In college, many of my friends worked at teen outreach programs. They helped kids who were on the street, suicidal, struggling with addiction, working as prostitutes, or engaging in self-harm. Often, they got money from the city or state to distribute condoms and clean needles, do prevention education and do outreach social work.
With sites like LiveJournal, Xanga and MySpace, many teens are expressing similar kinds of out-of-control behaviors. Are there any digital teen outreach programs? Are any social workers or therapists reaching out to teens who are clearly battling tough issues? I recognize that these websites are not the best place to do actual therapy, but neither is the street. A huge part of what teen outreach programs do is help direct teens to places where they can get help. Are there any such outreach programs on the web?
Unfortunately, it seems like the only people reaching out to these teens are friends who are scared by what their friends say (this is not a good way to do outreach). There are organizations who have set up help websites, but they rely on people to find them via search. Wouldn’t it be great if concerned social workers and outreach organizers could hop onto MySpace and reach out to some of the teens who clearly need help?
I’ve also seen religious organizations do outreach. Some is simply missionary work – reaching out to convert teens. Unfortunately, though, the bulk seems to be religious individuals approaching queer teens to threaten them with damnation. 🙁