Adolescent Girls At Risk by Harold Marchant, Jean P. Nursten, Helen M. Smith

By Harold Marchant, Jean P. Nursten, Helen M. Smith

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One boy was adamant, saying Freda was "destroying herself from inside". In simple, uncomplicated language, some of the arguments as to the strength of psychological and sociological determinants of behaviour were discussed, and the worker was asked to try to help Freda, "you could help her. You've got the right attitude. You see something good in her. " The worker persevered - sometimes the cafe'' meetings were brief and inconsequential - at other times new aspects of the girl were revealed: Freda has quite a vivid memory of her early schooldays.

Workers with these girls found themselves in a mid-position between ' best friend ' and ' parent substitute ' and they had to take care not to allow themselves to be coaxed into either position. A range of emotional concomitants of street-work and cafe-contacts had also to be recognised, talked about and contained - and even, sometimes, sent up in the record: The group was rather depressed. All complained about being fed up and bored. I tried to talk about alternatives to the cafe' but they just wanted to soak themselves in misery.

Additionally, more serious and deep-seated problematic behaviour began to be discussed openly. Some of the girls were surrounded by problems - and we needed to remind ourselves as workers that these girls were only 15-16 years of age for the most part. Yet in their final year at school and first year at work they were not only having to manage a transition which creates some stress for every girl and boy, they were also faced by sexual uncertainties, the pressure from older men to engage in illicit if not illegal sexual relationships, finding and keeping employment; pressure to take drugs of various kinds - alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines; and, above all, coping with fractured relationships within the family home.

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