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Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults

ADD 17 year old in jail

HI folks - I’m not asking for advice.  I wanted to share my story. 

My son has struggled with ADD since he was in preschool.  His impulsiveness coupled with his intelligence has guaranteed detentions, poor relationships with teachers, low self esteem, etc.  Like many of your kids, he has a good heart and the parents of his friends often comment about what a good, polite kid he is.

The night before his high school graduation he asked me if he could go wrap senior square in saran wrap with a group of his friends.  I know his friends, I know the school administration - it sounded like a harmless senior prank and I let him go.  Well, in typical ADD/low self esteem behavior - he and another kid decided to take it to another level and burn something.  One thing led to another (I think the original item they wanted to burn wouldn’t light) they ended up burning down the stage graduation was set to be held on - also damaging a nearly brand new custom astro turf.  $150K worth of damage.

He has been incarcerated since May 29th and we don’t expect him to be released anytime soon.  It’s heartbreaking and gut wrenching.  We have an attorney, but it’s high profile in our community.  the other kid was 18 so they want to try our son as an adult too.  I doubt we can win that fight (to keep him treated as juvenile) despite records from doctors, etc. He has never been in trouble with the law before.

ADD kids just cannot be trusted to make good decisions in the heat of the moment.  I let him go because he was honest and we have worked so hard to build trust.  I regret that decision terribly. 

Just think through things you let them do and imagine the trouble they could get into.  I don’t know what I could have done differently in his life.  He had doctors, therapists, tutors, church mentors, family support, medications, a 504, etc. 

Sad story.


I’m so, so sorry. Thanks for sharing. By the grace of God, my 17 year old daughter who sounds so similar to your son, and has made some dumb choices over the years, has avoided that, but it most definitely could have happened to her.

Posted by mcat on Jun 11, 2014 at 9:51pm

Oh that is so incredibly heart-wrenching.  But if there’s a possible bright side, sharing your story might help prevent other kids from going down a similar road.  I know your story has made a huge impact on me!  I’ve gotten a bit of flack over the years for being such a kill-joy about pranks because my mind automatically goes to Worst Case Scenario type of thinking.  But I’ve heard way too many stories about The Prank that started out small but then suddenly got out of hand—or especially, The Prank that most people would/could find amusing or harmless but gets pulled on The Wrong Person who simply cannot take a joke.  In the future, I will continue to stick with my guns and promote the Better Safe Than Sorry route.

Posted by BC on Jun 11, 2014 at 10:11pm

You know, we want them to have fun like other kids, but as soon as we release the reins a bit, this happens.  I understand. Been there, too.

Posted by mama36_13 on Jun 12, 2014 at 1:21am

My 13 year old is on 6 months probation for a stupid prank. He’s taking the sentence seriously while it lasts but I fear he will go right back into poor decision making as soon as it’s over. I try to talk about building credit in the community, honoring those who have your back, and making good choices. I don’t see that being internalized yet, but I still hope. I’m also dealing with an ADD ex husband (whom he stays with most of the time) who does stupid things like “Let’s do the Fire and Ice thing together because it’s a science lesson” and doesn’t understand why the school almost called CPS when this happened….my heart goes out to you, I think we can all relate.

Posted by AJGO on Jun 12, 2014 at 1:47am

We had similar issues with our son, him being 14 years old now.  When he first started to go through puberty, that is when the “fur started to fly”.  That is when we tried medication and he hated it, so we tried some Software called NeuroTracker.  Not sure if there are any places that have it close to you, but it sure worked for our son.  You might want to look into it, it simply works.

Posted by Lancetownend on Jun 13, 2014 at 2:21am

I appreciate you sharing your story.  I think this is where justice is NOT served.  You have a person who (I’m assuming) all relevant teachers, administration, etc. is aware of his ADHD.  They are also educated in this and are aware of the impulsiveness that exists.  This person as you say has not been in trouble before but made a tragic mistake.  Is justice served by having him in jail?  Maybe a couple of weeks to get him to understand the consequences, but I disagree with charging him as an adult.  He needs to make restitution to the school district, the seniors, the parents, etc.  How should he do this?  I say by working his tail off in earning the money to fix it.  By all accounts this sounds like a impuslive action not thought out and thus got out of control.  Where will society benefit from imprisining him?  Our society has become to quick to send our kids to prison.  I’d like to see more cases where society lets the kid make restitution.  Who knows, the kid or young adult may learn more about himself, and the community can see and learn more about the kid/young adult.  I’m sorry for my rant but I think not enough patience and understanding from our legal system is given to these kids/young adults when it is a known fact that impulsiveness is a major component of ADD/ADHD.  We are quick to say you broke the law and you must be punished.  Well so is smoking pot and barring your breast in public but in my community at certain events the police walk around like it is all legal.  The school can and should come to this students defense and support him not being jailed but instead giving him the chance at restitution within the community.  My heart goes out to you as I often worry about this very issue with my 14 year old.  Because he is more of a follower than a leader and I’m always talking with him about decision making but I fear that one time.

Posted by raypecmom on Jun 18, 2014 at 7:14pm

Wondering if he is still in jail currently…& any idea if they’re going to try to charge him as an adult.

Posted by BC on Jun 18, 2014 at 7:49pm

Hi all -
My son is still in jail.  Will be 4 weeks tomorrow.  He’s holding up okay.  We met with probation yesterday - their report is what the judge uses to decide where he gets tried.  They ‘got’ that he’s a good kid - decent grades, etc.  Hopefully that will sway them to keep him treated as a kid to let this ‘go by’ and not by on his adult record.  I frankly don’t think they will let him out until late July.  I think 3 felonies, $150K in damage = some jail time.  The judge said she is loath to let kids out and then when they have to come back - they run away or do something else really stupid.  I get that.  My son gets that.  What I don’t get - really no one does - is why they have to treat this like such a capital case.  “Conspiracy to commit a crime” - really?  Conservative county, high profile crime, affected an entire graduating class, kid he did it with was a trouble maker who the administration wants to punish.  So there it is. 
Thanks again for listening and caring.

Posted by ymasnave on Jun 19, 2014 at 1:30am

So sorry. It is ridiculous that they sent him to jail. Some type of community service would be a better lesson for him. I will say a prayer for all of you.

Posted by KDPilla on Jul 26, 2014 at 12:26pm

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