People who major in criminal justice can work with kids in many ways, whether it's supervising, assisting or defending them. Some jobs involve minimal interaction with children. For example, child case managers keep track of children who are under supervision of the state, ensuring they're placed in foster homes and cared for. Other jobs require dealing with kids face-to-face, such as law guardians, who represent children in allegations against their parents or guardians.
Juvenile correctional officers ensure safety and control in juvenile detention centers, jails or prisons. Most states strive to rehabilitate juvenile offenders, so officers supervise activities and help in counseling and reintegration processes. They also search facilities, inmates and packages for contraband. Requirements for juvenile correctional officers vary by state. Generally, they must meet a minimum age requirement of between 18 and 21, hold at least a high school diploma, be free of felony convictions and complete a training academy.
Probation officers, also known as community supervisors, manage people who are on probation instead of behind bars. Many work exclusively with juveniles to help with rehabilitation and ensure they're not dangerous to the community. Offenders may be on probation for a number of reasons, but it's usually used for those convicted of a single crime and considered unlikely to commit another. Probation officers typically have a minimum of a bachelor's degree, and may need to take oral, written and psychological entry exams.
Child and family social workers help kids that are in various situations, from those in danger of being abused to those getting adopted. Working with children in their personal lives often means dealing with stressful issues, such as homelessness, neglect and poverty. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most social workers need to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in social work. They also must meet licensing or certification requirements, which vary by state.
Family lawyers and juvenile attorneys focus on children, but represent them in different types of cases. Family lawyers are involved in divorce, custody and adoption proceedings, while juvenile attorneys deal with criminal offenders who aren't old enough to be tried as adults. The BLS notes that all lawyers are required to hold a law degree, which typically takes seven years of study after high school. In addition, lawyers must pass their state's written bar exam to practice law.
- State of New Jersey Office of the Public Defender: Office of Law Guardian
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Correctional Officers Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists Do
- U.S. Department of Justice: Juvenile Probation: The Workhorse of the Juvenile Justice System
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Social Workers Do
- U.S. News & World Report: Child and Family Social Worker
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Lawyers Do
- LawInfo: Juvenile Attorneys and Lawyers
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