Parents of Juvenile Offenders Don’t Lose Hope

Mothers only want the best for their children and are often Faculty photo of Caitlin Cavanaghtheir biggest supporter – saying (and sometimes believing) that their children can become anything they dream of. A new study conducted by Caitlin Cavanagh (an MSU CJ Professor) finds that a mother’s hopes and dreams for her child are unshakable, even when their child is charged with a crime as a juvenile offender.

Dr. Cavanagh’s research focused on juvenile offenders and their mothers in the metro areas of Philadelphia, Orange County, and New Orleans; spanning over the period of three years. All of the participants in the study were first time juvenile offenders of low and moderate level crimes. The researchers surveyed the mothers shortly after their son’s arrest to gauge the immediate impact on their aspirations for their son. Researchers then followed up with the mothers a few years later to see if their thoughts on their son’s future had changed.

Dr. Cavanagh found that “although their aspirations stayed the same, their expectations that those aspirations would become reality decreased in response to continued delinquency” particularly for mothers of younger offenders. According to Science Daily, the team of researchers now plans to study how “the downward spiral [of] parents’ perceptions can influence juvenile offenders,” specifically whether or not a repeat juvenile offender is affected by their parent’s decrease in expectations.