• A research traces the psychosocial profile of teenagers with severe behavioral issues

    September 29, 2014

    The research analyzes cases of youths in great risk of dropping out of school who have taken part in specific programs to rejoin education centers

    A teenager doing his homework. Photo: Joosé Manuel Orrego

    A research conducted at the University of Oviedo traces the profile of teenagers with grave behavior issues. The PhD Thesis of José Manuel Orrego Álvarez, distinguished with a Cum Laude qualification and directed by Professors Mercedes Paiño Piñeiro and Eduardo Fonseca Pedreiro, describes the features that characterize these youths who have exhausted the common means at their education centers and are currently, officially, in severe risk of dropping out of school.

    The work by Orrego Álvarez, Perfil psicosocial y modelo de intervención en adolescentes con problemas graves de comportamiento, has assessed the cases of around fifty teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16 years old, who, for almost a decade, have been part of the Trampolín program, which intervenes so that these children may get accustomed to the environment of the school and, as a consequence, may rejoin the centers.

    "These are youths with severe problems in terms of coexistence with their families and education centers", explains Orrego. The analysis of the different cases evaluated shows the general features that allowed him to trace the profile. There is a clear majority of men over women in this type of teenagers. They are youths who commonly suffer from an obvious tendency to break the rules and present concrete psychopathological features. Their profiles also show a low self-esteem and the constant demand for attention. A high percentage of them come from broken homes, where parents usually engage in inadequate behaviors or extreme social situations.

    The research offers information of all kinds on this group of teenagers. Thus, the economic cost of these students would triple that of a normal student, with an estimate of €20,000 per academic year, taking into account both direct and indirect expenses, such as educational, health and administrative costs. Some common disorders have been found to have a marked presence among these teenagers. Among them, hyperactivity (between 3 and 7% of children in school); disocial disorders (between 2 and 16%), or negativist defiant behaviors (between 2 and 16%).

    The Thesis points out the difficulty associated to covering the real demand of this type of cases and also to detect the symptoms of this profile at an early age. Moreover, it highlights the failed answers that are usually given by the centers when approaching these cases. The work has also verified the good results obtained by the Trampolín intervention program followed by some of these teenagers. "This program uses an eclectic method of intervention that adapts itself to each particular case. In order to achieve its goals, it deploys a large battery of methods and each youth has the one that best fits them", claims the researcher.

    The individual work conducted with these teenagers seeks to integrate them again in the education centers, and, in general terms, they show an increase in their tolerance to frustration; a decrease in the frequency and severity of the conflicts they create, and a greater degree of motivation at school. Their capacity of relating with society and their family improves, and they also attend more classes. These results indicate a progress that is both qualitative and quatitative in comparison to the starting point. Nevertheless, as the author points out, "they are young people who will probably continue to show problematic behavior in their environment, although generally with a lot less intensity than originally."