Low self esteem, poor-decision making, dysfunctional families, poor communication skills, and associations with negative peer groups are all characteristics of delinquent youth (Journal, 1993). The Ohio Cooperative Extension Service Juvenile Diversion programs were designed to address these characteristics in juveniles. The family unit and peer association are the primary social influence on juvenile behavior and the Ohio Extension program focuses on educating families and placing juvenile offenders in programs with positive peer influences.
The Ohio juvenile diversion program began in 1986 and was developed by diversion agents who wanted to help juveniles develop positive self esteem, personal values, interpersonal communication skills, ways to deal with stress and peer pressure, and skills in setting goals (Journal, 1993). Juvenile participants can enter this juvenile diversion program by being mandated by a judge, recommended by a school counselor, through a probation officer, or recommended by a parent. Quite often the choice to enroll a juvenile in this program is selected over placing the juvenile into a detention facility. When enrolling in the Ohio juvenile diversion program the juvenile enrolls in 4-H and completes a project. A club meeting accompanies each session, which enables juveniles to develop leadership skills by conducting a business meeting.
Parents are referred to the program by Children and Family Services, juvenile probation officers, or sent by the juvenile court judge. Each jurisdiction of the diversion program determines what process the family of the juvenile will participate in. Parenting programs help families address issues that either initiated or reinforced the delinquent behavior conducted by the juvenile. According to The Journal of Extension (1993), “a recent study found that Ohio juvenile judges felt that programs for parents should develop positive family support, without which juveniles would quickly return to previous behaviors, thus gaining little by their interaction with the court system.”
Programs for parents include experiences that enhance the self-esteem of the adults involved with parenting juveniles. These programs develop communication, negotiation, and decision making skills, identify styles of parenting, and establish...