Teenagers who get into legal trouble may face charges and ramification that can last for years -- or even the rest of their lives. They may not fully understand the seriousness of their actions in advance. But it does not matter if they regret it when they reach their 30s if those charges are already on their record.
To understand why this happens, take a look at these four reasons that teenagers break the law:
1. Neglect at home
Certainly, this is not to blame parents for their teens' behavior. Plenty of excellent parents still get that call from the authorities. However, when children really get neglected, it does contribute.
Parents need to set a good example and teach the children about good decision-making and respecting the law. They need to remember that teens are still growing and developing, both mentally and emotionally, and that can lead to poor choices. Parents can often head these choices off and work to put a stop to criminal behavior before it starts.
2. Low economic status
Teens who feel trapped in low-income homes may feel pressured to commit certain crimes, such as theft. They may feel like they do not have anything to lose or like they have no other way to get what they want. They understand that they lack some of the advantages of their peers, and they see crime as a way to make up for that.
3. Substance abuse
When teens use alcohol and drugs, it can influence their decision-making -- which, as noted above, may already suffer due to their development. They can make poor choices that make no sense later on and that they regret tremendously. The substances cloud their judgment.
On top of that, if the teen becomes addicted, that too can push them into criminal activity as they try to get what they need to satisfy the addiction. That could mean breaking the law to get the substances themselves -- even alcohol is illegal at their age -- or it could mean engaging in criminal activity to get the money they need to buy those substances.
4. Peer pressure
Unfortunately, peer pressure still has a tremendous impact, even when parents tell teens to resist it. That desire to fit in with their friends and even people they actively dislike is overwhelming. They may break the law to impress their peers or members of the opposite sex. They may also do it to avoid being mocked or feeling embarrassed.
Remember, teens can make mistakes that influence their entire lives. To protect their future, they have to know what legal defense options they have, and their parents must also understand their rights and what steps they can take.