Young people with AD/HD can be prevented from entering the criminal justice system.

Young people with AD/HD can be prevented from entering the criminal justice system.

By Minister Michele Quick

Young people with AD/HD can be prevented from entering the criminal justice system. The support of parents and caregivers is critical.  ADHD stands for attention deficient hyperactivity disorder.  ADHD is a disruptive behavior disorder characterized by the presence of a set of chronic and impairing behavior patterns that display abnormal levels of inattention, hyperactivity, or their combination.


In order to be the best caregivers and advocates for young people with AD/HD it is important that caregivers and advocates recognize the impact of this mental health disorder on crime and antisocial behavior.


Research shows that those with AD/HD have a greater risk of entering the criminal justice system.  There are many routes into the criminal justice system.  Criminal damage and violence are the most prevalent.


People with AD/HD are poor at making appropriate friendships and are often encouraged by their peers to commit crimes.  They feel committing the act will help cement friendships and lift their personal esteem.


Young people with AD/HD tend to hang out with older, dysfunctional gangs and groups.  These groups often present opportunities for smoking, underage drinking, and generally behaving in ways that are age-inappropriate for someone with AD/HD.  Impulsiveness, duress, and encouragement by peers usually leads to harder drug use by the young person with AD/HD. 


The transition from “soft”to “hard” drugs is proven to be quicker in people with AD/HD.  The cycle is often userà abuser àtotal dependence = criminal behavior.


Appropriate interventions can help steer the young person with AD/HD into a more positive direction.  The following is a list of some situations when intervention should begin.

*When the young person experiences rejection and group exclusion in school.

*Transition from junior high to high school.

*Hanging with older children.

*Early and continued smoking of cigarettes.

*First contact with the criminal justice system.

*Difficulties with achievement.

*The first job.


Interventions can help prevent wasted lives.  If timely interventions are made, the person with AD/HD has a higher chance of moving forward into a life that has positive outcomes.


People with AD/HD are disadvantaged within the criminal justice system.  During the first interview with police, someone who cannot focus or concentrate or is easily led might not be able to answer long or complicated questions correctly or in his or her best interests.  Additionally, opinions are often formed based on the demeanor and behavior of the person with AD/HD.  Such judgments are not appropriate if the inattention, inability to sit still and concentrate, and inappropriate outbursts are biologically driven by a medical condition, rather than chosen disruptive behavior.  There is an amazing difference in the way cases are handled when it is understood that behavior is not a choice but due to a mental disorder.


True Vine Christian Academy offers intervention programs for people with AD/HD, support programs for caregivers and training session for criminal justice system employees, teachers and social workers.


Most parents are not prepared for the phone to ring and the police ask them to come to the police station because their son or daughter has been arrested.  It would be wise to prepare a list of actions should it happen to you.  Young people with AD/HD can be prevented from entering the criminal justice system.  We all have a role to play to ensure young people achieve their potential and TVCA is available to help.


Michele Quick (JDp), a certified life coach, certified addiction recovery and stress management counselor, is the Prison Ministry Ambassador of WomenNPower Ministries (  In 2008, Ms. Quick founded True Vine Christian Academy where free bible studies, monthly newsletter and various outreach services are provided to incarcerated souls and their family members.  Ms. Quick is available for speaking engagements, individual, group counselor and training sessions.  Ms. Quick can be reached at 718-574-4221 or

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