Status offenders are classified as young offenders who are under the jurisdiction of a court system for a series of offenses that are not considered serious crimes. They are also considered truant or runaways at times, youthful offenders that choose not to follow the laws but are still not charged with anything serious enough to warrant juvenile detention or other, more serious jail time. These offenders are more often than not placed into homes for wayward youths, monitored closely by the court system if they do in fact come from steady homes, and are usually subject to being watched very closely by law enforcement and participating agencies that aid in the progression and even rehabilitation of such young offenders.
A very popular method which is used to keep status offenders out of jail is to provide a means to perform community service, to give back to the same people they might be harming in some way, no matter how minor the infractions might be. This could be anything from cleaning up trash on the ground to cleaning a store front to even performing good deeds for the elderly in a given neighborhood. There is virtually no end to the roles that community service could offer in order to provide status offenders a chance to give back rather than to take. Whether or not they are always as proven to work is the question.
While in many jurisdictions it has been seen to work, community service performed in any venue is not always a catch-all for all offenders. Whether it is enforced or not does make a difference, though the negativity that comes with this type of service can be counterproductive. Instead of forcing a status offender to perform community service, a more forward idea would be to give them the option of service versus incarceration. Juvenile detention centers are not prison, but they are far more limiting in freedoms and can be a great deterrent to further offenses. Give status offenders the option of juvenile detention or freedom, the choice will likely be freedom.