Juvenile crime rates are a significant portion of the UCR statistics. (Uniform Crime Report).Most of the crimes in which juveniles committed were in fact violent crimes. The main crimes that were committed were drug abuse and simple assault. According to the FBI, juveniles accounted for “17% of all arrests, while 15% of those arrests were considered violent crimes”. (Juvenile Crime 2001, 2003) Overall there has been a decrease in juvenile arrests. However, there have been increases in crimes involving females under the age of 18, and minorities (Juvenile Crime 2001, 2003).
There was a considerable increase of juvenile arrest for drug abuse violations. During 2001, it is estimated that 202,500 juveniles were arrested for drug abuse violations. The percentage reached an astounding rate of 121% during the years of 1992 to 2001. (Juvenile, Crime 2001, 2003) This is in comparison with the prior years of 1980 to 1993 in which the rate had only grown by 77%.
Simple assault reached an all time high during 2001. It was also discovered that females made up 28% of the total of juvenile arrests. There is a substantial difference in the arrest rates of male and females for simple assault charges. Males were only accountable for 8% of the statistics, while the females were arrested in 58% of assault cases. (Juvenile crime 2001, 2003) There appeared to be a significant increase among female simple assault arrests as well as for aggravated assaults.
The number of juvenile arrests primarily involved white youth. While there is a misconception that minorities are the primary juveniles arrested in crimes, 78% of those arrested were of the white race. Only 17% of the juveniles arrested were black, and only 4% of the juveniles were Asian/pacific Islander and American Indians only made up 1% of the statistics. However, it should be noted that most Hispanic juveniles were classified as white. There of course is room for interpretation within the statistics.
It is apparent that there is a need for changes within the juvenile justice system. Of course this will take a substantial amount of time. Some of the changes that I would suggest be implemented would be rehabilitation methods other than incarceration within a detention facility. This should be the beginning of many things to come. There should be mandatory counseling sessions, on a 1:1 basis as well as family therapy. If there are significant changes within the actions of our youth there must be a reason as to why.
The fact that all juveniles are at risk should be enough to change the way things are. Instead of assuming that locking a juvenile in a detention center for a few months will change their behavior, we must take rehabilitative steps towards the future. Our society seems to be sending the message that we want our kids to behave but we never have time for them. Activities such as work take valuable time away from our kids when they need it most. We need to quit talking and take action to ensure that our kids have a chance in life. This is not a socio-economic discriminator. Our youth are at risk regardless of where they live, Beverly Hills or Compton. Of course there are some youth who are more prone to being at risk for juvenile delinquency but we should implement planning and services which would help this at risk group.
My last recommendation is positive role modeling for the at risk juveniles. This would of course be a program that would encourage juveniles to stay on the right track. This could be beneficial because young minds tend to emulate what they see. Perhaps exposing the juveniles to positive experiences would help them to understand that their behaviors and actions can be rewarded as opposed to punished.
There are many options which could be beneficial to helping our youth turn their lives around. Instead of constantly pointing out what they are doing wrong, we should take the first step in showing them what they could be doing right.