Reform should include tools for parents

Imagine if you will…

You’re a parent. Your high school student child has exhibited troublesome behavior, at home and away from home, but nothing you didn’t think he or she wouldn’t eventually grow out of. Still, at 18-years-old and close to graduating, problems haven’t faded.

Then there is an incident in school or around town, and all of a sudden your teen runs afoul of the law – even a minor thing. No longer a minor, even if still in high school, your child is arrested and faces charges that could cost actual jail time.

You’re at the end of your rope.

What do you do? Do you bail your child out and arrange for defense? Do you let your 18-year-old cool his heels for a few days? Do you let her stay in jail weeks before court? What do you do about impending graduation? What do you tell family, friends, neighbors? How do you get some kind of help for your child when he is no longer a “child?”

Does it make a difference if alcohol or drugs play a part in your child’s behavior?

What do you do?

Situations like this play out all over the country. Surely they play out here, given the prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse in the area. There probably isn’t a chapter in a parenting book that addresses the situation. It probably was never explored in an After School Special.

Whether it’s the national debate about sentencing, the local discussion of how to address Minot’s addiction challenge or any other forum on crime and criminal justice, it is urgent to not forget those people at risk, but whose situations are uncommon. This is particularly true when it comes to young people and to their parents who are desperate for help.

It will take a concerted, holistic effort to repair our systems – systems that are broken and in which there are gaps that push parents into having to make choices from among bad options.

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