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Differential Response Program

Find Your Way to Better Care

Our Differential Response Team from Clinica Sierra Vista links families at risk of child abuse or neglect with community-based services. The Differential Response Team provides voluntary case management and support services to families that do not meet court-ordered services requirements. It is housed at the Adolescent and Family Services office in Bakersfield and the Family Resource Center in Ridgecrest.

Which Adolescents Are Considered High Risk?

Going through puberty and pushing through adolescence is a time of significant physical, emotional change, and increasing independence. It is the time between childhood and adulthood, and it’s understandable many make choices that are not well-informed because their brains are still developing. This is especially true for teens who are in a lower socioeconomic status.

Negative behaviors displayed by many teens commonly include:

  • Sexual activity, including unprotected sex: Many teens have their first sexual experience before their parents would like. This can result in sexually transmitted infections/diseases (STIs/STDs) or unplanned teenage pregnancy. Teens may not be aware of the risks involved in being sexually active, and although many STIs are curable, others are chronic (lifelong), such as the herpes virus or HIV. Most teens do not use birth control or condoms, and if they do, they don’t do it properly, which puts them at risk of teenage parenthood.

  • Smoking cigarettes: Tobacco affects the developing brain, and even after that first cigarette, a teenage smoker may become dependent for life. Even though vaping may be popular and seen as a desirable alternative, this is not the case. Vaping is no less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes, and many vapes are flavored, such as Juul vapes, which further entice teenagers to smoke vapes and smoke cigarettes. They may also smoke cigars, e-cigarettes, or use chewing tobacco. This sets up a lifelong addiction that can cause many types of diseases and premature death.

  • Experimenting with alcohol and drugs: The young mind is still developing, and drug use can alter the brain’s structure and impair decision making, even after just one puff, hit, or score. The most commonly used substances used by teens are alcohol and cannabis, usually procured by an older friend or by using a fake identification card. Some teens even misuse prescription medications without being aware they are in the grips of an addiction they cannot control. Commonly abused prescription drugs teens get their hands on, whether they are prescribed for themselves or a family member, including OxyContin, Ritalin, Adderal, Xanax, and Ambien.

  • Engaging in preventable injury or violence: Violence and injury are unfortunately common among teens. Whether they are texting while driving, not wearing a helmet on a bicycle, not wearing a seatbelt, or getting behind the wheel drunk, it’s a commonly seen disaster in the emergency department of any hospital.

  • Performing self-injury (cutting, burning, etc.) or having suicidal ideation: While most parents would focus on preventing their teen from harming another teen, suicide and self-injury also impact teens and their families. In fact, as many as one out of every five adolescents consider attempting suicide, with girls being double the risk. Non-suicidal self-harm refers to intentionally cutting, scratching, hitting, burning, or otherwise injuring oneself to release emotional pain or to feel pain when they feel apathetic and numb.

What Can Parents Do?

If you’re a parent of a teenager, we understand how you are concerned about your child, no matter whether they get straight A’s or have been flagged by their school for truancy. Our team can help. As a parent, you should educate yourself about the issues that teens face and discuss them head-on with your teenager. Learn more about their friend group, and find out what your teen already knows about the problems mentioned above that today’s youth face. Encourage your teen with the information they need to make healthier choices and how they can buoy back up to where they were after making poor choices.

Further Resources for Parents of High-Risk Teenagers

Contact Clinica Sierra Vista

Clinica Sierra Vista provides consultations and care management for adolescent patients. If you are a teen or a concerned parent, reach out to us for adolescent/pediatric medicine that can help your child. We offer our services regardless of your ability to pay. Learn more here.

Adolescent and Family Services Main Office
2707 F Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301

Indian Wells Valley Family Resource Center
825 N. Down Street, Suite A
Ridgecrest, CA 93555