Three Things To Know About Courts and Childhood Insolence

Written by Christi Hayes and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Rude or disrespectful behavior is something that most parents have been forced to confront in their children at one time or another. The solution might be as simple as a few harsh words in the way of correction or sending the child to a time out. Insolence and other forms of acting out that are beyond the control of a parent might require intervention by the legal system.

Depending upon the state in which you live, either family court or juvenile court has jurisdiction over cases involving children whose insolence and unruly behavior has put them beyond the control of their parents. Some state laws refer to these as persons in need of supervision (PINS) proceedings.

Starting a PINS proceeding   

State laws give parents the right to file a petition with the appropriate court when insolence and ungovernable behavior puts their child beyond their control. The maximum age for a child to be brought to court under a PINS proceeding is usually between 16 and 18 years of age depending upon the law in the particular state in which the child is living. 

The parents start the process by filing a petition with the appropriate court alleging ungovernable behavior. Ungovernable behavior usually includes the following: 

. Refusing to go to school

. Running away from home

. Disobeying parents

. Alcohol and drug use

. Theft and other unlawful behaviors committed in the home 

A court is required to conduct a hearing at which evidence is presented to prove the allegations contained in the PINS petition. The child has the right to be represented by an attorney and to offer evidence in refute the allegations.   

Results you can may expect from filing a PINS petition   

Judges in family court or juvenile court can order that a child proven to be a person in need of supervision be removed from his or her home. The judge can direct that the child be placed in foster care or in a residential facility where the he or she can receive the supervision and treatment that is needed. Judges can also order that the child return home under the supervision of a probation officer with provisions made for counseling and substance abuse treatment as required by the facts of each case. 

Courts hearing PINS cases might suspect that the problems of a child are the fault of the parents. For example, evidence uncovered during an investigation or at the hearing on the PINS petition might that the fact a child was not attending school was actually the fault of the parents. In such a case, judges have the authority to substitute a petition alleging neglect against the parents in place of the PINS petition that was originally filed. 

The role of courts when dealing with childhood insolence

The role of the courts in cases involving insolence, misbehavior and other conduct on the part of children is to make services and resources available to help the family. These types of proceedings are not intended to punish children or to be a replacement for parental controls and guidance. Their purpose is to support the efforts of the parents to gain control over their children and put an end to the insolence and unruly behavior that affected the family unit.

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