The increase of violence among the teen and youth population has risen considerably in the last ten or fifteen years. The growth has surpassed boundaries to reach and touch every family, neighborhood, country, and continent in the world. Nationally, there has been a significant rise in youth or juvenile violence. Indeed, studies indicate that there has been a rise in juvenile delinquency by nearly 50 percent.
Reports further indicate that this rise has put tremendous pressure on the juvenile justice system and this has caused a dangerous environment in neighborhoods, making it nearly impossible to hold juvenile responsible for their actions, and leaves the rehabilitation requirements of the juveniles practically impossible to address the ever rising number of juvenile offenders in and out of the system.
Pinckney-Edwards (2008) writes that “our urban cities nationwide feel the brunt of a system that has fallen short of meeting the challenge presented during the past decade.” A testament to the weight felt by society by the failure of the juvenile justice system to undertake its roles effectively.
There are a number of risk factors that have led youths to engage in risky behaviors. Most of these factors are paradoxical to the ‘protective dynamics’ that should positively influence a youth’s ability to participate in self-destructive behavior.
Rather than leave the task of addressing juvenile delinquency to authorities, families and the society in general should take a greater role to play in deterring youths and other young persons from engaging in risky behaviors. However, the juvenile justice also requires an overhaul in order to address the rising statistics on juvenile delinquency.
The risk factors that cause young persons to engage in violent behavior are frequently caused by society’s failure to instill good values upon this delicate segment of the population. Although studies show that most of these problems arise from problems within family setups, there is also evidence that problem behaviors that lead to risky behaviors tend to cluster, for instance, drug abuse, teen pregnancy and school dropout are closely linked.
Besides, risk factors tend to function in a cumulative manner; that is the higher the number of risk factors, the more the probability of a youth to engage in risky behavior. If society, for instance, a school administration took a more active role in identifying or lessening these risk factors and taking appropriate steps, this would be cause a considerable reduction in the number of juvenile delinquents.
Educational institutions should be at the forefront in averting juvenile delinquency by establishing help centers where young persons can seek help freely while maintaining their privacy. Counseling sessions for these persons would have a greater impact at preventing potential participation in risky and violent conduct.
Early interventions would also reduce the number of risk factors and hence reduce the chances of the youth to participate in vices such as drug abuse, criminal behaviors and violence. Some of the early warnings that may be used indicate that a youth is exposed to risk factors include unexplained truancy, sudden low academic achievement, low self esteem, antisocial behavior, and so on. Professional at educational institutions should identify such individuals and intervene before matters get out of hand.
The problem of juvenile delinquency is most common among teens and young persons from poor backgrounds. Most of these persons have either out of school or possess low academic qualifications (do not have high a school diploma) that may not land them a well paying job. For a young person from a poor family who is not working, crime becomes an easier lure. Strategies such as the creation of numerous small high schools and increasing retention for all students have been effective in countering delinquency in New York City.
These models offer small classes, rigorous class work related to youth development and practical experiences such as work and community service. This model should be extended to other cities since education leads to employment and an income. Besides, school-going teenagers and youths have no time to engage in risky behaviors, especially, when they are kept busy through hands-on work experiences.
Although educational institutions and the society in general have a role to play in addressing juvenile delinquency, legal provisions pertaining to juveniles also require amendments to become more effective. A five-year study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) reported that although 80 percent of all young persons arrested were under the influence of drugs when they committed a crime, a paltry 3.6 percent of these arrestees received help regarding substance abuse.
The report showed that 1.9 million out of 2.4 million juvenile arrests had substance dependence and that only 68,600 of these arrestees received substance abuse treatment. The juveniles are simply punished and released without offering them any help to get back to their feet. Consequently, the juvenile justice system requires radical corrections to address the needs of juveniles and deter then from engaging in risky behavior.
Juvenile delinquency affects almost every member of the society and therefore every person should lend a hand in addressing the situation. Every intervention effort must be placed to identify symptoms of this issue at an early stage so that solutions are found.
However, greater responsibility lies in the hands of neighborhoods and the society in general. Legal systems also require corrections to address issues of teens and youths so that once they are released, they can change from their previous ways and adopt a positive lifestyle.
Pinckney-Edwards, J. M. (2008). Introduction to Juvenile Justice.A Research Paper Presented to The Academic Department of the School of Business and Economics In partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctorate in Business Administration.