Growing up is difficult, and if your child has certain risk factors, he or she may be more likely to “cross over” into delinquency.
This is a big deal, because if a child aged under 16 years old commits a criminal act, it will be defined as a delinquent act and he or she can be subject to penalties under the North Carolina juvenile justice system. At which point you’ll likely want to enlist the help of an experienced NC juvenile crimes lawyer.
Delinquent acts can be disruptions of public order or crimes against property or people, including things such as theft, assault, or drug crimes. These, of course, are not the only crimes that North Carolina juveniles get charged with.
The juvenile justice system is intended to rehabilitate young people so they will not reoffend. However, far too many juvenile offenders end up dropping out of school, abusing drugs, and committing crimes as adults.
If you are worried about your child going down this path, but he or she has not yet “crossed over,” there are things you can do to help. We’re going to cover them in this post.
Risk Factors for Juvenile Delinquency in North Carolina
To protect your child from becoming subject to the state’s juvenile justice system, it’s helpful to understand the risk factors. If you recognize these factors in your child’s life, don’t panic – we’ll explain steps you can take to minimize the risks.
- Antisocial behavior
- Improper cognitive development
- Mental health issues
- Emotional disturbances
- Abuse or neglect
- Domestic violence in the home
- Parents are antisocial or have psychological problems
- Parents are divorced
- Child grows up in a single parent home
- Child is a teen parent
- Peer rejection
- Friends are in trouble at school or with the law
- Lack of interest in school
- Low academic performance or ambition
- Child has access to weapons
- Child lives in a disorganized or chaotic neighborhood
Some of these risk factors can overlap and create a higher risk. For example, if a child is abused while living in foster care and spends most of his time with a delinquent peer group, the risk for delinquency will be higher than if she only experienced a single risk factor.
How NC Parents Can Decrease the Chances of Juvenile Delinquency
Get help. If you notice any of the above signs affecting your child, don’t tackle the problem on your own. Get help from the relevant agencies or groups before the problem gets out of hand. Parents can work with school administrators, counselors, group care providers, social workers, and law enforcement officials to keep their child from getting arrested. Ask them for insight without getting defensive. They can help you create a healthy path for your child to take.
Talk to them. The key to prevention is clear communication. Listen to your child’s feelings while withholding judgment. Frequently praise your child and try to help him or her see their purpose. Instill hope for the future and keep the lines of communication open. The time you spend connecting with your child is essential for preventing juvenile delinquency.
Build self-esteem. You should help your child set reasonable goals and affirm his or her self-esteem. Look for your child’s strengths and help him or her see how they will translate into job skills.
Encourage them to stay connected. A child who is socially connected with positive groups has a better chance for success. Encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular activities at school. Many children benefit from church or community programs. Family friends can also make a positive difference in your child’s life.
As every parent knows, some things are out of your control. However, if you follow these tips, your child has a far better chance of avoiding trouble with the law.