Our 15-year-old daughter used to be a sweet young girl. Now she is a very belligerent and disrespectful young girl who has already had a brush with the police. Her friends are the known drinkers and drug users in the school, and she has already been caught experimenting with them. To break this trend, would a boarding or private school be a good solution? She is now in a public school. I think a program that includes counseling is definitely needed. -- Worried and Concerned


There is no quick fix to a problem like this. It has been building for some time. Counseling is definitely needed -- not just for your daughter, but for you as well. This will show her that you are all in this together. A good starting point for finding the help you need is a substance-abuse counselor at your child's school. Many large school districts have this type of counselor. They are extremely knowledgeable about how to help students with these problems. Other people who can help you include school counselors, doctors and psychologists.

Your daughter definitely needs to be in some type of substance-abuse program. It is, of course, more difficult to get a belligerent child to start attending one of these programs. Residential programs are extraordinarily expensive and might not be successful after just one session in them.

Just sending your child to a different school is not going to be effective unless counseling is involved, as you say. After all, it's quite possible that she could find other students at these schools with similar problems with whom she would become friends. Consider also looking for an alternative high school in your school district that works with children like your daughter.