The most efficient way to prevent juvenile delinquency is to assist the children and their families early on
Crimes committed by minors are on the increase. The juveniles who commit crimes are referred to as juvenile delinquents. Crime is a vast topic and complex to explain its causes and most efficient preventive ways. The juvenile is a young child aged between 8 to 17 years who fails to abide by the set Laws and regulations (Agnew & Brezina, 2001). It is also referred to as juvenile offending. The young minors participate in acts of a crime punishable by laws.
There are various factors, which contribute to juvenile behavior. Some view it as individual behavior while others view it as societal context. The crimes committed by youth are referred to as delinquent’s acts. The minors are taken to a juvenile court where they undergo adjudication instead of trial. These delinquent acts include petty theft, abuse of drugs, burning dormitories, pick pocketing, damaging property and assaults. The offenses come along when they become mischievous, disobedient and anti-social.
- To evaluate causes of delinquent behavior
- To identify the role of family, society, school and government in preventing juvenile delinquency
- To discuss effective ways of preventing juvenile delinquency
Some of the questions, which one should ask himself or herself concerning juvenile delinquency, include the following.
- What is delinquent behavior?
- What is the role of stakeholders in preventing delinquent behavior?
- What are the effective ways of preventing delinquent acts?
Various theories have come up to explain the causes of the delinquent behavior. This chapter explores three major theories, which tend to give comprehensive causes of juvenile delinquency. They include the following
Albert Cohen propagated it in 1995; it explains how minors do not meet the set standards by society. They try as much as possible to seek validation from their peers. They enroll into groups, which deal with unacceptable behaviors by society. That influences them to start practicing delinquent acts.
Differential opportunity theory
Lloyd Ohlin and Richard Coward developed it in 1990; it explores how opportunities contribute to juvenile delinquency. It goes ahead to state that juveniles have more possibilities in life compared to their fellow children, but they will still turn to peers to seek validation and get an identity. They believe the delinquent behavior is contributed by a compilation of several factors such as poor academic performance at one level, failing to meet set family standards either in school or in home. When failures present themselves, they feel frustrated and engage in delinquent behaviors to forget their miseries.
That is a standard theory. Robert Merton propagated it and explained why individuals violate laws. It is because they do not have means to achieve the set goals. The society has set goals with minimal legitimate ways to achieve them. Due to pressure from the society, people tend to use wrong ways to reach the goals for instance children cheating in their exams.
Causes of juvenile delinquency
There are various issues, which play a fundamental role in contributing to delinquent behavior in minors. They range from family to societal factors while others are a compilation of different factors. To begin with, social factors directly or indirectly affect children leading to delinquent behavior such as absent parent, broken home and lack of parental supervision (Hirsch, 2002).
Family plays a vital role in shaping children morals and values. They are the first agents of socialization. They pass societal accepted norms and values to the young children before they introduce them to secondary socialization agents such as schools, peers, internet and church. Parental or guardian absence or lack of involvement leaves gaps in the lives of the minor. The available agents like internet and peers will socialize the child. These shape their behavior and personality (Loeber & Stouthamer-Loeber, 1986).
On the other hand, parents give a sense of identity and affection to their children. That profoundly prevents the minors going out there to seek love and validation from their fellow frustrated peers. In addition, transparency between parents and siblings is paramount in preventing delinquent behaviors. It makes children feel safe and confide to their parent with the aim of seeking solutions on disturbing issues.
Environmental factor and neighborhood factors
They also play a role in influencing delinquent behavior. The ecology where one is brought up profoundly affects his or her moral values. Congested area and informal settlement expose minors to a variety of crime since the environment is not conducive. Youth gangs, who deal with petty crimes such as pick pocketing, conning people and abusing drugs, will influence them.
There are school-related factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency. They include complex school laws, negative attitude towards teachers, subjects, schools captains and school as a whole. That can provoke the minor to join peer groups who share the same sentiments with them. That causes school strikes, burning dormitories and destroying school property.
They are not major factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency. Researchers claim that minors with superior intelligence are uncontrollable and tend to bully others. In addition, one can be overcome by watching particular movies, which lead to weird crime feelings and imaginations. That provokes minors to start practicing them, for example, wrestling movies, drug trafficking, racism, incitement religious prejudice and radicalization.
We have risk factors, which play a crucial role in aiding juvenile delinquency, persistent offending and recidivism large family, poverty leading to low income and poor housing
Juvenile delinquency early intervention
These are measures put to prevent and reduce the number of juvenile delinquents. An effectively early prevention program should be introduced after birth up to young adults. These programs are focused on bringing up strength and potential of families and children. It should be intensified during adolescent. The program should be holistic; it should focus on various issues. It enables children to be socially in the right ways.
In addition, when they make mistakes or tend to flow with peer influence, they are reprimanded and shown the right way. They are also able to learn and use those life skills in their daily lives. Early interventions help to reduce risk factors associated with a juvenile delinquent. These programs include parents/guardian capacity building programs and pre- schoolchildren programs (Alvarado & Kumpfer, 2003).
Children who actively participate in such programs are less likely to engage in juvenile crime. These programs also promote emotional intelligence of the kids. They are young but able to think critically before embarking on some activities. These programs also enable parents to become effective guardians and role models to their children (Bricker, Bullis, Horner, Kaufman, Walker, Sprague, Sugai &, 1996).
These programs are also cost effective. It saves the parents and guardian’s money they could use to pay for cost incurred by the deviant child while the government can keep on the rehabilitation and remand homes. The governments invest a lot of money to run rehabs and remand homes. It has proven these programs are useful since they start empowering children on the onset.
They are significant activities, which allow families and children with information through capacity building and social skills. Parents are trained on how to raise their children while children are taught life skills in areas such as premarital sex, criminal gangs and drug abuse.
Children have a lot of free time, which they spend, with their peers and away from their parents. Studies show most children are likely to engage in crime during their own time and in the absence of their parent. A recreation activity gives children and adults time to interact, bond and share challenges. They are designed to fit into children different characters and personality such as sports, swimming, dancing, cooking, hiking and biking and Community outreach activities
That provides the minors with an opportunity to feel safe and interact with their environment. Primary activities include cleaning, visiting the needy, visiting the sick in the hospital and helping out with community work. That gives the minors sense of belonging and responsibility.
Conclusion One person cannot wear war against juvenile delinquency. It calls for holistic approach and inclusion of all concerned parties. All stakeholders need to come on board and take responsibility such as the parents, school, government and family at large. There is no solid solution to end crime. It is a compilation of efforts from various stakeholders. No one can run away from juvenile crimes since they equally affect everyone including the victims, perpetrators, society, family and school. It is not easy to come up with a compressive conclusion on how a child will behave in future. Prevention is better than treatment.