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How Does Being on Probation Affect Teens?

By Martha Holden ; Updated September 26, 2017
Probation helps teens transform into law-abiding citizens.

The U.S. legal system attends to juvenile offenders by putting them on probation and assigning probation officers to assess them. As a parent, you should ensure your teen attends all court hearings and any community service duties assigned. Additionally, you should provide guidance to help your teen reform into a law-abiding citizen.

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The national legal system does not always provide proper communication channels between teens and officers, which can affect confidentiality and a teen’s confidence in the legal system, states Marcia Satterthwaite, a social worker. Teens can find it difficult to express themselves, and often develop a negative attitude toward the system. Probation officers deal with up to 40 cases at a time, which affects the time they dedicate to individual teens on their watch. This does not give them enough time to communicate with the teens and understand their points of view.

Continued Crime

Teens on probation, who are often in frequent contact with other troubled teens, are more likely to engage in crime as adults and end up in jail, according to research by Psychology Professor Richard Tremblay. The interaction between teens on probations leads to relationships that may lead to further engagement in crime. Additionally, probation officers often do not have sufficient resources to help teens transform fully into law-abiding citizen during the probation period, which further contributes to their continuous engagement in crime.


Violation of probation can lead to imprisonment under state laws. The risk of imprisonment may affect a teen’s ability to lead a normal life, as he could be constantly afraid of being in the wrong. Teens on probation will often lock themselves in the house and avoid social situations; this can affect their social lives and their ability to socially mature. Additionally, teens may suffer from anxiety because of their fear of going to jail.


Probation does not always give its intended results due to failures in the legal system and an overload on probation officers. However, you can help your teen benefit from probation by talking to her about positive behavior and inculcating a positive attitude during the probation period. Help her understand that actions have consequences, but she can always control future actions. Additionally, ensure she attends all community service activities to avoid legal consequences, such as fines and jail time.

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About the Author

Martha Holden began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous publications. Holden holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Houston.

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