A study of juveniles referred to the Potter County Juvenile Probation Department for Runaway, 1968 through 1972




Watson, Larry Dan,1949-

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Purpose The purpose of this study was to explore the sociological implications of runaway children and their processing within the juvenile justice system. The study was an examination and comparison of demographic characteristic of children referred to the Potter County Juvenile Court as runaways. An examination was made of how the runaway child was processed before the enactment of the Texas Family Code to provide a source of comparison in evaluation the impact of the Family Code on the juvenile court in its processing of the runaway child. Methods The universe of the study was the total referrals to the Potter County Juvenile Probation Department during the period form 1968 through 1972. Out of this group, every juvenile who had been referred for running away was identified. Those who had home addresses outside Potter County were eliminated. It was this five year period of runaway cases, whose home addresses were in Potter County, that constituted the sample of the study. Information was gathered which included the child’s sex, race, age, residency of child, source of referral, offense, disposition and whether the disposition was official court action or administrative decision. This information was transferred to computer cards, and a computer was utilized in compiling the data. A composite of the annual reports of the Chief Probation Officer for the five year period being considered was prepared. Findings 1. During the five year period, runaway referrals steadily declined from 98 referrals in 1972. At the same time police statistics show a marked increase during the same period. The indication being that the runaway is being dealt with in setting other than the juvenile court. 2. Females were more frequently referred for running away from home than males. There were 247 females (60 percent) referred during this period of time compared to 165 males (40 percent) that were referred. 3. The most frequently referred juvenile was the Caucasian female, followed by the Caucasian male. These two groups accounted for 371 of the total runaway referrals, leaving only 41 to all other categories. 4. Minority group males were the least often referred (2.1 percent) of all groups. 5. Fifteen year olds were the most frequently (29 percent) referred age group. 6. Children who ran away most often with both natural parents, however, those from one natural parent homes were referred nearly as frequently (546 from natural parent homes as compared with 506 from one natural parent homes). 7. Of the total group of runaway referrals, their next most common offense was for burglary. 8. Of the 178 juveniles placed on official probation during the five year period, 86, or slightly less than one-half of them had been referred at least once during that time for running away. 9. Of the 102 juveniles committed to the Texas Youth Council during the five year period, 54, or over one-half of them, had been referred at least once for running away. 10. The 412 juveniles studied accounted for 549 referrals other than runaway referrals. 11. Of the 33 girls committed to the Texas Youth Council, 24 had been referred at least once for runaway. 12. The 412 juveniles accounted for 686 runaway referrals. 13. During the five year period, the Potter County Juvenile Probation Department processed 686 runaway referrals in which the child was a resident of Potter County and 615 cases in which the child was a resident of another county or state.



Runaway children--Texas--Amarillo, Runaway children--Texas--Potter County, Juvenile delinquency--Texas--Potter County