By Megan Erbacher
Indiana legal experts say new methods of rehabilitating teens convicted of crimes appear to be working, but could still be improved. Incarceration used to be the go-to mode of problem solving when dealing with juvenile offenders, but now the state integrates different services and programs aimed at preventing minors from returning to the court system.
Monroe County Judge Stephen Galvin says it’s important to tailor services to the needs of the child and use a plan that works to keep the community, and the child, safe.
“Sometimes the needs are severe enough that they need to be placed outside the home in a treatment facility,” Galvin says. “If we have drug and alcohol issues, we attempt to address those. If we have mental health issues, which are very common, we also attempt to address those.”
Indiana Juvenile Justice Task Force Executive Director Bill Glick says a vital part in helping minors stay out of trouble is recognizing signs that show they are spiraling out of control. Glick says parents are often the last people to understand the signs because of denial, neglect or abandonment.
“Of course there are changes in friends, the young person no longer wants the parent to know who their friends are,” Glick says. “Behaviors in school might result in school detention, suspension, or threats of expulsion. Certainly those are indications that behavior may be getting more serious.”
Judge Galvin says increased adult volunteering would benefit juveniles in need of a positive role model.