Juvenile delinquency can be described as a situation whereby a young person commits a crime. Juvenile delinquents are usually teenagers who are under eighteen years old. Juvenile delinquency can also be defined in terms of behavior that is in contrast to the norms of the society (Roberts, 2000). To be classified as a juvenile delinquent, a youngster must commit a crime through breaking either a state of federal law. Juvenile crime has become one of the most serious issues plaguing the nations and societies globally. There is wide range concern that has become mutual to the public, state as well as the government at large.
The rate of juvenile crime has dramatically reduced since the mid-1990s (McCord, Widom, & Crowell, 2001). However, teenagers in the 21st century are still more prone to committing a crime as they are still immature and are not yet capable of thinking like adults. Despite the drastic decline in delinquency crime among the youth, the public and states are still concerned over the trends in crime among the youth. Morgan (2017) states that majority of the crimes which youth engage in includes minor vandalism as well as shoplifting. In addition, a small number of youth engage in crimes that are severe or violent such as rape or aggravated assault.
Factors that lead to Increase in Juvenile Delinquency
According to Islam (2017), there are numerous reasons that may drive young people to take part in delinquent behavior. They include:
Lack of communication
Children may be tempted to find solace in other activities other than their houses if there is lack of communication between them and their parents. Lack of proper communication between members of the family may lead to the young people feeling the lack of unity, understanding or trust. These feelings may lead to a lower self-esteem or confidence in themselves. As a result, the teenager may lose their sense of individuality and may, in turn, participate in activities that are frowned upon just to boost their confidence.
The teenager may follow peers blindly which results in them adopting a lifestyle that are unhealthy. Some of these lifestyles include shoplifting to get items that they cannot afford or they are not supposed to use such as cigarettes. Although the teenagers are aware that these behaviors are wrong, they still do them in the hope that they will be accepted by their peers.
The family plays an essential role in shaping the behavior and characters of their children. The parents are also responsible for mentoring the personality of their children. The teenager may embrace the ethical as well as moral values from the parents or other relatives in the family. In addition, teenagers may demonstrate traits of juvenile delinquency if they are experiencing problems at their homes. Families that are broken or have bad relations can result in teens going astray or even becoming violent.
Furthermore, homes that have single parents have children who are more likely to become juvenile delinquents since the parent is always busy working and is not able to spend more time with their children. As a result, the teenagers may seek attention from their peers or other groups who may contribute to their delinquent behavior.
Lack of Moral and Social Training
Parents and guardians are responsible for teaching their children the moral and ethical values. Parents may pay more attention in their works in attempts of earning more money for the family and, as a result, neglect their children. Since parents are always working and rarely have time to spend with their children, the children may turn to other people who are willing to spend more time with them. Thus, they may end up in bad company that is likely to lead them to delinquency as they seek for attention. Teenagers who have not gone through the process of moral and social training are often caught up in the web of juvenile delinquency as they are unable to identify what behaviors are wrong or right.
In addition, teenagers will be unable to properly interact with others as they lack skills in social and moral values. As a result, they may be perceived as arrogant and selfish. Thus, they may end up having a lower sense of confidence in themselves. Additionally, teens that lack training in moral and social conducts may be unable to respect the rules of the nation and thus commit delinquency crimes.
Lack of Finance
Teenagers, as well as young adults, may take part in criminal activities in an attempt to improve their conditions financially. As a result, they may become juvenile delinquents because of lack of finances to sustain their lives. Teenagers may also engage in delinquent activities to try and help their families financially. For instance, a teenager may engage in activities such as selling drugs or stealing in order to improve their financially stability.
Role of the Society in Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile delinquency requires the combined efforts of all sectors of the society. These sectors include the family, school, public, and even the government. Each of these sectors plays a key role in the prevention of delinquency crimes.
Role of the family
The family can be considered as the central institution in the society whose function is to nurture the socialization of their children while they are still young. Parents have delegated majority of their child-rearing responsibilities to babysitters, providers in the daycare and even to nannies. The changes are big. However, some families are able to adjust and function as healthy units. On the other hand, some families have unable to adjust to the changes and end up crumbling under the stress and pressure, in turn, damaging the lives of their children. Even though the family is unable to control the influences from outside, they are still capable of significantly influencing the extent to which children are exposed to the agents of socialization.
Children are socialized at home first where they learn the values, behavior and beliefs from their parents and guardians. If a disconnection occurs in a family that was once orderly, the children will be most affected in a negative way. One of the major disconnections may include divorce where control over the children shifts from both parents to one parent. Thus, a home that is broken could be a strong factor which will determine the child’s behavior of violating the law.
The parents have the ultimate control over their children’s behaviors. Social Solutions (2016) explain that there is a higher chance of positive results if parents spend more time with their children and in turn reduces the rate of delinquency. They further state that a study from the University of Columbia indicated that there was a lower likelihood of delinquency from teenagers who spent dinner with their parents between five to seven times in a week as compared to those who rarely spent time with their parents.
In addition, the study found that teenagers were more likely to engage in bullying behavior if their parents were not involved actively in their lives. This activity may further lead to the teenagers joining gangs or taking part in violent behaviors. Thus, parents may help greatly in reducing the rate of delinquency by taking part in the lives of their children. However, parents are not the sole solutions to delinquency as they are not even aware of the abilities they possess in reducing the delinquent behavior.
Role of the School
Majority of the life of the child is spent at school. There are some relationships that exist between the activities in the classroom and delinquent behavior. Dedmon (2017) explains that delinquency is connected to achievement in academics where the child’s nature and quality of experiences in school are directly linked with the issues of delinquency. Schools can be identified as the foundations where the influences of the adults and the society are incorporated into a teenager. Education that is obtained in schools is the direct path in which young people can be able to get prestigious occupations.
Thus, if the teenagers feel disadvantaged in this sector through poor performance in school, they are likely to develop deviant behavior. In addition, there are students who have been labelled as “bad students” as they have a habit of disobeying figures of authority directly. These students may also demonstrate signs of aggression or hyperactivity. Thus, the labelling may influence the teenager to act in accordance with the label they have been given. Therefore, teenagers may engage in delinquent behaviors as ways of self-fulfilling the expectations that come with labelling.
Majority of the delinquency prevention responsibilities fall on the school as it provides a situation that juveniles can socialize. The officials in education sector need to come up with more programs that will enhance the effectiveness of the school as an instrument of delinquency prevention. These programs should seek to address the serious issues among teenagers in school such as stereotyping, tracking, and even labelling. The schools should take on a proactive technique in improving the self-image as well as the psychological assets of the students. Schools should also facilitate the necessary resources that students need to succeed as well as be able to repel any behavior that is antisocial.
In addition, schools should also emphasize on the constant development of the student’s cognitive sector through increasing the awareness of the student on the dangers of substance abuse, violent behaviour or even delinquency. Schools should also provide counselling services that will be available to assist students who have started to demonstrate the deviant behavior. However, it is vital to realize that the school did not generate delinquency. In addition, the solution to delinquency is not guaranteed even with the implementation of the educational programs. Thus, implementation of these educational programs will either reduce or increase the issue through the way the school issues punishments and rewards.
Role of the Public
The public has an essential role in preventing delinquency through standing against youth violence. Adolescents who indicate delinquent behavior are more likely to have experience violence when they were at a young age. This violence may have been from their homes, schools through bullying. Violence may make the teenagers to become delinquents in order to escape or as revenge against violence. Therefore, the public should collectively address the issue of youth violence starting from their individual homes. Members of the public should also condemn any acts of youth violence before they destroy the whole society (SecureTeens, 2015).
SecureTeens (2015) identified that there is a definite link between the difference in ethnic, social and class and youth crimes. The differences in social class and ethnicity may make the young people feel inferior to others in the society. As a result, they are unable to develop the sense of belonging, trust, end even empathy from the community. Thus, the unavailability of these feelings may make the teenagers feel like they have been rejected by a particular group thus leading to their rebellion.
The teenagers may act out their frustration through disobeying the laws and breaking the rules. Therefore, members of the public should be cautious so as to not drive the teenagers to towards these destructive thoughts. Through appreciation and accepting teenagers as they are and the differences they have, the public can greatly help in reducing the rate of juvenile delinquency.
Role of the Government
The government, through the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (CCJJDP), is responsible in coming up as well as coordinating the programs for preventing delinquency. The main responsibility of this council is to coordinate the programs on federal juvenile delinquency. It is also the duty of the council to determine how the state, federal as well as the local programs can best be applied in order to help youth that is at risk (Social Solutions, 2016). The Government is also responsible for training law enforcement officials on how to approach the sensitive issue of juvenile delinquency in ways that will not spark more rebellion from the teenagers. Through the combined efforts of the government, the public and the
Approaches that can be taken to deal with Juvenile Delinquency
There are two main approaches which can be used to deal with preventing the issue of juvenile delinquency. These methods include Individual Program and Environmental Program.
According to (McCord et al. (2001), individual program consists of using counselling, proper education as well as psychotherapy to prevent deviant behavior among the young people. This program is made up of other programs such as the clinical program, mental hygiene, education curriculum and activities and removing inferiority complex. Programs such as parental education and recreational programs are also included in the individual program.
The clinical program is where clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and also social workers are employed in various sectors to try and understand the personality disorders which delinquent teenagers may have an attempt to provide the appropriate counseling. On the other hand, the educational curriculum and activities program is whereby the preventive programs are incorporated into the curriculum and activities of the school. Teachers also take part in preventive measures such as equal treatment of students as well as the provision of moral education together with the required social norms that will be applicable in the student’s future.
Mental hygiene program is an essential part of preventing as well as treating delinquent behavior among the young people. This program involves mental therapy which is vital in avoiding mental instabilities and facilitating the mental modification in childhood. Mental hygiene also helps in the development of a high level of sentiments as well as values in young people thus reducing delinquency.
The parental education program, similarly, ensure that parents fulfil their responsibilities of providing education that will help teenagers avoid committing any crimes. Every society should guarantee that there are educational programs as well as opportunities where parents will assist in enhancing the relationship that exists in homes. In addition, this program will guide parents on the appropriate education and the right way to take care of their children.
The recreational programs include activities that are meant for recreation such as dancing, karate, sports and even art among others. These activities facilitate the mix up of different youths with adults, and even youth and develop friendships. These friendships help in developing the personalities of teenagers as well as boosting their self-confidence. Finally, the removal of inferiority complexion involves the diminishing of feelings such as fear and anxiety. This program involves supporting children in order to build their good characters and confidence.
This program is whereby the main focus is on adjusting the socioeconomic conditions that are responsible for promoting deviant behavior among the youth. This program involves activities such as publicity, community programs, family atmosphere and parental care, love and affection.
Community programs involve activities that attempt to connect to an individual who needs help. This program is more effective as compared to the individual approaching the workers with the wish of participating in the community activities. Publicity, on the other hand, includes the media channels such as television and magazines which present the real information on different offences. The media should protect the young people from the news that is misleading and false. In addition, publicity should not be given to delinquent teenagers in order to protect them from social stigma and give them an opportunity to get their life back on the right path through rehabilitation that is not publicized.
Parental care, love and affection is a factor whereby both of the parents shower their children with the love, attention, care and affection that the children need. Provision of these factors from both parents may prevent disappointment and frustration that children may feel due to being neglected by their parents. The feelings of disappointment and frustration from parental neglect are among the main factors that lead to delinquency.
Finally, family atmosphere involves factors that promote a healthy family atmosphere where there is a healthy attachment between the parents and their children. Through these activities, the parent will be more involved with their children’s lives. As a result, the rate of delinquency will reduce as the children will be able to communicate with their parents as they share mutual trust and they feel like they belong to members of the family.
Juvenile delinquency has become a peril to the community. As a society, we have to be prepared to prevent this issue of juvenile delinquency. This preparation includes learning how to deal with youths and children who are maladjusted socially, those who are causing trouble at school as well as those who are involved in breaking the rules. If delinquency among the young people is not addressed, the teenagers will become habitual offenders which may become a menace to the society.
Although the government has recognized juvenile delinquency as a problem that needs to be addressed, the programs initiated by the government cannot be successful unless all sectors of the society including the family, school, public and even the individual fulfill their roles.