Juvenile Justice

Paving the Way to Positive Futures

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My child won’t go to school – now what?

  • Each school district has different attendance policies, contact your school to find out what is considered excused vs unexcused
  • After the juvenile has accumulated 5 unexcused absences, the school district can refer them to the Regional Office of Education (ROE) for truancy services
  • If the juvenile continues to have unexcused absences while working with ROE, they can be referred to the State’s Attorney’s Office once they reach 9
  • A petition is filed with the court, the juvenile and parent will receive a summons to appear before a judge
  • The juvenile has the right to an attorney, one will be appointed at the initial court appearance if a private attorney has not been hired
  • See the Youth tab for court etiquette and tips
  • Responsibilities
    • Transport the juvenile to court, on time
    • Remain with the juvenile and appear before the judge with them
    • Facilitate communication between the juvenile and their attorney
    • Communicate with truancy caseworker if the juvenile refuses to comply with court orders, attend school, attend court, and/or follow household rules
    • Contact law enforcement and truancy caseworker if the juvenile runs away/goes missing. It is against the law for the juvenile to be locked/kicked out of the home
    • Assist the juvenile in completing court ordered services
    • Provide all requested documentation to the school, such as doctor notes and vaccination records
    • Ensure all costs and fees are paid

Early Risk Assessment Project (ERAP)

Early Risk Assessment Project (ERAP) is a program used in DeKalb County to help keep low risk and first time offender juveniles out of the court system. This voluntary program is offered to juveniles who have little to no criminal history and who have not been arrested for an offense involving a sex-based incident, use of a firearm, or violence.

If the juvenile is offered ERAP and they decide to participate in the program, there are two partner agencies to choose from – Youth Service Bureau (YSB) and Adventure Works. Once the juvenile has been assigned an agency, a caseworker will give them an assessment to help determine their overall risk of reoffending and what services will best assist them in making better choices in the future.

Upon successful completion of ERAP, the juvenile’s case will be closed without ever going to court. If the juvenile decides not to participate in the program, changes their mind about participating after they start, or stops actively working their services, the case will proceed through the court system. Please contact DeKalb County Court Services with any questions at 815-895-7199.


Every juvenile who is brought before the court will be given an assessment to help Court Services better understand how they can best work with each individual. Most of the time, this assessment happens during the Social History Investigation. If the Court does not order a Social to be done, the assessment will be given by the juvenile’s Probation Officer within 90 days of sentencing.

Delinquency vs Normal kid stuff

Parents are often worried or confused by changes in their teenagers. The following information should help parents understand this phase of development. Each teenager is an individual with a unique personality and special interests. However, there are also numerous developmental issues that everyone faces during the adolescent years. While they can be frustrating for adults, these normal challenges should not be considered delinquent behaviors unless they are so severe that they become illegal. The normal feelings and behaviors of the middle school and early high school adolescent are described below.

Finding Themselves

  • Struggling with their sense of identity
  • Feeling awkward or strange about one’s self and one’s body image
  • Focus on self, alternating between high expectations and poor self-esteem
  • Interests and clothing style influenced by peer group
  • Moodiness
  • Improved ability to use speech to express one’s self
  • Realization that parents are not perfect
  • Less overt affection shown to parents, with occasional rudeness
  • Complaints that parents interfere with independence
  • Tendency to return to childish behavior, particularly when stressed
  • Mostly interested in the present with limited thoughts of the future
  • Intellectual interests expand and gain in importance
  • Greater ability to do work (physical, mental, emotional)


  • Display shyness, blushing, and modesty
  • Girls develop physically sooner than boys
  • Increased interest in sex
  • Concerns regarding physical and sexual attractiveness to others
  • Frequently changing relationships
  • Worries about being perceived as normal

Morals, Values, and Self-Direction

  • Rule and limit testing
  • Capacity for abstract thought
  • Development of ideals and selection of role models
  • Experimentation with alcohol and drugs

Young teenagers do vary slightly from the above descriptions, but the feelings and behaviors are, in general, considered normal for each stage of adolescence. There will be a time when a teenager is pushing the limits, but that is why it is important for adults to recognize the difference between normal adolescent behavior and juvenile delinquency. Being understanding and open minded can help build a closer relationship with the youth and make the road to adulthood easier for the adolescent and the parents or community.

What is the difference between normal adolescent behavior and delinquent adolescent behavior?

Juvenile delinquency is when a minor participates in an illegal behavior. Delinquent behavior can be noticed and labeled when the normal adolescent behavior listed above is excessive or being abused. Below are some signs/examples of adolescent behavior taking a turn into delinquency.

Changing appearance can be concerning if it’s accompanied by problems at school or other negative changes in behavior, or if there is evidence of cutting and self-harm or extreme weight changes.

Constant escalation of arguments, violence at home, skipping school, getting in fights, and contacts with law enforcement are all red flag behaviors that go beyond the norm of teenage rebellion.

Rapid changes in personality, falling grades, and persistent sadness, anxiety, or sleep problems could indicate depression, bullying, or another emotional health issue. Take any talk about suicide seriously.

When alcohol or drug use becomes habitual, especially when it’s accompanied by problems at school or home, it may indicate a substance abuse issue or other underlying problems.

Sudden changes in their peer group (especially if the new friends encourage negative behavior), refusing to comply with reasonable rules and boundaries, or avoiding the consequences of bad behavior by lying. Teens spending too much time alone can also indicate problems.

Warning signs that a teen may become violent include:

  • Playing with weapons of any kind
  • Obsessively playing violent video games, watching violent movies, or visiting websites that promote or glorify violence
  • Threatening or bullying others
  • Fantasizing about acts of violence they would like to commit
  • Being violent or cruel to pets or other animals

How can parents/adults help?

If you identify red flag behaviors in your teen, consult a doctor, counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional for help in finding appropriate treatment. If the teen is on probation call their probation officer.

DeKalb County mental health agencies:

Family Service Agency – http://www.fsadekalbcounty.org/cfc

Kishwaukee Behavioral Health – http://www.kishhealth.org/services/behavioral-health/

Braden Counseling Center – http://bradencenter.com/

LivingRite – http://www.livingrite.org/

Changing the lifestyle at home may help as well:

Establish rules and consequences together

Uncover what’s behind the anger. Does your teen just need someone to talk to and listen without judgment or advice? Find common ground when discussing issues

Be aware of anger warning signs and triggers. Once they are realized by you and the teen, both of you can work together to avoid these areas or learn to control the reaction they bring out.

Help your teen find healthy and enjoyable ways to relieve anger

Give your teen space to retreat; do not ride them when they are angry

Manage your own anger when dealing with your teen

Expect rejection from your teen do not get upset but rather wait until they are ready to open up

Drugs and Alcohol Resources and Information

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