When a kid is in juvenile court, it could be for anything from truancy to assault.
And it’s ordinarily on that kid’s shoulders to change his behavior.
Now, Belmont County Juvenile Court is starting offering Parent Project, a nationwide program to teach parents how to deal with their kids’ destructive behaviors.
It’s a three-hour class, once a week for three hours a session, that teaches parents how to deal with whatever their teen is experiencing.
The class is just for the parents; their child does not attend.
“Everything from how can I get my kid to help around the house, how can I get them to stop screaming and swearing at me, social media issues will be addressed, and even more serious issues such as I think my child is addicted to drugs or I think my child may be involved with gang-related activity.”
Noah Atkinson, Belmont County CCAP director, says it teaches parents how to communicate better with their child.
“Just to deal with erratic behaviors, destructive behaviors or basic things like not waking up to go to school,” he noted.
He says parents of teens with behavior problems are so frustrated that they may scream, yell or even become physical.
Atkinson says this teaches them alternatives and even reduces their own stress levels.
“It’s geared for these parents to realize they’re not bad parents,” he said. “Everyone just needs help.”
People in Belmont County were open to the idea.
“I think it sounds like a great plan,” said Joyce Tyler-Smith of Blaine. “Anything that educates both parent and children is good. Our area needs it. It’s beneficial. I like it.”
“I’m sure that it all starts with the parents,” said William Meyers of Bethesda. “What kids learn from their parents is what they’ll do in life. So if they learn from their parents to be good, maybe they’ll be good.”
“And learning what to say and not to say, and having a bit of empathy, I think that’s great,” said Mike Beckett of Martins Ferry.
Parent Project has been used throughout the United States for 30 years.
It is the largest court-mandated juvenile diversion program in the country.
Judge Davies says it has proven through numerous studies to have solid results.
“Improvements in parents’ skill and knowledge,” he said. “A reduction in destructive behaviors by youth. And an increase of expressions of love in the home.”
The classes will be taught at Belmont College.
Parents of youths facing juvenile charges will be court-ordered to attend.
If they refuse, they could be found in contempt and even jailed.
Harrison County Juvenile Court will be partnering by referring participants and providing staff.