Parental engagement in the juvenile justice system can have a significant impact on a child's involvement in the system, but parents with limited English skills often lack the resources needed to understand their rights and responsibilities.This report highlights a multiagency collaborative effort in New York City to help develop multilingual materials to help parents with limited English proficiency access the information they need to be active participants in the juvenile justice process, regardless of language.
When Parents Do Not Understand, Youth Are More Likely To Be Deeply Involved In The Juvenile Justice System
Findings & Stats
Disproportionate Minority Contact
The percentage of African American and Latino youth who are arrested, detained or incarcerated is up to four times higher than their proportions in the general population.
Community Services Needed
Focus group participants noted that parents sometimes agreed to having their child incarcerated so they could receive social services and counseling not available in their communities.
Lack of Resources
A lack of translated materials, written in plain language without institutional jargon, is a significant barrier to parental involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Statements & Quotations
Language barriers may cause court personnel to deem a family unable to supervise their child and therefore make the child unsuitable for release. Similarly, a parent may not understand court documents requesting a meeting or announcing a hearing and therefore not attend those appointments because the notice was not translated. Various studies have found that if parents are deemed "uncooperative" or "uninvolved," judges and other decision makers will select more stringent placement options for the youth.
Participants generally did not know the basic rights of those involved in the justice system. For example, they did not know that only defendants in the criminal or juvenile justice system had a right to a government-funded court-appointed attorney.
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