Friday, December 19, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts - Sue Scheff - Criminal Activity and Your Teen

Today is the last day of school for many kids around the country. It is important to keep your kids busy in constructive and positive ways. Bored teens can sometimes lead to trouble. Teen Shoplifting, vandelism and more may haunt your homes - be an educated parent, take the time to create activities for the entire family.

Criminal Activity and Your Teen

For many kids, adolescence is a trying phase of life. Body changes, school pressures, and personality changes can be very overwhelming to your teen when occurring all at once. Because of these pressures, adolescents can be more susceptible to things like peer pressure. Whether it’s out of a desire to fit in or stand out, your normally levelheaded teen can be easily pressured into committing dangerous and illegal acts they might never otherwise consider.

Sometimes, these activities are relatively harmless, and can include things like dying their hair a bold color, or cutting a class or two. But often, many teens find the desire to fit in so strong they are willing to compromise their own morals to be part of the ‘in’ crowd. They may be more likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol, or commit other criminal activities, all for the sake of ‘fitting in’.

Though there are many dangers your teen may encounter, this site deals specifically with teenagers and criminal activity, like shoplifting, vandalism, and violent crime. Teens can partake in these activities for many reasons- peer pressure being just one of a long list of possibilities.
My name is Sue Scheff™, and I am not only a parent, but the founder of the Parents Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.)™. P.U.R.E™ came about after I found myself feeling alone and scared when my then-teenage daughter began experiencing troubles of her own. Those of us at P.U.R.E.™ know what many parents go through. We are here for you and want to provide you with resources, advice and the support you’ll need to get through trying times.

Click here for my website on Teen Mischief.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sue Scheff on Difficult Teens

It stems back to “children need to have their self-esteem built up to make good decisions.” Today most families are either single parent or both parents are working full time. This is not the fault of the teen, nor is it the fault of the parents. It is today’s world and we must try to find the middle. Troubled teens, rebellious teens, angry teens, problem teens, difficult teens, peer pressure, depressed teens; unfortunately are part of the society of adolescents today.Communication is always the first to go when people get busy. We have seen this over and over again. We have also experienced it and feel that our children shut us out; this can lead to difficult teens and teens with problems. Although we are tired and exhausted, along with the stress of today’s life, we need to stop and take a moment for our kids.

Talk and LISTEN to them. Ask lots of questions, get to know their friends and their friend’s parents, take part in their interests, be supportive if they are having a hard time, even if you can’t understand it; be there for them.This all sounds so easy and so simple, but take it from parents that have walked this path, it is not easy. When a parent works a full day, has stress from the job along with household chores, not to mention the bills, it is hard to find that moment. We are all guilty of neglect at one time or another after all, we are only human and can only do so much. We feel the exhaustion mounting watching our teens grow more out of control, yet we are too tired to address it.

Out of control teens can completely disrupt a family and cause marriages to break up as well as emotional breakdowns.We know many feel it is just a stage, and with some, it may be. However most times it does escalate to where we are today. Researching for help; Parents’ Universal Resource Experts is here for you, as we have been where you are today.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teen Court

Source: Connect with Kids

“[I]t feels like at times you have more … power in the school system and more of a chance to make a decision for others and help make decisions.”

– Anthony Mayson, 14 years old

“Can you all please stand and raise your right hand,” the bailiff says as he administers the oath to the eight jurors about to hear a case.

Meanwhile, in another room, the “attorneys” prepare their cases for the prosecution and the defense while the judge prepares to enter the courtroom.

There’s only one unusual thing about everyone involved in this court proceeding: All of the participants are high school students. However, the cases they handle are real.

Eight years ago, about 80 youth court programs existed across the country. Today, that number has increased to more than a thousand.

Fourteen-year-old Anthony Mayson says participating in the teen court gives him – and the other students involved – a real feeling of empowerment.

“It feels good. And it feels like at times you have more … power in the school system and more of a chance to make a decision for others and help make decisions,” Anthony says. “[It gives you a chance to] not only be a younger person but be able to be at the same level as an adult.”

Most teen courts handle minor discipline problems ranging from insubordination to first-offense truancy. Teen courts do have power. The sentences are limited to written apologies or hours of community service, but the indictment, the defense, the prosecution and the verdict are handled entirely by the students.

John De Caro, a teen court coordinator, says the youth court helps demystify the legal process for teens and makes them feel like they’re part of the system.

“[It helps break] down the barrier between the “us” and “them” that usually exists,” De Caro says. “And this way, it’s sort of in their own hands and they feel as though they have an actual stake in the system.”

Experts say that parents should encourage their children to participate in a teen court in their community or in their school. If the community doesn’t have a youth court, families should help start one in order to provide their children with the opportunity to learn about responsibility and the consequences of risky behavior.

“It’s no longer something that they just view on television or hear about on the news; it’s actually [something] that they can get a feel for themselves,” says faculty adviser Charlotte Brown.

Tips for Parents

Teen courts are real elements of the judicial system that are run by and for young people. In a teen court, all or most of the major players in the courtroom are teens: the lawyers, bailiffs, defendants, jurors, prosecutor, defense attorney and even the judge. A teen court either sets the sentence for teens who have pleaded guilty or tries the case of teens who – with parental approval – have agreed to its jurisdiction.

How many teen courts are there in the United States? What began as just a handful of programs in the 1960s has risen to over 1,000 teen courts in operation, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) says that teen courts are generally used for younger juveniles (ages 10 to 15), those with no prior arrest records and those charged with less serious violations, including the following:

Illegal alcohol possession
Criminal or malicious mischief
Disorderly conduct
Traffic violations
The OJJDP says that teen courts impose the following types of sentences:

Paying restitution (monetary or in kind)
Attending educational classes
Writing apology letters
Writing essays
Serving jury duty on subsequent cases
According to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), while these courts may vary in composition, responsibilities and operation from town to town, their goal remains the same: to provide teens with an opportunity to take an active role in addressing the problem of juvenile crime within their communities.

Teen courts take advantage of two of the most powerful forces in the life of an adolescent – the desire for peer approval and the reaction to peer pressure. Teens sometimes respond better to their peers than to adult authority figures. Youth courts can be a potentially effective alternative to traditional juvenile courts staffed with paid professionals, such as lawyers, judges and probation officers.

The U.S. Justice Department says that teen courts offer at least four potential benefits:

Accountability: Teen courts may help to ensure that young offenders are held accountable for their illegal behavior, even when their offenses are relatively minor and would not likely result in sanctions from the traditional juvenile justice system.

Timeliness: An effective teen court can move young offenders from arrest to sanctions within a matter of days instead of months that may pass with traditional juvenile courts.

Cost savings: Teen courts usually depend heavily on youth and adult volunteers, with relatively little cost to the community. The average annual cost for operating a teen court is $32,822, according to the National Youth Court Center.

Community cohesion: A well-structured and expansive teen court program can affect the entire community by increasing public appreciation of the legal system, enhancing community-court relationships, encouraging greater respect for the law among teens and promoting volunteerism among both adults and teens.

National Crime Prevention Council
U.S. Department of Justice