From the moment the clock strikes 3 in the afternoon until 7 at night, juvenile crime rates skyrocket.
The period between 3 and 7 PM is the time when millions of juveniles in the US go without adult supervision; it’s when school has ended and parents are often still at work. During this time period, young children are more likely to commit criminal violations involving theft, alcohol, sex, and drugs.
Left to their own devices, even the best-behaved children can get into trouble with the law. Young minds are prone to impulsive decisions and highly susceptible to the influence of their peers.
Still, there are many things that families can do to discourage juvenile delinquency and raise their children to be happy, healthy, responsible adults. As a parent, you can play a major role in deterring your child from engaging in criminal activity by shaping their attitudes, morals, and understanding of the law. Below, we’ve listed six essential tips.
Talk to your child. It can be difficult to discuss issues such as drug and alcohol use, sex, and crime with your child, but communication with your child is one of the most important steps in preventing juvenile delinquency. If you do not talk to your child about these issues, he or she will almost certainly learn about them from peers, television, and movies. You should make sure your child understands your rules and expectations, and lay out clear consequences for going against them.
Stay alert. You should keep abreast of red flags and common criminal trends of modern-day teens in your area. Educate yourself on issues such as local gang symbols, popular drugs, and the symptoms of intoxication. Learn how to recognize signs of alcohol and drug use in your child, so you can immediately step in if you notice something amiss.
Do not leave your child unsupervised. If you cannot supervise your child after school, you should find another adult who can look after them or enroll them in some kind of activity program. Remember that even the most responsible and brightest teens can be tempted into trouble when they are allowed to do whatever they please in the absence of adult supervision.
Encourage extra-circular activities and hobbies. Not only does involvement in afterschool groups and extra-curricular activities keep your child in a safe and supervised environment, it can help them feel motivated, engaged, and accepted. Children who feel like they are a part of a community and who are actively involved in an activity they are passionate about are much less likely to be exposed to or tempted by criminal activity.
Remain firm. If your child gets into trouble at home, school, an organization, or a friend’s home, you should take a firm approach to punishment. By following through with the expectations and consequences you established, you help your teen understand that they can’t get away with poor conduct and wrongdoing. This is an important lesson to learn, since you can be sure that the Colorado criminal justice system will be even tougher when it comes to reprimanding juvenile wrongdoing.
Spend time with your child. Amidst busy work schedules, sports practices, and music lessons, you and your child likely have busy schedules, which may make it difficult to spend as much quality time together as you should. But try to find regular opportunities to spend time with your child. Help them with homework, go to a sports game or movie, or simply watch a favorite TV show together. Whenever possible, sit down together as a family for dinner. During this time, you can model good behavior for your growing son or daughter, while learning more about your child’s interests and activities, answering questions, and helping him or her feel more comfortable with reaching out to you in times of trouble or need.
Above all, remember that individuals of all ages can make mistakes. If an irrational decision or lapse of judgement has gotten your child into trouble with the law, the best thing you can do for him or her is to consult with a Colorado defense attorney with experience handling juvenile crimes.
Your attorney can meet with your family to discuss your child’s options and help you to navigate this complex and stressful time. With the help of a knowledgeable lawyer, you can build an aggressive defense to protect your child’s future and freedom. A skilled juvenile crimes attorney may be able to have the charges reduced or dropped, helping your child to avoid a criminal record that can impact education and career options.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.