Week 2 – Jennifer Scott

Juvenile Court Probation Officer Report on Jennifer Scott’s Case
Simone Ross
Working with Juvenile Offenders
December 8, 2023
Juvenile Court Probation Officer Report on Jennifer Scott’s Case
Jennifer Scott, a 15-year-old bi-racial female with ADHD, Substance Abuse Disorder (Marijuana), Conduct Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is currently facing juvenile court charges for Runaway and Felony Auto Theft. This report aims to identify major interpersonal, familial, and environmental risk factors that contribute to Jennifer’s circumstances.
i. Interpersonal Risk Factors
Jennifer Scott contends with several interpersonal risk factors that significantly influence her behavior and contribute to her involvement in the juvenile justice system. First, parental loss and abandonment represent a profound interpersonal risk factor for Jennifer. Having lost her biological father and experiencing the unknown whereabouts of her mother, Jennifer faces the emotional toll of abandonment. This absence of parental figures can lead to feelings of rejection, loss, and an inherent sense of instability, influencing her self-esteem and emotional well-being (Aneesh et al., 2023). The lack of consistent parental support can contribute to a sense of detachment, potentially leading Jennifer to seek belonging and support in unconventional ways, such as associating with gangs or engaging in delinquent activities.
Second, Jennifer’s history of being sexually abused constitutes another significant interpersonal risk factor. The trauma associated with sexual abuse can have profound and lasting effects on an individual’s mental health and behavior (Sigurdardottir & Halldorsdottir, 2021). Victims often experience feelings of shame, guilt, and vulnerability, which may manifest in various maladaptive coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse and engagement in delinquent activities. Jennifer’s history of sexual abuse, even though reported without official services received, underscores the need for trauma-informed interventions and support to address the emotional and psychological impact of such experiences.
Substance abuse serves as another interpersonal risk factor for Jennifer. Initiated into marijuana use at the age of 11, Jennifer’s substance abuse may function as a maladaptive coping mechanism to numb emotional pain or escape from the challenges she faces. Substance abuse not only exacerbates her vulnerability to delinquent behaviors but also poses additional health risks and complicates her overall rehabilitation. Moreover, Jennifer’s history of living with older females and strained relationships, particularly with her grandmother, introduces interpersonal challenges. These strained relationships may contribute to feelings of rejection or alienation, influencing her behavior and decision-making.
ii. Familial Risk Factors
Jennifer Scott contents with significant familial risk factors that contribute to her involvement in the juvenile justice system. First, the lack of parental support or involvement stands out as a critical familial risk factor. Jennifer’s maternal grandmother serves as her legal guardian, and her biological mother’s whereabouts are unknown. The absence of a consistent and actively engaged parent figure in Jennifer’s life may contribute to her feelings of abandonment and increase the likelihood of engaging in delinquent behaviors, such as repeated runaway incidents. The lack of a stable parental presence can impact Jennifer’s sense of security and increase her vulnerability to external negative influences.
Second, poor parental supervision exacerbates the familial risk factors in Jennifer’s life. The International Youth Survey indicates that adolescents with parents who lack awareness of their activities are more prone to delinquent behavior. In Jennifer’s case, her grandmother’s advanced age and, possibly, traditional beliefs may hinder adequate supervision. This deficiency in supervision can contribute to Jennifer’s involvement in criminal activities and association with gang members. Additionally, a family history of criminal or gang activity, particularly involving Jennifer’s older brother, further intensifies the familial risk factors. Jennifer’s exposure to her brother’s criminal and gang-related activities may normalize such behaviors and contribute to her delinquent conduct.
iii. Environmental Risk Factors
Jennifer Scott faces substantial environmental risk factors that significantly contribute to her involvement in delinquent activities. First, exposure to criminal and gang activity is a prominent environmental risk factor. Jennifer is an associate of known gang members, and her older brother is directly involved in gang activities. Growing up in an environment where criminal and gang behavior is prevalent can normalize such activities for Jennifer, increasing the likelihood of her engagement in delinquent behaviors. Exposure to criminal and gang influences can shape her perceptions of acceptable behavior and contribute to her criminal associations, such as the recent auto theft incident involving known gang members.
Second, living in a rural area with limited resources and services amplifies the environmental risk factors affecting Jennifer. Rural communities often face challenges such as restricted access to educational and mental health services, limited employment opportunities, and insufficient community programs. These limitations can hinder Jennifer’s access to support systems and opportunities for positive engagement, leaving her susceptible to negative influences present in her immediate environment. The lack of resources in rural settings may exacerbate the difficulties in addressing Jennifer’s complex needs and contribute to her continued involvement in delinquent activities.
Inconsistent school attendance serves as another environmental risk factor for Jennifer. Due to her history of runaway incidents and the resultant lack of consistent school attendance, Jennifer misses out on educational opportunities and positive social interactions within a structured environment. Inconsistent school attendance disrupts her academic progress, limiting her prospects for future success and increasing the likelihood of continued involvement in delinquent activities.
Comparison with Adult Risk Factor Identification
Juvenile risk factor identification differs significantly from that for adults due to the developmental stage and unique vulnerabilities of adolescents. While adults may be assessed based on their established criminal history and individual choices, juveniles are influenced by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors still shaping their personalities and decision-making processes (Timmer et al., 2022). Identifying risk factors in juveniles requires a comprehensive understanding of their family dynamics, peer relationships, and exposure to trauma, recognizing the potential for intervention and rehabilitation.
Unlike adults, juveniles are more malleable and responsive to intervention strategies, emphasizing the importance of early identification and targeted prevention efforts. The focus in juvenile risk assessment often extends beyond criminal acts to include factors such as family support, school engagement, and mental health, reflecting the potential for positive redirection (Timmer et al., 2022). Recognizing these distinctions allows for tailored interventions that consider the unique needs and developmental trajectories of young individuals, aiming not only to address delinquent behaviors but also to promote rehabilitation and positive growth.
In summary, Jennifer Scott, a 15-year-old facing juvenile court charges, contends with profound interpersonal challenges, including parental loss, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and strained relationships. Familial risk factors, such as the lack of parental support and poor supervision, exacerbate her vulnerability, along with a family history of criminal activity. Environmental risks, encompassing exposure to criminal influences, rural living limitations, and inconsistent school attendance, further contribute to her delinquency. Juvenile risk factor identification differs from adult risk factor identification by focusing on developmental nuances and intervention opportunities. Recognizing Jennifer’s multifaceted risks allows for targeted interventions, promoting rehabilitation and positive growth in her unique journey through the juvenile justice system.
Aneesh, A., Sia, S. K., & Kumar, P. (2023). Parent-child relationship and psychological well-being of adolescents: Role of emotion regulation and social competence.  Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 1-19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10911359.2023.2221321
Sigurdardottir, S., & Halldorsdottir, S. (2021). Persistent suffering: the serious consequences of sexual violence against women and girls, their search for inner healing and the significance of the# MeToo movement.  International journal of environmental research and public health,  18(4), 1849. https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fijerph18041849
Timmer, A., Antonaccio, O., French, M. T., & Botchkovar, E. V. (2022). Youth Decision-Making and Crime: Influences of Stressful Conditions, Adverse Mental and Physical States, and Conventional Activities.  Crime & Delinquency. https://doi.org/10.1177/00111287221102057


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