The law classifies youthful offenders (age 18 or under) as "delinquent" if they commit offenses that the court would consider criminal if an adult committed them. "Status offenders" are juveniles who commit offenses applicable only to juveniles, such as truancy from school.
Help prevent delinquency in your child by keeping him or her in school. Minor offenses, such as truancy, can lead to more serious offenses. Meet with school officials, if necessary, and make clear to your child your expectations about his or her school attendance.
Exercise adequate supervision. Juveniles rarely commit serious offenses while under the supervision of an adult. Seek the assistance of a local social services agency if you feel you cannot control your child. Attend parenting classes, or join a local support group if you are having trouble understanding how to exercise discipline.
Educate your child about the dangers of drugs. Drug offenses and addiction can have serious consequences for your child. Let your child know you will not tolerate drug use. Stay informed about drug use trends in children.
Get your child involved in after-school recreational activities, sports, community service or other positive activities. Young people with positive outlets for their energy are more likely to do well in school and avoid the problems of delinquency.
Know who your child's friends are. Show an interest in your child's social life and peer groups. Peer pressure is notorious for its effect on teenagers and young people. Do not allow your child to associate with juvenile delinquents.
Reinforce your efforts by contacting an advocacy group like the Center for Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development (see Resources below). This organization can provide you with a wealth of ideas on ways to legally prevent juvenile delinquency and get involved in your community.