MAILED: Oct. 16, 1997|
EAU CLAIRE -- Why do teens act the way they do? Why do some adolescents turn to alcohol and other chemicals to deal with problems? Why are some youths dependent on others to do simple tasks?
These were among the questions Maureen Mack, associate professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Teresa Harp, teacher at Eau Claire North High School and a graduate student at UW-Eau Claire, are trying to answer.
Little research had been done in the area of teens and co-dependency, Mack said of her and Harp's research. Because Mack and Harp are interested in youth co-dependency, they wanted to find some information of their own.
"There really hasn't been all that much research targeted toward teen problems," Mack said, noting the university's Research Office provided funding for the project. "We just wanted to learn more about youths and why they act like they do."
They talked to area guidance counselors and traveled to the Hazeldon Teen Treatment Center in Minneapolis to talk to and observe teens with severe co-dependency problems, Mack said. After visiting the counselors and the treatment center, Mack and Harp said they better understand teen problems.
Mack said that one of the important aspects of helping teens is helping them understand why they do what they do.
"We need to make them more accepting and responsible for their own behavior," Mack said. "That's a big part of helping a teen who is co-dependent with anything."
Harp, who has taught chemistry at North for six years, said she will take into the hallways of the high school the knowledge she gained from the research and observations.
"Understanding the signals that teens give off is very important when trying to figure out if they have co-dependency problems in their lives," Harp said. "If a student always makes excuses for late assignments, or says they can't do anything without their boyfriend, you know there is a problem there and that they need help."
Mack, who has worked with and studied teens for most of her career and is writing a book about teen girls and the problems they face, said the collaborative research project was a positive experience.
"The whole project worked out very well," she said. "Teresa and I worked well together, and we learned some valuable information about teen co-dependency."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Oct. 16, 1997