If your young adult child in their late teens or 20s faces drug charges, the chances are good that you have worried about their behavior for some time. They may have refused to continue their education or to commit to a specific career path. You may feel like your child has become a “failure to launch,” and you worry about them staying home forever.
Now that they face criminal charges, that risk seems even more real. After all, a criminal conviction for a drug offense will likely affect your child’s housing, educational and professional opportunities for years to come. Although you may feel extremely concerned about the impact of those charges on your child and your family, they may have a much less serious approach to the situation.
Why do many young adults fail to understand the gravity of criminal behavior?
Their brains aren’t yet wired for good decision-making
Although our society allows young adults to vote, drive and join the military, neuroscience makes it clear that those in their teens and early twenties are not yet fully adult. The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for rational decision-making, doesn’t finish developing until someone is roughly 25 years of age. Until that point, people can have a hard time understanding the long-term implications of their choices, even if other people try to point those concerns out to them.
Changing social attitudes make them feel unworried
Young people tend to spend a lot of their time online, and they also consume a lot of media. The accepting approach that movies, television shows and social media often have toward drug use and drug offenses might lead people to think that if they do get arrested, they will only face minor penalties or could easily avoid conviction because of a sympathetic jury.
Young adults often don’t understand until is too late that what they see on the media is not a reflection of how the criminal justice system really works.
They think a first offense is just a slap on the wrist
Many young adults who have not had a criminal issue in the past wrongly think that a first offense won’t lead to drastic consequences. They might think that they can plead guilty and avoid jail time, without realizing how a conviction could impede their life for many years.
As a parent who loves a young adult facing drug charges, you may have to convince them of how important it is to take the matter seriously. Supporting your child as they face drug charges could help them get their lives back on track even if they don’t understand the gravity of the situation.