Juvenile Delinquency -- Causes and Preventive Strategies
Juvenile delinquency defines negative behavior in young teens and children which result in serious and severe crimes. With the passage of time crimes committed by adolescents and young children have risen alarmingly. Several economic, social and family related issues are the core reasons behind the rise in juvenile delinquency. This paper discusses the core reason due to which young teens and children sought towards severe and intense crimes. It also discusses the preventive strategies which can easily be adopted in minimizing delinquent acts committed by young people.
Juvenile Delinquency -- Causes and Preventive Strategies
Juvenile Delinquency involves the participation of minors in criminal practices which deeply affects parents, neighbors, family and teachers. The social, economic and cultural conditions prevalent in a country determine the intensity and severity of juvenile delinquency there. The economic decline in poor districts of large cities has risen up the cases of juvenile delinquency alarmingly. As the socio-economic environment of such districts is governed by poverty and under or unemployment, young children get themselves indulged in criminal activities. Several preventive strategies have been developed for curbing the dilemma and some major of them are mentioned and evaluated in this article.
Juvenile Justice Courts
In the 20th century separate courts were made for juvenile offenders apart from the court systems for adults with the aim of serving the interest of youth. In a juvenile court, a youth charged with illegal conduct is an adjudicated juvenile offender and not found guilty. As young people lack the mature state of mind to take correct decisions thus they are kept in least restrictive venue upon adjudication. The juvenile justice system places its emphasis on developing a meaningful pathway that will allow young people who break the law the chance to obtain meaningful rehabilitation.
Juvenile justice courts are established with three core aims revolving around rehabilitation, accountability and intervention. The core goal of juvenile court is not to sentence the offender into prison, yet it aims at proper intervention and rehabilitation of the child, as children are not treated like hardened criminals in juvenile courts (Wallace & Roberson, 2012). Juvenile justice courts provide proper counseling courses for children developing a positive attitude and a sense of accountability in them (Bartollas & Miller, 2008). The article will now discuss the core reason behind children being getting indulged in juvenile delinquency and then evaluates some prevention strategies that have been instrumental in curbing this dilemma to a great extent.
Causes of Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile delinquency is driven by economic crisis and political instability prevalent within a country. Economic instability resulting in low income and unemployment leads to development of several inferiority complexes among young people and they eventually resort towards criminal activities and delinquent careers. Following are the pivotal reasons which contribute towards the alarming increase of delinquency acts among young children.
Several researches declare the fact that families where children are given adequate parental supervision are less prone towards getting involved in delinquent acts. Families characterized by weak internal control and integration, inadequate parental control and premature autonomy are closely related to juvenile delinquency. As the rate of single parents and non-marital unions are increasing drastically, more children are being brought up in the absence of fathers particularly in low income families, which make them seek patterns of masculinity in delinquent group of peers. Lack of proper coordination among parents and children result in ignorance of the principles of discipline and ultimately children are treated harshly by the parents. Adolescents from poor families have inferiority complexes and consider themselves isolated and excluded from the society. Thus, they opt for joining delinquent groups in order to raise their self-esteem and improve their status. Moreover, families involved in criminal activities tend to push their younger members towards violating the law as well (World Youth Report, 2003).
Majority of the movies and television programs cultivate the concept of "cult of heroes" among young minds, promoting the idea of getting justice by the physical elimination of the enemy. Children ranging between 8 to 12 years are quite vulnerable to aggressiveness and those young people who watch violence related programs frequently are more likely to get indulged in violent acts. Majority of the television program discuss openly regarding violence acts conducted by parents and peer, which ultimately expose young minds towards ways of indulging themselves in violence. Moreover, the violence depicted in movies is quite unrealistic and the true consequences of violent behavior are hardly depicted. Thus, most of the children consider violent acts to be a source of negligible pain, eventually heading them towards criminal activities (World Youth Report, 2003).
Peers play a central role in shaping the character and personality of young ones. If adolescents get involved in criminal activities, it is most likely that many of them would turn into big gangsters when they grow old. Adolescents join gang groups as they counterbalance the imperfection of family and school (Bartollas & Miller, 2008). Adolescents who constantly face violence join gangs to gain protection within their neighborhood. Those who are not a part of any delinquent group face threats like assault, harassment or oppression at the streets and school. Adolescents get highly influenced by their peers, and if their peers get involved in delinquent acts then gradually a whole new gang of juvenile delinquents is formed as one juvenile influences every other child towards committing criminal acts.
The gap between rich and poor is widening up rapidly. Low income families are highly dependent on social security services. The symbolic exclusion from society of juveniles who have committed even minor offences has important implications for the development of delinquent careers. Many researches have indicated the fact that when adolescents are being labeled separately, they may be compelled to adopt a delinquent career.
Violence against children endangers their fundamental human rights. Thus, it is extremely essential to invest time and money both in minimizing this dilemma. According to several researchers, early intervention programs are one of the best remedial measures in reducing juvenile delinquency (Araki et. al, 2003). Prevention requires well-integrated individual, group and organizational efforts aimed at keeping adolescents from breaking the law. Punitive prevention where offenders are given explanations regarding the negative impacts of delinquent acts are also fruitful prevention techniques for juvenile delinquency. A detailed account of prevention strategies adopted for curbing juvenile delinquency is discussed below:
Mentoring is one of the most commonly-used interventions to prevent, divert, and remediate youth engaged in, or thought to be at risk for, delinquent behavior, school failure, aggression, or other antisocial behavior. Mentoring is basically a one-to-one conversation between the adolescent and the adult, who guides the adolescents towards positive aspects of life. Purely preventive (or suppressive) efforts go in vain as far as young children are concerned. The reason behind this is that majority of crimes are committed by a relative handful of repeat offenders who typically display serious behavior problems in early childhood. They require individualized treatments focusing on proper counseling of their behavioral attitudes (Worl Youth Program, 2003).
Recreation and youth development activities are directly encouraged by most prevention programs. A wide range of recreational facilities and services of particular interest to young persons need to be established and made easily accessible to them. According to the World Youth Program (2003) a number of towns in the United States organized basketball programs for adolescents which resulted in a 60 per cent decrease in crime rates (Bartollas & Miller, 2008). Apart from various successful prevention approaches, some prevention approaches have been quite ineffective in catering the issue of juvenile delinquency. Boot camps which are also referred as shock incarceration, have failed in reducing criminality. Juvenile boot camps use military-style physical drills and challenges to rehabilitate juvenile offenders, but they aren't successful in reducing repeat offenses better than a sentence of probation or incarceration. Scare-oriented programs which aim at integrating delinquent groups together for extended treatment have actually worsened the situation. Furthermore, fight gang membership prevention programs are the most ineffective. Several techniques for transforming the gang environment have been suggested, but they tend to deal only with the criminal aspect of the problem, while the socio-economic and other conditions and circumstances that compel juveniles to enter a gang remain forgotten (World Youth Program, 2003).
Community Based Interventions
Community-based improvements in slum and squatter settlements possess sufficient potential of preventing children from living on the streets and help reintegrate them into their neighborhoods. This fosters optimistic self-appraisal and positive attitudes among young children, eventually refraining them from delinquent acts (Walker & Morgan, 2009).
Promotion of Wholesome Home Life
A healthy home environment plays a vital role in shaping a child's personality and provides affection, security and development opportunities to them. In order to prevent juvenile delinquency, parents need to be trained regarding marriage and parenthood. Parental education focusing on the principles of home making, family relationships, and the education and care of children serves instrumental in promotion of…