Juvenile Delinquency: Causes And Remedies By Festus Ukwueze
POSTED 08/24/2018 13:53:30
1201 Reads INTRODUCTION
In the society as we all know, crimes are not only committed by adults alone. Children and youths also engage in criminal activities. And as we all know, criminal offences always come with justice. This simply means that anyone who goes against the law shall face the law. Notwithstanding, adults and children cannot be treated as the same. Therefore the engagement of children and youths in criminal activities is treated as a separate entity and this is termed Juvenile Delinquency.
In law, a minor is a person between the ages 10 and 17, and therefore, we can say that Juvenile Delinquency is the habitual committing of criminal acts or offences by a minor in which ordinary criminal prosecution is possible. Juvenile delinquency can also be seen as juvenile offending. It is also used to refer to the activity of children who exhibit a persistent behaviour of mischievousness or disobedience, so as to be considered out of parental control, becoming subject to legal action by the court system.
There are two main types of offenders in juvenile delinquency: repeat offender and age specific offenders. Repeat offenders are also known as ‘’life course persistent offenders.’’ These juvenile delinquents begin offending or showing other signs of antisocial behaviour during adolescence. Repeat offenders continue to engage in criminal activities or aggressive behaviours even after they enter adulthood.
Age specific offenders are a type of juvenile delinquent behaviour that begins during adolescence. Unlike the repeat offenders however, the behaviours of the age specific offender ends before the minor becomes an adults. The behaviours that a juvenile shows during adolescence are often a good indicator of the types of offender he will become. While age specific offenders leave their delinquent behaviour behind when they enter adulthood, they often have more mental health problems, engage in substance abuse and have greater financial problems than adults who were never delinquents as juveniles.
In recent years, a higher proportion of youth have experienced arrest by their early 20s than in the past, although some scholars have concluded this may reflect more aggressive policies rather than changes in youths’ behaviour. Juvenile crimes can range from status offences (such as underage smoking) to property crimes and violent crimes. Many organizations, including The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) study juvenile delinquency and report compiled data in order to learn what contributes to the issue of juvenile delinquency. Some of the latest juvenile delinquency statistics include:
In 2012, police arrested 182 violent juvenile offenders for every 100,000 youths.
The peak age for offending falls between 15 and 19 years of age.
52% to 57% of juvenile offenders continue to offend.
If a juvenile starts offending before the age of 12, he is more likely to continue offending into adulthood.
The average onset of gang involvement is 16 years of age.
The average onset of drug use is 16to 17 years of age.
However, juvenile offending can be considered to be normative adolescent behaviour. This is because most teens tend to offend by committing non-violent crimes only once or a few times, and only during adolescence. Repeated and/or violent offending is likely to lead to later and more violent offences. When this happens, the offender often displayed ‘’anti-social behaviour’’ even before reaching adolescence. When a juvenile commits a crime, the procedures that take place differ from those of an adult offender. In all states, juvenile court systems, and juvenile detention facilities deal specifically with underage offenders. While it is common for state statutes to consider people under the ages of 17 as minors, the justice system can charge minors even younger as adults, if the crime committed is very serious.
CAUSES OF JUVENILE DELINQUENCIES
People just do not wake up one morning and begin to steal. And as this is a fact, it is then known that teens break laws for various reasons, and that they are a number of factors that can lead them to juvenile delinquency. Teens are still immature and do not think like adults, therefore they are prone to making mistakes or committing crimes that are not fully in their control. Studies have found that a number of life circumstances constitute risk factors for a child to become a juvenile delinquent. While these are many and varied, the most common risk factors for juvenile include:
NEGATIVE PARENTING: This includes all form of authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting, absentee parenting, lack of communication between parents and their wards, lack of social and moral training and broken families. A teen adopts moral and ethical values from his parents and other family members. However, teens become delinquent only when they are facing disturbance at home. Broken and disturbed families cause teens to go astray and become violent. Single parents are often busy working, therefore they are not able to spend quality time with their children. This causes teens to seek attention from others, especially their peers.
PEER PRESSURE: this can come in the form of peer association, poor school performance and peer rejection. This normally results from leaving adolescents unsupervised, encouraging a child to engage in bad behaviours when acting with his peer group. Also, when a teen is rejected by a particular peer group because of his non-involvement in the activities, negative psychological response may occur if the child has no good social and moral background. The child may tend to break the law in order to prove himself to the group and regain his position amongst them.
LACK OF FINANCES: Young or adult, may adopt a wrong path in order to improve their financial condition. Teens become delinquents when they experience poor economic conditions. They start engaging in the wrong activities; selling drugs or stealing things to improve their economic conditions.
ADHD and other mental disorders may result in juvenile delinquency if the people are not properly taken care of.
REMEDIES TO JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
Many children garner the label of juvenile delinquent early, often between the ages of 6 and 12 years. Many juvenile behaviours during the pre-teen and teenage years may be considered normal behaviour for children, as they stretch their boundaries, and struggle to develop their self-perception.
There are, however, certain signs that a child might be headed in a bad direction.
Predictor of juvenile delinquencies may appear as early as preschool, and often include:
Abnormal or slow development of basic skills, such as speech and language.
Serious aggressive behaviour toward other students or teachers.
Prevention of juvenile delinquency serves at-risk youths, their families, and the public, as it can put a stop to the transition of juvenile offenders to adult offenders. Prevention services are offered by a number of government and private agencies, and include such services as:
Family planning services
Substance abuse treatment
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) as I earlier mentioned is just one agency among many that sinks resources into researching about juvenile delinquency, and providing both prevention and rehabilitation programs. The agency also works towards reducing underage substance abuse and gang influence on minors.
The availability of education and encouragement of minors in obtaining education plays a large role in preventing juvenile delinquency. This is because education promotes social cohesion, and helps children of all ages learn to make good choices and to practice self-control.
Conclusively, youths engaging in illegal behaviour is a rampant issue, though most of those juvenile delinquents manage to turn their lives around, and become a productive and happy member of the society. For example, Hollywood actor, Mark Wahlberg, who was charged with attempted murder at the age of 16 and was locked up is now one of the popular actors and has a long list of TV and big screen credits to his name.
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