Parents' involvement in youth justice proceedings: perspectives of youth and parents

Description of the Study

The present study investigated parents' involvement in youth justice proceedings from the perspective of both youth and parents. Seventy young people who had come into contact with the youth justice system and 19 parents were interviewed about their experiences with parents' involvement in youths' legal case. To obtain a detailed description of parental involvement, participants were interviewed about their (or their child's) youth justice system experiences from the time of arrest through to disposition, including their awareness of youths' right to contact parents during police proceedings, reliance on parents as a source of support, and perceptions of parents' roles during police and court proceedings. Perceptions about parents' involvement were compared across the two legal contexts (police versus court proceedings) to explore whether young people's and parents' experiences differed depending on the legal situation.

The present study also aimed to investigate factors that might be related to parents' level of involvement. Specifically, we examined whether variables such as young person's age, cognitive ability, legal understanding, legal reasoning, arrest history, and conviction history were related to parents' overall involvement. Parental factors, such as cognitive functioning, legal understanding and reasoning, socioeconomic status, and length of time in Canada were also important to explore in relation to parental involvement.

Finally, it was important to examine whether extent of parental involvement was related to legal outcomes for young people at various stages in the youth justice process, including whether they waived their right to silence, were released or detained after being charged, were granted bail, as well as judicial outcomes (e.g., conviction, disposition).

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