When parents learn their child has been accused of criminal activity, it can be a shock. Naturally, they’ll want to do everything in their power to help them moving forward.

Parents might wonder how an arrest and detention could affect their child’s life. The psychological effects of spending time in detention could stunt a person’s transition from their teenage lives to adulthood.

Who qualifies as a juvenile in Texas?

Texas considers anyone between 10 and 17 a juvenile delinquent if they commit a crime. Texas is also one of four states which incarcerates 17-year-olds as adults. Some people argue this policy pushes teens into the adult world too early.

No matter the age, any child put into the juvenile or adult justice system risks having negative psychological and emotional effects that may follow them the rest of their lives.

Length of incarceration

According to a longitudinal study done by medical researchers from the National Institute of Medicine, the psychological effects adults face are correlated with the amount of time they spent in prison as youths.

Their experiment consisted of 14,344 subjects from grades 7-12. Fourteen years later, they interviewed these same people who were now adults between the ages of 24-34. They split them up in categories based on how long they spent in prison. These time periods included:

  • No incarceration
  • Less than one month of incarceration
  • Between one month and one year of incarceration
  • More than one year of incarceration

Mental and physical health outcomes of incarceration

Researchers concluded that as the length of incarceration increased, the physical and mental health of the incarcerated youths as they became adults, decreased. Some of the ways it affected their mental and physical health included: increased suicidal thoughts, depressive symptoms and general health decreases.

What parents should know

In the unfortunate event in which you find your child arrested for a crime, it’s important to be aware of the following factors.

  • How the arrest process works
  • How the juvenile court works
  • Finding out whether your child will be held in detention
  • Finding out if the record will follow them into adulthood

Regardless of the situation, it’s important to stay by your child’s side and keep fighting for their rights to avoid them from becoming a statistic.