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The issue of juvenile delinquency has existed in the whole world for a long time. Children often go beyond the limits and boundaries set by parents and other authoritative personnel. Rebellious character in adolescents has always existed because of their exploration and ignorant nature. However, some children constantly participate in disruptive and problematic behaviors that affect them and their family negatively. These children present problems for their family and sometimes for the whole community. The behaviors that children get involved result into crimes because of lack of guidance. This paper looks at the causes of juvenile delinquency and the strategies and interventions that can help prevent juvenile delinquency.
Juvenile delinquency refers to the condition where children commit crimes. The term juvenile refers to people who have not attained adulthood or the age considered legally as an adult in the legal systems of countries. Mostly, the law determines the age of the majority or adulthood. This happens especially in the case of minor crimes. Major crimes can force the court system to try a juvenile as an adult. This happens when a juvenile has committed crimes, such as murder or violence with robbery. This happens in significant situations that may require the judge to sentence the juvenile for life imprisonment. Delinquency refers to committing offences that the state considers as crimes (Bartollas & Schmalleger, 2010).
When a child commits crime, their trial happens in a different court system separate from those that try adults who have committed crimes. After the court has proved that a juvenile has committed a crime, the court confines juveniles in prisons specifically created for juveniles. These detention centers are referred to as juvenile detention centers. The court has the responsibility of ascertaining the risk and danger that the juvenile poses to the society. This influences the duration that the court will decide to incarcerate the juvenile. Juvenile court judges possess a greater responsibility especially when it comes to children of a younger age. They have the responsibility of finding the appropriate ways that will help the child not to engage in the same crime or delinquency behavior.
Juvenile delinquency comes because of many factors. Social, economic and cultural conditions influence the severity or juvenile delinquency occurrences. The causes of juvenile crime occur at each level of the social structure, including the society, social groups, social organizations and interpersonal relations that people share in families and in the society.
Economic factors have become the major cause of juvenile delinquency in the modern-day world. Most juvenile delinquency cases occur in instances where the children suffer from poverty. They engage in crimes because they try to get food or money that can enable them gets their basic needs. The widening of the gap between the rich and the poor has weakened major institutions including the family, public education and public assistance. These have opened ways for children to engage in crimes. Sometimes parents encourage their children to commit crimes so that they can get food and other necessities.
Cultural factors also cause delinquent behavior. It occurs in settings where the norms for societal values and acceptable behavior have broken down. Under these circumstances, many of the rules that the society has set to control crimes from occurring or to deter people from committing crimes may fail and lose their relevance in the society. In situations like these, children respond to threatening and disparaging changes in the social certainty by engaging in insubordinate and criminal activities because of failure in the legal systems (Binder, Geis, & Bruce, 2000).
The likelihood of juvenile delinquency occurring in such situations depends not only on the failure of the legal opportunities but also on access to illegal opportunities.
Urbanization has also caused juvenile delinquency. Research evidence shows that urbanized countries register high-crime rates juvenile delinquencies included. This attributes to the differences in social control and social cohesion. The process of urbanization in developed countries contributes to the rate of juvenile involvement in crime. The features that exist in the urban environment foster the establishment of new forms of social behavior that occur mainly from weakened social relations and the increase of reliance on media.
Urbanization has made parents busy with work an issue that does not give them time to spent with their children and teach them morality. In most cases, children remain at home with their elder siblings or with house helps. Therefore, children grow without the advice and guidance that they require in life. Because of this failure in the parent to child relationship, children may engage in crimes and unwanted behavior because of lack of morality. They may also do this to attract the attention of their parents.
Individual risk factors also cause juvenile delinquency. A child who has a low intelligence and who has not received education has high chances of getting involved in delinquent behavior. Impulsive behavior and uncontrolled aggression can lead to juvenile delinquency. When a child does not know the ways of controlling their anger, they can engage in delinquent behavior as a form of revenge. Uncontrolled anger can make a child kill. Therefore, children who have no knowledge on the effects of uncontrolled aggression can engage in juvenile delinquency (Cole & Smith, 2007).
Inability to delay gratification among juveniles has also become one of the common causes of juvenile delinquency. Whenever the child feels that, he or she needs to satisfy their aggression they can do anything to ensure that happens. This may make them steal or rob to get what they desire. Therefore, multiple individual risk factors make juveniles involve themselves in harmful and illegal activities that may attract detention.
Substance abuse also causes juveniles to engage in illegal activities. With the spread of drug and substance abuse and the availability of drugs and substances, have increased cases of juvenile delinquency. In the current world today, the number of children abusing substances and drugs has increased considerably. This increase can be attributed to the failure of family institutions, availability of drugs and parental influence. The use of substances and drugs motivate children to engage in illegal activities that may help them get access to the drugs. The people providing the children with drugs and substances ay force the children to steal something for them so that they can get the drugs. The children may also engage in illegal activity, for instance, stealing so that they can get money to buy the drugs and substance. Sometimes when the children abuse drugs and substances, they get the motivation to do anything that their mind tells them to do. It makes them careless and thus engages in delinquent behaviors (Trojanowicz, Morash, & Schram, 2001).
The search for identification can also lead to juvenile delinquency. This happens especially in the adolescent age. Many teenagers in the adolescent stage try new things and strive to please others and prove that they have worth. When peer pressure combines with the search of identification, juvenile delinquency becomes obvious. Adolescents can do anything to belong to certain groups or feel a part of a group. When their counterparts engage in delinquent behaviors, they can accept to participate as long as they attract the attention of their peers. This makes teenagers engage in delinquent behaviors for the personal gain they get out of the experience. Teenagers can break rules and regulations at this point without thinking of the detrimental consequences that may come out of it. They think of the things they gain out of that experience as essential than the consequences.
Juvenile delinquency causes suffering to the child, the family of the offender, as well as the victims of the act. When juveniles get incarcerated in juvenile detention centers, they go through mental and psychological torture. When in detention, they do not get to see their parents, siblings and friends often. Every child needs the love and care of their parents and the attention of friends and siblings. Freedom plays a significant role to the development of children. Therefore, when they miss these essential aspects in their early lives, they suffer (Weis, Crutchfield, & Bridges, 2001).
Parents suffer the agony of leaving without their children knowing that the actions that their children got into made them get into jail. Parents suffer because of the shame that the child has put them through and the fact that their child may experience a difficult time in the detention center. This makes some parents plead with the court judges to let their children serve their term through home detention. Some opt for split sentencing, so that their children can serve part of their term in detention centers and part of it at home.
The victims of juvenile delinquency suffer the effects of the act. Victims suffer the effects of injuries that the juveniles might have inflicted on them. This may make them spent a lot of money in hospital bills. Victims of juvenile delinquency loss their property and incur many losses. This happens especially when juveniles engage in robbery and stealing activities. They can steal money or property worth a lot of money. Juvenile delinquency can also cause deaths. This happens because juveniles can use guns or other objects that can injure victims and even kill them.
The history of juvenile justice in America traces back to the late nineteenth century. By 1909, much had changed with regard to juvenile justice. It marked the period when Julian mark, a judge in Harvard proposed that juvenile offenders be treated the way a father treats his children when they engage in the wrong behavior. In 1960s, the rehabilitative model started to thrive. In 1967, the Supreme Court gave youths the permission to have an attorney during their trial. In 1968, the congress passed the juvenile delinquency prevention act that got strength from the juvenile and delinquency act in 1974. However, this progress met a blow when conservative politicians ridiculed the system citing the increase in juvenile and youth crimes.
In the 1990s, legislators enacted tough policies in various legislative structures that could apply in juvenile courts. These legislatures reduced the age of juvenile transfer to allow prosecution of children of about fourteen years and younger. Some legislation resulted to the transfer of youths to adult prisons involving specific cases. However, the contemporary juvenile justice system law attracted politics that do not offer a sound regime. The fact that law reforms have been flawed which made the policies anomalous, as a form of legal regulation has not answered the question of whether criminalization of juvenile justice should be seen as a deficient or efficient legal activity (Cole & Smith, 2007).
The stakeholders involved in the juvenile justice system include juvenile court judges. They make the final decision whether a juvenile has committed a crime. A judge also incarcerates a juvenile incase he is found guilty. Attorneys have the responsibility of helping juveniles to prove their innocence. Sociologists and legislators have the responsibility of making major changes to juvenile laws and legislation. Sometimes psychologists and counselors can function as stakeholders in juvenile courts to decide whether the child who has committed a crime has the right mental capacity.
Several strategies and interventions formulated to prevent juvenile delinquency exist. Violence against children imperils their human rights. Therefore, it requires that communities put aside, time, resources and expertise in order to address the issue of juvenile delinquency.
A number of United Nations instruments that address juvenile delinquency issues advocate for a social way of addressing juvenile delinquency rather than the judicial system. Early phase intervention represents the best measure to prevent juvenile delinquency. This involves making individuals, groups and organizational effort that can prevent children and teenagers from breaking the law. Different ways of preventing children and teenagers from breaking the law exist. Some measures focus on punitive ways of preventing juvenile crime. This involves scaring potential law offenders by making them aware of the possibility of a severe punishment in case they commit crimes. It may also involve taking action to prevent recurrent crime by explaining to juveniles the negative aspects of committing an offence. It may also involve reconciling offenders with their victims (Hesse, Lawrence, & Hesse, 2009).
Early phase prevention may entail offering adolescents with more ways of generating money. This might involve offering them professional training, education, assistance in starting and organizing businesses and arranging new workplaces for them. These strategies can help prevent teenagers and youth from engaging in delinquent behavior. The disadvantage with this strategy involves the fact that it necessitates a lot of capital and commitment. It also requires that the youth receive regular advice on how to manage their work or businesses.
Recreation and youth assistance and development activities that interest the youth can help them move away from delinquent behavior. These activities make them active and offer them a chance to participate in self-building activities that give them no time to think about committing crimes.
Another way may involve changing an urban environment. This involves altering the physical features and the architectural design and providing opportunities to engage the interest of young people. People can do this by establishing more leisure and recreational activities and introducing a number of positive evening activities for the youth. Despite the fact that this option could help solve the issue of juvenile delinquency remarkably, it requires a lot of money and support. If people do not have money and cannot offer assistance to the youth, it can fail considerably.
Another way of preventing juvenile delinquency requires the involvement of the whole society. This means that all members of the society should work together to restore the failed social institutions and the values of the community. This may call for involvement of religion and advice from the elderly. People may decide to incorporate values to the societal system that prevents juveniles from engaging in crime. The disadvantage with this intervention strategy involves the fact that it requires a lot of obligation and investment in terms of duration and personal interest (Lahey, 2003).
The society can also initiate institutional programs that provide social and psychological support for the youth that gives them hope to avoid getting in to crime. The most essential thing that the youth and teenagers need so that they do not engage in juvenile delinquency involves advice, support, education and economic empowerment. All these help the youth not to engage in juvenile delinquency actions.
Juvenile delinquency affects the society in many ways. It comes mainly because of failure in the social and economic systems, in the society. Juvenile delinquency requires that people in the society join forces to prevent it from happening. Provision of advice and economic empowerment can really help to prevent occurrences of juvenile delinquencies.