What diversions are appropriate for FWSN cases?Perhaps more so in FWSN cases than delinquency cases, the reasons the child did what they did are critical. These reasons include what is going on in the home or at the school or both. Why is a child running away? Why is the child talking back to a parent or fighting with siblings? Why isn’t the child going to school or following the school rules? Oftentimes these behaviors are an indication of some broader problem at home or at school. A child might steal something because he/she thought they could get away with it or they might break a window because they thought it would be fun or because they just acted on impulse. FWSN misconduct however often has its roots in the child’s surrounding environment and they may not be resolved simply with a few hours of community service.
For truancy cases for example, the JRB needs to find out why the child is missing school. Are they being awakened in time to go to school? Are they permitted to stay up so late that they are too tired to go to school? Are they being given sufficient supervision at home to get to school on time? Are they ashamed to go to school because they don’t have clean clothes or they have some personal problem or condition? Are they afraid to go to school because they are bullied in school or because they cannot do the work? Do they have undiagnosed vision or hearing problems that make them incapable of doing the work? Is there a conflict with the teacher? These issues need to be explored and resolved.
Mediation with a rival sibling or another student from the school or the bus may also yield positive results.
Diversions, other than counseling, that have also been successful in the past have been to prepare a list or schedule of household chores that both the child and parent agree to. The case manager can mediate such a project if necessary. A daily routine schedule can be developed with school, homework, bed time and wake up time, hours of computer/phone access and other activities specified to inject some order into the child’s life. Having the child maintain a written journal of “good decisions,” where the child writes down something anytime they make a decision that would be considered a “good decision,” might also help. This would make the child aware of such choices and show the child that they do make the right ones from time to time.
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