When a Teen Needs Help, Now They Can Text For It

By Monica Ippolito MFTI
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment/After-School Counseling Program Intern

Parents, have you noticed the way that your teens communicate with their friends and family?  If you have spent anytime on a middle or high school campus or seen a group of teens standing around at the movie theater, mall or amusement park then you have seen it too- teens are on their mobile devices texting each other instead of verbally communicating. Almost every teen has a personal communication device, which allows them to communicate through a number of formats.  Today’s teenagers communicates with these devices via Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, Vine, Pinterest, Reddit, Kik and texting. Teenagers like to communicate in the least amount of characters as possible. They also expect a quick response to what it is they are posting.
According to Nancy Lublin who has been tracking teens use of text messages and has found that “the average teen will send 3,339 text messages a month. Even if the teen does not respond to the text message they have in fact opened it. Text messages are 11 times more effective than email.” So it makes sense that when teenagers are in crisis the easy & quickest way to get help would be through a text message. Text messaging is something that teens already use and they trust it.

Nancy Lublin has started a texting hotline, www.crisistextline.org, to help teens get the emotional support and information they so desperately need. Here is how it works according to the crisis text line website “a teen will text “LISTEN” to 741-741 from anywhere, anytime. A live trained specialist receives the text & responds quickly.”  Texting can take longer in some ways as the teen can just stop texting versus a phone where people will say good bye before hanging up. The advantage to texting is that all of the conversations are stored in the system automatically so the minute that the texter returns whether it is a hour later or two weeks later all previous messages will appear and the counselor on duty can pick up from where the teen left off. Plus the teen is also able to look back at their messages when they are feeling helpless.

A texting hotline is also very helpful because teenagers are able to ask for help no matter where they are. They might be in the same room with their abuser and want to ask for help immediately, as opposed to if they needed to use a phone they might not ask for help. Texting can save a life as some teens have been in a situation where they were about to hurt themselves and asked for help through a text message. Please share the following numbers with the teenagers in your life:

Crisis Text Line: Text: “LISTEN” to 741-741 www.crisistextline.org
Human Trafficking Text Line:  Text: “BeFree” to 233733  www.polarisproject.org
Dating Abuse Text Line: Text: “loveis” to 22522 www.loveisrespect.org
Runaways Text Line: Text: “SAFE & your location” to 69866  www.1800runaway.org



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