The United States Department of Justice defines a juvenile as an individual below 18 years old. Juvenile delinquency happens when a delinquent act is committed; it is essentially the violation of the law which can be called a crime if committed by a person of legal age. If a person is between ages 18 to 21, he or she can also undergo juvenile treatment given that that delinquent act has been committed before his or her 18th birthday.
Delinquent acts are heard in a juvenile court; these acts include crimes against property, person, and public order, as well as drug offenses. There are many factors why children and teens turn out as juvenile delinquents. Recognizing these factors is necessary to prevent delinquent acts. For juvenile delinquents, it is never too late; with years ahead of them, juvenile delinquents have time to rehabilitate.
Why juveniles become delinquents
Children and teenagers perform delinquent acts for several reasons including individual and social factors. Some individual factors include age and prenatal and perinatal risk factors.
According to studies, delinquent acts begin from preadolescence to late adolescence; rates of offending start to fall at young adulthood. This pattern happens all over the world and has been consistent over the years.
Prenatal and perinatal factors are elements that happen before and immediately after birth. Studies reveal that some perinatal risk factors involve parents who are suffering from mental illness and poverty. From either prenatal or perinatal factors, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and attention problems may develop; these characteristics are associated with delinquency.
People surrounding juveniles affect them greatly and may influence them in performing delinquent acts. Social influences start within the family, where parents are assigned by society to raise kids. Parents are given the responsibility to tell their children of acceptable and unacceptable social behaviors.
Next to the family, the community within schools also greatly affects juveniles. According to studies, lack of education is directly related to crimes and juvenile delinquency. Therefore, getting proper education is a way in preventing juvenile delinquent acts.
Juveniles are encouraged to get proper education, from a vocational to online learning program, to prevent them from committing crimes as well as to help them to rehabilitate after committing a crime. Aside from this, there are different prevention strategies that can help children and teens veer away from delinquency.
The best way to prevent delinquent behaviors is to arrest them at the onset; this is also known as early intervention. Early intervention is said to be more effective than arresting already visible disruptive behavior. It includes positive youth development which encompasses addressing aspects of work, relationships, and communities.
Some school and community prevention programs may include behavior management, after-school recreation, and mentoring programs. It also includes comprehensive community interventions and violence prevention programs.
Having a good relationship within the family also prevents delinquent acts. Based on research, a child who is close to his or her mom is less likely to perform disruptive behaviors. This finding is a validation to the Control Theory stating that social bonds greatly help in preventing people from committing crimes.
Rehabilitation is the process of treating an offender to change his or her behavior and prevent them from performing further offenses. The rehabilitation process includes training, probation supervision, and behavior therapy. All these programs are necessary to help juvenile delinquents come back to mainstream society and have a better lifestyle.
Group therapy is a therapeutic method that is found to be more effective than individual therapy. In a group therapy setting, the therapist acts as the moderator while the group of juveniles figures out how to deal with and overcome issues being discussed. Moreover, being in a group sets a sense of commonality where they can learn among their common experiences.
Because juvenile delinquent behaviors are greatly affected by family relationships, family therapy is also an important part of rehabilitation.
Sometimes, the root of delinquent behaviors is lack of attention; families who have more children may not get enough individual attention from their parents. In other households, parents may be involved in substance abuse and this can largely affect delinquent behavior.
Family therapy, therefore, is crucial in rehabilitating the family where a juvenile delinquent will return to. Without family therapy, there is a big chance that children and teens may just return to committing juvenile delinquent acts.
In the U.S., juvenile delinquency is a large problem and it should be a major concern that must be fixed. As they say, the children are the future, and therefore, the community should invest more in the prevention and prevention of delinquent behaviors.