Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Teen Help: Age of Consent ~ Can Your Teen Sign Themselves Out of Residential Treatment Programs?

No matter what time of the year it is, dealing with a teenager that is pushing the limits and creating friction in your home can be a stressful time.

Compound that with the holidays approaching and knowing there will be time off from school, can be a bit overwhelming.  Will they get into more trouble or will they be busy with constructive projects?  Maybe get a part-time job?

In most cases, my colleague and I hear from parents that are at their wit's end and realize that if they don't intervene the consequences could be serious.

Holiday time is not always the most opportune time of year, however troubled teenagers don't know when to take vacations.

When parents call us for help in searching for residential therapy, many want to try to keep them as close to home as possible.

There are some concerns we express when we speak with the parent about selecting a program as it pertains to the location:
  • Convenience is nice, however the priority is what is best for your child's needs
  • If cost is a factor, sometimes programs are less expensive in other states
  • Staying in a familiar state can sometimes increase the flight risk of your teenager.  He/she knows the state and they have less of a fear of running away and being able to call on a friend to pick them up.
  • Age of consent:  Knowing if you are in a state that your child can legally sign themselves out of a program.
The last issue is very important.

Many attorney's are not even familiar with this.  Parents and most others "assume" that age of consent and age of majority - means at 18 years old you are considered an adult and can make your own legal choices.  It is a fact, at 18 years old you are considered an adult (although many teens may not be acting like one), however for educational purposes, at younger ages - they can are of age to sign themselves out of schools and programs.

HOWEVER - this is not so when it comes to many states in our country with the exception of a few.

Since I am in the state of Florida, I will speak for Florida.  Our age of consent/age of majority is 16.  Any teen can sign themselves out of a school or program at 16 years-old.  If their parent doesn't agree - they will be held with truancy.

In the Carolina's the age of majority is 17 years-old.  If you place your child in a program in NC, and he/she runs away from it.  If they are picked up by law enforcement, they will ask your child how old they are.  If they are 17 years-old or more, they will be advised that they can either have a bus ticket home or go back to the program.  What would your child choose?

You see many programs in the state of Utah.  Why?  Because they have an age of majority of 18.  There are several others states with the same age of consent.

For more information please call us or visit us at www.helpyourteens.com.  We can help you make an educated decision.  Selecting a program/school for your teen is a major financial and emotional decision --- yet sometimes I see parents that spend more time researching an automobile - than they do these programs.

We can help you help your teenager.