Dear Straight Talk: I have an incredibly bad relationship with my parents. Many tell me to call Child Protective Services. However, a friend taken from her drug-addicted mom says foster care was horrible and that I shouldn’t do it. Since sixth grade, my dad has hit me multiple times. My mom has hit me and has grabbed my neck and shoved me against a wall. They say I won’t make it anywhere in life. They penalize me for my body size, for not getting perfect straight A’s and not pursuing their dream. My younger sister (14) sees it all, but has never been a victim. My older brother, who received similar treatment for not being perfect, thinks I should stick it out as I only have two more years. I need guidance. I’m honestly terrified living at home.
— Scared Teen with Big Dreams
Katelyn, 18, Azusa: Don’t suffer silently for “only” two more years. Talk to a counselor, church leader, or trusted authority figure. If you do call CPS, they won’t automatically put you into foster care. They might send your parents to mandatory classes or arrange living with a relative. Keep your head high through activities, passions or groups that reward you. Yoga, journaling, positive thinking and inspirational music and books will also help with a positive mindset.
Brie, 22, San Francisco: You need to call CPS. This is absolutely unacceptable. Another option is to get part-time work and move in with a relative or friend.
Treyvon, 19, Yorba Linda: Many parents don’t realize the difference between “encouragement” and repression. Call CPS immediately. They have more tools in their arsenal than just removing kids. No child should be beaten. If this was me, I’d also keep pepper spray on hand.
Molly, 21, Berkeley: Document everything! Take pictures of bruises and injuries and try to record their threats. Calling CPS is a good step. They won’t remove you from your home unless they absolutely must. Could you live with your brother if you were working? Reach out to a school counselor. This behavior also hurts your sister to witness it.
Carlos, 18, Fairfax, Va.: Calling CPS is a big decision. For that extra push, picture your younger sister going through the same thing.
Dear Scared: Your parents sound ignorant of the overwhelmingly proven principle that children become more successful through positive reinforcement rather than shaming, threatening and beating. How very sad. CPS counselors do everything possible to keep children safe while keeping families together. Most give parents like yours (with a “spare the rod spoil the child” mentality) parenting classes, counseling — and monitoring.
I wouldn’t blame you for moving in with a friend or relative — you have to take care of yourself. What’s good about CPS is that they educate parents and oversee a healing process. Your parents’ mentality needs to end, and you need to mend. (You don’t want to repeat this pattern with your children, which is precisely what your parents are doing). Talk to a school counselor or call Child Protective Services and ask how they would handle your situation. Look them up under your state and county. — Lauren
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