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Teen involvement in cults

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Updated: 1/14/2003 11:29 am
Teenagers often become involved in cults for one of the same reasons they may get involved with gangs: they're seeking a place to fit in. Also, groups that promise some sort of idealistic impact on the world have a big appeal to young people. Cults often promise salvation, community, structure, certainty, and solidarity directed by all-knowing leaders, but in actuality, they're totally disinterested in altruism. Many of them operate under the guise (GUYS) of some sort of religious beliefs. Some cults actually are extremely well-funded missionaries who use deception to lure young people, with the goal of converting them. Cults also want wealth and power for their leadership and often attain it through getting members to transfer their cash or real estate to the cult or from funds raised deceptively. They may exercise power by manipulating members' relationships, work, or schooling solely to satisfy the needs of the cult. They may engage in behavioral controls and may require sexual or financial favors. Young people need to learn how to identify these destructive groups, so they can avoid becoming involved with them. Teach them to be wary of any representative of any group who approaches them, and that they shouldn't attend any gathering or meeting without your permission and without an understanding of what it entails. Children also can get exposed to cults via the Internet, so teens' computer use should be closely monitored. If your child has become involved in a cult, consult a health care professional.

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