Question: Our 16 year old son became aggressive after a shopping outing and began beating up my wife taking her to the ground. We are wondering what legal options we have since the answer we are getting from all agencies is that we just have to deal with it and work it out ourselves. We are looking for help of any kind including juvenile detention or detainment in a health facility. I am afraid to leave the house if our son is there and afraid of what he might do in the middle of the night since he has uttered death threats.
First, let me express my deep sympathy for your situation. It seems as if you are going through a difficult time.Unfortunately, I do not know if the law is going to have an answer for you. This problem actually crops up fairly often in broken homes, or homes where domestic violence is already prevalent. But it can happen in so-called "normal" homes, too, and there is no easy fix.
Outbursts such as the one you have described are frequently attributable to substance abuse, mental illness, or learned behavior (either in the home or from a third party role model) - or a combination of the three. Your son should be screened by a professional immediately for the first two, and perhaps even given the chance to engage in individual therapy. If it is learned behavior, then the person who has taught him to behave this way (e.g. friend, neighbor, relative or parent) should be barred from regular contact with your child. And still I would recommend screening and therapy. In fact, I would recommend screening and therapy no matter *what* you do from this point on. (Your question doesn't indicate whether you've tried this already.)
No judge or agency can "make" your son behave, and incarceration alone rarely solves the problem - although it can give some parents a breathing spell while they decide on the next step. In fact, some report that detention simply teaches juveniles to become more adept at their delinquency because they have been exposed (in their cells) to "regulars" who are already veterans of the juvenile court system.
Ultimately, if your son has become so violent that he is beating your wife to the ground, your only alternatives may be to initiate involuntary commitment proceedings for mental illness (if that is truly the problem), or a police report and prosecution for aggravated assault. I hate to paint the picture that starkly, but if the safety of your wife and others is at stake, you should probably do something soon.
December 26, 2006