U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Families on Probation: Court-Ordered Parenting Skills Classes for Parents of Juvenile Offenders

NCJ Number
Crime and Delinquency Volume: 43 Issue: 4 Dated: (October 1997) Pages: 412-437
L Schaffner
Date Published
26 pages
This study assessed court-ordered parenting skills classes taught by juvenile probation department personnel at a Northern California juvenile detention facility.
In the program, probation department personnel teach parenting skills. The program, which has been operating for just over 6 years, is attended by parents who have been ordered by the court to attend the classes. At a judge's discretion, a court can order the parents to attend a set of 10 sessions within 3 months of the sentencing of their delinquent child. In the sessions observed by the author, approximately 10 to 15 parents attended each session, and classes were on a drop-in basis and ongoing. Some parents continued attending after completing their court order. The classes were taught by a probation officer, who invited guest speakers and screened videos on various topics, such as drugs, sexual abuse, or school counseling. Three conflicting perspectives were observed by the author in the class interactions. There was the juvenile court perspective, represented by the judge and the probation officer, in which delinquency is viewed as resulting from poor parenting that requires state intervention for a remedy. Parents, on the other hand, viewed parenting as part of the "feeling" world of family life, where problems and difficulties resulted in feelings of frustration and failure. The third perspective was an adult solidarity perspective, in which probation officials and parents agreed that youths are bad, out of control, and disrespectful. Ultimately, framing the problem of youth crime overall as one that emanates from families in which parenting skills are lacking misses the larger picture of contemporary problems in families with juvenile legal problems. 6 notes and 83 references