Convicting Children

By  | 

As of June 1st, 29 juveniles had been arrested for burglary charges in Reno... that's compared to 20 arrests for all of 2004.
For the most part, the teenagers are using their free time between school and when mom or dad come home from work for the exploits.
Carol Galantuomini, at Jan Evans Juvenile Justice Center, says the serious problem begins with some obvious signs from the teenager.
"They seem to feel it's more fun than it is that they're hurting somebody by stealing somebody's things. That's one of the things that concern us, if we get a child who doesn't express any remorse or sorrow."
She says parents need to get involved before their child ends up here.
And keeping a close watch goes beyond privacy issues and leans more toward accountability and supervision.
But, the when the habit starts young, Jerry Lazzari, with the McGee Center, says without intervention it's just the beginning of a serious problem.
"The effectiveness of keeping them from Jan Evan's is the key, and the earlier you can get involved, then probably the better chance you have of keeping them from escalating into the system."
That's why the McGee Center exists.
They call it a time-out for parents and teenagers... before an offense is committed, but the behavior is right on the verge.
"This is a non-secure, non-punitive setting. This is not a locked facility. It's trying to deal with that status offending juvenile and trying to get resources for them."
Since it's voluntary, both the teenager and the parent must agree to allow the juvenile to stay at the center for up to three days.
Lazzari says the success rate is positive, but it all depends on what happens outside the facility.
"A lot of times the child and parent will basically grow out of what's going on. But, nobody gave anybody a manuel on how to raise children and how to be a parent. So, there's a lot of people out there willing to help."
Experts say the bottom line is being involved in your child's life, keeping the lines of communication open, and always knowing what they are into.