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Delinquency in the US

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Juvenile delinquency is an issue at-large in the United States, as the response to crimes committed by minors is often controversial.  The juvenile justice system has grown and changed substantially since 1899. Originally, the court process was informal.  Proceedings were conducted behind closed doors with little public or community awareness of how the juvenile court operated or what happened to the children who appeared before it. Rather than confine young people in jails with adults, the early juvenile courts created a probation system and separate rehabilitation and treatment facilities to provide minors with supervision, guidance, and education


Sources of the issue


Many children in the United States lack the essentials for human development. Poverty often leaves children without adequate shelter or food, little to no education, and an absence of healthcare. These basic elements result in underdeveloped individuals: people with no skills to sustain them in the workforce, no knowledge of finance management, and therefore no way to fund necessities like food or higher education. Many times, the only or most attractive alternative at this point is crime. 

Abnormally developed children can be identified and therefore, treated, by observing certain behaviors in youth. These behaviors include the time a child will spend playing with a toy, and how well or often they will listen to a mother’s instructions “not to do something”. The repeated presence of these behaviors in youth has shown a relevant propensity towards crime in later life. 

Another common component that leads to  criminal likelihood is the access to firearms, which results in unintentional gun deaths, especially in children, youth suicides, and school shootings. The heightened rates of gun violence among black and hispanic children is a direct result of their segregated communities that receive less government attention, underfunded public programs fewer police departments, and therefore are more likely to own firearms and engage in criminal activities involving firearms.

Early prevention

The United States’ harsh approach towards juvenile crime is based on extensive research which found  that the sooner an individual who is engaging in criminal activity is apprehended, the better. As children grow, their habits become more and more cemented in their behavior and harder to break. “Problem behavior” in early childhood, such as the behaviors previously mentioned, is strongly linked to adolescent and adult crime. Additionally, the cost of developmental programs for juveniles meant to educate and stabilize youths is much lower than the cost of the consequences if individuals  do not have these skills later in life. By investing in at-risk youths and financing these programs, the state can avoid later criminal activity that negatively impacts the prison system and the taxpayers. Mentoring programs have proven to give  one of the most positive outcomes; giving kids role models to  look up to, shape their lives after and direct them away from crime. The United States drew the conclusion that addressing criminal behavior early in life is crucial to prevention.Therefore, the United States adopted an unforgiving juvenile justice system that would hopefully discipline criminal offenders early on,   and spare society from the crimes these youths were likely to commit later in life. However, this approach failed to account for the countless factors differentiating juvenile criminals from adult criminals and essentially isolated them from society. 

Rehabilitation Approach



In other parts of the world, juvenile crime is approached much differently. Several countries in Europe have taken the initiative to research the factors behind juvenile delinquency and forensic youth care in order to understand and prevent crime in early life. As a result, youth delinquency has decreased in these regions. England, for example, has instilled various residential secure facilities to help prevent and intervene in areas of high rates of youth crime. These facilities range in intensity based on the need of the area.

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