Prevention and Occurrence of Juvenile Delinquency

Every day, crime shatters the peace in our Nation’s neighborhoods. Violent crime and the fear it causes, cripple our society, threaten personal freedom, and fray the ties that are essential for healthy communities. No corner of America is safe from increasing levels of criminal violence, including violence committed by and against juveniles (U.S. Department of Justice, 1996).

There are many factors that are significant to the occurrence or prevention of juvenile delinquency, but some of the most important are that juvenile offenders are becoming more violent, increase of female offenders, lack of education, substance abuse, and whether maturity will decrease the propensity to decrease crime. It is believed that with the help of family, community, law enforcement, and courts, juvenile delinquency can be decreased.

Family strengthening programming is predicated on the notion that certain risk factors may predispose children to later delinquency. Some of these risk factors, such as degree of parental involvement with youth, level of family stress, or level of parent-child communication, are related to juveniles’ family lives. Family-based programs seek to alter these family-related risk factors in order to reduce the likelihood of children turning to delinquency.

The FAST program (Families and Schools Together) is a family therapy-based program that emphasizes healthy family interactions. The program is ten sessions long and includes parent-to-parent discussions and support, family activities and meals, and parent to child communications. A pretest-posttest design was used to assess program effects, with measures including assessments of conduct disorder, aggression, anxiety, and psychotic behavior. Overall, researchers found significant improvements in juvenile mental health, behavior problems, and ability to focus. At two- and four-year follow-ups, the evaluators found that the program effects were maintained (http://www.jrsa.org/jjec/programs/family/). Review APA guidelines.

Outcome measures in this evaluation included child mental health functioning at school and home, family functioning, family adaptability and cohesion, family isolation, and parental involvement in school. Child mental health functioning was measured using the Quay-Peterson Behavior Problem Checklist, family functioning was measured using Moos’ Family Environment Scale, family adaptability and cohesion were measured using adaptability and cohesion evaluation scales, family isolation was measured using Abidin’s subscale of the Parenting Stress Inventory, and parental involvement in school was measured using Epstein’s Parent Involvement Scale.

The Chicago Child-Parent Centers (CPCs) incorporate human services, home visitation, and parent involvement in school activities, specialized curricula, and health services. The program is oriented toward children between the ages of three and nine and their parents. Evaluators assessed the impact of the Child-Parent Centers using a quasi-experimental design. Children enrolled in six randomly selected schools served as members of the control groups. The group consisted of juveniles enrolled in a CPC, while official data were collected treatment to determine whether the program had an impact on school-reported delinquent behavior and police arrests. Researchers concluded that the duration and extent of participation in the program were significantly related to decreased rates of delinquent behavior in school (Reynolds, 1998).

Outcome measures included delinquency infractions, cognitive readiness, social adjustment, school mobility, school quality, and perceived school competence. Delinquency infractions were measured using school records and a modified version of the 11-item Youth Self-Report; cognitive readiness was measured using the ITBS Early Primary Battery; social adjustment was measured using a six-item teacher ratings scale; school mobility was measured using centralized school records; school quality was measured using the State of Illinois Report Card; and perceived school competence was measured using a six-item self-concept scale.

In 2003, about 2.2 million juveniles were arrested. This figure is 11% lower than the number of arrests in 1999. Youth younger than 15 years composed about 32% of juvenile arrests, and females made up about 29% of juvenile arrests. About 4.2% of juvenile arrests were for violent crimes (murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), 10% were for other assaults, 20.9% were for property crimes, 8.9% were for drug abuse violations, 6.2% were for liquor law violations, 0.9% were for driving under the influence, 8.7% were for disorderly conduct, and 11.7% were for status offenses (curfew and loitering, runaways). (Helping America’s Youth, 2005) Avoid long quotes in a paper of this length; it is preferable to paraphrase into your own words and then cite the source.

The community should help the youth and provide what some may lackâÂ?¦ attention, praise, goals, and understanding. There are numerous programs but one in particular is the Big Brothers and Big Sisters. According to the Helping America’s Youth organization “The program concentrates on children from single-parent households. Its most intricate component is that the volunteer mentor commits substantial time to the youth, meeting for about 4 hours, two to four times a month, for at least 1 year.” (2005). Once these programs are started they are evaluated and in 2005 the Helping America’s Youth organization determined that with the help of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program that:

�46 percent [are] less likely than controls to initiate drug use
�27 percent [are] less likely to initiate alcohol use
�Almost one third [are] less likely to hit someone
�Skipped half as many school days
�Felt more competent at schoolwork and showed gains in grade point average
âÂ?¢Displayed better relationships with their parents and peers (Helping America’s Youth, 2005).

Other community programs like AllStars are based on the efforts of teachers with a little extra reinforcement by parents. The focus is on being a positive role model, goal oriented theories, and overall well-being of the youth. Many of these community programs can be initiated by one volunteer who gives up a little of their free time to share their good qualities. There are specific programs like D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) that are organized to deal with certain problems their community youth are having. Each community relies on its residents, businesses, and government to implement such programs and the types or numbers thus are varied.

Law Enforcement and Juvenile Crime have always gone hand in hand. Like a vicious circle the police always try to catch the juvenile offender, the juvenile offender always try to keep their distance from the Law. As we have reviewed, Juvenile Delinquency continues to be a problem in our society. Juvenile offenders continue to push drugs, steal items from stores and runaway from their homes. Female juvenile offenders are on the rise, the historical two family home is slowly fading and the homeless juvenile runaways are also on the rise. Law Enforcement officers need to continue to receive training on how to interact to the best of their ability with youth offenders. Officers need to make their presence known in society so that youth offenders can see that their crimes will not go unnoticed. The more information Law Enforcement trains themselves in the areas of youth crimes the more they will be able to form stronger relations with the youth in our society which could bring down the youth crime rates. Youth just want to know that they “mean something on our world”. They are going through so many changes during their youth that sometimes they just need that extra attention to keep them on the right track. Police officers have the ability to give that extra attention.

After everyone has done their part to prevent youth crime and there is not a change, then the Courts come into the picture. The Courts need to play the role of the parent, the community, the law enforcement, and their own role, within the law in order for the system to make a difference. The Courts need to realize that a lot of the juveniles before the Court have already gotten many chances and have tried to be “helped” by many other factors along the way.

The sobering projections about the future of juvenile violence underscore the need for strong, immediate, well planned, and decisive action to intervene early with effort to prevent younger children from following in the self destructive footsteps of many of their older brothers and sisters. At the same time it is imperative that we effectively respond to that small percentage of juvenile offenders who repeatedly victimize the community and who account for the vas majority of serious and violent delinquent acts. We must take at least some of the above-mentioned preventive measures to improve the capacity of the juvenile justice system (U.S. Department of Justice, 1996).

References

Helping America’s Youth. (2005). The Community Guide to Helping America’s Youth. Retrieved on January 19, 2005, from http://www.helpingamericasyouth.gov/background.htm

Reynolds, Arthur J., Chang, Heesuk, Temple, Judy A. (1998). Early childhood intervention and juvenile delinquency: An exploratory analysis of the Chicago Child-Parent centers. Evaluation Review, 22(3), 341-372. Retrieved from: http://www.jrsa.org/jjec/programs/family/

U.S. Department of Justice. (1996). Combating Violence and Delinquency: The National Juvenile Justice Action Plan. Retrieved January 18, 2006, from: www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles/jjplanfr.pdf

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