The National Parenting Center

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Keeping Your Teen Safe From Cults

Having a child get caught up in a cult can be a frightening, frustrating, even a tragic experience for a family. How can you prevent such an occurrence in your family?

• First, take steps to strengthen your teen’s self-esteem and his traditional religious or other altruistic ties. Teens most vulnerable to cults are those with little self-esteem who are searching for something to believe in.

• Second, keep close ties with your teen. Know who his friends are, what he is reading, and what he believes these days.

• Third, express your concern about a particular cult, especially if he has friends who are involved.

• Fourth, step in and set firm limits if your teen is starting to get more involved in a cult. It may be necessary at this point to forbid certain friendships or to bring in professional help and supervise him closely.

• Finally, give your teen a sense of personal empowerment. Teens who feel they are heard and understood, and who can make a difference in their own and each other’s lives are not likely to be vulnerable to undesirable cults.

An expert in the field of adolescent behavior, Ms. McCoy has authored eleven books on the subject including the best selling “The Teenage Body Book”. Additionally she has written hundreds of articles for major national magazines. Coordinator of the Clinical Ph.D. Program at California School of Professional Psychology and Staff Counselor at the Center for Individual and Family Counseling in North Hollywood, California.

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