Juvenile crime is on the rise, and an increasing number of repeat offenders are weaving in and out of the court system every year. Because of the high proportion of youths in the justice system, court authorities are seeking answers when it comes to the rationale behind a juvenile’s behaviors. This is why forensic psychologists are essential pieces to the family court puzzle.
Why is Forensic Psychology Necessary?
Many juvenile offenders have underlying mental and emotional disorders, and some have been exposed to abuse, neglect or other family dysfunctions. A forensic psychologist can determine the mental health history and current psychological status of an offender, which is the first step toward providing rehabilitation and preventing future crime.
The court system frequently orders evaluations based on the prosecution’s request. In some cases, the minor’s attorney may suggest a mental health assessment as a defense tactic. The information gathered during an evaluation is vital because it helps define what type of rehabilitation would be best. A psychologist’s recommended treatment plans are often integrated into the juvenile sentencing.
How is the Evaluation Performed?
During an evaluation, the mental health professional typically reviews the criminal history of the juvenile, examines school records and explores the youth’s social activities and behaviors. Parents and other members of the family may be interviewed as well. Comprehensive psychological assessment is the key to finding a connection between criminal activity and emotional instability.
A psychologist may also administer personality tests or use other techniques to identify mental issues. Possible findings include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, sociopathic issues or even post-traumatic stress disorder. If your son or daughter is ordered to undergo this type of clinical evaluation, you may be surprised by the mental forces behind any behavioral problems.
What are the Most Common Treatment Plans?
A psychologist can suggest various therapeutic solutions for a judge to consider. Some juveniles only require one type of rehabilitation, while others need more extensive treatments. Standard, continual psychological exams, substance abuse management therapy and educational support are common recommendations. The juvenile court will either offer the proper treatment or authorize other authorities to provide the necessary aid.
Once a mental health examiner confirms a relationship between the youth’s criminal conduct and any psychological disorders, offering rehabilitation may decrease the likelihood of repeat behaviors. This is why psychologists and psychotherapists are indispensable for minors entering the justice system. If you have a child or young adult who has committed multiple criminal offenses, a psychological evaluation may be beneficial.