Resources for At-Risk Youth


At Risk Youth Center

Most young people are doing fine, despite the pressures and problems they face.  Some are exceptional leaders. Others struggle from time to time.  About a quarter of our adolescents, however, may be considered at risk mostly because they lack the positive social assets researched and described by Search Institute and others.

Lack of support from strong parental figures or role models, absence of positive friends and peer groups, not fitting into mainstream adolescent life, having no connection with a faith congregation all factor into higher risk.

Some signs that may suggest a trend toward a risky or dangerous lifestyle are: connection with anti-social peer groups, cutting school, smoking, drinking, and using pot, early sexual involvement, being less than truthful with parents or care-givers.

When typical adolescent rebellion against parents and authorities crosses a certain line, it becomes defiant behavior needing to be checked. Truancy and dropping out of school, drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, running away from home, and trouble with the law are issues that call for the resources listed here.

Too many parents struggle alone. School officials are sometimes too busy to connect with other social systems. Youth workers often try to help troubled teens without assistance from schools and police. We must all work together.  This cooperation includes asking for and accepting help from youth themselves, as well as peer counselors and leaders.  We hope that this CYS Resource Center can provide an opportunity for this collaboration.

 At Risk Youth Resources

See also the At-risk youth topic in our CYS Infopedia.


Al-Anon and Alateen   Support for families and friends of alcoholics.

ARISE Life-Skills   Since 1986, ARISE, a non-profit foundation, has trained over 4,000 life-skills instructors nationwide who have gone on to teach more than three million hours of award-winning, statistically proven lessons to over 500,000 at-risk youth nationwide, who now have a better chance of reaching their full potential and becoming law-abiding citizens, making neighborhoods safer for our families.

Breakaway Outreach   A Christ-centered, national organization providing outreach to at-risk youth and juvenile offenders. They provide services in juvenile facilities, sports outreaches in juvenile centers and community-wide, aftercare programs for released youth offenders, juvenile justice ministry training workshops, video curriculum geared toward at-risk youth, and a network of resources for those working with troubled youth.

Child & Welfare Family Web Guide   Huge clearinghouse of news and research relating to child development and wellbeing-along with other parental concerns. Issues such as bullying, anger management, depression, drinking, drug abuse, and eating disorders.

Covenant House   Serving (in Canada, U.S., and Latin America) more than 76,000 abused and runaway young people a year. Provide food, shelter, clothing, and crisis care.

Crisis Text Line   The Crisis Text Line will connect teens in crisis to counseling and referral resources.

Denver Street School   The Denver Street School is dedicated to the belief that a quality education is the most effective means of transforming many disenfranchised members of our society into productive citizens. The school is founded on a commitment to Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord and is driven by His example of compassion for the poor and forgotten people among us.

Healthy Futures  Promoting sexual health through abstinence. Be sure to check out their teen website:

International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP)   Comprehensive website on the practices of restorative justice with individuals and communities.

KIDS COUNT Data Book Online (2013)   10 key measures comprise an index of child well-being used to rank states and supplemental data on education, health, and economic conditions for each state. (Annie E. Casey Foundation)

Kids Hope USA Ministry   Mission: “to bring about emotional and spiritual healing in the lives of children who live in single-parent families; in cooperation with the local church; through the use of seminars for kids, retreats for families, and workshops for adults.”

Straight Ahead Ministries   An international program serving juvenile offenders, in prisons and when they get out, boys and girls. Check different levels of programs.

Teen Options for Teen Problems   This site deals with all forms of defiance and risky behavior. Keep in mind it is a company and treatment usually involves significant fees.  Teen Options tries to match teens with schools or programs (such as boot camps) to help them deal with a variety of problems.

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System – Center for Disease Control   US National data on Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug use, suicidal thinking and behavior, violence-related behavior, sexual behavior and more.


Jude Tiersma Watson. “We Have Forgotten that We Belong to Each Other.” Fuller Youth Institute.  Arguing against the individualism that has guided most work with kids labeled at-risk, Dr. Jude Tiersma Watson uses ecological development theory and a theological principle of belonging to offer insights into ministering with any kind of youth.


L.E. Ponton (1997). The Romance of Risk: Why Teenagers Do the Things They Do. New York: Harper Collins.  Through riveting case studies, a renowned psychiatrist explains the importance of risk-taking for adolescents. Looks at risk-taking as a positive testing process needing adult support and guidance.