Photo of Drew Wood

Is my teen susceptible to false confessions?

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | Juvenile Crimes |

If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’re likely already dealing with the rollercoaster ride that comes with adolescence. Between social pressures, academic demands and the ever-evolving emotional landscape, it’s a time that requires constant vigilance and parental support. But did you know teenagers are also particularly susceptible to a serious legal issue known as false confessions?

While uncommon, false confessions can have devastating consequences, leading to wrongful convictions that can derail a young person’s life. Familiarizing yourself with why teens are more vulnerable and what steps you can take to help protect them is crucial.

Why teens are susceptible to false confessions

Did you know that the human brain continues to develop well into a person’s twenties? This means a teenager’s prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for critical thinking and decision-making, is still maturing. This makes them more susceptible to interrogation tactics that exploit their desire for approval, fear of authority and limited understanding of their legal rights.

As such, teens are more likely to be influenced by strong suggestions from police officers, even if the information is false. Moreover, the pressure to please adults and end a stressful situation can lead them to confess, even if they’re innocent.

Furthermore, unlike adults, teens may not fully understand their Miranda rights. These factors, combined with potentially manipulative interrogation techniques, can create a perfect storm for a false confession.

Protecting your teenager

There are steps you can take to protect your teenager. You can begin by maintaining open and honest communication with your child about legal issues. Discuss the importance of honesty with law enforcement and their right to remain silent.

Additionally, educate yourself and your teen on their Miranda rights. Familiarize them with phrases like “I want to remain silent” and “I want to speak to a legal representative.”

Of course, not all police interactions are confrontational. However, you can reduce the risk of a false confession by empowering your teenager with knowledge. Remember to get them legal representation each time they navigate the legal system.