Police Discuss Warning Signs For Parents

Staff Writer

Editor's Note: This is part one of a two-part examination of juvenile delinquency and how it can be detected and deterred.
With students back in school and the school year almost a month old, kids are finding their niche in their class for this year. For most, it is an exciting time where they get to meet new friends and join new groups.

For parents, it can be a stressful time especially if their student is having a hard time fitting in. Fortunately, parents are not in it alone.

St. Marys' School Resource Officer Randy Allemeier said he is doing his best to look out for the students he protects every day.

Though Allemeier works for the St. Marys Police Department, he also understands the parental side of the situation, being a father of several adult children and a seventh-grader. The SRO is not alone in the department in knowing both sides of the issue of raising children in a time of busy schedules, cell phones and stress as police Chief Jake Sutton is also a father of a 15-year-old son and twin 12-year-old daughters in addition to being an officer.

Both officers stressed the importance of conversation with children and making sure they know that their parent is there to teach them but not control them.

The more confidence adults can give children, the easier it will be for the child to recognize when they are in a situation that they don't think they should be in, Allemeier added.

The officers did advise that parents should be on the lookout for new behaviors that don't fit their child's personality, especially during the start of the school year when kids are finding where they fit in and what they want to do.

Sutton recommended keeping an eye out for unexplained outbursts as an initial warning sign that the child is struggling with an issue or is starting to model what they see elsewhere.

Both Sutton and Allemeier agreed that the easiest way to detect issues it through communication with the child — even if it's not with a parent — the officers want students to be talking to an adult they trust.

While an easy solution to the problem sounds simple enough, Sutton conceded that it is harder to have that open communication and "family time" in the fast-pased  and busy lives that people live now.

"They're in that age group where they're trying to fit in, they might not have a set of friends they hang out with and they're more impressionable at that age," Allemeier said. "They're just trying to fit in and belong to something. Sometimes, at that age, they choose the wrong path and we should help them get back on the right one."

To read the full story, pick up a copy of Friday's print edition of The Evening Leader.