Youth Crime Over the Last Several Years  Essay

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Youth Crime

Over the last several years, the issue of juvenile crime has been increasingly brought to the forefront. This is because of concerns about how to effectively deal with this problem vs. using traditional approaches (i.e. incarceration). As a result, the rates will vary dramatically when comparing the different decades with each other. This has created periods that will see an increase in juvenile crime (which is followed by sharp declines). In a number of situations, a host of theories have been introduced to help explain why these decreases are occurring. (Butts, 2007, pg. 16)

One of the notable is the quality of education. Evidence of this can be seen with observations from Lochner (2003) who says, "There are a number of reasons to believe that education will affect subsequent crime. First, schooling increases the returns to legitimate work, raising the opportunity costs of illicit behavior. Additionally, punishment for crime typically entails incarceration. By raising wage rates, schooling makes this 'lost time' more costly. Second, education may directly affect the financial or psychic rewards from crime itself. Finally, schooling may alter preferences in indirect ways, which may affect decisions to engage in crime." This is illustrating, how education can help to change the mindset of young adults. When this happens, most individuals will begin acting more ethically and responsibly. (Lochner, 2003)

However, despite these potential benefits, many critics will point out that the decreases in crime are from the current policies (with incarceration serving as a deterrent). This is problematic, because it is contradicting what different research studies are showing about the impact of education. To fully understand the effect that education is having on juvenile crime requires carefully looking at: this relationship and proposing alternative strategies. Once this takes place, is when these ideas will show how education can have a positive impact in reducing juvenile crime. (Lochner, 2003)

The Relationship between Education and Juvenile Crime

There is a direct correlation between the educational levels of the person and amount of criminal activity they will become involved in. According to Reynolds (2007), between 28 to 43% of incarcerated persons have special needs and learning disabilities. This is highlighting how within the current prison population, a good percentage of inmates will have lower levels of educational achievement. (Reynolds, 2007, pg. 1235)

Moreover, Brewer (2010) found these statistics are even more severe, as two thirds of the total prison population does not have a high school diploma. This is because most of these individuals become involved in criminal activity when they were juveniles. What hurts their educational performance was the arrest and lost time away from school. This made it difficult for them to keep and remain engaged in the process. Instead, most people abandoned their education in order to focus on their legal challenges. This is showing how there is a direct connection between academic achievement and the total amounts of juvenile crime. Over the course of time, these kinds of issues will have an impact on the characteristics of communities. (Brewer, 2010, pg. 95)

At the same time, Sheldon (2011) found that education is having a positive effect on society. This is occurring in two different forms to include: it helps the person to embrace the main cultural attributes and it legitimizes these activities. Moreover, Sheldon also found that when incarcerated individuals are educated, there are less disciplinary problems. These different elements will create a set of social standards that will influence how the individual will act. (Sheldon, 2011)

In the case of juveniles, they are learning about how to interact with the world around them. This is accomplished through understanding various social norms and customs. Those who are doing well academically will have a sense of confidence about their ability to adapt. This is when they will have increased amounts of self-worth (which reduces the chances of them becoming involved in criminal activity). (Sheldon, 2011)

Evidence of this can be seen with Sheldon observing, "One of the most critical institutions is education. It is well-known that an investment in education results in a tremendous return. Some have estimated that for every dollar invested in education society gets about $7 in return as measured by the fact that the educated person will be a consumer and taxpayer and a corresponding reduction in the cost of the criminal justice system and various forms of social welfare. This is also true for prisoners. The more education they receive while incarcerated, the lower the chances of committing more crime upon their release. There is evidence of a school to prison pipeline whereby youth who are expelled, suspended or who drop out often end up in the juvenile justice system and then later are funneled into the adult prison system." This is illustrating how education levels will have a dramatic impact on juvenile crime rates. (Sheldon, 2011)

The different sources that were examined are showing how there is a direct link between education and juvenile criminal activity. This is because, what someone learns in school will serve as foundation in helping them to interact with others. Those who have trouble will often turn to crime as an escape. This is from having feelings of frustration and anger that are directed at society. To lash out, many troubled youths will become influenced by these kinds of activities.

Once they are arrested, is when their problems will be compounded. This is because the legal challenges and possible jail time will take them away from education. In the future, this means that these individuals will more than likely become career criminals. However, when someone is educated, they will have the tools they need to support themselves and are interacting effectively within society. This decreases the chances that they will turn to criminal activity at some point in their lives.

Alternative Education Methods

One of the biggest reasons why educators are failing to reach out to at risk youth is because of a social disconnect. This is when teachers are using methods that are following traditional lecture formats when discussing a host of ideas. For most youth, this is the least effective teaching strategy. The reason why, is a number of students are finding the approach to be boring. This makes is it difficult for someone to become excited about learning new ideas. Once this occurs, is when they will miss key concepts that can give them the skills to succeed socially and professionally.

A good example of this can be seen with observations from Edwards (2001). She found that students had trouble concentrating during these kinds of lectures. This is because the content is presented in a very confusing and dry format. Over the course of time, this will cause students to lose interest in what they are studying. Moreover, this kind of approach is ignoring different learning styles and cultural traditions. This makes it more difficult for educators to reach out to students. (Edwards, 2001, pg. 128)

These factors are highlighting how the current approach is making students less interested in education. In the future, this will cause them to become involved in criminal activities. Once this occurs, is the point that they will continue to become more negatively influenced by this kind of environment. To address these types of challenges, another approach must be taken. This will ensure that the student remains engaged and focused on improving their education. (Edwards, 2001, pg. 128)

An alternative strategy that could be used improve the ability of educators is differentiated instruction. This is when there is focus on understanding each person's individual learning style and then using a host of different tools to effectively reach out to them. The way that this occurs, is through changing the current learning environment. (Gregory, 2007, pp. 9 -- 54)

This means that educators must do more coordination with other staff members and have active communication in association the parents or guardians. This will create an avenue of continuously reaching out to the student when they are most vulnerable. Over the course of time, this will create a foundation of support (which will help to give the person a sense of confidence). (Gregory, 2007, pp. 9 -- 54)

Next, educators must be able to explain how and why particular concepts will be necessary in the future. The best way to achieve this objective is to provide a basic introduction through a brief lecture. Then, focus on reaching out to each individual's learning style using a number of different techniques. This will take into account specific views and address them to improve learning comprehension. (Gregory, 2007, pp. 9 -- 54)

To achieve these goals, educators must utilize the latest technology and small groups to encourage some kind of active discussion. During this process, the students must be able to answer how and when they will need to use these skills in the future. This will be accomplished through utilizing technology that will provide different formats of presenting the information. Once this takes place, is when there will be greater…

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