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Parents’ Role in Youth Probation Outcomes Essay

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2021

Field Education Placement

The type of field education placement under review is juvenile probation. Probation is an approach of the juvenile justice system that is based on the principle of rehabilitation. It is considered for the youth who commit a first-time offense to divert them from the court system (Ryan, Abrams, & Huang, 2014). Social work in this field aims to assist young individuals and reduce recidivism, reintegrating them into society.

This type of social work primarily services children and adolescents who enter probation or are at-risk of becoming offenders. However, juvenile probation is a field of practice where social workers interact with other people in the youth’s lives, including parents and guardians, teachers, and other adults with an influence on the child. The services include communication with the youth and other actors, assessment of risks and opportunities for the individual, and planning for societal reintegration.

Research Question

The research on juvenile probation considers many aspects that can contribute to the outcomes of probation. The presented topic reviews the role of parents in the juvenile justice system. The research question is, “Does social work with parents of juvenile offenders on probation decrease the youth’s rate of repeat offenses?” Here, social work implies the education on legal questions and communication with the youth as well as the improvement of parent-child relations, risk assessment of the living conditions, therapy, and referrals to other specialists.

Literature Review

The investigation into the role of parents in children’s offending is a vital part of the criminal justice research. It is clear that parents have a strong influence on their children (Haqanee, Peterson-Badali, & Skilling, 2015). Guardians and parents often create and maintain the living conditions, provide resources for basic necessities and education, and form the first relationship in the children’s lives. Thus, their activity preceding a juvenile offense and their behavior during probation have to be researched and evaluated to find how much they can impact the child’s outcomes.

The connection between the presence of parents in their children’s lives is assumed to be a crucial factor in juvenile justice. However, the nature of relationships between parents and children in regards to the latter’s response to parental support lacks in-depth research. In their recent study, Vidal and Woolard (2017) find that, in families with high rates of parental support and positive attitudes, the counts of technical violations and delinquent offenses are low.

This finding is consistent with the results of Haqanee et al. (2015), who note that a lack of interference by parents and their overall uncaring attitude increases the risk of repeat juvenile offenses. Moreover, the absence of parental support decreases the effectiveness of social workers’ attempts to connect with the youth (Haqanee et al., 2015). This sphere of research produces the same conclusions that reveal the vital part that parents can play in improving their children’s experience with probation.

However, the analysis of the parents’ and guardians’ involvement has to be informed by the systems that influence parents’ behaviors. Paik (2017) urges researchers to revise their assessment of the youth’s relationships and living conditions in relation to parents’ background. The author introduces a new model that is informed by culture, race, gender, and class. These factors may influence the ways in which the parents interact with their children and, most importantly, with social workers and the court (Paik, 2017).

As a result, the involvement of parents in their children’s probation may be misconstrued due to their reserved behavior, mistrust, dismissal, and resistance to outside participation. Burke, Mulvey, Schubert, and Garbin (2014) present a similar idea, suggesting a multidimensional approach that involves parents, but considers their ability to assist their children effectively. Thus, the influence of the parents’ actions is not limited to their enthusiastic involvement, but also their knowledge and socioeconomic barriers.

An example of a limitation that lowers some parents’ participation is the knowledge of the legal system. Cavanagh and Cauffman (2017) discover that mothers without a particular understanding of legal principles, and the court system cannot engage with their children’s experiences meaningfully. As a result, the youth in such families are at increased risk of repeat offending. Thus, the research suggests that one’s education on the topics related to probation and the juvenile justice system, in general, affects their behavior in cases of youth offenders. This particular topic lacks supporting evidence, and the amount of studies discussing this question is highly limited.

Thus, a gap in literature can be identified in the particular factors that may improve parents’ involvement with the course of juvenile probation. For instance, Cavanagh and Cauffman (2017) discuss the sphere of legal knowledge and its effect on youth repeat offending. One can add to this question also suggest that other interactions with parents may influence their attitude toward probation, making them more involved in the process. Such activities as counseling, parental education, and legal advice should be analyzed to appraise their effectiveness in reducing re-offending. The main outcome of this work would be to show how one can make parents more prepared to deal with children at risk of becoming offenders than they would be without social workers’ assistance.


Burke, J. D., Mulvey, E. P., Schubert, C. A., & Garbin, S. R. (2014). The challenge and opportunity of parental involvement in juvenile justice services. Children and Youth Services Review, 39, 39-47.

Cavanagh, C., & Cauffman, E. (2017). What they don’t know can hurt them: Mothers’ legal knowledge and youth re-offending. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 23(2), 141-153.

Haqanee, Z., Peterson-Badali, M., & Skilling, T. (2015). Making “what works” work: Examining probation officers’ experiences addressing the criminogenic needs of juvenile offenders. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 54(1), 37-59.

Paik, L. (2017). Good parents, bad parents: Rethinking family involvement in juvenile justice. Theoretical Criminology, 21(3), 307-323.

Ryan, J. P., Abrams, L. S., & Huang, H. (2014). First-time violent juvenile offenders: Probation, placement, and recidivism. Social Work Research, 38(1), 7-18.

Vidal, S., & Woolard, J. (2017). Youth’s perceptions of parental support and parental knowledge as moderators of the association between youth–probation officer relationship and probation non-compliance. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(7), 1452-1471.

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