Every child will act out at one point or another; this is a common stepping point toward learning boundaries, respecting authority, and knowing the right and wrong ways to approach a situation. However, this sort of behavior is unacceptable as your child moves toward adolescence and can lead to your teen being arrested.
As children get older, they learn how to engage with others appropriately and how to communicate and acceptably convey their feelings. There are times, however, that their conduct exceeds boundaries; typically, the earlier this is caught, the better. If you delay and wait until your child reaches adolescence to address conduct issues, you might be dealing with conduct disorder.
So how do you know if your child is dealing with conduct disorder? Some tell-tale symptoms include breaking (or not following) rules at home or school, being overly aggressive, excessively lying, bullying, stealing, not attending school, therapy, or extracurricular activities, or experimenting with drugs and alcohol, to name a few.
If you think your child is dealing with conduct disorder, you must speak with a physician immediately. Those specializing in mental and emotional behaviors will evaluate your child, discuss their health history with you, and discuss the frequency and intensity of symptoms. From there, proper treatment can be determined, and you and your teen can manage this disorder appropriately.
On the flip side, if your teen doesn’t get the help they need, their behavior can lead them into situations that could get them in trouble; breaking and entering, stealing items from stores, and vandalizing property are all actions that can get your teen arrested.
Thankfully, there are some steps that you can take if your teen has been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Let’s take a look at a few factors to consider if this has occurred.
- Ensure that your child is safe. This comes first and foremost before taking any other action. Are they on their way home? Are they in a facility for youth or in county jail? Determine your child’s whereabouts and how long they will be there (if they aren’t coming home immediately); then, you can determine when to see them.
- If there is a need, hire an attorney for your teen. This isn’t necessary for every scenario that your teen might get themselves into; speak with the officials in the court system to determine if a lawyer is essential for your teen’s particular situation – they might be needed for disorderly conduct charges, but not something like skipping school or therapy sessions.
- Schedule a legal consultation. If you know your teen needs a lawyer’s representation in the courtroom, you’ll need to schedule a consultation with one first. During this time, you can ask questions, clarify what will occur in the courtroom, and figure out how you’d like your teen to be represented. If your teen has been arrested, they have legal options – including using a public defender, if desired.
- Maintain calm. This can be a difficult step, especially if you weren’t expecting your teen to be in the position they are in. Although it might not seem like it at the time, your child is looking at you to be calm during the storm.
- Avoid the lecture route and instead, encourage your teen. This can also be a difficult step; however, they will often learn from their mistakes when moving through the judicial system and the people they encounter along the way. It can be frustrating to be in this position, but your teen needs you to be present and know that you are with them in their journey.
- Enroll your child in any court-ordered programs or therapies. Owning responsibility for their actions and following through on court-ordered programs will benefit your teen and show the court that they are willing to get back on the right track and make modifications to their lifestyle. Whatever is suggested in court, sign your child up!
- Get your teen help. Boarding school is an excellent option for those families whose children may need more guidance or discipline than is currently being provided. Options such as residential treatment centers, day centers, and even military boarding programs are all available and should be explored to see which would be a better fit for your teen.
If you are dealing with a disorderly conduct teen that needs your help, don’t give up. Many programs and treatment options are available to help you and your family get back on track. Remember that your teen is just that – a teenager, and they aren’t typically charged in court the same way an adult would. Reach out to medical professionals for assistance in treating disorderly conduct, and reinforce good behavior as often as possible!