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How To Influence a Juvenile Delinquent's Life

Updated on February 19, 2014
krsharp05 profile image

Kristi graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Human Development and Developmental Psychopathology of Children.

©copyright ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2012


A Child In Need

Certainly there are things about this youngster that you know, after all they are your flesh and blood. And if they are not, perhaps they are adopted or foster children. Either way, they've been in your home for enough time that you think you know who they are. But do you really know who they are? See the list of questions in blue and if you cannot answer them in detail, you may want to reevaluate your situation and decide on a different approach to working with your juvenile delinquent. No child is out of the realm of being saved and every child deserves both a chance to be helped and to be loved unconditionally.

There are multiple ways to influence a juvenile delinquent. Depending on the status of the youth, your methodology should be appropriate to the situation. Which stage is the youth in their life? Are they just beginning to show signs of becoming delinquent, is there an ongoing problem or have they committed a crime and been taken into custody? Your course of action should be relevant to their situation.


Know Your Kiddo

  • Who is your child's best friend?
  • Where does the friend live?
  • What is your child's primary teacher's name (homeroom)?
  • What is the principal's name?
  • Have you been to your child's school?
  • Have you attended any school events? With your child?
  • How many days of school was your child absent this year? Tardy?
  • What is the last fun outing you went on with your child?
  • What is your child's favorite food?
  • What is your child's favorite color?
  • What is your child's best memory of childhood? Worst?
  • How old was your child when he/she learned to ride a bicycle?
  • How old was your child when he/she learned to swim?
  • What is your child's closest relative outside of the immediate family?
  • What was your child's favorite toy growing up?
  • Does your child own a cell phone? If so, why?

Now ask your child to answer these questions on a separate piece of paper and compare answers.

Where Do I Start?

Provide support systems.

  • It is imperative that parents play a role in the life of a juvenile however, in some cases parents may be out of the picture or may not be the best candidates. When the parent or parents are not in the picture the problem kids may run into is the feeling of abandonment which can be debilitating and create more anger and rage. Social workers, volunteers, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, CASA volunteers and other family members often do a very good job at working with the kids. They are typically trained for those specific types of situations and handle them very well.
  • Set up an entire support system for the juvenile. This can range from outreach programs, YMCA programs, athletics programs, safe city parks, youth centers, school programs, community corrections, probation, volunteering and work training and jobs which are all designed to teach kids the importance of being a part of the solution. Find a few local employers and businesses in the community who will allow kids to train and work. Having kids teach other kids is invaluable! It may take some time to break through the tough outer shell but often it's just an eggshell, not quite cast iron.
  • Institute community resource programs that enable the community to come together on behalf of their youth. Educate them and teach them methods to support and interact in a more copacetic style as opposed to negativity and brutality.
  • During the disposition or sentencing phase of a juvenile case, enforce a standard whereas all youth must attend socialization treatment training which focuses on teaching juveniles how to be productive in society. At this stage the juveniles could be taught about the reality of conviction and sentencing and how negative behaviors can be altered to change that course of action. In some cases attorneys can suggest that this type of action be taken on behalf of the youth. It will most likely depend on prior convictions and whether or not the child's case is being waived into criminal court.
  • If the parents are involved in the juvenile's life, they too will need support. If there has been a breakdown of productive parenting in the past, perhaps parenting styles may need to be observed and methods of communication with that youth might need to be mediated until they can effectively work together and communicate productively.
  • If the juvenile comes from an abusive home setting or an arrangement that lacks supervision and structure, it may be necessary to find alternate placement for that child. Familial placement is better than foster placement however, depending on parental involvement and access, foster placement may be ordered and potentially better.


The most important thing you can do for a child is be involved in their life and let them know that you care. Remember details about their lives and about the things that are important to them. Ask them leading questions and refer to things they've told you in the past. Making a child feel good about themselves is a very powerful thing. It fosters good feelings, trust and respect. Take opportunities to teach to kids as opposed to becoming angry at their behaviors and actions. It's improbable for a child to learn the proprieties of world and how to be a successful person in society if they grow up alone in the jungle. Kids need teachers, guidance, rules, boundaries and limitations. Explain things on their terms and show them that they are important even though mistakes have been made. Lastly, children need to know that even when they make a mistake, even a big mistake, that they are still loved.



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    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      jose7polanco, Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm definitely a believer in prevention. It's always easier to teach correctly than to fix an ingrained, problematic behavior. I feel that it's up to parents to prevent criminal behavior since socialization comes 95% from home but you are definitely correct when you say that cooperation is important in successfully helping kids who have found their way into the system. I appreciate your input. -K

    • jose7polanco profile image

      Jose Misael Polanco 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Sometimes prevention works better than prosecution. Problem solved before it starts, no rearrests or re-conviction possible.

      People and most of us will believe the police has to prevent crime, but crime goes beyond police control and a little cooperation around will help.

      Thanks for opening this topic.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Simone, you hit the nail on the head with "follow through." It's the number one breakdown by parents of juvenile delinquents. It requires a lot of energy and selflessness. Thank you for reading and commenting, I appreciate you being here. -K

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Good advice, great questions to consider, and super useful tips! What an excellent resource for parents who are concerned about their kids getting into trouble. I reckon following through with what you've recommended in this guide can make a huge difference.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Om, thank you for your comments. It is harder for parents who work full time and who may not be able to afford excellent after school care. I've been fortunate to have terrific kids! -K

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      dmop, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I agree with you, kids need guidance and purpose and it's our job to teach them. Glad to have your input and I appreciate your vote. -K

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for your great advice on such a sensitive matter, krsharp. I think it's been harder for some parents, especially single parents, to be involved in their children's lives since they have to work all the time to make ends meet. Some kids may turn out to be all right even without their parents' supervision, but a lot of them don't. It is very unfortunate.

    • dmop profile image


      8 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      Great article, there are so many kids that don't get the love and guidance that they need. Children need a purpose just as we as adults do, and its our responsibility to help them find it. Great article voted up and useful.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Dr Billy, I hate to tell you that neither have I. It's unfortunate but true. Thanks for commenting. -K

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 

      8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I have not worked with a juvenile offender who had good parents.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Spartucus, thank you for commenting. I agree with your logic. Unfortunately, gameboys, xboxes and PS3s have become the babysitters of today. I tell you though, if you ever encounter my child acting like a stinker, please feel free to apply discipline :)

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Robert, thanks for commenting. Volunteering with kids is very rewarding. I'm glad you are enjoying the articles! Thanks for reading. -K

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 

      8 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Very applicable hub, with many useful tips. If parents where to implement these tips it would solve many of the problems that we face in connection with juvenile delinquency.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 

      8 years ago from California

      These are great tips. I work with inner-city kids and I agree completely that simply being there and making it clear that you care is so important. It can make a world of difference. Appreciating all of your articles!

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      leahlefler, thank you for reading and commenting. I truly believe that teamwork is great and objectivity is always important. Parents can lose sight of that in the face of anger. Glad to have your input. -K

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      8 years ago from Western New York

      I love your list of questions to rate how well a parent knows their child - being involved is so vital! The addition of mentors and social workers to a troubled child's life is a great idea - sometimes kids can identify and communicate with an objective mentor, when they are closed up around family members. I love this hub!


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