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Question:

My sister is 16 years old. She is bright, cheerful, smart, and an amazing cheerleader. But no one sees what my family does. She constantly lies. She’s constantly having sex with many random men, and believe me, they are men. She began having sex at the age of 13, and has probably had up to 30 partners already. She is constantly getting in trouble, sneaking out of the house, sneaking these men into our family’s house. The cops have been called on more than one occasion, and nothing seems to stop her. She does not think that her actions are wrong. She has a therapist, but she twists every situation to be in her favor. It is as if she does not see the wrong in her actions. The final straw was that she made my 10 year old brother take pictures of her, another girl, and 2 men. You can only imagine what they were doing, and how this has affected my brother. I cannot watch her live like this. Something is wrong with her. We need help. She cannot keep living like this or my family will kick her out. Are there any overnight treatments available? She needs to understand that bad things can, and will, happen to her. Please help us. This is tearing our family apart.

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Answer:

Obviously your sister is out of control and, of course, refuses to listen. Yes, something is wrong with her and it is difficult to know what that is. Just to speculate in the absence of information. Perhaps she: 1. is abusing and addicted to drugs, 2. has a Borderline Personality Disorder, 3. she was raped and kept it secret, 4. has a more severe and psychotic mental disorder, 5. has a Bipolar disorder, 6. has an Oppositional Defiant Disorder, etc.

Well, you get the idea and that is not the end of the possibilities.

There are a variety of steps that can be taken but the family, meaning your parents, will have to cooperate.

For one, it might be possible for them to take out what is known as a PINS petition from Family Court in your state. A PINS petition means Person IN Need of Supervision. There are age limits on this and I do not know what they are. It might already be too late for this as she is 16 years old. However, you need to do some research on this.

Second and more serious, is to report her behavior to the police, especially endangering the well being of a child, your 10 year old brother. The main goal of doing this is not to land her in Jail or "get her into trouble," but to place her in the hands of the court. Under the guidance and oversight of the court, lots of these wayward teenagers do improve because of the types of supervision these youngsters are placed under.

Third, the courts are in the best position for determining if she is abusing drugs and, if so, what drugs they are. If so, they will order treatment and full supervision.

You state that there are adult men having sex with your sister and that is illegal. This could be reported to the police and this is another way to get her under the influence of the courts. Of course, the illegality is being done by the men and not her because she is a minor until she is 18 years old.

If your sister is truant from school, and the description you have given makes it seem as though that is likely, the family can report her to the school authorities. It could be that they have options for her and the family.

Unfortunately, unless your sister is threatening suicide or homicide, there is no way to hospitalize her against her will. She does have civil rights and those rights limit the options that can be used unless she is a danger to herself or the community.

Your parents could try to order a full psychiatric evaluation of her but, if she refuses to cooperate it will not work.

Lastly and most importantly, depending on her physical and mental condition when she returns home from her "outings," your parents can call the police again(call 911), or when there is another ferocious argument, and ask them to take her to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation. It is possible for the hospitals to hold a person for 72 hours, time enough to observe the person and do a full psychiatric evaluation. This could be a sobering experience for her and, I am sure, the hospital will give the family and her strong recommendations.

This last would be the best option. In fact, I am rather surprised that, since the police have been to the house before, they have not taken her away. It is important that, when this happens, they call 911 and let them know that there is a teenager who is "out of control" and a threat to the family and to herself. They will come and with an ambulance and do an on the spot evaluation. Your parents can ask that she be taken to the hospital.

The family must cooperate in all of this: meaning you and your parents. I agree with you that the situation is dangerous for everyone, particularly this young woman.

I hope this helps and the very best of luck.

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