What is the difference between a Juvenile Delinquent and a Juvenile Offender?
The legal definition of a Juvenile Delinquent is a person between the ages of 7 and 16 who commits an act which would be a crime if that person were an adult. They are found to be in need of supervision, treatment or confinement by a hearing in Family Court. A Juvenile Offender is a person of age 13, 14 or 15 who commits more serious or violent acts, and may be prosecuted as an adult. These cases are heard in Supreme Court but may sometimes be transferred to Family Court. Juvenile Offenders are subject to more serious penalties than Juvenile Delinquents.
If I hit my child, can I be arrested for child abuse?
Generally speaking, the answer to this question is no. Corporal punishment, while discouraged, is acceptable within the boundaries of the law. Discipline by a parent should never be imposed during an angry outburst since it can easily get out of control. Causing injury to a juvenile could result in a child abuse charge being rendered. If your child commits an act of violence on property or persons within the home, the best course of action would be to call emergency services and request assistance from Law Enforcement to contain the situation.
What can happen to a juvenile delinquent?
Disposition of a juvenile by the court is based on the best interests of the juvenile while at the same time protecting the community. A juvenile could be conditionally released back to the parents. This release may impose certain restrictions on the juvenile and it will be the parents' responsibility to ensure they are adhered to. For instance, if the juvenile has been truant, conditional release may include mandatory school attendance. This is similar to being on probation. The difference being probation has a set time limit and a Probation Officer assigned by the court to monitor the juvenile. If a juvenile violates the terms of his probation, he could be placed into custody at a juvenile detention facility. In some cases the court may determine that the juvenile should be removed from his home environment and placed into the custody of the Department of Children's Services. A Case Worker is then assigned to the juvenile to determine the best course of action. The juvenile may be placed in a group home or into foster care for a designated period of time. In limited cases, the juvenile could be sent to a secure detention facility. In any case, counseling, community service or restitution may also be included as part of the juvenile's treatment.
What is a Secure Detention Facility?
A Secure Detention Facility has physically restricting construction, hardware and procedures. Juveniles in a Secure Detention Facility are supervised by staff and are not allowed to leave the premises without escort. These facilities are mandated to maintain a staff to resident ratio and provide education, case management, recreational activity, and health services. Alleged Juvenile Delinquents over the age of 10 and Juvenile Offenders can be housed in secure detention.
Do juveniles in detention go to school?
Yes. By law, juveniles in detention must attend school five and one-half hours each weekday. The Board of Education Alternative Schools Division operate the schools in detention. Juveniles are tested and assigned to classes based on their functional reading level. Where possible, most instruction is individualized. The Board of Education also provides special education services for students with special needs.
Are juveniles in detention allowed to receive visitors?
Yes. Visiting is encouraged and occurs during a pre-set time frame. Visitors must be approved in order to be admitted to the facility. In general, parents, legal guardians, siblings over the age of 18 and grandparents are granted visitation rights. No visitors under the age of 18 will be admitted unless special authorization is arranged with the resident's case manager prior to arrival at the facility. Case managers are available to meet with parents during visiting hours.
How can I prevent my child from becoming a delinquent?
The best way to prevent delinquency is by building strong family relationships. As a parent, it is important for you to spend time with your child consistently, at least once a week. Talk to them about what is going on in their lives and be open to really listening to them. Ask specific questions about your child's activities. "Where are they going, with whom, and how/when will they return home?" Get to know your child's friends and their families. Offer to help them with academic problems or peer pressure. Calmly explain what you expect from your child, both academically and socially. Allow your child to have a say in your decisions, as long as it is reasonable. Be vigilant at all times of your child's activities and social contacts. Enroll your child in recreational activities or athletics programs. In extreme cases, seek out the guidance of a counselor or other professional.
What are some of the warning signs of delinquency?
Problematic behaviors in children, if not addressed, could lead to delinquent behavior. Conflict with authority figures such as teachers, parents, or older siblings indicate a growing disregard for rules. Stubborn, defiant behavior, disobedience, skipping classes or not attending school at all, running away from home to avoid obeying rules are examples of conflict with authority figures and parents should look for the underlying causes of this behavior. Other warning signs include covert acts, such as lying, shoplifting, and property damage (such as, vandalism, graffiti). Overt acts, such as bullying others, physical fighting, gang activities, or violence are signs that your child may already be engaging in delinquent activities. In short, any extreme changes in your child's behavior could be a warning sign that you need to take action quickly and consistently to ward off trouble.