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Juveniles consist of young children and youth offenders who have not yet attained the age of adulthood (in most cases eighteen years) while Juvenile delinquency is the engagement of children and youthful offenders in criminal activities. Crime is an aspect that has raised concern among individuals, groups and organizations especially due to its increased rate among both the juveniles and the adults.
There are various reasons that facilitate the indulgence of individuals especially the juveniles into criminal activities for instance peer pressure, emulation of people and the desire to copy and be like them, poor upbringing for example where the parents or caregivers do not offer guidance towards good behaviour, poverty due to unemployment and lack of education among others.
There are various strategies that could be applied in the correction of the juvenile delinquents all with their positive and negative impacts on the offenders depending on their effectiveness (Finley, 2007). This paper looks into the issue of juvenile delinquency with much emphasis being given to the recent trends in this field and the factors associated with them.
Just like in any other aspect, there are observable trends when it comes along the issue of juvenile delinquency. One notable trend is the decrease in the number of juvenile delinquent arrests that were made between 1998 and 2007 as shown in table 1 of this assignment.
There are various reasons that contribute to indulgence of children and the youths into criminal activities. They include poverty and peer pressure among others. Consequently there exist various factors that could lead to the reduction in the levels or rates of juvenile delinquent arrests, which follows a decline in the engagement of the juveniles in criminal activities that could in one way or the other cause an alarm to the society and the justice & law enforcement systems.
From table 1, there was a significant decrease in the rate of juvenile arrests in 2007. Larceny theft for instance accounted for approximately 300,300 juvenile arrests. Between 1998 and 2007, the decrease rate was 32% which is a considerable fall.
The information in the table also shows that violent index that consists of aggravated assault, robbery, forcible rape as well as murder and non negligence manslaughter decreased over the years. This is however with the exception of juvenile arrests for murder, which increased between tear 2006- 2007 by a slight percentage (3%).
In regard to gender, statistics show that women juvenile accounts for a relatively fewer number of arrests as compared to the male counterparts. In 2007, for instance, the females accounted for approximately 17% of juvenile crime index arrests, 33% of juvenile disorderly conduct arrests and 35% of juvenile property crime index arrests.
This could be accrued to a variety of reasons for instance the fact that some crimes seem more daring to the females and they find themselves shying away from them. This is not the same case for the men and thus their arrest rates seem to be relatively high compared to those linked with the men.
Although there have been a notable positive move in regard to juvenile delinquency in regard to the rate of arrests, it is also clear that the problem has not been dealt with completely. For example, in the year 2007 children and youths under the age of 15 amounted for 28% of the total juvenile arrests for violent crime index offences.
They also accounted for approximately 31% of the total property crime index offences. This rate is neither too low nor too high and thus the need to take necessary actions to avoid exacerbating the rate but rather keeping the rate to the minimum rate possible.
It is also clear that one reason that can be attributed to a decrease in rate of juvenile arrest is the trends that have been observed in criminology field including the advancement and sophistication in the criminal ventures due to technology for instance computer based crimes, international terrorism and money laundering, engagement in transnational corporate crime and formation of more transnational organized crime groups with advanced criminal ventures.
Although this is a negative aspect, it has greatly helped in setting up of strategies that are aimed at handling the emerging kinds of criminal activities in an effort of reducing the chances of the existing criminal justice systems becoming even more ineffective with a lot of people indulging in crime especially the youths.
For this reason, plans aimed at implementing some of the programs that have been identified by various researchers in this field have been put into place to ensure that the juvenile delinquents are handled effectively.
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The programs mainly aim at preventing the youths from indulging in delinquent behaviours, preventing the first-time offenders from further engagement in criminal behaviour and emphasizing family relations. This has greatly reduced the number of both the ordinary as well as the serious juvenile offenders (Burfeind and Bartusch, 2010).
Another notable factor is the fact that there have been changes in the field of criminology including the justice systems that are in place to cater for different offences. The juvenile justice system was in a bad situation over the past despite the efforts that had been put in place to improve the condition hence inefficiencies that led to an increase in the rate of crime among the juveniles.
However, in the recent past, there have been positive changes for instance the substitution of punishment with discipline which avoids focusing on the young offenders’ deficits or weaknesses but instead establishes a system that builds on their strengths and emphasizes on the benefits of good behaviour through rehabilitation.
This has avoided repeated arrests as the juveniles are able to learn of the importance of living a good life that is free from criminal activities.
There is no one specific reason as to why there have been the above trends in juvenile delinquency but rather, the issue could be attributed to a combination of factors each making a certain change, whether positive or negative. A variety of bodies and communities have for instance been concerned with juvenile delinquency leading to formation of various programs and approaches aimed at preventing and controlling crime among the juveniles.
Some of them include after school programs. There is a tendency of youths engaging in crime in after school hours since their parents are at work and hence no supervision. These programs therefore reduce the chances of indulging in crime. Early family intervention has also helped in preventing and reducing juvenile cases in USA and other parts of the world.
This includes counseling that enables good upbringing thus reducing chances of engaging in delinquent behaviour. In addition, alternative justice operations have been adopted. Special courts have for example played a great role in rehabilitating delinquent children and youth in an effort of preventing repeat offences.
This is because the delinquents are equipped with relevant social skills that enable them to cope with general life situations. This is as opposed to when they were subjected to harsh punishment conditions which instead of correcting them, they made them rebellious.
Another factor that is attributed to the decline in juvenile cases between 1998 and 2007 is the existence of job training programs. This equips the youths with necessary skills that allow them to secure employment chances. This avoids idleness and poverty that could make the youth indulge in criminal activities as a way of hiding their embarrassment and seeking a source of livelihood (Scott and Steinberg, 2008).
From the above study, it is evident that the importance of effective interventions for juvenile offenders can not in any way be underemphasized as the group forms a significant portion of the overall criminal offenders worldwide (from statistics).
For this reason, they pose a great challenge to the society and also to the criminal justice bodies or agencies in relation to the seriousness of their offences and also the high frequency in which they carry out the criminal activities. There have been some improvements in interventions methods used in handling these offenders to enhance effectiveness of justice systems in order to deal with this ordeal in an appropriate manner.
It is clear that there have been a good move in regard to the rates of the criminal cases among the juveniles. The major reason for the decline is the improvements that have been done in the judicial system and more so how those caught committing criminal activities are treated.
Burfeind, J and Bartusch, J. D. (2010). Juvenile Delinquency: An Integrated Approach. 2nd Ed. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning
Finley, L. L. (2007). Encyclopedia of Juvenile Violence. London: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Scott, S.E. and Steinberg D.L (2008). Rethinking Juvenile Justice. USA: Harvard University Press.