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Problems of Juvenile Delinquency Case Study

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Executive Summary

The main aim of writing this paper is to carry out an examination of a juvenile delinquent in order to understand what pushes them into doing the act and applicable solutions which can be applied to correct the person. The behavior of the person will be compared to one of the theories used in explaining crimes. The next section will give a brief introduction of the person involved. The behavior of the person will be studied as well as the consequences which arise from his antisocial behavior.

The papers will examine reasons as to why the person engages in crimes. This is because some people are pushed by circumstances to engage in criminal activities. In addition, the person’s relationship with their colleagues will be examined. Whether they engage in criminal activities alone or in company of other people is a matter of concern.

How and when they carry out their operations, what are some of the antisocial behaviors which they engage in. In order to maintain privacy, the first name of the person am conducting the study on will be used. This will make it difficult for other people to identify him. In conclusion, I will discuss the effects that environment, family and community have on the individual and how they have contributed to their immoral behavior.

Introduction

The act of engaging in crime for young people (juveniles) between a certain age limit usually ten to fifteen years is known as juvenile delinquency. However, the age limit varies from one state to another. Many countries throughout the world have well established legal procedures of dealing with youths who commit crimes.

For instance, many countries have established youth detention centers in which rehabilitation programs are offered to help the youth change their behavior. It is in these courts that their cases are heard. The court system for the youths is different from that of adults. Many factors contribute to youths going against expectations of the society (Hagan, 2010).

The effects of antisocial behavior among the youths are felt by individual people as well as the larger society. The society should therefore ensure that youths are brought up in the best way to avoid conflicts arising in the society. This can be achieved by ensuring that the society has well established rules and all people adhere to them.

The media is very attentive in displaying crimes committed by youth’s. Morality levels and maintenance of law and order in a country is determined by the rate at which youths commit crimes. A high level of crime is an indication that immorality is high and law and order in the society is not maintained. Juvenile delinquency should be highly controlled because it would increase the rate of crimes in the future.

This is because most of the adult criminals started their behavior during their early stages of life. Acts committed by juveniles are crimes when performed by adults. This paper will focus of factors that contribute to delinquency behavior among the youths (Wilson, Gottfredson & Stickle, 2009).

Introduction of the Person

The study is carried out on the twenty six year old Alex. His parents travelled most of the time during his early childhood before finally settling in Texas after which they divorced. Edward his father a Latin American was a drunkard and emotional militant who believed in corporal punishment. His mother Anna a woman from Polland was non-tolerant to her children and led a depressed life.

Anna was uneducated and she married at an early age. Alex introduced himself to the use of drugs at the age of 12 years. Alex is Brother to Raymond who was short dead at the age of 16 years.

The death of Raymond affected Alex greatly. He resulted to beer taking, use of cocaine and acid among other activities in order to cope with the situation. After some period of continued use of drugs, he became addicted such that he could not do without drugs. Later on he joined a group of street gangs which engaged in criminal activities.

Resulting Consequences

Alex engaged in extremely dangerous activities. He spent most of time hanging along the streets with other gang members during the night instead of attending classes. Alex could not go on with his studies because of his antisocial behaviors in school. He became a threat to other pupils in his class.

It came to the knowledge of teachers and his fellow pupils that he was responsible for most of the things which went missing in school. He stole books and writing materials from other children.

He also ate other pupils packed lunch out of their knowledge. As if this was not enough, he was frequently involved in fights with other children and he was always found to be the cause of the conflict. School life became hard for him and he decided to drop out with the belief that he will obtain general education from outside (GED), (Millie, 2006).

Life was as well difficult away from school. Alex was discharged from the United States Army the drug screening test. The process involves testing of the urine to determine whether the person consumes illegal drugs. His drug screening test turned positive. He returned home and joined a group of criminals who included people of his age and older people. They used to carry out criminal activities together.

Some of the Alex’s criminal activities included alcohol and drug use, writing forged checks and theft. Alex became a drug trafficker. Drug trafficking is an illegal activity which many children engage in. It involves the act of buying and selling illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroine among others and also consuming them. It is against the law to consume these drugs because they have adverse effects on the health of the user.

The government therefore takes strict measures against people found in possession of these drugs or consuming them. Alex sold drugs to earn himself some money. With time, Alex became a drug addict. He could not do without drugs. Theft and robbery became normal activities with Alex. He stole minor things like clothes from people and sold them at a throw away price.

In the company of his colleagues, they rob big shops, supermarkets and households where they stole goods of high value, caused injuries and deaths to the owners. Car hijacking, kidnapping and arms trafficking were common activities among the group. His actions resulted to various conflicts with law enforcement bodies and he sometimes served short terms in prison as punishment for his cruel activities.

Alex was frequently arrested by the police and spent most of his time confined in correctional facilities. Alex was taken to correctional facilities so that he can change from his bad behavior. However, this did not solve his problem. Immediately after his release, he joined his group and proceeded with his criminal activities (Wood, 2004).

Alex and his group walked around the streets during odd hours of the night. It was so unfortunate to come across such a group of criminals because anything bad could have happened. They robbed, fought and sometimes killed people. His continued use of drugs led to his admission in a health facility Centre.

His mother had found him unconscious in the sitting room as a result of drug overdose after which she rushed him to the hospital. Alex woke up only to find himself in the hospital. Alex was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, Paranoia and Bipolar Disease. This time Alex realized his mistake but it was too late for him. His health is in danger.

Anna is fed up with her sons actions and has thrown him out of the house. Alex is in trouble because he has nobody to support him, he has no skills of his own to earn himself a living and finally he has no believe in himself. Alex is helpless, low-self esteemed and hopeless in life.

Even with continued application of rehabilitation measures, Alex has not managed to stop using drugs. He has chosen to continue taking drugs and classified himself under gypsies.

In addition to the above criminal activities, Alex engaged in irresponsible sexual behavior. Sometimes, he did it out of the influence of drugs. Cases of rape were high among the group. They raped the people they rob as well as the people they came into contact during the later hours of the day.

Alex and his colleagues did not protect themselves while having sexual affairs. Because of this reason, most of them contracted sexually transmitted diseases sometime in their life and Martin were no exception. He severally contracted STDS and visited the doctor who treated him.

However, it was unfortunate for him that he was later diagnosed with HIV and Aids disease. Alex is now hopeless in life. He has no one to take care of him. He needs special medical attention but he cannot afford the high costs (Martin, 2011).

The difficulties that Alex is going through are as a result of his antisocial behavior. He is recently regretting why he joined bad companies, which prompted him into bad behavior. If he could have been wise enough, he could have continued with his studies. Education is important as it is a gateway to quality living. Educated people secure good places in employment where they are well paid (Myers & Farrell, 2008).

Factors Contributing to Alex’s Antisocial Behavior

According to Ryan, Marshall, Hertz and Hernandez (2008), the environment in which children are brought up determines their behavior in future. Parents should closely monitor the behavior of their children and correct them whenever they go wrong. It is therefore important for parents to ensure that they spend most of their time with their children. The responsibility of bringing up children lies on both parents.

Lack of support and cooperation between the parents may affect the growth of the child. In many cases, men tend to neglect their responsibility of bringing up children. In addition to providing for their families, they should also help their spouse’s bring up children in the best way.

In the case of Alex, his father did not take part in bringing him up because he was raise under the care of his mother alone after their divorce. His antisocial behavior resulted from failure of his mother to take full control of his movements. The mother disliked the boy and discriminated against him.

Parents are supposed to be role models to their children so that they can take after them. His father did not set a good example because he divorced his wife. Alex did not have a father to take after his steps. If the father could have been around, he could have helped mould the behavior of his son.

Poor parenting is a major problem in his life. Parents should not show differences between their children while bringing them up. They should all be treated equally. Alex’s mother is an example of a bad parent who favors some children while neglecting others.

Alex’s mother contributed to his antisocial behavior because he made the boy feel that he was less important. John his elder brother was more favored by his parents. Denying him some of his rights like education contributed to his antisocial behavior. John was also ridiculed in school because of the large size of his family. This made his life in school uncomfortable.

High levels of poverty and lack of employment encouraged Alex to engage in criminal activities. Alex lacked the necessities like clothing and he did not have someone to turn to because his mother neglected him. His family was generally poor and his parents had a burden of caring for fourteen children.

This means that children lacked some of the necessities. Alex might have joined criminal groups to acquire the things he lacked. Being young, he could not be employed to earn himself a living. He engaged in harmful activities like theft so that he can get money and satisfy his needs (Ryan, Marshall, Hertz & Hernandez, 2008).

The company that people keep determines the behavior of an individual. Studies have shown that keeping the company of bad people influences good character. Alex’s behavior became worse when he gained the membership to a criminal group.

Due to influence from each other, he went ahead to take part in more serious crimes like shoplifting and car hijacking which he could not do initially. Another contributing factor towards Alex’s antisocial behavior is effects from the use of drugs. Studies have shown people tend to commit crimes under the influence of drugs. Mostly, drug users are violent and the likelihood of causing conflicts is high.

For instance, there are rare incidences in which normal people commit rape cases. There are however many reported cases in which drug users rape even young children. Rape is an inhuman action whose punishment is severe. I suspect that Alex was driven by drug use to commit such crimes. (Ryan, Marshall, Hertz & Hernandez, 2008).

Alex’s parents contributed to his behavior because they did not take the necessary measures to comfort their son after his brother Raymond passed away. They could have advised him on how to forgo his grief over his brother’s death instead of engaging in drugs. Domestic violence which contributed to separation of his parents may be a major contributing factor.

Finally, disunity in the society in which Alex and his parents lived encouraged his criminal behavior. The responsibility of caring for the child is not entirely the work of their parents. Parents should correct children whenever they find them in wrong deeds regardless of whether they know their parents or not.

This will create fear in children not to engage in crimes while away from their parents because they will be punished. Ignorance and lack of education greatly affected his life. Education teaches expected morals in the society which makes it possible for people to differentiate between the right and wrong.

Education makes people understand the consequences of immoral behavior and keep a distance. If Alex could have completed his education in college, the basic knowledge acquired would have been of great help to him. His mother discouraged him by telling him that she could not afford school fees for colleges. This discouraged Alex from working hard in school (Wood, 2004).

Criminological Theories

Social control theories of crimes among the youths associate occurrence of crimes with breakdown, weaknesses and lack of unity in the society. Permissiveness and lack of cohesion in the society is a major contributing factor towards the high rate of crimes among the youths in many countries. They act as motivational theories inspiring the youths to avoid engaging in criminal activities which ruin their lives.

Many youths engage in criminal activities as an immediate source of conflict resolution or gratification. Instead of looking for convenient means of solving problems, many youth resort to criminal activities.

Travis Hirschi, the most prominent social theorist in the 20th century argues that people result to law breaking in order to solve conflicts and therefore, explaining antisocial behavior does not require any special motivation (Hagan, 2010).

Alex’s behaviors can be explained by some of the criminological theories. An example is the broken window theory and social bond theory. The social bond theory was propagated by Travis Hirschi in 1969. The theory was later developed into a social control theory. Historically, social control theory is recognized as an efficient way of explaining and approaching problems arising in the society.

According to Hirchi, social bond theory is composed of four main elements. They include family attachments, commitment to societal and institutional laws like employment and school institutions, participation in activities and strong belief in the importance of these elements.

The theory has its basis in the general theory of crime. According to Hirschi, juvenile delinquents lack societal attachment. Adolescence is a critical stage that requires cooperation so that the society is represented to its maximum.

Because of his behavior, Alex is completely detached from his society. He does not cooperate with students and teachers in schools because his actions go against the school laws.

Instead of keeping the company of responsible people in the society, he engages in destructive activities. Alex does not commit his life to worthwhile activities. Instead of working hard in education to uplift his standards of living, he seems not to worry about it (Millie, 2006).

As a result of lack of his cooperation with other members of the society, he has never been involved in the community’s activities. These include being a member of a religious organization, joining athletic clubs and engaging in community development projects like planting of trees. If Alex could have been a member of a religious group, his behavior could have been corrected.

Religious institutions teach morally accepted behavior in the society. People are taught to live with each other peacefully as well as the importance of adhering to the laws of the society. Alex’s behavior could have been subjected to change if he joined a religious institution. Finally, Alex lacked the belief that he can keep up to the laws of the society. The social bond theory therefore explains his behavior (Young, Dembo & Henderson, 2007).

Dr. James Wilson and George Kelling are the proponents of the broken window theory. The theory is based on the assumption that a society that is not built on stronger laws has a high likelihood of producing many criminals. Based on conservative sociology, the main focus of the theory is maintenance of law and order in the society which leads to social cohesion.

Wilson and Kelling argued that breakdown of neighborhoods; disorderliness and unfriendly atmosphere in the society contribute to crimes and delinquent behaviors. Children need support from their parents and other society members failure to which they will be tempted to engage in crimes to satisfy their needs.

For instance, if they lack food and nobody is willing to provide for them, they will be forced to steal. In addition, the theory is based on the assumption that societies which lack unity and mutual interest witness high rates of crime rates (Moore, 2011).

Wilson and Kelling applied the example of a building whose windows are broken and unrepaired to explain the concept of their theory. The appearance of the house conveys some message to neighbors and passersby by that the owner of the house does not care. In the same way, if the society shows no interest in correcting people with irresponsible behavior, then the behavior will keep spreading further within the society.

It is easy to correct a criminal in the initial stages of their evil deeds than later in life when it has already developed into a habit. The broken window is a metaphor referring to evil deeds in the society like drug use and abuse, theft, loitering in the streets, corruption among other immoral deeds (Bender, 2010).

Broken window theory best explains Alex’s antisocial behavior. The society in which Alex and his parents lived is not well integrated. If her mother had corrected him in the initial stages of his criminal behavior, it would have been easy for him to change. The teacher in the school he was schooling did not take full responsibility on the young boy.

Schools and churches are considered to be institutions in which children are molded into respectable and responsible adults. The teacher should have monitored the behavior of Alex closely. Instead of putting him on frequent punishments, he should have studied him carefully to understand the reasons behind his immoral behavior.

Since Alex stole from children because he lacked the necessities, this is a minor problem which I believe the school institution with the help of his parents could have solved. Criminals begin their activities with minor activities and then keep on advancing. If corrected before it becomes a habit, it’s easy for them to change (Hagan, 2010).

According to Wilson, Gottfredson and Stickle (2009), the positivist school of thought argues that internal and external factors which are beyond human control are the main causes of crimes. Based on the sociological positivism, poverty, membership in groups, illiteracy, unemployment and other societal factors expose people to high risks of engaging in crime.

Studies have shown that the above factors are the main contributing factors towards the high rate of crimes in the modern world. People are engaging in crimes in order to survive.

A study carried out by Adolphe Quetelet to determine the relationship between crime and sociological factors showed that alcohol consumption, lack of education, poverty and gender are leading causes of crimes. Also the study showed that men engage in crimes more than women do.

Population density is also related to crime rates. Crime rates are higher in densely populated areas than areas in which people are few. For instance, the rate of crime is higher in overcrowded cities and especially among slum dwellers.

This is because the resources are not enough to cater for the large numbers of people. Many take up crimes as a means of survival. Social factors contributed to Alex’s irresponsible behavior (Gaik, Abdullah, Elias & Uli, 2010).

Parenting methods determine the behavior of the child. In addition to providing children with the basic necessities, parents should be role models to their children. Alex’s irresponsible behavior is as a result of poor parenting method. The father was no longer there to see to it that his child grew up well.

The foundation of his behavior was weak because he was left in the hands of his mother alone. In addition, he did not receive full parental care. He lacked care and moral support from his father who was away. His family was functionless the reason behind his immoral behavior (Button et al, 2009).

The environment in which he grew up exposed him to engage in crime. In addition to the fact that his parents were poor, his mother discriminated against him. Poverty and discrimination prompted him to steal. Membership in criminal groups influenced his behavior to a great extend. Alex was also under the influence of peer pressure (Montgomery, Thompson & Barczyk, 2011).

Solution to his Behavior

Alex is still young and he can still change from his destructive activities. Changing will be a difficult task but with determination he can succeed. One way is through joining rehabilitation centers in which he will be helped out on how to avoid some of his bad behaviors.

Drug addicts find it hard to stop the habit because it has fully grown within them. Alex will however, be guided on how to do it. Avoiding the company of drug users and ensuring that he commits himself to beneficial activities is one of the solutions (Chabrol et al., 2009).

Alex is still young to join educational institutions. He can join technical institutions in which he will gain skills and knowledge in various fields. Examples of such courses include carpentry, masonery and engineering works. With the knowledge and skills acquired, he will earn himself a living in a better way. Religious institutions may be of great help to him. Churches teach morals and expected behavior in the society.

The teachings of the Bible, the Koran and other holy books encourage people to abide by the societal laws and avoid all kinds of vices. People are taught to love each other in the society, cherish and be cooperative in all activities. Being a committed member in a particular religious group would be of great help to him.

Finally, Alex should seek for guidance and counseling services. He will be encouraged not to loose hope in life, and the necessary measure which he should take to improve the quality of his life. Alex should seek for medical assistance from a health institution where he will get advice on how to deal with his condition (Chanrol et al., 2009).

Societal and Government Measures

Applications of the following measures help in reducing crimes arising amongst the youths. The government should ensure that they have well established rehabilitation facilities where youths will be helped to correct their behavior. Detention should come as the last option after education has offered no assistance. Literacy programs should be channeled to the youths.

Education will equip them with knowledge and skills required to acquire jobs. Getting means of living will discourage theft and other related crimes. Strict rules governing the use of drugs should be put in place. The society should set laws against drug users and other crimes like rape and clearly specify the punishment for such victims. This will create fear among the youths (Galk et al., 2010).

Guidance and counseling should be offered to youths to enlighten them on the expected behavior. Knowing the effects of irresponsible sexual behavior, youths will avoid premarital sex. Rape cases and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases will be minimized. Finally, youths should not be allowed to view violent films in television because this will affect their behavior.

The society should put into considerations orphans and children from poor families when allocating government resources. The government should ensure that such children are funded in academics. This is mainly because children from poor families drop out of school due to lack of school fees. Providing support to orphans and the poor is a limiting measure of crime rates (Doherty, Green & Ensminger, 2008).

Conclusion

Increased rate of crime among the youth is a major problem facing many countries all over the world. The rate of illiteracy levels among the youths is high because most of them engage in crimes and drop out of schools at an early age.

Due to lack of employment, they continue with their destructive activities throughout their adult life. The society should therefore be keen in addressing the issue of crimes among the youths because they are the future leaders. Failure to control them will lead to corrupt and destructive societies in future.

It is a must for conflicts to take place in communities. This is mainly because a society accommodates people from different cultural backgrounds brought up in different ways. Since people are not the same, then problems will always occur.

The most important thing is therefore how to manage problems arising in the society. In conclusion, society should be concerned about the best ways to apply to minimize antisocial behavior among youths in all communities. Education programs should be offered to the youths so that they can be in a position to make sound decisions of what best fits them.

The graph shows the results of a study carried out in the United States of America in a population of 1,000 youths to determine the rate of crimes in the period between 1995 to 2007 (National Centre for Education Statistics U.S., 2009, p.1).

The results of a study carried out in the United States of America in a population of 1,000 youths

Source: National Centre for Education Statistics U.S., 2009, p.1

References

Bender, K. (2010). Why do some maltreated youth become juvenile offenders? A call for further investigation and adaptation of youth services. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 466-473.

Button, T. et al. (2009). Perceived peer delinquency and the genetic predisposition of substance dependence vulnerability. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 100, 1-8.

Chabrol, H., Leeuwen, N., Rodgers, R. & Séjourné, N. (2009). Contributions of psychopathic, narcissistic, Machiavellian, and sadistic personality traits to juvenile delinquency. Personality and Individual Differences, 47, 734-739.

Doherty, E., Green, K. & Ensminger, M. (2008). Investigating the long-term influence of adolescent delinquency on drug use initiation. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 93, 72-84.

Gaik, P., Abdullah, M., Elias, H. & Uli, J. (2010). Development of Antisocial Behavior. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 7, 383-388.

Hagan, E. (2010). Introduction to criminology: Theories, methods, and criminal behavior. New York: SAGE.

Martin, M. E. (2011). Introduction to human services: Through the eyes of practice setting. 2 Edn. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Millie, A. (2006). Anti-social behaviour: Concerns of minority and marginalized Londoners. Internet Journal of Criminology, 1, 1-20.

Montgomery, K., Thompson, S. & Barczyk, A. (2011). Individual and relationship factors associated with delinquency among throwaway adolescents. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 1127-1133.

Moore, S. (2011). Understanding and managing anti-social behavior on public transport through value change: The considerate travel campaign. Transport Policy, 18, 53-59.

Myers, D. & Farrell, A. (2008). Reclaiming lost opportunities: Applying public health models in juvenile justice. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 1159-1177.

National Centre for Education Statistics U.S. (2009). National statistics: Serious violent crime rate in the U.S schools. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 1995-2007.

Ryan, J., Marshall, J., Herz, D. & Hernandez, P. (2008). Juvenile delinquency in child welfare: Investigating group home effects. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 1088-1099.

Wilson, D., Gottfredson, D. & Stickle, W. (2009). Gender differences in effects of teen courts on delinquency: A theory-guided evaluation. Journal of Criminal Justice, 37, 21–27.

Wood, M. (2004). Perceptions and experience of antisocial behavior: Findings from the 2003/4 British Crime Survey, Home Office Online Report 49/04, London: Home Office.

Young, D., Dembo, R. & Henderson, C. (2007). A national survey of substance abuse treatment for juvenile offenders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 32, 255-266.

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