Factors Leading to Juvenile Delinquency
As children grow through the teenage phase to become adults, they tend to develop criminal and delinquent behavior that often lands them in crossroads with the law. In the contemporary society, children have become subjects of potential risks regardless of their gender or social background. The traditional methods that were used to guide children as they grew up have become futile and cannot be applied in the current world. Over the last couple of decades, the number of children who find themselves on the wrong side of the law has increased. The term juvenile refers to anyone below the age of 18 years. The majority of delinquent minors are adolescents (Loeber et al., 2003). Juvenile delinquency can be classified into three categories namely serious child offenders, consistent disruptive behavior children, and the mild delinquents (Loeber et al., 2003). The serious young offenders usually have committed one or more of the following acts: arson, homicide, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault. Those with consistent disruptive behaviors engage in acts such as incorrigibility and truancy which they are unable to stop. The mild offenders partake in simple mistakes that can be corrected quickly. Regardless of the category, juvenile delinquency should be mitigated using proper methods.
Every juvenile offense committed is a result of the density of causes. These causes may have been prevalent long before the delinquency was committed or soon before the occurrence of the offense. However, each transgression is determined by a particular reason that is only known to the child, and thus, it becomes tough to generalize the factors that lead to juvenile delinquency. However, these factors may be grouped into several classifications that try to indicate the causes of juvenile delinquency. These include individual and public or social factors. All these factors contain sub-factors within them that try to expound on the issues that may lead to the prevalence of juvenile delinquency.
Individual Factors and Social Factors
These are the factors that personally influence the individual to engage in mischief. Under this category, there are perinatal and prenatal factors and mental, psychological, and behavioral characteristics. The prenatal factors are those that occur before the child is born and may affect the health of the child. The perinatal issues happen within the first few weeks after the birth of a child. Both perinatal and prenatal complications may lead to an adverse development of a child. Kandel and Mednick (1991), in Shader (2001), conducted research in which they determined that 80% of children with prenatal and perinatal complications tend to exhibit more aggression and violence. However, the association between prenatal and perinatal complications with the prevalence of juvenile delinquency is still a subject of investigation due to differing opinions. On the other hand, individual factors such as behavior, mental, and psychological traits tend to influence the occurrence of juvenile delinquency. The best indicator of delinquency for children below the age of 13 years is aggression (Shader, 2001). Other psychological signs include impulsivity, concentration problems, and verbal abuses.
Issues such as schools where children attend and the neighborhood they reside play a significant role in determining their behavior as they grow. More so, the community has been established to have an influence on the behavior of children. Neighborhoods that are termed as disorganized tend to have weakened social controls which allow criminal activities to prevail. Therefore, children adopt the culture of doing wrong without minding the outcome since they cannot be punished. However, when they take the same behavior to other places, they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Another public factor involves the policies set by schools. While being lenient with rude behavior lead to increase of the same, laying harsh conditions for children may lead to them retaliating against them hence increasing juvenile delinquency (Shader, 2001). Some of these detrimental policies include expulsion grade retention for underperformers and suspensions. Another major social factor is peer influence. Children find themselves in trouble as they try to look cool before their friends by engaging in coarse behaviors. Finally, family issues also play a major role in determining how the child grows. Some family factors leading to juvenile delinquency include poor parenting skills, child maltreatment, and large family size with no proper means of livelihood (Shader, 2001).
Dealing with Juvenile Delinquency
For any program aiming at solving juvenile delinquency to be effective, it must be backed up by social inspiration and vision (Friedlander, 2013). It must ensure that it prevents the emergence of juvenile delinquency and also help in changing those who are already affected. Several measures exist in dealing with cases of juvenile delinquency. The first action is based on preventing the rise of childhood wrongdoing. It starts at the earliest stage after the birth of the child. Parents must demonstrate maternal care and support to their children from when they are young. They must ensure that they instill discipline on them and that they uphold it throughout their young and teenage phase. At the same time, parents must strive to provide the necessities to the children so that they can prevent them from engaging in criminal activities while searching for food and other essentials.
Another measure that may aid in fighting childhood delinquency is through devising means that enable the parents to detect the rise of the behavior at an early age. Afterward, all children who are observed to have signs that may lead to the prevalence of delinquency are taken to a selected community center, and a program is developed to help them. It is established that dealing with any problem affecting the society requires dealing with it at the early stages before it ravages the community. The programs may receive the funding from the department of social justice. It would be useless to establish a program that does not have a source of the required supportive funds. The community may also intervene and provide these centers with some of the necessary resources including human resources such as counselors and motivational speakers. Also, inclusion of selected parents and teachers from the surrounding schools may be a good way for the community to show support to the program (Friedlander, 2013). In these centers, a psychologist may be used to support those children who may be adversely affected. Instead of children being subjected to punishment by the police and other authorities, the intervention of a doctor may be applied to understand the behavior and mental processing of the children.
Juvenile delinquency has continued to affect many children in the world. Children engage in murder, rape, aggravated assault, and homicide hence end up being jailed. Individual, as well as social factors, may lead to the development of juvenile delinquency. These factors include peer pressure, school policies, neighborhood, and mental issues. However, with the right mechanisms in place, childhood delinquency may be curbed. Parents, teachers, and psychologists need to come together to fight against juvenile delinquency.
Friedlander, K. (2013). A Psycho-Analytical Approach to Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Case Studies, Treatment (Vol. 9). Routledge.
Loeber, R., Farrington, D. P., & Petechuk, D. (2003). Child Delinquency: Early Intervention and prevention. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Shader, M. (2001). Risk factors for delinquency: An overview. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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