Troubled Teen: Who Will Take Danielle?

May 23, 2014
A fractured family turns to Dr. Phil, desperate to get help for 15-year-old Danielle, who they say has a history of lying, acting out and showing inappropriate sexual behavior. Dr. Phil, along with Troy Dunn, author of Family: The Good F Word: The Life-Changing Action Plan for Building Your Best Family, sits everyone down in hope of a resolution. Can this family unite for the best interests of Danielle? Plus, Loree says smoking rules her life, and she wants help quitting this deadly addiction before it becomes a deadly diagnosis. Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Chief Medical Officer of Pfizer (GetHealthyStayHealthy.com), shares important information about how to quit smoking.

This episode contains strong sexual content. Viewer discretion advised.









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Jeff, Danielle's fatherKelly, Jeff's wife and Danielle's stepmotherValerie, Danielle's motherLeslie, Jeff's motherTrina, Valerie's motherTroy Dunn, author of Family: The Good F Word: The Life-Changing Action Plan for Building Your Best FamilyChuck Hagele, Project PatchDr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Chief Medical Officer of Pfizer, with Loree

A Troubled Child

Jeff and Valerie say when their daughter, Danielle, was 4 or 5, she was showing inappropriate sexual behavior, and by second grade, she was threatening physical harm and making sexually explicit comments to classmates. They say they tried therapists and behavioral plans at school, but nothing seemed to work.
 
Jeff and Valerie admit they have not been a united front while raising their daughter, who has been bounced around between them and her grandmothers while growing up. Jeff’s wife, Kelly, says trying to help raise Danielle was difficult because of Valerie. Danielle is now 15, and Kelly says she won’t allow the teen around her three younger siblings.

“There was inappropriate touching.”

Kelly and Jeff say Danielle’s acting out sexually got worse as she got older. They say they caught Danielle inappropriately touching her sisters on more than one occasion. “I couldn’t leave them alone together,” Kelly says.
 
Jeff says he was torn between wanting to protect his children and wanting to include Danielle in his family, and the stress put a strain on his marriage.

“It got to the point where we just had to say, ‘This is not good. She can’t be here anymore,’” Kelly says.

Jeff says Danielle went to live with his mother, Leslie, for three years, and the arrangement worked out well at first, but then he says she started high school, and her behavior began to change again. “She was hanging out with the wrong kids, and she was constantly lying. She tried marijuana at school,” he says. When Danielle became too difficult for Leslie to manage, Jeff says they put her in a residential home for girls.

Kelly says Danielle was kicked out after three weeks. “They found a journal. This journal brought a whole new level to it because it was very, very dark, very scary. It talked about weapons and killing girls,” she says.

Dr. Phil asks Jeff, “Do you believe your daughter has been molested, or do you think she’s been exposed to inappropriate sexual content?”

“I think she’s been molested. I do. I think she was shown how to touch inappropriately. I think someone has done that with her,” he says.
 
“And you have children, and you are very uncomfortable with Danielle being around your children,” Dr. Phil says to Kelly.

“Yes,” Kelly says. She says there were several incidents where Danielle was inappropriate with her siblings.
 
“It’s hard for me because I want to protect all of my kids, and I don’t want to push one aside,” Jeff says.


Valerie says Danielle has issues but doesn’t need to be sent away. 

Where is Danielle living now? “Why is this child not with her parents?”

  Dr. Phil notes Valerie and Kelly’s disdain for each other. “Were you still involved with him when he was getting married?”


Danielle's Side


Danielle opens up about her relationships with her parents. “I was scared of her.”

Dr. Phil reviews Danielle’s journal entries, which include mentions of suicide and murder. “This seems to me to be a child not crying for help but screaming — screaming for help — and neither parent is involved in her day-to-day parenting.”

Valerie says the whole family needs help. She says the journal entries were written two years ago, when Danielle was under a lot of pressure from her father and grandmother.

Dr. Phil asks if he can meet with their daughter, and they agree.


One on One


Dr. Phil sits down with Danielle backstage. Dr. Phil asks her if she thinks her behavior is in her best interests.

“No,” she says. “I wish that I wouldn’t have done what I did.”

“It hasn’t been long, but you’ve done some pretty outrageous things. Did you tell a boyfriend that you’d been raped, got pregnant and lost the baby?” Dr. Phil asks.

“Yeah,” she says. Danielle admits it was a lie.

“What would you have to gain by doing that?” Dr. Phil asks.
 
“I was trying to see if my parents would react,” she says.

“How would you want them to react? What would have been the right reaction by them?”
 
“To get mad at me and just, I guess, want to be, like, close to me and want to know what’s going on, and why I would do that and kind of all come together,” she says.

“You thought if you go into crisis, they’ll rally around, and you’ll be in the middle of all that,” Dr. Phil surmises.

“Yes,” Danielle says.

Dr. Phil asks the teen about her journal entry where she describes fantasizing about killing her teacher.
 
“I couldn’t tell you why I wrote that.”

“That’s pretty dark, right?”

“I don’t know.”

Dr. Phil asks Danielle what she’d like for her future.

“I honestly have no idea. I just want to figure out what I’m good at and what I’m capable of doing, rather than people telling me. I don’t feel it for myself, and I honestly don’t know, like, if I’ll even have a good future,” she says. Danielle says she’d like to be a pediatrician.

“I think you have a spectacular future ahead of you,” Dr. Phil tells her. “I hope you give yourself a chance to claim it. I want you to do what you want to do, and I want you to be happy.”


What's Best for Danielle?

Danielle’s parents react to her talk with Dr. Phil. And, author Troy Dunn weighs in. “Your house is burning down, Jeff, and you’re all sitting around, trying to decide who should throw water on it.”

“I couldn’t agree with what he’s saying more,” Dr. Phil says. “I think at this point, her dysfunction is beyond your parenting skills. There is no question in my mind that she needs to have an opportunity to really focus on herself … You’re in over your head. This girl needs professional help. She needs it intensely, and she needs it right now.”

Dr. Phil recommends they all sit down and come to a decision together about what Danielle would benefit from the most. He says he looked into Project Patch, the program Jeff was hoping to get Danielle into before he says Valerie intervened. “What an amazing organization and facility. We contacted them, and Project Patch is ready to take Danielle and give her a full scholarship, which I think is an amazing opportunity. I would highly recommend that you seize that opportunity.” Dr. Phil says Jeff, Kelly and Valerie will also be involved, to come up with a family plan “so she comes home to a unified front instead of some kind of chaos.”

Executive Director of Project Patch Chuck Hagele says, “We love kids, and we love to restore their futures, and even more than that, our dream is for your family to thrive, and we’ll do everything we can to help that happen.”

“Will My 33-Year Cigarette Habit Kill Me?”

Loree says she started smoking when she was 12 years old and has tried to quit at least 30 times. Loree says smoking rules her life, and she wants help quitting this deadly addiction before it becomes a deadly diagnosis.
 
Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Chief Medical Officer of Pfizer, explains why smoking is so hard to quit and offers Loree advice for how to do it.

Loree explains the power her smoking addiction has over her. And, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall offers advice for how to successfully quit smoking.


For more information on quitting smoking and other health topics, go to GetHealthyStayHealthy.com.