When troubled youths get arrested for breaking into someone’s car or selling drugs out of a friend’s house, people often ask, “Where are the parents?” Wednesday, about a dozen were in Mobile County, Al., Juvenile Judge Edmond Naman’s new Parent Responsibility Court, reports the Mobile Press-Register. Their children, convicted of everything from burglary to assault, hadn’t completed the terms of their probation. Naman ordered parents of 40 children to show up. Only parents or guardians in 11 cases appeared. For the others, he signed arrest warrants.
“Do you know how many crying mothers I have to see in a week, in a month, in a year?” the judge told one mother who had failed to see that her son, convicted of several car break-ins, met with his probation officer. “What real prospects does your son have at this point?” he asked the sobbing mother. “We are trying to get him some help, but you’ve got to do your part,” Naman added. Most older teens who show up on felony charges aren’t in trouble for the first time. Almost all have been convicted of lesser offenses and have been sentenced at some point to probation – which, in the juvenile system, often requires counseling, drug treatment and a renewed focus on school or work. Many parents don’t help enforce those conditions or take their children’s problems seriously until it’s too late, Naman said.