You never knew your child was engaging in criminal behavior until you got the call telling you they’d gotten arrested. You were shocked. You never thought you’d find yourself in this position.
You’re also worried about your child’s future. You hoped he or she would go to a good school, maybe pursue an advanced degree and then start a productive career. You’re worried that a conviction could destroy that future instantly. It feels like such a waste and you’re heartbroken about what your child’s life could become.
The role of peer pressure
Quickly, you start wondering how it could have happened. Why did your child do something that seems so out of character? What pushed your child into this type of behavior?
One reason could be peer pressure. It’s a huge issue for teens, especially when their peer group tries to convince them to do something they know is risky. They may succumb to that pressure even though, if you asked them about it later, they’d admit that it wasn’t what they wanted to do.
But it also can go beyond that. Some researchers have suggested that peer pressure can actually make teenagers prefer criminal behavior. They think that they are choosing it for themselves when they’re really getting pressured by friends.
“Peers may strongly determine preference in the way of dressing, speaking, using illicit substances, sexual behavior, adopting and accepting violence, adopting criminal and anti-social behaviors and in many other areas of the adolescent’s life,” researchers stated after one key study.
They also noted that behaviors tended to change in these social settings. That could explain why you felt like your teen had no desire to engage in this type of behavior at home, when you were together, but then he or she “changed” when hanging out with friends.
Some experts claim that parental monitoring can help, and it may, but it is often impossible for parents to know where their children are and what they’re doing at all times. At some point, those outside influences are going to have an impact.
Fighting for your child’s future
When your child faces these types of accusations, you must consider the child’s future. Will a conviction make it impossible for your child to go to college or start a career? Are there ramifications that may extend far beyond any potential jail time or fines the teen needs to pay?
If so, you really want to look into all of the legal options you have. It’s important to fight for that future. You must understand what a conviction would mean, what steps you can take to protect a future that suddenly feels so fragile. A skilled juvenile defense lawyer may be able to obtain a positive outcome for your child.