Juvenile Crime: Causes, Solutions, and FutureIvy YuanAmerican Heritage School, Boca/DelrayAbstractThe paper aims at undercovering juvenile crimes-a severe social issue.
It talks about the current situation of juvenile crimes, and deeply investigate the psychosocial causes behind. The causes include family, peer pressure, education and etc. Besides, the paper also focus on the situation of criminals after detention, by analyzing the impact on employment, mental and physical health, and the racial difference. There are sufficient data which proves a profoundly negative impact on detained juvenile. Moreover, the paper showed a new framework with three initiatives launched a few years ago. Data from Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), a branch of U.S.
Department of Justice, has showed a significant reduction in crime rate as well as a better outcome after detention. Above all, it leads us to an idea that we need not only laws and detention centers, but also psychosocial therapies to shape a better mental condition. Hopefully, more help will be provided for juvenile criminals, so that more criminals will be able to live a brand new life, and will have a chance to make up their fault. Eventually, more juvenile criminals will be accepted by the society after detention.Keywords: Juvenile crime, current situation, causes, solutions, criminal’s futureJuvenile Crime: Causes, Solutions, and FutureJuvenile crime includes various kinds of crimes, from violent crime like murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, to property crime like burglary, larceny-theft and ect. Although criminals are under 18, youth violence has threatened social security and become a severe social issue worldwide. According to data from U.S.
Department of Justice (2015), the arrest rate reached its peak in 1996. Even though there has been a decrease of 65% from 2006 to 2015, there were still estimated 921,600 juvenile criminals being arrested in 2015. Many of us believe that children are the greatest resource of our future, and the startling data arises our doubt: what makes them criminals? The severity of youth violence attracts many psychologists and sociologists to investigate the causes behind.
Through decades of case study, data analysis and tracking criminals’ behaviors after detention, psychosocial reasons has been undercovered.The complexity of juvenile crime mainly results from its complex causes. A typical factor is family environment: kids from single or poor families have a significantly higher crime rate, and parenting style is one of the most influential reason. Through bonding with parents, children internalize the moral values that are likely to shape their future conduct (Wright,1993).
For example, data shows that boys from fatherless households have an especially higher crime rate than others. This is because they are lack of security and love from fathers, and fathers often provide stable economic income. In addition, the moral and psychosocial atmosphere of a family is crucial. For instance, kids from a family with domestic violence or alcoholism tend to have a twisted moral value and be led to crime more easily. Furthermore, peer influence plays an important role in youth violence.
Adolescents who involve in activities like gang and drug are influenced more often by peer contagion. For example, peer pressure in gang can lead to drug addiction, and substance abuse motivates them to rob, steal vehicles and etc. Data from OJJDP (2016) has showed that ¼ of juvenile crime are property crime. Moreover, criminology data show a strong correlation between kids with inefficient education and juvenile delinquency. A 25 year-long study in Chicago found that children who have lower education were 28% more likely to develop drug problems and were 22% more likely to be arrested for a felony. The causes of youth violence are complicated and are entangled with each other. Juvenile criminals often suffer from more than one reason listed above.
The complexity of juvenile crime is showed in its causes. What’s worse, the complexity has a further impacts on criminals.As it is indicated above, many teenagers are involved in crime because of their family, peers or a complex social environment. There are tragic reasons behind almost every juvenile criminal. However, there isn’t a mature system to help them overcome the past after being arrested.
Generally, arrested juvenile criminals have specific laws and detention centers, but there is still a lack of affected therapy to ensure the mental and physical health for detained criminals, as well as reform their moral value and personality. Because of the lack of basic knowledge, life skills, and the existence of mental and physical disorder, many of them are struggling after detention.To further investigate the lifelong impact of detention on juvenile criminals, their situation are tracked after being detained. According to Justice Policy Institution (2016), juvenile detention has a profoundly negative impact on further education, employment, mental and physical situation and etc, because detained youth are physically and emotionally separated from the families and communities who are the most invested in their recovery and success. Researchers estimate that higher prevalence of two-thirds of young people having mental illness due to the experience in detention centers, and original mental illness tends to worsen during detention. Besides, a study of National Bureau of Economic Research (2013) showed that jailing youth reduced work time over the next decade by 25-30 percent. Data from Princeton University indicates that they have more than 3 weeks less work than common labor force at the same age per year. Additionally, a study conducted by Karen Abram, a psychologist in Northwestern University, has tracked some criminals for more than 10 years.
The result showed that after twelve years after detention, only half of the participants had a high school degree or equivalent. What’s worse, minority criminals have worse outcomes than white criminals. “Involvement in the juvenile justice system can lead to a downward spiral that is difficult to reverse,” said Abram (2013). Life in detention center causes severe mental and physical impact on young criminals, which tends to be the biggest barrier to overcome in later life.Therefore, juvenile criminals can’t be treated like adult criminals, because they are lack of mental maturity. On the contrary, more therapies and education are in need to guide them back to the right track. Hence, how to deal with juvenile crime scientifically becomes a hot issue.
Data about juvenile crime, in particular violent crime, and statistics about the size and characteristics of the juvenile population arises policy debates (Zimring, 1998). A shared framework aiming at reducing youth violence and promoting well-being was launched by CDC and OJJDP in 2010. Based on the cooperation of federal government and communities, the three initiatives of the framework covers education, mental therapy, provide labor resource, stops stopping youth gang and gun violence, and prevent trauma from children’s exposure to violence. According to the data published by OJJDP (2015), the situation change significantly with 34% decrease in youth victims of crime, and 76% decrease in youth arrests with a gun since 2007. The result not only appears as a reduction of arrested rate, but more importantly, it’s showed in the positive situation when criminals get out of imprisonment, which is the part that detention centers can not provide.President Barack Obama once said ,”When a child opens fire on another child, there’s a hole in that child’s heart that government can’t fill, only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole..
. And so that means that this is not just a gun issue, it’s also an issue of the kinds of communities we are building—and in that, we all share a responsibility.” To root juvenile crime, efforts far beyond laws and juvenile detention centers are needed. Criminals need mental care from therapists, life counselors who can help them integrate into society. More importantly, they need a process to reshape their moral value and personality.To reach the further goal, there will still be lots of debates about amendments of laws, budget and moral dilemmas that can possibly occur.
It’s hard to root youth violence completely, but for the tragic and miserable growth which juvenile criminals have been through, sympathy, love, warmth and care are needed to restore their future. On all accounts, they need opportunities to make up their fault, and everyone has the right to live better. Hopefully, with more and more support from both federal government and the society, less children will be misled, and more criminals will have a brighter future.