What are status offenses & delinquencies?
Recent changes in the legal terminology associated with Georgia’s Juvenile Code should be noted as researchers navigate recent and historical documents, books, practitioner’s materials and web resources related to Georgia’s laws governing children, juvenile courts and juvenile justice.
In many historical publications, researcher will see the term status offense. A status offense refers to misbehavior by children under 18 years old. Sanctions may be imposed upon children determined to be offenders by Juvenile Court. In Georgia, the classes of status offenses formerly included truant youth, unruly children and runaways. The current Juvenile Code refers to status offenders as “children in need of services” (CHINS). The reclassification of this body of offenses also came with a requirement for the court to take a holistic approach to address any underlying problems that led to the child’s misconduct.
Conversely, a delinquency is the more familiar class of crimes that would be deemed a misdemeanor or felony if committed by an adult. Instead of detention as the primary means of punishment, juvenile court judges, case managers, and attorneys now incorporate the services of community-based organizations to reduce recidivism and better address underlying issues and needs of the children involved.
A host of federal and state government agencies provide resources to support children and families. These agencies address legal and policy issues, funding, provide free educational resources, and often render direct services. The common goal of most federal and state agencies is to raise awareness, and ultimately, promote the safety and well-being of children.
Many of the following organizations offer seminars, workshops, and continuing legal education in addition to direct services to improve the mental and physical health, safety and overall well-being of our nation’s youth. Current awareness of children’s advocacy agencies is important as a holistic approach is often required to ensure the delivery of adequate services and resources to children.
Below is a selected list of Georgia and National organizations. For a more comprehensive list of service providers, visit the United Way 2-1-1 Information & Referral Service online or dial 2-1-1 anytime, 24 hours/7 days a week.
Barton Child Law and Policy Center: provides legal representation and advocacy for juvenile court-involved children.
Children's Restoration Network: provides services for homeless children and mothers.
Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential: promotes programming to support and improve adolescent health and teen pregnancy prevention.
Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice: provides probation supervision and detention to hold youth offenders accountable for their actions and to deliver rehabilitative services.
Georgia Department of Human Resources: provides child care assistance, child protective and foster care services, adoption services and general public assistance to aid families in need and TeenWork (see the DFCS services page for more details).
Truancy Intervention Project Georgia, Inc.: an early intervention program that pairs volunteers with children and families to identify and advocate for resources and services necessary to reduce chronic school absenteeism.
Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative: Helps young people, ages 14 to 25 who are aging out of foster care, to make a successful transition to independence and adulthood. “Initiative is working in the following sites: Atlanta, Georgia; Hartford/Bridgeport Connecticut; Des Moines, Iowa; Indianapolis, Indiana, Maine; Detroit/Wayne County and Northern Michigan; Hawaii, Omaha, Nebraska, Nashville, Tennessee; Rhode Island; San Diego, California; and Tampa, Florida.”