Runaways Gone Wild: Tiffany's Sisters

Dr. Phil sits opposite Tiffany's two younger sisters: Rebecca, age 14, and April, age 11.

"You know that your sister is in a lot of trouble, right?" he asks. Both girls say yes, and Rebecca adds that the reason is prostitution. Dr. Phil asks what she thinks about that.

"She's stupid for it," Rebecca says meekly. "I don't know why she's doing that to herself."

Her sister is more resolute. "I think it's just, like, really wrong and stuff, and it's wrong for her, and it's wrong for them to be doing that to girls, you know?" April says.

Dr. Phil says, "I know that you love your sister, and I know you look up to her and think she is delightful in many ways, and I know she is, and she's not a bad person. She's just made some really bad decisions, and we're going to have to help her with that. And it may mean that she's going to have to be taken out of the home for a while. Would you be OK with that?"

"Yes," says April. "I just want her to be safe. I don't want her to get hurt."

"Yeah," says Dr. Phil. "And you know that that could happen."

 

Dr. Phil asks April to step out so he can speak with her sister alone.

"How old are you?" Dr. Phil asks Rebecca.

"Fourteen," she says.

"Do you think that's too young to be doing some of the things you're doing?" he asks. Rebecca nods. "What are you doing? Be honest."

"I've tried stuff I shouldn't have," she says.

"Like?"

"Marijuana."

"Have you got a boyfriend?" asks Dr. Phil. Rebecca nods again. "Have you been sexually active with your boyfriend?"

She nods and says, "Once."

"And you're 14," says Dr. Phil. "OK, now, do you get that even though it may seem like a good idea at the time, that that behavior is going to lead you in a bad, bad place? I mean, having sex at 14, messing with marijuana, where do you think that's headed? Where do you think that's going to end up?"

"Nowhere," says Rebecca.

"So, listen," Dr. Phil says, "you are a beautiful young woman. You're intelligent. You've got your life going for you. I've got your 16-year-old sister who's on the street. Her life is in jeopardy, so I say, 'OK, what's coming behind her?' and here I see you at 14 already involved in these two behaviors. Where are you going to be when you're 16? I want this to stop. I want you to say, 'I value myself more than that.' I want you to say, 'I realize that this just maybe seemed like a good idea at the time, but I'm worth more than that. I'm not going to put myself over there where I can get a sexually transmitted disease, or I can wind up pregnant at 14,' and at 15 years old you've got a kid strapped to your leg, and you can't go to school, and you have no career and you have no future. And I want to help your family. Will you help me help you guys? Because this is going to involve some counseling, and some therapy and that sort of thing. Will you participate?"


Rebecca says yes.

"Because you've got a little sister looking at you, and you owe it to her to do good. Can I count on you?" asks Dr. Phil. When Rebecca nods, Dr. Phil asks what she's thinking.

Tearfully she replies, "That I let some people down, like my mom, my little sister."

"You've let yourself down too, haven't you?" he asks, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket. "And look, here's the thing: The good thing about behaviors is when you stop doing them, they're over. That may be what you did yesterday. It's not what you have to do today, and so the minute you resolve, 'I'm not doing that anymore. I'm worth more than that. I'm a role model, and I have a commitment to myself.' Once you make that decision, then that's over, and it's a new day, and I'm going to help you with that."

Back in his studio, Dr. Phil notes that his staff made attempts to contact Craigslist but that the Web site's representatives did not return calls. He turns to Amy.

"You notice that I chose my words carefully when I said [Tiffany] is being prostituted. I didn't say she is a prostitute because at 16 years of age, she's being used. She's being exploited. She's being abused. I think it's important that we keep that in mind and try to get this thing turned around. You have two beautiful younger daughters."

Amy says, "Thank you."

Dr. Phil asks if Amy heard her 14-year old daughter say she is sexually active and using marijuana. Amy tells him that she and Rebecca have discussed it and that Amy's course of action was to move to another area.

"What else did you do?" asks Dr. Phil.

As tears well in her eyes, she says, "I talked to her, and I told her that I didn't want her to be like her sister, to do the things that her sister did, and I was scared, and she was better than that, and I was scared."

"You don't really know what to do, do you?" asks Dr. Phil.

"No," Amy admits.

"I mean, that's the point, and that's why you're here," says Dr. Phil. "You need some help. She's in this court-ordered facility right now. When she gets out of that, she's going to go right back to doing what she's been doing. If you give her the opportunity, she's going to do what she knows how to do."


"Yeah," says Amy.

Dr. Phil turns to Mark Hobbins, Senior Vice President of Aspen Education Group, sitting in the audience. He tells Mark, "We can't put this girl back in the same environment. She's going to go right back to doing what she's doing. We need to take her out of the game and put her in a healthy, constructive, therapeutic environment like your organization. This isn't about blame, but this is a family situation," Turning back to Amy, he continues, "This isn't just about your 16-year-old. This is about you. It's about her. It's about her little sisters, and that's why I've asked Mark and his group to help us with this."

"Thank you," she says, accepting Dr. Phil's help.

 

"So, your daughter's not going to be coming home," Dr. Phil explains. "She's going to be going to a therapeutic environment where she's safe and can learn to value herself again."