE are perfectly OK with him being there longer if it’s recommended and if he needs it. He will be looking for reassurances that you will fight to get him out in three. That may be his first move. It may go like this:

Cisco: Ok mom, you know I came here and I’ve done my best. I didn’t want to come, but I came. Now I need to know that you’ll be there for me when I need you.

Mom: I’m here for you Cisco.

Cisco: I know but I mean I need to know that you’ll fight for me – you know- if I try my best – and they try to screw me over- I need to know that you’ll fight for me.

Mom: You really need to be able to count on me- to depend on me.

Cisco: Yeah, you know after three months I’ll be away from home home and in a Gateway Program six full months! Then add those three months from Ridgeview and all that probation time and enough is enough- I learned my lesson. You see that I’ve changed don’t you?

Mom: You need to know that even if “they” don’t recommend you to come home in three- that if I think you’re ready- I’ll fight to get you home.

Cisco: Yeah- exactly!

Mom: Ok. No problem. I’ll fight for you Cisco. I love you- you know you can count on me.

Cisco: Yeah, I thought so.

Mom: One thing though.

Cisco: What?

Mom: I’m going to look hard at the clinical recommendation that Liberty Station makes. They are professionals here and I want their opinion.

Cisco: Oh you don’t know! – I hear these people just want to keep their beds full- so they look for reasons to keep you here.

Mom: Nevertheless – I will value their opinion.

Cisco: So if they screw me over- you won’t fight for me- you’ll just let Lloyd and Liberty Station call the shots?

Mom: Oh I’ll fight for you Cisco- I fought to see that you even got to come here- you realize that don’t you?

Cisco: Yeah.

Mom: And I’ll fight to see that you stay here as long as necessary to fight this damn disease that’s trying to kill you. You just don’t always like it when I fight for you.

Cisco: Oh shit! This is not what I need to hear- you’re just upsetting me now. That’s what you like to do – don’t you, just upset the crap out me and take my really really positive attitude and just crush it- that’s why I hate you so much- cause you just get your kicks by kicking me- and I was being honest with you – like I’m supposed to be- I did everything right- and now you just come down here to piss me off.

Mom: Yes, sometimes when I fight for you, Cisco, it really does piss you off. [notice the ‘agreeing’ statement here feel the power that shifts when Sally does not try to convince him that what he just said is not true- first of all- he knows its not true- don’t waste your time trying to convince him- it’s a trap, a game and it’s designed to shift power back to him. ["Poor baby, does he really thing I’m out to ruin his day- oh what an evil mother I must be!." You’re too smart for that now- it still hurts you when he says these things, but those tactics are easily seen for their manipulative nature. So we stick to our guns and do what he hates- agree with part of what he said. The part that’s easiest to agree with is “you don’t always like it when I fight for you- but I’ll fight to see you aren’t killed by this disease- no matter what it takes.”

Cisco: Ok, you know what, if this is the shit I have to listen to- after all the changes I’ve made- then fu*& it- I just won’t try at all- cause you know what – I’m not appreciated, I just quit- you happy now? Is this what you want? [keep in mind all this is because he wanted to get a promise from his mother that he could get out in three and he can’t believe he is not getting that- but that promise would undermine the clinical teams approach and reassurance of this is not what he needs AT ALL- it could be the kiss of death for him right now – but it’s especially hard because as parents we want him home in three too- maybe even worse than he does. Right now – it doesn’t help if we emphasize that little detail. We don’t lie or hide it- we just don’t emphasize it because if we think he’ll “understand things better” if he knows how much it’s killing us that he is not home, or how much it may be killing us that we can’t be sure that he’ll be home in three months- forget it- that’s not going to help the situation one little iotta).

Mom: This conversation isn’t helping you at all today. [more agreeing]

Cisco: No it’s sure as hell not!

Mom: Ok, I’m sorry but you’re right, let’s talk about this later.

Cisco: No thanks- I’m done with your little pep-talks and thanks to you, I don’t feel like even trying down here- I just don’t give a fu&^ right now if you want me to be honest with you. You don’t want to know the truth mom, you can’t handle the truth. [ a bit of jack Nicholson coming out now- we have to really appreciate one thing here- this kids got STYLE. He, and his addiction because that’s what we are really seeing here- is FORMIDABLE. And just because we can see the manipulative techniques and label them, it doesn’t mean that they don’t still have power to move us, make us cry, or make us disappointed, or make us angry.

Mom: I’ve completely ruined your day. I’m sorry this is so hard for you. Is there anything I can do to help or is it too late for that? {notice that Sally takes responsibility for ruining his day- she doesn’t get all caught up in something like “Oh cisco, you’ve ruined your own day here buddy- not me- you’re so manipulative, can’t you see that?" Trust me- HE WOULD NOT SEE THAT right now. He just wouldn’t. What's really going on is he is saying “Mom, you’ve got way too much power and it makes me sick!” If you responded with the “Oh - I didn’t ruin your day, you did” then that would really be like saying “Oh, Cisco, you’ve still got the power- you’re just not using it right today- I don’t really have any power here!” After all when you do this parenting thing right- it pisses people off because you are really saying “Yes, Cisco, I guess I do have some power and I know you struggle with that. You just don’t hear what you want to hear from me anymore!]

Mom: Sometimes the truth is ugly and I hate it.

Cisco: I know you do- you can’t handle it.

Mom: You are so right Cisco. Right now I hear you loud and clear. If you don’t get the answer you want out of me- the truth is- that you’ll just give up, stop trying to change, that’s an ugly truth that I wish I didn’t have to hear- I had hoped you had moved past that kind of thing.

Cisco: that’s what you heard? [Cisco is not comfortable with that summary but it's a good one.]

Mom: Yes, among other things, but that really jumped out at me. You know that used to be the truth at our house all the time. Anytime you didn’t get the answer from me that you wanted- you just flipped out.

Cisco: That’s not the same now. You don’t listen. I’m done with this sh*& [walks away angry]

Mom: [lets him walk away- but has a chat with staff- informs them that Cisco is upset and that things didn’t go well.}

Sally: Cisco is really upset after our talk.

Staff: What did you say that got him so riled up?

Sally: It’s a long story- but he can’t handle it well when he can’t control me- not like he used to anyway.

Staff: Oh I see do you want to talk about it.

Sally: Probably not right now, but I want to alert you that he is very upset that he can’t control me anymore- I think he’ll handle it well, but I have to make sure that we don’t keep secrets from staff- so I want you to know that he tried a power-play on me. It didn’t work the way he wanted it to- and he’s struggling with that. He’ll be fine in a bit, when he thinks it over – he’ll be fine.

Staff: Thanks so much for letting me know. Lots of parents just walk out after a fight- and we have no clue, except for what the kid says about what happened. So thanks. You know this often happens down here- it’s usually no big deal.

Sally: Thank you. Can you call me later and let me know if he’s ok?

Staff: Sure- write you number down here so I don’t have to look it up – thanks!

Sally: Ok, I’m leaving now.

Staff: It sure sounds like you did the right thing!

Sally: I know I did. I just get tired of always doing that – but it does get easier.


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Be on the look-out for paraphernalia
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You migt think that it's good that your teen is interested in gas masks. What an interesting thing to collect. Maybe he wants to be a First Responder if there is a terrorist attack? On the other hand, maybe he is experimenting with new ways to smoke marijuana.

If you have seen interesting paraphernalia around your house leave a comment so that other parents can be on the look-out. Also, if plastic baggies keep disappearing, that is usually a clue. 

It's surprising how easy it is to make a water bong or a Pepsi bottle safe .  If the same bottle of Pepsi has been in your teenagers room forever you should be suspicious. Also, it is easy to make a aerosol can into a safe so try unscrewing the bottom of the can to see if it holds contraband.  Confiscate suspicious containers and bring them to PSST for evaluation.  We can all learn from what you bring into a meeting and some of our parents have become self-made experts.  


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Thanks PSST - May 15 Meeting Summary
Posted by:Rocco--Sunday, May 16, 2010

We had a good turnout for our PSST meeting Saturday at the Outreach Teen & Family Services location in Mt. Lebanon.
In addition to Val and Lloyd we had seven concerned parents.

We covered a variety of topics. Several of us have children that have re-entered inpatient treatment after relapsing. We had a mom who has made great strides in regaining control of her home, her two boys and her sanity. You can read about her transformation on the blog under “Max & Mel's Terrible Adventure Parts 1 & 2” as well as “The Prequel”.

There was a single mom (with a less than supportive ex-husband) working with her son through his recovery program.

We had a mom whose son has been clean and is living at home. Now she is going through the normal apprehension and worries about him going out with his friends.

There was a couple whose son just admitted to being addicted to Oxycodone. He asked for their help and is now in a treatment facility. They wanted to discuss the next steps in his treatment and some issues they have about his returning home.

Lastly “Rocco and Sally” were celebrating (truly) our one-year anniversary with PSST. Our son “Cisco” had just finished his first I.O.P. when he relapsed in January. He is now in a halfway house and is making a positive effort in his recovery. We are once again contemplating his return home (a bit more confident this time). It is hard for us to believe that only one year ago we were at the end of our resources emotionally, physically and financially. We have now regained control of our home and we are a family in recovery thanks to the support, advice and help from all of our friends at PSST.

We did a role play about a son coming home from an inpatient program. He is no longer a minor so we decided to present him with three choices.
One - He could agree to the terms of a Home Contract and live at home again. (see a link to sample Home Contract at the bottom of this post)
Two - He could go to live at a halfway house until we were all comfortable that he could follow our rules at home.
Three - He could get his own place and try to make it on his own.
(Number three is not recommended if you are dealing with a minor)

A couple of points from the role play:

- Discuss the contract firmly but calmly with the child while they are still in placement. Once they are home it will be too late to discuss.

- Make sure that the rules and the consequences are clearly understood.

- Your child will not like this and will probably be angry with you (that is okay). Agree with them that the rules will not be easy to follow.

- Do not drag out the conversation. Too often parents keep repeating and reiterating, hoping that they can convince their child they are right. More than likely this won’t happen. End the conversation and change the subject.

- Once they are home be sure to follow through with consequences if needed. Once you allow them to bend or break the terms of the contract, your power will quickly evaporate.

Finally at the request of a concerned mom we discussed suicide threats and suicide attempts. Both should always be taken very seriously.

The threat of suicide can be frightening enough to cause some parents to “walk on eggshells” and to give their child whatever they want.

PLEASE NOTE: Even if you feel that your child’s suicide threat is nothing more than a manipulative tactic you need to IMMEDIATELY take them to the nearest emergency room for an evaluation.

If they are truly suicidal they will get the help they need. If they were merely using this threat as a manipulative tactic to get their way, the trip to the E.R. will tend to discourage them from using this tactic in the future.

Never ignore or minimize a suicide threat or a suicide attempt.

Our thanks to OUTREACH TEEN AND FAMILY SERVICES for the use of their space.

The next Parent Survival Skills Training (PSST) meeting is Saturday June 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Allegheny County Eastern Probation Office in Wilkinsburg.

C'mon in and join us. There is no cost or commitment.

Our meetings are open to all parents who are serious about making a difference in their children’s life.

With PSST there is still Hope.

Here is a link to a sample contract:

Home Contract from the Caron Foundation

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A First-Time PSST Parent's Perspective
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, May 16, 2010

Here is a comment I received shortly after yesterday's PSST meeting. It is from a newcomer and I am printing it with her permission: I truly enjoyed the meeting this morning and got a lot out of it. I'd like to share a quote from a book I'm reading. It's titled Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness, and written by Pete Earley. The book is a true story about this man's journey with how our nation's justice system is dealing with mental illness. [The jails and prisons are now our new asylums.] His son was arrested for a crime that was committed during a schizophrenic episode.


"What you discover is that if you really want to help someone, then you have to be willing to have them hate you. That is a really hard thing for most parents to accept, but if you aren't willing to take that step, then you will never be able to help them."

Thanks for the hug. Every one I receive gives me a bit more strength.

A First-Time PSST Parent

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Juvenile Court Glossary - Published and Distributed by Juvenile Section Common Pleas Court - Family Division
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, May 10, 2010

Juvenile Court Glossary

This glossary is provided so that people attending Juvenile Court hearings may have a better understanding of the language and proceedings they will hear and see. Should additional questions arise, please ask the Probation Officer or Victim Advocate assigned to your case for further information.

302 Commitment – This mental health proceeding forces an evaluation, which may place an individual in the hospital involuntarily for mental health observation and treatment. A Juvenile Court Judge instead of a Mental Health Officer may hear a “302” hearing when certain conditions apply.

Act 33 – A case wherein a defendant who is a juvenile by age, is charged as an adult because the crime alleged meets certain criteria.

Act 53 – The process by which a parent or guardian can petition the Court to declare their child to be in need of involuntary drug and/or alcohol treatment services.

Adjudication – That portion of the hearing wherein the judge or Hearing Officer determines if the juvenile committed the crime or any portion of the crime with which he or she is charged.

Aftercare – Upon release from residential placement, a period of strict supervision to closely monitor the juvenile’s adjustment back into the community.

Balanced and Restorative Justice – Balanced and Restorative Justice is the law in Pennsylvania. This law maintains that the Court process must include significant input from the victim at every level of the process, and takes into account public safety, offender accountability, and victim restoration.

Certification – The process by which a juvenile can be charged as an adult by transferring prosecution of an offense from Juvenile Court to Criminal Court.

Collections Department – Department within Juvenile Court that receives and documents all restitution payments. This department is also responsible for collecting and making sure victims receive all Court ordered monies.

Commitment – A Court ordered placement in either a residential or day treatment facility.

Community Intensive Supervision Project (CISP) – A community-based program that serves as an alternative to placement for male juvenile offenders between the ages of 10 and 18. All CISP youth are supervised, monitored, and held accountable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Community Service – The performance of unpaid work, usually in a social service setting, aimed specifically at restoring the victim and community for the harm caused by a juvenile’s delinquent activity.

Consent Decree – An order of the Court which suspends the delinquent proceedings against the juvenile and places youth under voluntary supervision in his or her own home, under terms and conditions negotiated with the probation department and agreed to by all parties affected.

Continued Hearing – A case that is postponed or rescheduled to another date.

Court Appointed Attorney – Where an ethical conflict of interest exists for the Office of the Public Defender to represent a juvenile (such as when two or more juveniles are charged as co-defendants) the Judge will appoint additional defense attorney(s). These attorneys are called Conflict Attorneys because their appointment to the case resolves the conflict.

Court Clerk – The Court employee who is present during the Court proceedings whose purpose is to maintain the official papers and orders.

CYF Caseworker – Children, Youth, and Families is a County agency acting as an agent of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. A CYF caseworker is the agency representative involved in dependency cases that deal with alleged abuse and/or neglect of children, or children who are beyond their parents control.

Day Treatment Program – A Court ordered placement into the community that provides rehabilitative treatment for juveniles during the day and evening hours.

De-certification – The process by which a juvenile charged as an adult can be transferred from Criminal Court to Juvenile Court for prosecution of an offense.

Disposition – What the judge orders to happen to the juvenile at the end of the hearing.

District Attorney (DA) – A lawyer who, as the prosecutor, represents the Commonwealth and speaks for the victim. A DA is assigned to most cases automatically.

District Office – A Juvenile Probation Office located in the community.

Felony – A legal term used to define the most serious offenses.

Hearing Officer – Also known as a “Master”, a Hearing Officer is an attorney appointed by the Court who is authorized, under the Juvenile Act, to conduct delinquency and dependency hearings. Hearing Officers’ decisions can be appealed to a Juvenile Court Judge.

Judge – Determines adjudications of dependency and delinquency and determines dispositions.

Juvenile Act – State legislation that dictates the rules and regulations of Juvenile Court

Misdemeanor – A legal term used to define most offenses.

No Contact Order – A Court order which states that the juvenile is not permitted to have contact with a specific person(s). Contact is not permitted in person, by telephone, fax, e-mail, letter, etc. Most of these orders state that neither the juvenile nor the juvenile’s family or friends be permitted to have any contact with the victim(s) and witnesses.

Non-Secure Placement – A residential facility, which provides treatment and rehabilitation while affording juveniles the opportunity to participate in community service projects, and activities on and off grounds.

Permission to Place – The Judge orders permission to investigate residential programs for the juvenile.

Petition – The official document, which contains the formal statement of charges against the juvenile.

Petition Hearing – A Court hearing where testimony is taken regarding charges against the juvenile.

Probation – When a juvenile defendant is found by the Court to be delinquent (guilty) of a crime, and is ordered to be under supervision of a Probation Officer. The conditions (rules) imposed by the Judge and probation department must be followed.

Probation Officer (PO) – Neutral Court staff officer who supervises a juvenile during his or her probationary period or other Court ordered supervision (such as Consent Decree, placement, day treatment, etc.) and who enforce the terms and conditions imposed by the Judge and the probation department.

Public Defender (PD) – A lawyer who represents juvenile offenders who are unable to afford a private attorney.

Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) – These specialized facilities treat delinquent issues when a mental health diagnosis is also present.

Restitution – Any money that a juvenile offender is ordered to pay to his or her victim(s). Restitution is frequently ordered to repay victims for any out of pocket losses that occurred solely as a result of the juvenile’s delinquent act(s).

Review by Memo –The Probation Officer submits a report to the Judge outlining and updating the juvenile’s progress and compliance with the Judges last order. No attendance is necessary.

Review Hearing – Hearing to review the status of a case.
School Based Probation Officer – Probation Officer assigned to provide Court supervision to all juveniles active with the Court and attending a specific school.

Secure Placement – A residential facility which provides treatment and rehabilitation. Restrictions are imposed to monitor a juvenile's every action.
Secure facilities are equipped with various devices, such as fences, locked exits, and entrances, to ensure that juveniles are unable to leave the facility.

Sequester – Witnesses are asked to leave the courtroom while other(s) testify.

Sheriff’s Deputy – The deputies are in charge of security for the entire Court House, and handle all medical emergencies until the paramedics arrive. Deputies at Juvenile Court provide security for the Court Rooms and the Public. Deputies also provide transportation for detained youth as ordered by the Court.

Side Bar – Conversation at the Judges desk that takes place during the hearing between only the Judge, the defense attorney and the District Attorney. The Probation Officer is also expected to participate.

Special Services Unit (SSU) – A division within the Juvenile Probation department that addresses the special treatment needs of sex offenders.

Status Offense – Behaviors which are not a summary, misdemeanor, or felony, and which are only misbehaviors if committed by juveniles. These offenses are usually handled by a District Justice, or CYF but can be handled by Juvenile Court when certain conditions are present. These offenses include truancy, running away from home, underage drinking, curfew violations and the like.

Summary – A summary offense is usually of a minor nature, and normally carries a less serious penalty, such as fine or community service. The District Justice usually handles summary offenses, but these can be handled by Juvenile Court when certain conditions are present. Additionally, the District Justice can refer the case to Juvenile Court if the youth fails to comply with the sentence.

Teleconference – A review hearing conducted by telephone when a juvenile is in residential placement.

The Academy – A day/evening community based program that serves as an alternative to placement for delinquent males and females between the ages of 10 and 18. Juveniles committed to the program participate in a variety of treatment groups and attend academic and GED preparation, as well as vocational skill building.

Tipstaff – The Court Staff member who is responsible for the orderly flow of cases through the Judge’s courtroom.

Victim Advocate – A social service worker who supports and assists victims, witnesses and their families through the Court process by addressing questions and concerns, attending court with them and providing additional services, as needed.

Victim Compensation Fund – A state fund to assist victims who have sustained a financial loss as a direct result of a crime. A mandatory cost against the juvenile is imposed whenever a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent or receives a Consent Decree disposition.

Violation of Probation (VOP)or Violation of Conditions of Supervision – When a juvenile under court supervision breaks their rules.

Waiver – Agreeing to give up certain rights.

Warrant – A Court Order authorizing arrest and secure detention of the juvenile.

Youth Development Center (YDC) – Secure residential facility operated by the state.

Juvenile Court Glossary - Revised 12/09
Published and Distributed by Juvenile Section Common Pleas Court - Family Division

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Flying Above the Storm - by Ralph Kramdem
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, May 09, 2010

Eagles: When they walk, they stumble. They are not what one would call graceful. They were not designed to walk. They fly. And when they fly, oh, how they fly, so free, so graceful. They see from the sky what we never see.”

Have you ever seen an eagle soar? No wonder it is our national bird. The symbol of soaring above everything gives our nation, us, the feeling of control and leadership. Wouldn't it be great if we could soar?

But, down here on earth, trouble brews. Things, bad things, happen. Our children get into crap, bad crap. Sanity goes right out of the window when chemicals, drugs, or alcohol move into our families. As our children put it: this sucks! It's like a storm, a huge thunder storm with lots of wind blowing everything out of place. Lightning is crashing and destroying things all around us. The rain is coming down so heavy that we can see only a few feet in front of us. The sky is dark. Day has become like night. We are in the middle of the target of the storm. And it doesn't feel good, not one bit.

Well, recently I was on a trip, flying cross-country in an airplane. The plane was over some wonderful part of the eagle's great country, at 30-some thousand feet. There were a few clouds, but mostly the plane and my window, were bathed in sun, bright, warm sunlight. Looking out the plane's window, I saw a large storm. The clouds went from the ground, all the way up to our flight level. The earth below was being pounded with rain, lightning, and storms, heavy storms. I knew the people below were being devastated by the turmoil. They were in the thick of it, literally and figuratively. They were not having an easy time. The storm was ripping through the towns below. However, like the eagle, I was soaring in the sun. I was flying above the danger and damage.

So, I have been learning a lot about how children manipulate their parents. I have also been researching what I call the "drug mind", or how young addicts think. And it hit me: my son had been manipulating me for a long time. He set things up, said things, told me lies, told me he would or would not do things (idle threats, I call them), and all manner of things to manipulate me so that his life style, his "mind", would be able to preserve itself. And I was enabling it. I was not stopping the drug addiction, but was being manipulated into allowing it to live. I was so wrong to enable it. But, once we recognize the manipulation for what it is, the enabling can begin to stop. Now, when he makes idle threats, I realize that I am being set up. Now, when he tells me yet another lie, I see it for what it is: survival tactics of a "mind" that is trying to hang on or is losing its stronghold. Now, when he plays the games that let me enable him, I can see them for what they are: not love, but manipulation.

And suddenly, the rain started to lift a little. The lightning wasn't coming so close. The storm was moving off. ... Wait, it wasn't the storm that was moving. My son is still a drug addict and alcoholic, who doesn't want to get clean, and is facing serious charges. My son, from my point of view, is still trying to wreck his entire life. The storm is still there. The storm is still destroying things and lives. It was me who was moving. I was learning to fly above his problems. I was the one who saw that I could become an eagle. I still have a long way to go. My son will probably learn better manipulation techniques. But I can learn too. I can fly higher above his problems. I can work on my own problems. But most of all, I can learn to fly above the storm.

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Happy Mothers Day from PSST and The MOM SONG!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, May 09, 2010

Yesterday, at our Wexford PSST, in honor of Mother's Day we had a cake (White Batter with Vanilla Mouse Center.) This picture is from my cell phone camera.

Four parents, all mothers, attended our Meeting. Val and I were there. We got to practice our skills more than we usually do since it was a small meeting.

One of the topics concerned Teens doing well temporarily just so that they can have privileges restored but the parent really is NOT COMFORTABLE with restoring things like cell phones etc. See The Third Most Effective Manipulation Technique. Another topic concerned a parent who needs to work closely with The Academy day/ evening program and with Probation. Good meeting, thanks for the support of those that showed up and those that tune into read this blog.

As we did last year I am going to put the Mom Song on our blog in honor of Mother's Day.

A Happy Mother's Day to:

To mothers everywhere who fight the good fight.
To mothers all over who live with the fright
that their teenagers might die from this deadly disease...

To mothers who try so hard to fix things up so that their
teens won't suffer when they screw things up.
To mothers who cry at night for all that they have lost
To mothers who cry for what they fear they will loose.

To mothers who know that every time they say goodbye
It could be the last time they look in their children's eyes.
To mothers who take matters into their own hands
who decide to do whatever it takes.

To mothers who come to awkward meetings with strangers
if they think they might learn some important new thing
To mothers who think that now armed with this new knowledge
they can make a difference.

To mothers who strive to use the Courts, the police, the school,
the parents of their teen's friends, ACT 53,outpatient, church pastors, family therapists, support group meetings, (who turn over every last stone.)

To mothers who refuse to give up on their drug-driven teens
but who refuse to enable one more month, week, day or even minute
because they know how horrible each enabling act can be.

To mothers who rise above the fear- who stand up to their teenager
even though they are scared - scared of death but scared of more-
scared that teenagers will love them no more.

To mothers who agree to be the bad guy
and stand up to their teenagers every time they get high.
To mothers who have from time to time seen their teen get it together and experience the sober-mind.

To mothers who have seen some great turn-around
and this brings about the joy you have sought.
And yet even so- this is to you mothers who still live in fear
that even when things are going good that the disease is still there.

Happy Mothers Day as you strive to make things right,
because you fight this fight at great sacrifice.
There are no greater heroes, be they large or small,
who can hold a candle to you all.

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Max & Mel's Terrible Adventure: THE PREQUEL
Posted by:Sally--Tuesday, May 04, 2010

At the exact moment that Max & Mel's Terrible Adventure Parts 1 & 2 were occurring, Mel and I were also dealing with the problems of our oldest son, Michael.

When Michael was very young, he read early, had a large vocabulary, was interested in science, space, bugs, made surprisingly mature and interesting observations, and enjoyed his playmates. After preschool, he attended private school kindergarten. The teachers there suggested he repeat kindergarten because he was "immature" and "couldn't hold still". Since Michael was our first child, we started to worry. We fell prey to "Helicopter Parenting"....everyone else we knew was parenting this way, so I assumed it was the accepted method. We decided to have him tested to make sure nothing was wrong. He tested in the gifted range! No wonder he wiggled in his class...he is bored! WOW, we were raising a genius. Michael was adopted at birth (as was his brother David) so we said to ourselves, "it's nature and nurture. We are clearly nurturing him well, he has a gifted IQ, therefore he will do well in school and in life. We should start saving for Harvard right away". We kept him in private school through first grade, then we moved to a different neighborhood with a good public elementary school within walking distance. It was a great experience. Michael had nice friends with nice parents, did well in school, and attended the gifted program once a week. He went on to public middle school where the circle of friends broadened to include people we didn't know, parents who weren't always as vigilant, but he still had a core group of boys that we knew, and whose parents we could communicate with. His grades were fair, not as good as they should be considering how smart we knew he was, and still attended the gifted program once a week. He started to dress in more of a hip hop style which wasn't our favorite, but we knew teens need a mode of expression, and so far, it wasn't out of line. Then came high school...

Mel and I didn't realize that he had been skipping many classes until we went to the first parent-teacher meeting. No one called us, or wrote a letter asking where he was. We were in complete shock. We found marijuana in his backpack, a small pipe on a different occasion (of course, none of those were his, he was just watching it for a friend). We had serious talks, doled out punishments, consulted our pediatrician, and started seeing a psychologist whose sub specialty was teens. After consulting with him we decided Mel and I would see him ourselves for parenting advice and help. We decided that all of the things Michael was doing were typical teen rebellion, common activities that Mel himself did as a teen. So we watched, searched his room and backpack on a regular basis, kept up with the shrink, kept on him about school, kept in touch with his teachers, and helicoptered around....and believed many of the things he told us. We found cans of spray paint in his back pack...for tagging (i.e. graffiti...we also were learning a new vocabulary). His high school friends that he never told us about were taggers, pot heads, drop-outs, and wanna-be Rap stars. He failed 2 classes his sophomore year, and went to summer school last summer. We thought he may have finally learned his lesson with this natural consequence. He had a decent summer job with a landscaper, and seemed to be on a better path.

In September of this school year, right after the G-20 convention, my cell phone rang. "This is Officer Smith, we have arrested your son Michael. We need you to come down to the station". I sent Mel, as I knew I would get emotional and not listen properly. It turned out that during this same summer, Michael and his old friend Eric that we knew, decided on a lark to jump an innocent kid, steal his phone and ipod, and beat him up. The kid and his family decided to press charges (I salute them), and knew Eric from the neighborhood. They didn't know Michael, so it took time to figure out who he was. He was taken for processing, then to Shuman. I thought I would die of shame and sorrow. How could this happen in our family? What did Mel and I do wrong? He was gifted...didn't he know better? We never, ever promoted violence, lying, stealing...in fact, we ranted and raved against it! How on earth could our son be like this? How could I ever tell our extended family, our friends? We had a hearing at Shuman, and Michael was put on home detention. Had I known then what I know now (through PSST), I would have insisted on a home monitoring system. So, in between phone call check ins, Michael would sneak out of the house through a window, and return without us ever knowing. Once he took his brother David with him, took my car, went to get high, and returned home through the window. I should mention here that Michael never got his drivers permit...so I never took him driving in a car. Apparently he drove anyway. The evening before we (finally) went to court, we decided to have a family dinner. We waited and waited for our son David to show up. Then the phone rang...it was a policeman telling me they had Michaels' brother David cuffed in a squad car, and that I should come and get him. (this is where Max & Mel's Terrible Adventure Part 1 begins!)

Michael was given 5 months at The Academy after school program, where he is currently, being counseled for drugs & alcohol, victim awareness & anger management. He has family counseling, community service, and gets curfew calls. He has a fantastic PO who is stays on him and supports Mel and me. He has responded well to all of this, and it has clearly impacted him for the better. He is doing better in school, and has some future goals. At home things are better too, but not entirely because of the Academy. With the help of PSST, Mel and I have stopped enabling (we do not like to admit to ourselves that we were... but we were...) and have regained control of our home, and enjoy our lives. We work as a team. We are a united front, and I don't feel so frightened anymore. We actually laugh quite a bit, and are able to joke about our situation, which is far from being over. We will always be sad about the loss of our dreams, of what we hoped our child would be like when he grew up. But we no longer blame ourselves or our parenting. We did everything we knew how to do - we just didn't know what else there was! If only we had known about PSST before Michael went to high school...

rest of the post here

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Hey Dad, can I have another nugget?
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, May 03, 2010

Hey Dad, can I have another nugget?

Summary of the May 1 PSST Meeting

It was a warm and sunny Saturday.

A lot of spring stuff was going on all over;
people preparing for the Pittsburgh Marathon, people doing yard work and getting their gardens ready for summer, people out repairing and painting their houses, people flying kites and people cruising in big green Cadillacs.

At the Eastern Probation Office in Wilkinsburg there was a lot of action taking place at the Saturday morning PSST meeting restoring and healing parents from the distress and difficulties caused by their teen’s addiction.

Val, Kathie and Lloyd were there as well as 8 parents (including 3 dads - YEAH!).

We were thankful to have an experienced and supportive couple checking in as well as some clued-in parents returning to discuss their current situation and how they are handling their teens.

Several of us have been able to reach the point, as one dad put it, of “Flying above the turmoil” that our teens tend to create. When they begin to realize that even their best manipulation skills don’t have the same enabling effect anymore they begin to “get it”. They are no longer in control. Flying above them is a good tool to gain back control of our homes and to stop enabling our kids.

We talked about how this is similar to a mouse in the maze. The mouse is used to getting nuggets to eat whenever they push on the bar at the end. One day when their nugget doesn’t pop out anymore they become agitated and they push the bar harder and harder. I think we have all experienced this pushing from our teens. This is when it becomes very important not to give in. By NOT giving them even one little nugget we reinforce that the power has returned to the parents. It doesn’t mean they won’t keep pushing. But when they continue to push for one more little favor, be prepared as our dad above is. He now replies to his son, “So when are you going to start working on that ‘Recovery Favor’ for me again?”

Another parent gave us all some insight in to the twisted logic of the teenage drug user. Her son doesn’t understand why coming home from a party late and drunk, qualifies as grounds to keep him from attending his prom later on this month. After all his girl friend has already bought her dress and he already put down $100, or was it $20, or no it was $50 on the limo. As in "Mom you are always so confused!"

After some discussion it was suggested that he could go to the prom if and only if his mom drives them to and from the prom, that his mom is a chaperon at the prom and that he doesn’t even think of attending an after-prom party. And just to be perfectly clear - There will be no use of drugs or alcohol (YES you do need to emphasize that). We all agreed that there is a good chance that he will not accept these terms but then “going or not going” becomes his decision.

Finally our experienced dad explained how we all need to adjust our own behavior, our own lifestyle and our perception of our teenage drug abusers. As he explained “It is not that the addict doesn’t care. It is not that they are not ashamed of what they are doing. It is not that they don’t want to recover. It is that their addiction causes them to be so narrowly focused on their primary goal of getting their next high that they don’t see that their lives are unmanageable.”

We need to accept that this is not just “their” problem. This is the whole family’s problem. That this is our reality and we need to adjust our way of life if our child is going to recover. Three items that are indispensable for us and our teen are honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. If we can achieve these we are well on our way.

That is why PSST is here. To provide the help we need, to gain the skills required and to get the assistance we need to get back the power to save our kid’s lives.

We look forward to seeing a lot of you at our next PSST meeting this coming Saturday May 8 at Trinity Lutheran Church 2500 Brandt School Road, Wexford, PA 15090.

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