Parents of Juvenile Offenders: Common Questions and Misconceptions

Interviewer: What are some of the main concerns or questions that parents have? At the same time, what are some of their misconceptions too?

Gary Churak: Unfortunately, some parents think the juvenile will get slapped on the wrist and they’re not going to be punished severely. It’s not going to affect them, it’s only a juvenile case and it will go away. They don’t look at the total ramifications of what could be involved with the case.

What Are Misconceptions of the Juvenile Involved in a Criminal Case?

Interviewer: What about the juvenile themselves? What are some of their misconceptions?

Gary Churak: They think, I’m a kid, and they’re not going to do anything to me. I’m getting a slap on the hand. I don’t need to worry about it. You see a lot of that with drug cases, especially with marijuana.  I think they just do not basically look at the seriousness of the offense. They downplay the offense.

Interviewer: When a parent comes down with you, what are some of the things that they want to know?

Gary Churak: They want to know their child is looking at. How serious is the offense. What is the juvenile system going to do to him? Is he going to go to any kind of lock up situation? It depends primarily on the nature of the offense. The more serious the offense, the more questions I think people have.

How Do Parents React to Their Child’s Drug Charges?

Interviewer: Does that apply to the drug charge because that seems to be pretty common?

Gary Churak: A lot of times, the parents are in denial. The parents don’t realize their childhas a drug issue. Or they overlook the seriousness of the drug issue. That’s one of the things I talk to the parents about and try to make clear to them that this could be a serious issue down the road.

I have a questionnaire where I ask the juveniles about their marijuana usage. How often do you smoke pot? Do you need to do a hit in the morning before you go to school? Have a hit at lunch, hit in the evening, hit before you go to bed? You’re doing it every day?” They start answering questions and I say, “Okay, now you have a problem with drugs. Go get yourself help.”

I have seen students smoke in a school bus and not think they’re going to get caught. A school bus mind you. Because they think it’s only marijuana. That’s their mindset, “It’s only pot.”