County: Merrimack

Knowing the Dangers of Fire

Two 15-year-old boys were using matches to light leaves on fire in the back yard. The fire got out of control very quickly and ended up damaging a barn that belonged to the neighbor. The boys participated in diversion and were able to learn more about the crime of arson and its many consequences. They were also able to hear from the neighbor and understand the distress that the neighbor faced over the damaged barn. Both of the boys told diversion staff that they were unaware of the dangers of fire before participating in diversion and now are able to make better choices because of what they learned during the process.

Friendships and Consequences

Two girls were caught together stealing from a store, and were telling their story in a group class. The first girl shared that it was the first time she tried to steal with a new friend, and they got caught. She explained that she stole because the prom was coming up and she couldn’t afford to buy clothes for the prom.

She knew if she asked her parents they would do all they could to help, but her parents had been arguing over the past few months about finances, to the point of possible divorce. She further explained that the business that her parents owned was failing and would probably close soon. She ended breaking down crying as she finished her story.

The second girl who was caught claimed that she was very proud of the fact that she had been stealing for years, she had stolen for friends, and that most of what she was wearing was stolen. She went on to tell the group that she had been stealing mainly from one store over the years, which was a different store than the one that lead to her getting caught.

She continued saying that she had brought friends to that same store to steal also. She then went on to talk about how brain dead, stupid, etc. etc. the store owners were and how easy it was to steal from them.

The group facilitator asked her if she would ever steal from friends or relatives and she said, “Absolutely not. That wouldn’t be cool.” The facilitator then asked her the name of the store she was speaking of. When she said the name of the store, the first girl yelled, “That’s my parents store and it’s because of YOU that they may be getting divorced and we are losing our house.”

The girl who just told her story became red faced and put her head down and apologized over and over. The girls’ friendship ended that day.  All the other kids in the class that day were able to put a face to the human consequences of shoplifting.

Troubled to Appreciative Teen

A young lady, age 15, had significant drug (prescription) and alcohol issues was sent to diversion to complete the Challenge course. She completed the Challenge course and as a follow up, the parent and director decided that she needed to continue to meet with Diversion. This young lady, very stubborn and resistant to any help, didn’t agree. She did however continue to come and the Diversion worker. As with many young addicts, living in a world of denial is the norm. At the end of her 5-month program, she wrote the following note as she agreed to begin clinical treatment:

Please don’t ever give up on any person or family no matter how many problems they have or how much they don’t want to be helped or how much someone else doesn’t want to be helped… I know how it feels to be helped and then push that person away that’s helping me and wish I wouldn’t have because I wanted to be helped even though sometimes I didn’t always see it. So even if a person doesn’t act like they act, like they want to be helped deep down inside they do want the help and how ever much they push you away keep trying to help because I don’t want anyone or any one else’s family to feel or go through the things me and my family did. SO PLEASE PROMISE YOU’LL NEVER GIVE UP ON ANYONE OR THIER FAMILY… Give someone else the help that I pushed away.
Thanks. Love, A caring friend

Domestic Violence and Anger Management

A 15-year-old female was sent to our program for assaulting another classmate. This young lady was very resistant to participating in diversion or to receive any help from anyone. With a lot of persuasion on the part of diversion staff she decided to follow through with the process. She eventually opened up to diversion staff about witnessing domestic violence when she was very young and how that has affected her. She participated in an anger management class where she was able to understand how to manage her emotions and respond more appropriately to stress. By the time she was through with the process both she and her guardian reported that she had made many positive changes in her life and were very thankful for the lessons she learned during the diversion process.

Merrimack County Juvenile Diversion