Sometimes, when young people make mistakes and find themselves in trouble, it can lead to a very positive outcome. This was the case for Paul, a recent story of triumph.

Paul came to YouthZone the way more than 65% of youth do – through the court system.  A teenager who had not been in trouble in the past, Paul made a poor decision and was arrested for a minor in possession of alcohol charge.  While working with Courtney Dunn, Court Case Manager at YouthZone, Paul participated in a Youth and Family Assessment, a tool that helps YouthZone gather information to provide recommendations for an individualized and comprehensive program to meet the needs of both the youth and their family. During the assessment process, some painful information about Paul’s home life came to light.

“The assessment tool YouthZone uses is very powerful,” said Dunn.  “We ask kids questions no one else has asked before. Some of the questions are completely unrelated to why they were arrested or came to YouthZone in the first place.  As a result, we often find underlying issues at home or at school that may very well be reasons the young person is acting out or has found themselves in trouble with the law.”

For all outward appearances, Paul’s home life seemed to be solid. However, Paul had been physically and verbally abused by his mother on a number of occasions – a few incidents were incredibly violent and traumatic.  While Paul no longer lived with his mother, the emotional and physical abuse he experienced had left him depressed and performing poorly in school.

As Paul and his dad sat down to discuss the abuse, it took a very long time for Paul to comfortably explain to his dad the details of what had happened.  While his dad knew of the abuse, he felt that by Paul being removed from the volatile situation with his mother, there wasn’t a need to discuss it further. For many families, past abuse is often swept under the rug.  However, for Paul, the emotional wounds left from the abuse still needed to be confronted.

Initially, Paul’s Dad was not open to the idea of counseling, as he felt they had a strong enough support system to get Paul the help he needed on his own.  Eventually, Paul’s dad agreed to allow him to receive the professional help he needed.

After receiving counseling, Paul began to thrive.  While working with Kerri Cheney, YouthZone Clinical Supervisor and Senior Therapist, Paul began to work on life skills and building his self-esteem.  He started attending school on a more regular basis and his grades improved, allowing him to graduate in the Spring of 2014.

Paul is now attending community college, which he feels he may not have had the confidence to do prior to working with YouthZone. According to Dunn, Paul is an amazing young man in a safe and positive environment and well on his way to success!