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Juvenile offenders require a special treatment in order to make them avoid repeating offensive behavior because juvenile crimes have been rated high among the major determinants of the crime rates in society. Unfortunately, most of the people do not directly attribute crimes to children. They assume that children cannot be involved in criminal activities due to their innocence.
However, researches by juvenile offenders researchers like Schemalleger (2008, p 542) have indicated that 10% of 99,794 juvenile arrests that were made in United States in 2008 were of children aged 12 and below. It is also heart wrenching to realize that 17% of all police arrests made every year comprise juvenile offenders.
This finding is very alarming. Therefore, it calls for various stakeholders in juvenile treatment programs to be zealous since children only comprise 26% of the United States’ population. The figure indicates that adolescents are capable of committing crimes unless they are tamed at an early age.
Since most of the juvenile offenders are adolescents, various stakeholders can correct this behavior through proper treatment, which is of paramount importance to focus on especially the roles that various stakeholders in the treatment programs play.
When the stakeholders strengthen the output of their particular roles in treatment of juvenile offenders, the effort will eventually reduce the rate of crimes in the future by having every stakeholder in various treatment programs understand his or her roles and the impact of their role on its success.
Although correctional institutions and various governments have always centered their efforts on the use of scare straight programs when dealing with juvenile offenders, it has been widely discredited due to its lack of efficiency and effectiveness. Various non-confrontational methods have been shown to perform better than scare-straight programs.
Such non-confrontational juvenile treatment methods include discussions and positive reinforcement, educational programs, family programs, re-entry programs, youth recreation programs, and community-based programs. In all the programs, various stakeholders are involved. The effectiveness of such programs therefore largely depends on the contribution of the key stakeholders.
Therefore, since the increasing rates of juvenile crimes forced various stakeholders such as parents, the youths themselves, and various administrators such as lawyers and police to develop juvenile treatment programs, the stakeholders become integral in implementation. The paper endeavors to discuss the impact of various stakeholders in treatment programs for juvenile offenders.
Role of the youth in the juvenile treatment programs
Youths have a role to appreciate juvenile programs and their objectives. Youths who participate in the juvenile treatment programs are the major stakeholders. In fact, the whole program is designed to change them from delinquents to law-abiding citizens in their states.
Schemalleger (2008, p.546) asserts that the Illinois Juvenile Court Act of 1899 was meant to make the court focus on children’s interest in case of a crime rather than on their criminal acts thus indicating that all juvenile treatment programs are designed for the good of the youth involved in the crime.
In fact, in the Illinois court judges were barred by law from referring to juvenile offenders as criminals instead of delinquents. All delinquents should therefore play their rightful roles in the implementation of juvenile treatment programs since it is geared towards their well-being.
The youths who have been involved in the crime have to accept the circumstances under which they been associated with criminal activities. Acceptance of one’s situation is a great role that can enhance the success of the treatment program. The youth must appreciate that all other stakeholders in the juvenile treatment program are focused towards his or her success in the future.
The other role that the youth involved in the juvenile treatment program should play is that of feeling guilty of the committed offence, which marks the beginning of the healing and the change program. For the delinquent to reform from their criminal acts, they must begin by accepting that what they did is wrong and is punishable in the society.
In fact, according to Schemalleger (2011, p. 547), when the delinquents are pampered, they continue with criminal activities even when they have been tried in courts of law thus making young criminals not to be remorseful about their evil acts.
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The assumption that, when children commit a criminal act, they do so unwillingly and that they should not be regarded as criminals is misleading. As Dammer and Albanese (2011, p. 264) argue, due to the assumption of guilt, the Juvenile Court Act of 1938 flopped. From this Act, the court was to assume that it was the ultimate parent to all juvenile offenders to compel the state to use non-punitive measures in handling delinquents.
Moreover, juvenile offenders could not be taken through the formal judicial procedures in prosecuting crime acts. Consequently, by 1980 the rate of juvenile crimes worsened (Dammer & Albanese, 2011, p. 264). Juvenile offenders should therefore be remorseful of their criminal acts. Youths should focus on the actual criminal acts that they committed.
The strategy will deter them from committing such crimes again since it harms other people. Juvenile offenders should be made to understand the repercussions of their criminal acts on the victim and the society. For instance, if they injured another person, they should be made to understand the pain, the financial impact, and anger on the side of the victim.
They will hence regret committing such crimes again. The treatment will also make them not to participate in any crimes for the second time. Klenowski, Bell, and Dodson (2010, p.256) are for the opinion that, when juvenile offenders are made to apologize their acts at a young age, their willingness to repeat the behavior is deterred.
Therefore, all juvenile offenders should feel guilty and sorry for their evil deeds. They will then appreciate changing their attitude towards themselves hence making juvenile treatment program a success.
The youths also have a role to show commitment to the program. According to Gottfred and Barton (1993, p.2), youths who spent enough time in the juvenile treatment program are less likely to repeat the criminal act. This inference is attributed to the fact that youths who are not committed to the treatment program do not have enough time under their supervisors.
Lack of commitment also denies them a chance to access all services that the program is designed to offer. Barton and Butts advocate for juvenile treatment programs to be done in an institution (1990). In an institution, the youth is able to access the supervisors, teachers, and other stakeholders in the program.
It is also true that juvenile offenders who commit themselves to learn in the correctional institutions are not likely to repeat their behavior.
Consequently, juveniles who remain in their community should plan to commit themselves to the treatment programs up to the end because the more the contact hours that the delinquent has with the supervisor and the counselors, the more he or she is likely to be stable in avoiding criminal activities in the future. Such educational programs make them knowledgeable.
The youths gain more insights on crime and the consequences of criminal acts. The youths have the responsibility to change. Delinquent behavior is classified as criminal since a crime is a crime whether committed by a child or an adult. Juvenile offenders should therefore appreciate that other stakeholders in the treatment program work for their well-being.
However, none of the other stakeholders in the treatment programs can change. Youths ought to change themselves for better. The society and experts today are advocating for non-confrontational methods of juvenile treatment. Youths must appreciate that they must not be confronted for them to change. They must also understand that they do not have to be beaten for them to change their behavior.
In fact, they should appreciate that someone is concerned about their future. According to Klenowski, Bell, and Dodson (2010, p.255), confrontational methods do not succeed in deterring crime. This argument indicates that, when the youth see other stakeholders in the implementation of juvenile treatment program, they should be ready to change.
The idea of having the youth commit themselves to change is paramount in juvenile treatment. According to Sells, Sullivan, and Devore ( 2012, p.40), researches following the life of a juvenile offender after life in prison indicate that the rate of committing another crime is 60% and 33% in being arrested for the second time.
Parents and the Community
Parents comprise other stakeholders in the treatment of juvenile offenders. Parents play the role of offering moral support to juvenile offenders. Therefore, parents have a role to play in ensuring the success of treatment of juvenile offender programs.
According to Lipsey (1992), there are more cutbacks in the level of recidivism when the community offers juvenile treatment indicating that parents who constitute the building blocks of the community have a big role to play for the success of juvenile treatment programs. In fact, when the community supports juvenile offenders in their process of change, the delinquents can appreciate the change programs.
Juvenile offenders also feel cared for when the society shows concern about what they go through. Therefore, parents should support their children in the juvenile treatment programs. They should encourage the delinquents not to repeat their past offences.
Fagan, Forst, and Vivona (1998, p.233) assert that, when a group of delinquents receives extra after-treatment care and supervision, it does not show any significant reduction levels in recidivism. Therefore, when parents and the society chip in with an aim of helping juveniles to recover, they cannot affect them negatively.
The second role that parents and community should play in juvenile treatment programs is to enhance surveillance. Parents and the community should assist program administrators by ensuring that they monitor the delinquents closely. The community should also ensure that the delinquents’ whereabouts and character is closely monitored in a bid to prevent them from committing crimes again.
Parents should also monitor their children to ensure that they undergo the whole process of juvenile program treatment. They have a role to play in enhancing success of the juvenile treatment programs. Although parents and community may not be trained on juvenile treatment, they are not likely to affect the program negatively (Fagan, Forst, & Vivona, 1988 p.234).
In fact, for the success of juvenile treatment programs, stakeholders should focus their efforts on restraining the offenders. This strategy is likely to yield better results than the enhancement of services that were done through the scare-straight programs, which failed later. Parents should have control over what their children do.
They should also know whether the programs chosen for rehabilitation of their children are good or not. They should ensure that their children have enough contact with program supervisors besides ensuring that there is an electronic surveillance on their children. This strategy will ensure that parents and society are sure about the actions of their children.
Greenwood et al. (1993) argue that, when there is little or no family support on the delinquents who undergo juvenile treatment program, the success of the program may not be realized. When a child learns that his or her family is opposed to a certain kind of acts especially criminal acts, the child feels unmotivated to repeat them. In fact, children are likely to repeat an action when there is enough reinforcement.
When parents like a certain behavior and or reinforce it through motivation, the child is likely to repeat the behavior. Parents should also play the role of corroboration.
From the studies carried out by Gottfred and Barton, it is easy to realize that positive reinforcement through reward motivates the youth to change their behavior meaning that parents should ensure that they reinforce any positive behavior realized from a delinquent child. This technique will encourage the child to repeat the behavior hence terminating the negative one.
By applying the strategy, parents can slowly integrate their children into the normal functions of the society. According to Mulvey (2011, p.2), open programs provide an opportunity for juvenile offenders to work, join school activities, and do other productive activities in the society therefore reducing the level of crime in the society.
When children realize that they are equated to other members of the family and the society, they feel ready to become responsible. Consequently, if the parents of a delinquent child are responsible enough to reinforce good behavior and to discourage negative behavior, it becomes easier to make juvenile treatment programs a success.
Mathur and Scoenfeld (2010) point out that uneducated parents and neighbors (community) raise most of the delinquent children. This argument means that, if the community has a high level of illiteracy, the rate of delinquent behavior may be very high. In addition, if the parents of a certain child with high predisposition to crime are uneducated, they may not be able to reinforce positive behavior if the child becomes delinquent.
This lack of positive reinforcement of good behavior makes most of the delinquents repeat a certain negative behavior. This case can also be attributed to the repeated crime behavior and increased rates of second crime arrest to juvenile offenders.
Muthur and Scoenfeld (2010, p.20) also argue that lack of positive reinforcement from parents predispose the juvenile offender to poor academic and life attitude meaning that, just as other children, delinquents are dependent on their parents for support and reinforcement of character.
Therefore, parents have to play their rightful role in ensuring that their children do not become delinquent and that those that are already delinquent leave the habit for good.
Parents have a role to appreciate the implementation of open treatment programs on their delinquent children because, if the parent differs with other stakeholders in the implementation of the juvenile treatment program, it becomes very difficult to implement the program.
According to researches conducted by Harris, Lockwood, and Mangers (2001, p.1), there were 65000 juvenile offenders in police cells in the United States in the year 2003 because of the court order sanctions. This finding was a sharp rise stemming back to 1991.
This evidence is enough that the Scare straight programs are not effective and hence the need to support the open programs for their children. In open programs, parents are not separated from their children meaning that a mother can discuss with her child about the cause of a certain behavior.
Hence, they have a chance to participate in the change process. Parents appreciate having an impact on the character of their children. In the same vein, parents will appreciate a program that moulds their lost children into becoming honorable people in the society.
Therefore, it is important for parents to reinforce the implementation of open juvenile treatment programs on their children. It is also factual that one of the factors that led to the failure of the scare-straight programs was the method of implementation, which calls for the parents to ensure that the juvenile program that is put forward for their children is well implemented and controlled for positive results.
Parents should also play the role of supervising the juvenile treatment programs in addition to the people who implement such programs on their children because, in some juvenile treatment programs like such as scare-straight programs, children were exposed to criminals in maximum prison in a bid to scare them from becoming criminals.
However, this strategy ended up making the criminals the role models to these children hence enhancing their predisposition to crime.
According to Klenowski, Bell, and Dodson (2010, p.255), exposing juvenile offenders to hardened criminals portrays the inmates as good role models for the juveniles to emulate because the scare-straight treatment programs aimed at having the hardened criminals narrate their atrocities to the juveniles in order to scare them.
To affirm the argument, Sells, Sullivan, and Devore (2012, p.40) portray how crime committed for the second time by juvenile offenders increased in the United States with the rate of second arrests doubling to indicate that the use of some juvenile treatment programs may in fact reinforce criminal behaviors rather than discouraging it.
It is therefore important that every parent of a delinquent monitor and understand the program that is being applied for their sons or daughters.
The Program Administrators
Program administrators include supervisors, advocates who design programs, counselors, the police, and all professionals involved in the juvenile treatment programs. Every program administrator works hard to see the success of the juvenile offender. Each one of these administrators has a role to play for the success of the program.
The program designers, for instance, have a role to design objectives and effective programs. Scare-straight program flopped due to poor program design. This failure means that successful programs have to be designed in a certain way and be implemented in a way.
According to Schemalleger (2011, p.546), the enactment of the Illinois Juvenile Act of 1899 juveniles were to be referred to as delinquents aiming at eliminating the sense of guilt in them. As such, juveniles in crimes increased while the probability of second crime commitment by those that had fully undergone treatment programs rose.
This finding means that poor polices on juvenile treatment programs can lead to more deterioration of the character of juvenile offenders. It is also worth noting that the enactment of Juvenile Court Act of 1938 by the United States federal government did not yield any positive results.
These poor policies even made the delinquents worse. Schemalleger (2011, p.547) and Dammer and Albenese (2011, p.547) argue that, since advocates included many attributes of the preceding Illinois Act into this Act, it had to fail. In addition, Schemalleger argues that the concerted efforts to enforce these laws in the whole federation were not successful. If such enactments were made in a wise way, they could have been successful.
The program administrators also have a role to ensure proper strategies for implementation. The success of any program depends on the people involved in it. If the people involved in the implementation of the program do not understand it or go against it, the program is bound to fail.
For example, after the enactment of the Juvenile Court Act of 1938, the federal government worked to ensure that every state had implemented such policies within eight years. However, due to poor implementation strategies, the program did not succeed in lowering the level of juvenile offences. In fact, juvenile crime rate increased as an indication of poor strategy implementation plans.
Although the program implementers focused their attention on the good of the child, the program’s perspective made it fail. Juvenile offenders who were involved in this program felt pampered. Therefore, they were never remorseful about the crimes they had committed. This elimination of guilt in the minds and hearts of the juvenile offenders made them prone to committing the crime for the second time.
In fact, this elimination of guilt on the side of the offenders acted as a reinforcement of their negative behavior. Therefore, most of them were rearrested soon after they had left the rehabilitation camp despite having completed their treatment program period. In addition, Schemalleger (2011, p.548) asserts that states were guided by the principle of noncriminal procedures when adjudicating juvenile cases.
This interpretation of the act was also a factor that reinforced its crumbling. The program was bound to fail from its onset because children that committed crimes were to be regarded as delinquents and not criminals during the implementation of the program. It is not proper for a juvenile offender who had committed a crime of rape or murder to be regarded as a delinquent.
This provision makes them feel exempted from guilt while the victim of their crimes continues to suffer. In fact, they felt that their nation was one of lawlessness and not everybody was punishable by law. This would reinforce the belief that, even when they commit another crime, they will not be punished as other criminals.
This argument is another reason for the failure of the scare-straight program on which the federal government had invested a lot of money. One can therefore argue that, due to poor program implementation strategies, the rate of juvenile crime had risen so high in 1980s (Dammer & Albanese, 2011, p.264). The program was a total flop. It even worked against the intentions of is designers.
Program designers have a role to ensure that the program yield positive results. The people who are involved in coming up with the juvenile treatment programs, for example lawyers, advocates, and other policy makers should ensure that the programs are geared towards success. The failure of any program indicates failure on the side of the designers, implementers, and processes.
The Illinois Act and the Juvenile Court Act failed as a manifestation of a failure on the side of the program designers and the implementers alike. Having the program not achieving its objective of deterring crime and reducing the rate of juvenile crime indicates malfunction.
Programs are designed to succeed not to fail. In fact, the scare-straight program was not a success despite much effort put by the state in ensuring that the program was successful. Lawyers and policy makers had spent considerable efforts in ensuring that this program was a success.
Program implementers also made efforts in ensuring that the program was successful. In fact, the plan was that, by the end of the first eight years after the Juvenile court act, every state would have implemented the Juvenile Crimes Act.
Program implementers as stakeholders can determine whether a certain juvenile treatment program will be a success. Program implementers should appeal to the other stakeholders in their work because efforts to force the juveniles or their parents to adopt juvenile treatment without their freewill may not work. Any one of the other stakeholders in the process of implementing juvenile treatment program can thwart the whole process.
The level of understanding of the policies and laws governing juvenile program implementation is also likely to affect the implementation process because misinterpretation of policies makes the planned results unrealistic.
For example, the interpretation of the Illinois Act to include the rule that juvenile offenders were not to be rehabilitated using non-punitive measures contributed to the failure of the scare-straight program because the interpretation led to the offenders being given too much freedom. Therefore, program implementers including counselors, policemen, and other supervisors should look at every strategy from a broad perspective.
In conclusion, various stakeholders play different roles in the implementation of juvenile treatment programs. The role played by each of them is important for the success of the program because juvenile treatment programs constitute a process. The wellbeing of a treatment program will depend on the effectiveness of various stakeholders that participate in it.
The scare-straight programs that the United States had embarked on for many years failed to yield the intended results. In fact, instead of reducing the level of crimes in the United States, it ended up increasing it to indicate that the success of a certain juvenile treatment program largely depends on the stakeholders. Today, the world has moved towards the use of open programs for juvenile treatment.
Such open programs include discussions and re-entry programs amongst others. In such methods, the focus has now changed the attention from the offenders alone to focusing on all the stakeholders. Every stakeholder in the treatment of juvenile offenders programs has a key role to play as discussed in the paper.
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