Pearlman & Associates

655 Craig Road
St. Louis, MO 63141

Monday – Saturday

Building Hope in At-Risk Kids Towards a Bright Future

“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” – Josh Shipp

Research was done to determine how someone became a doctor, lawyer, educator, scientist or successful business person – when they came from the highest at-risk group. These were kids and teens that were at the 99th percentile for risk of dropping out of school, becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, incarceration, gang activity, or premature death. The researchers noted that these children and teens had several of the following attributes: living in poverty, incarcerated parent(s), high gang activity in the neighborhood, drugs in the household, a teenage parent, etc.

So how do children and teens survive this environment? Beyond just surviving, how do they thrive and become very successful adults and rise above their circumstances?

The variable present in almost 100% of these success stories is a “critical friend”. A critical friend is someone who would not let the student fail. This could be a neighbor, counselor, teacher, relative, coach, bus driver, etc. This individual looked out for them, checked-in on them very regularly, helped guide them, and made sure they stayed on the right path. They become their case manager and monitored their progress towards their goals.

Another important thing that the critical friend did was provide hope for the future. They helped the child or teen to dream big, to navigate around obstacles, and supported them in reaching their goals.

Being a critical friend for an at-risk child or teen does not have to be expensive, it does not require many hours, and you do not have to be an expert in any area. What it does require is commitment, empathy, love, and determination. The pay-off is huge.

Our practice presents to teachers, counselors, principals, families and community members. We believe that it is so important that we make sure at-risk children and teens are on someone’s radar. They all deserve a critical friend and hope for a brighter future. Beyond presenting on this topic, we see several children and teens that are in this high-risk group. We provide counseling and therapeutic services to them. We also take on the role of a critical friend. Our team works very hard to help them with hope for the future.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Bryan Pearlman, Practice Manager & Educator



Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates is a mental health therapy practice in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. The practice specializes in stress, anxiety, depression, and relationships. The team of eight therapists provides counseling and therapy to patients of all ages, couples, and families.


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