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Support for Parents in Troubled Times : Los Angeles High offers a support group to encourage them to get more involved in their children's lives.

June 06, 1993|LORRAINE GILIBERTO and NANCY PIERANDOZZI | Lorraine Giliberto and Nancy Pierandozzi are coordinators of the Impact program at Los Angeles High School. One of the components of the program is the Parents Support Group, a forum for parents to express concerns and receive feedback and encouragement from other parents. The English-speaking group meets from 9 to 10 a.m. on Tuesdays in the teachers lounge; the Spanish-speaking group meets from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. on Wednesdays, in Room 411 at the school, 4650 W. Olympic Blvd. Information: (213) 937-3210. Giliberto and Pierandozzi were interviewed by Laurie K. Schenden

Why is a parent support group important?

Our children are dying. They are going to jail.

That's blunt, but that's what we see. Kids are in crisis. They're at-risk and many parents just aren't aware of how serious this is.

Even if they have a sense of the severity of the problem, often they are overwhelmed and lacking in the skills needed to communicate with and really help their child.

For example, a student who is a fringe gang member came to us and told us that he had been shot at for four days by some people who had been following him. He had witnessed two of his friends being killed. We called his mother and found out that she had no idea of the extent of this situation. He had been trying to keep it from her.

Generally, kids don't talk to their parents about their concerns and problems. They find some solace and a safe place to communicate in Impact. Impact is a districtwide teen crisis intervention program consisting of support groups for at-risk teens on campus. We have 14 support groups here at L.A. High, each with a different focus--such as drug and alcohol education, sober support, teen parents, gang alternatives, physical and sexual abuse.

Although each group focuses on a different issue, the purpose of all Impact groups is to provide feedback and encouragement from other teens and to develop the skills necessary to cope with the difficult issues in their lives.

The schools are no longer providing just academic services.

We have been charged with taking on more and more responsibility in relation to the family. This means reaching out to the parents and providing services for them too. The Parent Support Groups are a component of the Impact program that will provide a safe place for parents to share their concerns and feelings, receive feedback and develop better communication and parenting skills.

The topics discussed in the groups will come from the participants themselves. We suspect that such topics as how to deal with partying, alcohol and drug use, gangs and violence, divorce, family fights, teen pregnancy and low school achievement will arise.

We hope too that an open support group will encourage parents to come to the school more often, to not be intimidated and to get more involved in their children's lives. We hope they will begin to trust the schools and to feel more comfortable in requesting help from us.

We are here for the students.

And we are here for their parents too.

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