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Juvenile delinquency refers to illegal antisocial behavior displayed by persons who have not reached the adult age. Juveniles despite their age are capable of committing serious crimes. The causes of juvenile delinquency are numerous and debatable. However, the society and law enforcing bodies understand that the responsibility of juvenile crimes cannot be pegged entirely on the juveniles. Therefore it is important that the society finds amicable solutions to help manage Juvenile delinquency. The development of the juvenile court system was aimed at ensuring that the Juveniles are given a chance to reform and mature into responsible adults. The first step of resolving any problem is to identify its cause or origin. Therefore this paper seeks to identify the causes of juvenile crimes and further on looks at the various controls that can be use to check the rise of crimes committed by juveniles.
Causes of Juvenile delinquency
As mentioned earlier the causes of juvenile delinquency are several and are debatable. Some of these causes are based on theories which have also been criticized. The following are some of the causes of juvenile delinquency. It is common assumption that the behavior displayed by juveniles was learnt from their parents or guardians. This to some extent is true because once a child is born the parent is charged with the duty of according the child love, care and guidance. Poor parenting may indeed influence a child into committing crimes.
Poor parenting may expose the juvenile to deviants who could also be adults or juveniles. Elliott and Menard’s study revealed that most of the juveniles associate with mildly delinquent peers before they engage in crimes. These juveniles learn to commit mild crimes from their peers. These mild crimes enable the juveniles interact with their more delinquent peers which encourages them to commit more serious crimes. Good parenting can enable them cut this cycle allowing the juveniles reform. It is important to note that these juveniles interact with their delinquent peers mostly at school or in the neighborhood. This may involve joining delinquent groups which are out to commit minor or major rimes. Apart from parenting there are various reasons that make juveniles join delinquent peer groups these include;
- Individual traits such as irritability lack of self control. This usually makes it hard for conventional groups to tolerate these individuals. Therefore they end up joining delinquent groups.
- Negative experiences in school or other institutions could lead to association with other delinquent groups.
- Living in regions whereby communities have inadequate resources may increase interaction with delinquent peers.
The strain theory explains that juvenile engage in crime as after experiencing different types of strains. The Juveniles are frustrated because they cannot achieve their targets. Strains result from failure to achieve goals, these goals include
People who do not have money may struggle to get money, in doing so they may opt to go for illegal channels thereby becoming delinquents. Strains such as money are hard to manage because the individual needs the money in order to buy the basic needs.
Status / respect
Everybody wants to be accorded respect in a just and fair manner. Some individuals who perceive that they are not accorded respect may engage in fights or arguments to prove their superiority. In doing so these people may violate the law hence become delinquents.
Thrilling or exciting activities
Sometimes out of curiosity, young adults may engage in activities such as stealing which are clearly against the law. This is because the legal channels will hardly provide systems through which these children can find adequate fun.
Autonomy from adults
This refers to a juveniles attempt to free himself from the control of adults and other people. In an attempt of doing so the juvenile may end up violating the law hence becoming a delinquent.
Economic and social factors
Poor economic conditions may encourage juvenile delinquency. This is because children born in poor families do not have adequate resources and may find it hard to obtaining the basic needs such as food and shelter. Children brought up in these families may be forced to look elsewhere in order to satisfy their needs. This leads to exposure to delinquents and other social injustices
Urbanization has revolutionized social association. This has been coupled with the emergence of new technology. This has made it difficult for guardians to keep track of what their children do. As a result of urbanization children get exposed to various negative things which make it difficult for parents to keep track of what activities their children are engaged in. Video games and films for instance, have exposed children to violence at a tender age.
Control of juvenile delinquency
Generally people feel that tough measures should be adopted in order to reduce the incidence of juvenile delinquency. The juvenile court system was established in the late 1800’s to ensure that juveniles were given a different system of trial from the adult court system. The juvenile court system allows the child to reform and become a useful member of the society. Control of juvenile delinquency has been left to the major institutions in the country. Rehabilitation services should not only provide guidance to the child but also to the child’s family. This may include guidance on how to manage stress and good parenting skills. It is also important to create educative child care which helps the child prepare for school. Parental training programs may also help the families who have delinquents develop tactics that will enable them encourage the delinquent members to reform. This may be possible through; Creation of a bond between the parents and children; improving parental supervision and reducing abuse and neglect and the initiation of school programs which will enable the poor performing children and delinquents receive counseling. This will also boost class performance and classroom management.
The state should also ensure that there are adequate facilities for rehabilitating juvenile offenders. Most juvenile offenders who are incarcerated end up becoming repeat offenders because they do not reform. The mentally challenged juvenile offenders must also be offered better facilities which cater for their illnesses and offer guidance on how to carry on with life. The society should also avoid stereotyping the delinquents because this does not help in their recovery. Labeling juveniles as delinquents even when they haven’t committed crimes makes it difficult for them to recover fully. Instead, they should be monitored and given emotional support to ensure that they do not go back to committing crimes.
Juvenile delinquency is a multi-factorial issue which is best dealt with by employing multiple measures. The society in general has a role of ensuring that children are raised in the right way. The family has a role to play in ensuring juveniles do not end up being delinquents. The government should also ensure that the mentally sick delinquents get better attention to avoid their incarceration. These facilities should also be adequate for the mentally sick a well as the other groups of delinquents. The society should always discourage juvenile delinquency by ensuring that the consequences of committing a crime are serious. Children and young adults should also be aware of these consequences so that they do not engage in crimes. The mentally challenged juvenile offenders should be given adequate support even after they leave the institutions.