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Teetering on the Brink, Teen Finds a Second Chance at Boys Town Louisiana

Imagine growing up in a home where you are neglected and physically abused. That was Robert’s reality for most of his young life. 

Robert’s mother was only 19 when he was born. She was far too young and immature to raise a child and provide a stable home life. Over the years, she struggled to find and keep a steady job and depended on boyfriends to support her and Robert.

These were the men who physically abused Robert. His mother couldn’t step in to stop it because she was being beaten, too.  

Growing up in this ongoing cycle of violence, Robert started to leave his home and stay away for days at a time. He roamed the streets during the day and slept on friends’ couches at night.  

Robert’s school attendance was sporadic, and when he did go he wasn’t prepared. He was disrespectful to his teachers, often erupting in anger and yelling at them. That earned him many school suspensions, which put him even further behind in his schoolwork.       

Eventually, Robert was arrested for stealing, a culmination of the chaos that dominated his home life and the struggles he was experiencing at school. The only option was for Social Services to remove the 16-year-old from his mother’s home and place him at Boys Town Louisiana.   

The teen spent his first 30 days in the site’s Intervention and Assessment program.

“When Robert came here, he had a lot of problems to work on, especially with his anger and school,” said Jason, the Boys Town Consultant who oversaw Robert’s placement. “His family life was in complete disarray and he was basically on his own.” 

After a rocky start adjusting to the structure and rules of the Boys Town program, Robert made enough progress to move to a Family Home, where he joined a family of other teenage boys who were under the care of a trained Family-Teaching couple.

Robert’s Family-Teachers ® worked hard to help him learn skills that could help him control his anger and solve problems in ways that didn’t get Robert in trouble. Gradually, Robert began to see that he could change and that his life could be different. 

“Robert’s only way of dealing with life’s problems and frustrations was with anger and acting out,” Jason said. “Once he learned new problem-solving skills and experienced how much better things turned out, he really bought in and started dealing with people and situations better.”    

Robert had desperately needed a safe place where patient, caring people could give him the attention and guidance he needed. That’s exactly what he found in his Boys Town Family Home.   

“After about six months, Robert really became a leader in the home,” Jason said. “Once he finally experienced what it was like to live in a stable family environment, he really took to it.”

Robert not only become a leader in the home, but also began to excel in school.    

“He was so far behind in school when he arrived,” Jason said. “His Family-Teachers did a great job of working with Robert to help him become a better student. Once he started seeing some good results from his efforts, he really stepped it up in school. And he began to become a positive part of the classroom.”

A year and a half after becoming a Boys Town resident, Robert did what once seemed impossible — he graduated from high school.

Now he has a job and he plans to eventually attend college.

Thanks to Boys Town and the encouragement and teaching of his Family-Teachers, Robert knows what a real family is and how it feels to have people in his life who love and support him.  

No longer a victim, Robert is making the most of his second chance.     

The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names may be changed and details altered to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.