Teens Are Not The Problem

This topic will deal with juveniles today and examine in-depth their behaviors as compared to the past. Then I will analyze the juvenile justice system and discuss the laws that are designed to protect them, but are

often to harsh. I’ve been in the system and know this topic first hand. In this I will determine that teens aren’t the problem in today’s society, in fact the crime rate of juveniles has decreased, in addition the juvenile laws should be more lenient.

The juvenile justice system was established in the U.S. the early 20th century due to the fact that they thought children were different from adults and the state should take responsibility on protecting and rehabilitating young offenders (Sanborn and Salerno). A juvenile is a youth at or below the upper age of original jurisdiction in a State, basically most states set it at age seventeen. In the past twenty years, youth crime rates have decreased but the public’s perception has caused the dismantling of the juvenile court system and tougher crime legislation, like trying children as adults and increasing incarceration as the solution to juvenile delinquency.

Until the end of the 19th century juveniles were tried as adults and were also housed with men and women, sane and insane both. Then came the doctrine parens patriae (the State as Parent) which established the new right for the state to intervene and to provide protection for children whose parents did not provide adequate care or supervision.

The media surrounding rare school shootings and other violent crime by youth offenders has succeeded in scaring the public. There was less than a one in two million chance of being killed in a school in America in 1998-1999, yet 71% of Americans felt that a school shooting was likely in their community (The Center of Juvenile Justice and Criminal Justice). Teenagers show either the larger declines or smaller increases (depending on crime category) in rates of serious offending compared to adults. The youngest teens and children show the largest declines in crimes of any age group, foretelling a law abiding coming generation (National Center for Juvenile Justice).

From 1985 to the early 1990s, the number of teenagers arrested for murder nearly tripled before declining sharply in the mid- and late 1990s. By failing to mention key facts, authorities have seriously presented this trend as showing today’s generation to be more prone to slaughter.

Baron asks why do juveniles commit crimes? Family members, friends, and peers are all influences. It is sometimes accompanied by a desire for material things, fashion, peer pressure, cash and more. At times, the demands of wants and needs are intensified by a society that consists of high mobility, social change, and is materialistic. Also, social changes can create anxiety and disillusionment for adolescents and thus they commit delinquent acts. All juvenile delinquent behaviors are influenced not only by what goes
on in the environment in which juveniles live, but also by what they observe in adults, what they listen to, learn from peer groups, parents, relatives, and society at large. Juvenile delinquency is not an inherent human condition, but rather is learned through association, imitation, observation, pressure, needs, wants, influence and desires (Krisberg).

Youths who violate the law are no longer guaranteed special treatment simply because they are young. As of now no state has formally abolished the juvenile court’s exclusive jurisdiction over young offenders, but every state in the country has taken major steps in that direction. It’s very likely that the states will ultimately abolish the concept of delinquency and that all law violations by young people will one day be handled in criminal court. What this means is the day may come when a crime is a crime is a crime, regardless of the offender’s age (Caldwell, Vitacco, and Van Rybroek).

This means that the death penalty will be used more often. Also the sentencing will not be lenient anymore. Then the juveniles will be placed with the general population in jail. They will be will all the murders and rapists. That will unfortunately be traumatizing to them. The odder inmates will take advantage of the juvenile offender. Juveniles have a better change of recovery and to just throw them into the criminal system is not the answer.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention states there are many ways to prevent or decrease juvenile crime. Tribal Youth Program Training and Technical Assistance is one program that is designed to help tribal communities develop comprehensive, systemic approaches to reducing juvenile delinquency, violence, and child victimization and to increase the safety of tribal communities. There is a Youth Crime Watch of America’s new Youth Speakers’ Bureau that offers youth crime watchers the opportunity to teach and train in their local area and around the country. It also gives youth the tools to design their own solutions to the problems of crime, violence, and drugs (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention).

There is this program called the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program that focuses on reducing risks and enhancing protective factors to prevent youth at risk of becoming delinquent from entering the juvenile justice system and to intervene with first-time and no serious offenders to keep them out of the juvenile justice system.