Juvenile Issues


drugs
Families are the most important thing in the world; so, when something as ugly as drugs sneak into the picture, you want to do whatever you can to stop it. Drug addiction can as early as the teen years of a child. In some cases, even earlier. It can be terrifying, but for now, you need to be as calm as possible. 1. Talk to your partner Start off by talking with your partner. This is a problem that should be handled by a family. Communication is key and will become the most important tool you have to combat drugs. Having a long and hard talk with your spouse will help you work together and tackle this problem as partners. 2. Figure out how to talk to your child Now that you have a partner by your side, you need to think about how to talk to your child. Most drug users will likely deny any blame. You need to be prepared for that. While it may be difficult and painful to collect proof, you may need to do this. This might also be something your child will get angry about because you are invading his or her privacy. You will have to decide on how you want to collect the evidence or proceed without it. Whether you have evidence or not, your child will likely retort in anger or retreat into themselves and perhaps stay quiet for the entire discussion. You need to remain calm and not shout at them, you need to make it feel like it is a safe place to share and this will hopefully show them that you are here to help. There are times they will ask you if you never tried drugs before, whatever your answer is, this is not an absolution from […]

My Child Is Doing Drugs, What Now?


Juvenile issues
When you are divorced, one of the most difficult adjustments to have is the custody of your children. Custody is always up to the family court. As long as there is no violence, abuse, or any form of negligence was brought to the child, visitation rights will be awarded to the other parent who does not have the primary custody of the child. It is also beneficial to both of the parents if they share child support, not just financially but also emotionally. But, what if your child, who is under your primary custody, refuses to visit the other parent? Understanding What is the Problem There are a number of factors affecting the sentiments of the child towards the other parent. One thing to be considered is age. Most of the time, 4-year old kids can be dealt with easily compared to your 16-year old child. Teenagers have a different way of thinking. Sometimes, they just prefer hanging around with friends than with their parents. This age bracket is also prone to anger and more likely to become rebellious especially during divorce. Another factor to consider is the child’s environment. Are they with the right peers? If they are still between ages 4-9, for instance, are they properly mentored by the people around them? Are they saying bad things about your ex-spouse? As how all problems should be approached, talk about it with your child. Know the reasons of the child on why he or she doesn’t want to see the other parent. Is it because of fear or anger to the other parent? Is he or she influenced by the people around them? Communicate with your Ex-spouse Some things might be not doing well between the both of you, but for the sake of the child, it is best […]

When Your Child Refuses to Visit the Other Parent



Texas Primary Custody
The Texas Family Code is clear that children and youth must attend permanency review hearings, and places additional duties on attorneys ad litem, judges, and the child welfare agency to meet with children in advance of court hearings.  Despite many improvements over the past several years, Texas courts still do not consistently engage youth in meaningful participation in the court process. Ensuring that youth voice is heard and considered continues to be a challenge.  This lack of youth involvement results in foster youth feeling disconnected from the process, and judges not reaping the benefit of their input. Q:  What does the law require? A:  Chapter 263 of the Texas Family Code mandates that all children who are in the conservatorship of DFPS attend all permanency hearings.  Specifically, Section 263.302 states that the child shall attend each permanency hearing, unless the court specifically excuses the child’s attendance, and that the court shall consult with the child in a developmentally appropriate manner regarding the child’s permanency plan, if the child is four years of age or older and the court determines it is in the best interest of the child. Q:  Are there any exceptions to 263.302? A:  Yes, the judge can make an individual determination that excuses that child from attending a specific hearing. However, issuing a blanket order excusing a specific child or all children from attending permanency hearings, is not considered best practice. Q:  Why isn’t it sufficient for me to speak for my client since I am his/her legal representative? A:  There have been many studies by the ABA as well as Court Improvement Programs around the country on this singular issue, all with similar findings that foster youth repeatedly express the desire to be involved in decisions about their lives.  Youth involvement contributes to the young person’s […]

The Importance of Youth Voice in Court Proceedings


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I was reading an article today by Lana Shadwick. In it, she details a situation where a 13 year old boy is attempting to utilize social media to speak out about potential abuse that occurred at a foster home. His attempts to speak out are ultimately shut down by the judge in the case for unclear, but one might assume, confidentiality reasons. The full article can be read here, and it is fairly graphic in its detailing of some rather serious abuse allegations, so if that is something that would trigger you, please be aware before viewing it. My number one problem with this particular case (well maybe number 2 after some pretty horrible abuse) is that presumably the reason that there are such strict laws about confidentiality in these cases is to protect children, whereas in this situation all they seem to be accomplishing is stifling the free speech of a child without a clear argument to how it protects children. For the most part, in the CPS process, the protection of children is treated as the goal, and the children themselves largely just as objects to be protected. There is a certain necessity to this idea, but at the same time, there should be some common sense and rationality when applying standards. All information about a child in these cases is confidential (presumably to protect the child), but unlike confidentiality as it pertains to adults, there is no mechanism for a child to waive is due to the idea that a child can’t properly consent to such a thing (which is probably as it should be). However, even if you take the somewhat rational stance that a 13 year old does not have the capacity to protect his or her own best interests and thus can’t waive confidentiality, the courts and the process […]

Free Speech vs. Confidentiality: Is it time to extend free speech protections to children?



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There is always somewhat of a disconnect between lawmakers, prosecutors, judges, and modern society. Nowhere has that been more apparent to me than the recent case where a Texas child who is currently in jail faces an eight year prison sentence because of a threatening joke in an online game. Two things stand out here. First of which is the lesson for young people (or even old people!) that while you may feel like you are escaping reality while playing online, reality has a way of finding you. The online world is becoming increasingly LESS anonymous, and that trend is likely to continue. While the internet used to be a haven for free speech (even dangerous and vile free speech), the increasing ease of tracking people online has caused an increase in prosecutions for crimes committed in the online world. In this situation, the term “crime” is somewhat loosely applied, but it has applicability to other areas as well, and it is important for EVERYONE to be mindful of their actions. The second thing is more obvious, and that is another example of overzealous prosecution. I am assuming (perhaps wrongly) that the reason this is being pursued is the borderline hysteria over school shootings, however, the context of these things needs to be considered. If you subpoenaed a chat log of a single day of chat for this particular game, you would likely find MANY incidences of even more vile and threatening things being said. Either we determine as a society that ALL of these incidences are worthy of jailing people, or none of them. The idea of selectively prosecuting things like this is completely arbitrary at best, and malicious at worst, and leaving those decisions up to prosecutors seems like a recipe for disaster, when clearly the prosecutors in this […]

A Child’s Right to Free Speech On the Internet