The term juvenile is used to refer to a young person under the age of eighteen who commits actions that offend other people. These actions are rated as a crime and are punishable by law. The extent to which the young person commits a crime is determined by the court and appropriate punishment is given. However, the punishment given is lighter than that of a similar crime when committed by the older people.
The common crimes committed by people, are always with a lot of seriousness and punishments passed onto the accused are very serious. This is because the offenders are seen to be a threat to society. Additionally, severe punishments were passed on crimes like rape murder and stealing by violence. The punishment ranged from a life sentence for murder, thirty years imprisonment for violent theft cases and life imprisonment for rape. Such harsh punishments were passed in order to create fear in the remaining people. Such hard sufferings experienced in prisons led many people to completely turn away from such kinds of crimes.
Detailed History of Juvenile Justice
However, a new trend was observed among adolescents and teenagers in the eighteenth century. The young teenagers also repeatedly involved themselves in criminal acts. Some of these acts were not easy to leave them to continue in the society without a specific action being taken on the offender. Therefore, in 1899 the first juvenile court was established in Chicago. This marked the beginning of cases filed against young boys and girls.
The juvenile courts continued to improve as many considerations were being made about the punishments for the juveniles. The initial punishments were similar to the adult crime sentences. The juveniles were to be detained for a period of three years in a special prison. The special prison was a rehabilitation center for them since the juveniles could have committed crimes out of influence or anger. The three years would, therefore, allow them a chance to reform and become productive people in the country.
The juveniles are arrayed in a special court referred to as juvenile courts. The court sessions are organized separately where all the juveniles are tried one after another. The juveniles are required to say either “I plead delinquent” or “I plead not delinquent”. This is compared to the term that the adult uses “I plead guilty” or “I plead not guilty” while confirming whether they accept their accusation or not. Additionally, the juveniles’ judgments are not passed by a jury of judges but by a single judge.
Generally, the juvenile justice system instituted was geared towards developing a crime free society. In regard to major or minor crimes committed by adolescents, punishments were outlined clearly. The outcome of the juvenile justice system has transformed many young delinquent children back to the upright society morals. As a result, many of them have ended up becoming so productive in their societies and countries.
Causes and Intervention Strategies
The various delinquent cases reported all over the globe have similar root causes. This happens so although the geographic locations are different because people are similar and their needs are alike. The most juvenile cases reported are violent fights, theft of small items, drug and substance abuse, rape and sometimes murder. The juveniles can be either boys or girls and all of them are found in crimes due to similar reasons.
The most prominent causes of delinquency among adolescents are parental upbringing, social class, peer influence, academic intelligence deficiency, internal insecurities, gender and mental self esteem just to mention a few. The above factors as listed in order to total up to the delinquent behavior as they are inseparable from a family set up.
The parental upbringing rated the first factor for delinquent behavior. This is because unsupervised children grow up without a specific manner of instruction. Unsupervised parental upbringing refers to the abandoned street children, single parented broods and pampered kids who are rarely disciplined by parents. As a result, when they get into the society and mix with other children, they opt for doing all things they find interesting. The other danger is that they may easily get influenced wrongly to stealing, fighting, raping and abusing drugs. The proper corrective measure is parents ensuring that they adequately discipline their children.
The social class is rated as the second and is closely related to unrestricted parental upbringing. The children born in black and Latino families are financially challenged as compared to the white family units. The black American families due to their low financial ability tend to liberate their children to grow undisciplined. Parents send their kids to public schools where discipline is not highly prioritized. The private schools ought to restrict the kids to high discipline and good presentation just like the private schools. This will ensure kids have god discipline into them in all matters. On the other hand, private schools restrict kids to clean presentation and respectable speech to all people.
The third cause of delinquency is peer influence. This commonly happens at the adolescent stage. A kid gets affected by bad behavior when they lack basic guiding principles from parents. Therefore, they end up doing anything they feel good about and one that does not undermine them. For instance, when struck by a peer, a delinquent teenager shall not consider forgiving him due to love instead he will hit back. This can easily lead to dangerous fightng thus a juvenile crime. The parents should ensure they teach their kids to be principled on the right morals that don’t compromise to bad influence.
The additional cause is academic intelligence deficiency. Poorly performing kids shall often feel bad about their intelligent counterparts. They can react by being rude or develop low self esteem. Consequently, low esteemed children are high tempered and can easily abuse drugs. Therefore, unless they are highly disciplined, they end up in delinquent activities at a young age.
Strategies and Interventions Deliberated to End Juvenile Delinquency
It is undisputable that prevention is better than cure. In other words, the most effective strategy of averting juvenile delinquency lies with the small unit of the society, the family. Assisting the children and family helps in averting the possibility of the child growing as a delinquent. Reformation of juveniles entails numerous strategies and intervention methods. Some of the most appropriate strategies and intervention programs include education, after-school recreation activities, functional family therapy, and correction facilities such as juvenile courts, policy change strategies and scare tactics.
The first appropriate strategy is the juvenile courts. These courts are charged with the responsibility of reforming and protecting the juvenile youths well all else seem to have failed. In these courts, the primary objective is the needs of children and the passion to help children.
- It helps in reforming and protecting the juveniles when all the rest have failed.
- The primary objective is the needs of the children and passion to help.
- Helps in rehabilitation of the juveniles hence averting adverse perversion among the juveniles.
The major cons of juvenile courts include
- The failure to rehabilitate juvenile youths.
- The young people are denied the rights of protection which are guaranteed to adults.
Families and children need a provision of relevant information in regard to moral conduct in the society. This can only be achieved through proper education program. Parents need to be informed on the basics of raising-up healthy children. Education programs should also be tailored-made to address the effects of sex, drugs, and weapons. This is aimed at informing children of their worth as well as that of others in the society.
- It deals with the prevention of delinquency.
- Youths are made aware of the consequences of their actions.
- It is very effective in this era where youths are bombarded with violent and sexual images.
- Providing such education programs may require lots of funding.
- Some youth may be unwilling to attend such educational programs.
Functional Family Therapy
This program is aimed at helping the youth on probation as well as their families. It involves a family therapist whose mandate is to work closely with the family in helping the members of that family to constructively initiate change in their house.
- It is very effective as it deals with the family as a unit.
- It is traumatizing as compare to juveniles courts.
- Resistance to therapy.
- The negative interaction and communication patterns among the family members may be hard to break.
- It is quite involving and time consuming.
Policy Change Strategies
Many states and government authorities have resorted to change the laws and policies that govern the sale of drugs, alcohol and firearms. This is aimed at averting antisocial behavior among the youths.
This involves threats of confinement to the juveniles which are aimed at putting them off and thus would avoid deviant behavior.
- It has no pros.
- Threats of confinement cannot deter the youths for committing crimes.
- It is a primitive way of averting juvenile delinquency.
Other community-based intervention measures include mentoring, after-school recreation activities, media interventions, policing strategies, and policy change strategies. These programs do take place in designated places such as schools and homes. The intervention programs are based on various risk factors such as access to destructive weapons such as firearms, access to drugs, community attitudes or norms that favor deviant conduct, and evident disorganizattion in the community. It should be noted that the only potential strategies for reducing juvenile crimes are those that involve citizen mobilization. In other words, community intervention should be able to address potential risk factors in the community, within the family, at school, and from the media by mounting intensive preventive patrols in such areas.
Given the rise in worldwide technological advancement, most of the interventions and strategies for averting juvenile also have to be revised so as to meet the standards of the juvenile crimes committed in the next two decades. Education still remains the most appropriate strategies that shall effectively work in the next two decades. Teachers must collaborate with parents so as to ensure that appropriate information reaches the youth who are potential victims of antisocial behaviors. Juvenile courts will also be very essential in averting those victims of severe misconduct. However, the success of each of the above mentioned strategies lies in the cooperation of all relevant stakeholders.
An Intensive Study of All Relevant Stakeholders to Juvenile Delinquency
The major stakeholders in the in the juvenile justice systems include the police, probation officers, juvenile justice board, special home and observation home, state government, victim advocate, parents, NGO, and Legal Service Authority.
Police is the first person who encounters a juvenile at the juvenile justice system. This implies that they should have a child-friendly approach in regard to the principle of dignity and worth of the juvenile as well as the principle of presumption of age innocence. He or she should not treat the juvenile as a ‘criminal waiting to be charged’. The main functions and duties of police are apprehension and arrest. The police are charged with responsibility of establishing the gravity of the offense and determine whether to throe the case away or proceed with apprehension. After apprehension, the police are restricted from chaining, hand-cuffing or, otherwise, fettering the juvenile. Secondly, the police are not allowed to jail or send the juvenile into prison. The police are also charged with the responsibility of undertaking a thorough investigation of the case and presenting the finding to juvenile justice board. The major responsibility of police officers is to ensure that the juvenile in conflict with the laws needs care, and protection, and thus should not be treated like a criminal.
Probation officers are charged with the responsibility of supervising the juvenile until rehabilitation period is over. He or she acts as the guide and helps to the juvenile. Therefore, he or she should be conversant with family background of the juvenile as well as other tangible circumstances that could unearth the juvenile’s case. A probation officer is also responsible for institutionalization of the juvenile. He must provide adequate information to the family of the juvenile with regard to the status of the juvenile’s case. A probation officer should be aware of laws governing juvenile justice, criminal law as well as distinguish between the two. Probation officers play a vital role in ensuring reformation, rehabilitation and social integration of the juvenile are complete. A successful probation officer can be described as one who is capable of preventing the juvenile from reverting to crime but rather becomes a law-abiding and responsible citizen.
Juvenile justice board is a body that does inquiry on juvenile conduct against the law. It comprises of a magistrate assisted by two social workers (male and female). Juvenile justice board is responsible for adjudication of the juvenile case. They take note of the crimes alleged to have been committed. If members of the board differ in opinion, majority will rule the day. However, if the majority cannot be obtained, magistrate is charged to make a ruling. The board is also charged with a responsibility of rehabilitating the juvenile until they became responsible, law-abiding citizens. No juvenile should be sentenced to death of life imprisonment. Any decision should focus on care and protection of the juvenile and not criminalizing them.
Special and observation homes are designed for rehabilitation of the juveniles. The homes should be child-friendly. The facility should also have sufficient space for the juvenile. The building should have basic sanitation facilities as well as an efficient hygiene system. The basic needs such as food, clothing, and bedding should adhere to the weather conditions. The medical facilities should also be availed to all juveniles. The institution should have management staff that is child-friendly. The management staff shall provide custodial care and supervisory services to the juveniles. They are also charged with the responsibility of educating the juveniles of life skills.
Parents are core stakeholders in juvenile delinquency. They are most affected psychologically, emotionally, and sometimes financially. The parents are best positioned stakeholder for averting antisocial behaviors at an early stage. The first five years in child development are very vital for inculcating moral virtues in the child. If parents provide strict rules and moral standards at home, many juvenile cases could not be heard of. However, parents face a challenge in regard to the different environment that children get exposed to. Children tend to acquire deviant behavior from the people in their surroundings. Apart from prescribing standards for the children to follow, parents need to model such standards and so act as examples to their children.