Growing children acquire various behavior from the environment in which they find themselves. The school environment provides a setting where the juveniles learn certain behaviors from both their peers and their instructors. From this interaction, the student may acquire positive values and become a useful individual in the society. However, the unhealthy interaction may lead in adoption of lousy behavior as perceived by society. Adoption of delinquent behavior is based on how the juvenile reacts to the stressors from the school environment posed to them. Some of the influences and factors present in the school setting that may lead to a juvenile undertaking delinquent behavior include academic failure, school administration, and group interactions, among other factors (Esbensen, 2000).
A school going child is faced with huge expectations, from their caregivers, regarding academic excellence. Therefore, school going children grow up believing academic excellence is mandatory to be acceptable in the society. The better-performing students have a good feeling about themselves, consequently, enhancing their sense of self-worth (Esbensen, 2000). However, underperforming students feel unworthy in the school setting as they receive negative responses from their parents, teachers, or fellow students. Subsequent negative attitudes towards the underperforming students make them become overwhelmed and choose to drop out of the school system. When outside of the school, these juveniles do not experience the regulatory measures governing their actions as when they were under the school setting; hence get involved in delinquent acts.
The school administration often interacts with the school going children; hence the mode of interaction with students elicits certain reactions from them. When the teachers have proper positive attitudes when handling the students, the same positive energy will be reflected in the school's administration. Positive attitude towards the children is evidenced by caring and listening administration towards the students want (Esbensen, 2000). However, the instances where the teacher's actions may lead to delinquent acts by students; for instance, creating stringent rules without consultations with the students, applying corporal punishment, and use of offensive verbal ques result in the students becoming rebellious making them engage in rowdy protests including other delinquent acts.
The school setting is comprised of students from various backgrounds who may interact in a negative manner culminating in the participation of delinquent acts. Juveniles transitioning into adolescence phase of growth and development find refuge in peer groups where they get to express their needs. A study done in the US show that adolescents find their source of worth in the peer groups and feel powerful; since the groups are composed of peers from various backgrounds who may introduce delinquent behaviors influencing the members to undertake some of the delinquent activities. Therefore, members feel confident in participating in the delinquent acts since they know a backing from the rest of the group members is present and provided.
The need of participating in delinquent acts is the sole responsibility of an individual despite the school environment having some influence in the acts. The schools in which delinquent juveniles are rampant, well-behaved students also exist. The well-behaved students recognize that delinquent acts are not good for their academic development, hence strive to act in a manner acceptable in the school environment and the society at large. As a result, they can achieve academic excellence as compared to their delinquent peers who experience academic failure (Esbensen, 2000).
Juvenile Criminal Justice System
Over the years, the criminal justice system has improved in the manner in which juveniles are handled. The criminal justice system should handle juveniles differently from the way adults are handled. Juveniles are to be protected and exempted from various procedures in the criminal justice system because they are considered vulnerable, unaware about some legal rights, or some may not have the courage to stand for themselves during some procedures that require adult courage. Therefore, two vital steps upon which juveniles should be exempted from include imprisonment and condemnation. The following is a description of two landmark decisions that changed the criminal justice system with regards to how juveniles should be handled.
In re Gault
On 8th June 1964, Gault, a 15 year old was accused of making a derogatory phone call to Mrs. Cook. A complaint was filed by Mrs. Cook which led to the arrest of Gault and taken to the juvenile detention home. A petition was filed without the knowledge of neither Gault nor his parents. During the hearing, Gault pleaded guilty, and the judge resulted in the decision of sentencing Gault to six years of imprisonment. Citing irregularities in the ruling, Gault's parents decided to appeal at the Supreme Court of America. The case was heard with the view of providing the procedure upon which the criminal justice system would handle a juvenile. The decision imprisonment granted to Gault was reversed by the Supreme Court, consequently giving the direction upon which juvenile justice systems should be undertaken (US Courts, 2018).
The decision by the Supreme Court of America provided a distinction between incarceration of adults and juveniles. The juveniles were exempted from imprisonment and incorporated in rehabilitation centers. Adults are considered more resilient than the juvenile; hence imprisonment can be applied to them as a correctional measure (US Courts, 2018). However, juveniles are vulnerable, and imprisonment will make their situations worse rather than offering them a chance to reform.
Roper V. Simmons
Christopher Simmons, aged 17, developed a plan to break into a woman's house in the company of two friends after that murdering her (Legal Dictionary, 2018). The murder was done by taping the woman then dropping her into a river below the bridge. Simmons gave a confession of committing the murder to the police. The confession was backed with a videotape of the events that occurred during the murder. The evidence placed before Simmons showed that he planned to undertake the capital offense which he bragged about after his achievement. The jury in charge of the case found compelling evidence linking Simmons to the murder, therefore, recommending the death penalty to be imposed by the trial court. Following his appeal through the Missouri Supreme Court, led to the reversion of the ruling using the Atkins V. Virginia ruling, this declared death penalty not applicable to mentally disabled individuals. The Missouri Court made the application to the Supreme Court of US which granted him certiorari (Legal Dictionary, 2018).
Juvenile, under the age of 18 years, is considered to be mentally disabled, hence unable to make rational decisions for their actions, as compared to the adults (PRI, 2013). Juveniles are naive and that their execution will demonstrate unusual and cruel punishment imposed on them. This ruling is based upon the 18th amendment which dictates juveniles display naivety and immaturity as compared to the adults.
Esbensen, F. (2000). Preventing Adolescent Gang Involvement. Juvenile Justice Bulletin.
Legal Dictionary. (2018). Roper V. Simmons. Retrieved from https://legaldictionary.net/roper-v-simmons/
PRI. (2013). Protecting children's rights in criminal justice systems. https://www.penalreform.org/resource/juvenile-justice-manual/
US Courts. (2018). Facts and Case Summary - In re Gault.http://www.uscourts.gov/educationalresources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-re-gault
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