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Mission: Family | Site addresses teens' issues

Jul. 18, 2013 - 06:12PM   |  
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Military teens have another free anonymous online haven for asking questions, with a new resource from a nonprofit organization providing answers vetted by trained counselors.

KidsPeace launched “Growing Up Military” in late June, as part of its online community TeenCentral.Net.

“Be it through a parent or sibling, these kids have experienced multiple deployments, faced uncertainty, loss, multiple relocations and much more,” said Julius Licata, director of TeenCentral.Net. “Growing Up Military gives them an outlet, a forum, a safe place to ask for help or advice.”

The site, www.teencentral.org/military, is geared toward children ages 11 to 18 and allows them to ask questions or voice concerns. Master’s- or doctorate-level counselors vet volunteers’ answers and post them within 24 hours, Licata said, although the response time is often less than that. The site offers information, gaming interaction and peer support.

Children register anonymously with a fictitious name and password and can post their question or concern. Trained volunteers research and provide answers to the questions. These volunteers don’t contact the children directly, nor are they allowed to post anything to the site. All answers are checked by counselors with an advanced degree before being posted to the public site for registered users to read.

Children are informed that TeenCentral.Net will intervene in cases of concern about possible suicide, or if there is a danger of someone hurting someone else, Licata said.

He’s looking for volunteers from the military community, such as parents, teachers and others, to help answer teens’ questions and concerns.

“We want them to have life experiences to [relate to] the kids,” Licata said. “This is a wonderful way to volunteer and do it in the convenience of your own home at your computer.”

The project was funded by a $570,000 grant from the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Defense Department. The next component will be a site for military parents through ParentCentral.Net.

KidsPeace is a 130-year-old organization that offers many programs for children, such as residential treatment programs and accredited educational services.

Growing Up Military is not associated with DoD’s MilitaryKidsConnect.org, an online community of military children ages 6 to 17, an initiative of the National Center for Telehealth and Technology to help children with deployment.

Kids can anonymously ask other military kids questions, but no clinical advice is provided.

Another DoD site is “Military Youth on the Move,” with information on relocating and adjusting, at militaryonesource.mil under the “Children, Youth & Teens” section of Military Life Topics.

Military children can be remarkably resilient creatures. Having more resources can increase their ability to make the most of military life.

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