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Battling the storms of teenage Problematic Sexual Behavior (PSB)

By Stephen C. Schultz

The “Nor'easter” was blowing in with reports of up to a foot of snow expected! The whining hum of the compact rental car was screaming at high RPMs just to stay ahead of the storm. The roads were wet and snowflakes hit the windshield in random patterns as the wind gust hit us broadside.

Springtime in the Northeast United States can be tricky with flowers and trees in bloom only to be hit with cold winds and a snowstorm.

Todd Spaulding, LCSW, CSAT and Clinical Director at Oxbow Academy was sitting next to me in the car. We were headed to western Massachusetts to visit with the clinical staff and students at John Dewey Academy. We had just wrapped up a visit to Chamberlain International School that morning.

The purpose of our trip to the Northeast was to visit the previously mentioned schools and provide staff training and workshops to two other schools about dealing with Problematic Sexual Behavior (PSB) from students in a residential and academic setting. Latham Centers Inc and Wediko Children's Services both had therapeutic and academic staff involved in the workshops. Todd and I were honored they would have us come out and share what we have learned over the last decade about this ever increasing issue of PSB. All of these schools have a therapeutic component and work with students who struggle with emotional concerns.

While I don’t have time or space to share the details of our workshop presentation, I can share with you some quotes from parents and students who have received help from Oxbow Academy. My hope in sharing these quotes is that you can recognize the mainstream concerns and issues associated with this particular societal problem. The issues and concerns that families are facing today concerning PSB are very similar to the issues of drug and alcohol abuse that families faced thirty-five years ago. Negative stigma always seems to be the main culprit families struggle to overcome.

These comments were shared with us at the quarterly Family Seminars that are held at Oxbow Academy. I’m interested in your thoughts? Is this really a growing concern or is it just teens being teens? What do you think?

“I think our first reaction was, Why would you do something like this? You haven’t been raised this way or taught this way? This is ridiculous. This is inappropriate.” ~ Ann, Parent

“I mean, you really can’t talk to anyone about it because it’s kind of embarrassing. You almost wish your kid was a drug addict because you could talk to someone about that.” ~ David, Parent

“You wonder what kinds of families do these kids come from? They come from your normal, average, American family I guess with other children in the family that are average well-adjusted kids.” 
~ Susan, Parent

“I think for us, Oxbow’s an answer to prayer. It was a gift from God to find this place. It was exactly what we needed at the time we needed it, and still is.” ~ Jonathan, Parent

“What I wish my parents had properly explained how destructive pornography is. It was like, you’re too young to understand this. It’s bad. I think if they would have explained it a little more thorough it would have helped.” ~ David, Student

“I was addicted to pornography and fantasies about sexual things and I was always trying to find a way to get something better, I don’t know how to put it like, the satisfaction. I was in a state of torment. I knew I needed to stop. It was horrible. I needed to stop. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t have enough self-control to tell my parents or to get myself help.” ~ Daniel – Student

“How I originally got started was I got an email of talking dogs and it had a website and I was like oh, I’m gonna find more talking dogs. And then I went to that website and found out it was a pornography website. I watched a couple of videos and pretty much got hooked or addicted in therapy terms. That’s pretty much how I started. What I did – I got into bigger things like illegal porn as well. So that got me on trouble with the law.” ~ Landon, Student

“Including viewing it on what I viewed it on, which is my DS, or my double screen Gameboy, pretty much 8-9 hours a day, or more. What’s weird is I can operate off 2 hours of sleep for the rest of the day and not look like I’m tired. Whenever I was around them I was playing games so they thought I was just doing it to have fun. But really, I was doing it to pretty much try and get into the internet wherever I was so I could view.” ~ Scott, Student

“We had no clue, other than the anger. And we had taken him to multiple psychiatrists and psychologists. They diagnosed him with ADHD and separation anxiety, which he still suffers from. So they started medicating him. They thought that was the answer. So we were just going along.” 
~ Deborah, Parent

“If we’d only known some of the signs that we’ve learned through this treatment process at Oxbow, we could have picked up on his problem way back. But we didn’t know the signs. And we even told some of those signs to some of the professionals we were going to. And they didn’t pick up on it either. It’s all about education.” ~ Julia , Parent

“The worst thing you can do is to keep it a secret. The worst thing you can do is to not walk up to this problem and take it head on and accept it and make those choices that will help.” ~ Shawn Brooks, Executive Director, Oxbow Academy

“There is hope. There is a way that you can get your arms around your son and you can actively participate in an intervention that’s going to help him.” ~ Shawn Brooks, Executive Director, Oxbow Academy


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