Juvenile justice and the regulation of parental control
Blake, David Daniel
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In 2000, the American Bar Association (ABA) undertook a research project to study parental participation in the family court system for juvenile delinquency and status offense proceedings. The ABA sought to better understand the role that parents have in the cases involving juvenile and status offenders, and the concerns and conflicts that evolve for parents and court personnel. The findings showed remarkable similarity between court personnel of eighty counties in the United States. The missing element in this project, is an important perspective for understanding the role of parental participation in the family court system: the parent(s). The following study compensates for the limitations of the original study by interviewing parents and seeking their experience of the family court system. The study accomplished this through the application of David Matza's Parental Sponsorship Model, which considers a parent's ability and resources to regulate their children, with oversight by the court system, and Stanley Cohen's 'Agencies of Control' which suggests that parents may become agents of the court in providing supervision of juveniles. Four questions guided this study: (Q1) What is the experience of parents as they navigate the juvenile court process? (Q2) Were the experiences of the courts different for those involved with PINS cases compared to those involved in delinquency cases? (Q3) Does race play a role in parental experiences of the court? (Q4) How does the experience of the court affect parents parenting practices and parents control over children? The study qualitatively analyzed the interviews of 40 parents as they passed through the system, as well as interviews with twenty court personnel who had interacted with these parents during their time in the juvenile court. Findings suggest that parents are influenced by the court experience. The court influences parental involvement in its process, by making parents its agents in the control of their children. While race and type of court case does influence their involvement, the regulation of the flow of information by the court has the greatest impact on parental involvement.