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Keywords:

  • child and adolescent health;
  • emotional health;
  • organization and administration of school health programs;
  • risk behaviors

ABSTRACT

Background:  In recent years, a number of tragedies have been linked to the Goth culture. Most alarming have been the acts of violence, suicide, and self-harm found among teens. Teachers, parents, administrators, and fellow students are at a loss on how to relate to such students. They are unsure what role they might play in addressing some of the psychosocial issues they encounter. The purposes of this article are to describe characteristics of Goth teens, identify psychosocial risks for these teens, and describe roles school personnel can play.

Methods:  This article provides a review of the Goth culture, risk factors for Goth teens, and methods school personnel can use in identifying and addressing the psychosocial needs of this group.

Results:  The Goth culture attracts teens who are depressed, feel persecuted, have a distrust of society, or have suffered past abuse. They then surround themselves with people, music, Web sites, and activities that foster angry or depressed feelings. They have a higher prevalence of depression, self-harm, suicide, and violence than non-Goth teens.

Conclusions:  School personnel are in a position to make a difference. By preparing themselves with knowledge, skills, materials, and referral sources, they can serve as liaisons. They have a specific role in advocating for the health and safety of students, identifying students who are at risk, disseminating new knowledge, and providing guidance in the management of the troubled teens.