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Status offenses should be considered serious by parents

The juvenile justice system varies from the adult criminal justice system in a variety of ways. The inclusion of status offenses are one of these ways. Parents and juveniles who are involved in the juvenile justice system should understand what a status offense is so they can prepare for the proceedings related to the status offense.

A status offense is an offense that is harmful to the juvenile but isn’t considered a crime for an adult. The juvenile justice court gets involved with status offenses as a way to help keep the minor protected from the effects of the offense.

Truancy, for example, isn’t a crime for an adult. It can lead to learning difficulties that can affect the child later in life, so it is a status offense. Purchasing cigarettes is legal for adults, but smoking is very harmful to a child. Since a child doesn’t have the right to consent to harmful activity, purchasing cigarettes is a status offense.

Another example of a status offense occurs if a child misses curfew. Many cities set up curfews for children so they aren’t running the streets at night. This is said to protect the community since the children might cause mischief if they are out all night. Additionally, it helps to protect the children from dangers that lurk in the dark of night.

There are some cases in which the parents of the child can face penalties for status offenses. For example, parents are sometimes held accountable for truancy. Those parents might face time in jail or fines.

Status offenses should be considered very serious. While these might seem like no big deal, they are one rung on the ladder toward more serious crimes.

Source: FindLaw, “Juveniles and Age (“Status”) Offenses,” accessed Sep. 04, 2015