Bring Them Back Alive: Helping Teens Get Out and Stay Out of Trouble

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Release Date: 
June 21, 2017
Taylor Trade Publishing
Reviewed by: 

Jose M. De Olivares has over 40 years of experience helping teens. De Olivares survived growing up on the streets in the South Bronx, walked the beat in the housing projects of St. Louis, Missouri as a police officer, went undercover on the Vice Squad, and possesses a wealth of practical life experience that has served him and others in his positions on the National Drug Abuse Training Center and regional director of the Dallas, Texas Job Corps. De Olivares knows what he’s talking about. Despite his wealth of experience, however, there are times when his know-how acquaintance with the streets doesn’t translate well into the world of literature. This is a minor point when facing such issues as violence, drug use, and suicide.

De Olivares makes it clear that there are no quick fix solutions when confronting these and other serious manifestations of teen frustration, but if you are in a position to help the author has outlined a number of steps he refers to as the “Streetwise Strategy.”

The “Streetwise Strategy” is intended to provide teachers, parents, and those assisting troubled youth get back into the mainstream. In fact, according to De Olivares life can be solely divided between the “mainstream” and “the street;” the goal of parents and adults is to help youth see the benefits of “mainstream” living as opposed to the hopelessness and fear of living “the street” culture. Not an easy task.

What makes this task more difficult is the lack of any practical advice, but instead a wealth of non-specific language. A parent reading this book is provided with some good nuggets of advice (establishing a non-threatening relationship for example) but when confronting the angst and frustration of teens, De Olivares fails to adequately explain why these steps are crucial. For someone with such a wealth of practical experience as De Olivares, this is disappointing. In the end, strong in theory, but weak in practical application.