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Common Juvenile Dispositions and the Classroom

A disposition is the “punishment” for a youth who is found to be a delinquent which means that they committed some sort of criminal offense. In this post, we will look at several common dispositions and how they may affect the student and teacher. The ordering of these dispositions is generally from having the least impact on the student-teacher to the most impactful on the learning of the youth.

Low Impact

Low-impact dispositions do not affect the youth’s ability to study and continue to live a normal life.

Informal consent decree. An informal consent decree involves a youth and their parents agreeing to some form of a treatment program. If they agree to treatment there is no official disposition hearing which implies no formal record. However, the type of treatment agreed to can have varying impacts on the youth and their classroom experience. In general, the impact on learning is low because the judge and prosecutor were willing to accept this form of punishment for the youth’s actions.


Mandatory school attendance. This disposition is the result of truancy. If a child is not going to school such a requirement as going to class will make a positive impact in terms of getting the student back on track academically. Unfortunately, going to school and learning can be different things for students. In addition, it is possible that a student who is forced to go to school could be disruptive as well.

Financial restitution/Fines. Some courts require monetary compensation to the victim and or the state for whatever offense was committed. Generally, this will not impact the learning of the youth. exceptions might be if the financial compensation compels the youth to seek employment that affects their ability to study.

Medium Impact

The next few examples are examples that have a medium influence on the youth’s ability to study. This may be because of scheduling conflicts and or time commitments that may influence time for study.

Probation. Probation involves placing a youth under the supervision of an adult. The probation officer gives the youth certain rules to obey as a condition of the probation. The challenge when it comes to learning is that at times the youth may have to miss school for probation meetings and or the probation officer may want to speak with the teachers of the youth.

Home Detention. Home detention requires that the youth be at home at certain times. Normally, school is allowed, however, the problem is how the probation officer knows where the youth is and this often involves the use of an electronic monitoring device. This device often goes around the ankle. They can be disruptive if other students want to look at the device on the youth’s leg. This can lead to a group of kids gathering around and staring and laughing at the youth with the device on. In other words, if the student lets everyone know there wearing the device it could lead to disruptions in class until the novelty wears off.

Community service. Community service involves work in the community as restitution. Such a punishment is not too disruptive. However, the time given to community service will detract from the time given to study.

Outpatient psychotherapy. This treatment is for youth with clear psychological disorders. For youth with mental health issues, school is often not a problem given the other challenges in life. In addition, the teacher also needs to be careful not to destabilize the youth through insensitive actions.

Drug and alcohol treatment. Like psychotherapy, a youth who needs drug and alcohol treatment probably is not in a position to focus on their studies.

High Impact

All of the examples in this section involve the youth being removed from their home. As such, the child may no longer even be enrolled in the school that they use to attend.

Commitment to residential community program. Commitment to a residential community program involves the youth being removed from the home but placed in a community program that should be close to home. How close depends on the available services. A youth from a rural setting will potentially be further from home than an urban youth. In other cases, it is possible that the youth will no longer be in attendance at their regular school.

Commitment to secure treatment. Secure treatment is a euphemism for a child being placed essentially in prison. In other words, their freedom has been taken from them for a period of time. In such a situation, a student will no longer continue in their prior academic efforts until they complete their sentence. While committed, the youth will participate in academic work provided by the facility.

Foster home placement. Placement in a foster home involves the child being removed from their own home into the home of strangers who are supposed to provide a family environment for the youth. Off course, this is highly disruptive and can involve the child moving anywhere in the state of their residency. As such, this can be highly difficult for the education and learning of the youth.


When youth make mistakes there are often punishments involved. The example shared here are just some of the ways a youth can have their freedoms at least partially altered because of bad choices. Naturally, the choices students make can also have impacts on their learning and interaction with their teacher.

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