Juvenile delinquency is one of the most serious problems within society, which
is a byproduct of modern urbanization and industrialization. This issue
requires a great amount of attention because it involves various causes and
effects. Family influences such as broken homes, malnutrition of parenting,
economic instability, drug and alcohol abuse or domestic violence are all
causes that may lead to juvenile delinquency. Other social influences such as
school, peer pressure or neighborhood influences are also main causes of such
According to the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile
Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), there were a total of 32,655,677
10-18 year old adolescents alive in the year 2009. In that same year
there were 1,906,600 arrests made that involved juveniles in that same age
range. These statistics show that juvenile delinquency is a problem to society
due to the high number of arrest and crimes being committed.
Not only does delinquency affect the youth population but also the whole family
and entire neighborhoods. The juvenile delinquent is the person who
suffers the most from his or her actions; he/she may lose their freedom due to
incarceration or probation while also losing ground academically. They risk
their future of obtaining a higher education when involved in crime. Although
placement in detention centers may be the proper consequence it might also get
the juvenile acquainted with more serious offenders and leads them to be
influenced into future recidivism. The trauma of having a family member
involved in delinquent behavior can create instability within the family. Not
only does the family have to deal with ethical issues such as creating more
responsibility for the parents but must also deal with economic hardships. Drug
use, gang involvement, and vandalism correlate with delinquency, therefore
leaving the neighborhood unsafe and costing the city large amounts to protect.
Estimating the cost of juvenile crime is difficult; accumulatingthe
total amount of all direct and indirect crime (including adults and juveniles)
has cost the whole nation tens to hundred billions of dollars annually.
This includes cost to the government, medical cost to individuals, stolen or
damaged property, loss of productivity to society, loss of work time and loss
of property value (Legislative Analysis’s Office, 2005). The LAO statistics
show that the state incarceration of juveniles has the highest per capita cost.
Youth authority corrections cost the state of California $32,000 per capita
annually while K-12 education only receives $4,200.
No one truly benefits from juvenile delinquency. In a time of economic upturn,
the people seeking employment within juvenile corrections and prevention
programs are the only ones who benefit from adolescents committing crime.
Any adult that allows or encourages illegal behavior by a person under the age
of 18 is contributing to that youth’s delinquency. Contributing to the
delinquency of a minor can be as simple as allowing them to skip school or as
complex as having a child around a home where domestic violence is taking
place. Not only are adults responsible for contributing to the problem of
juvenile delinquency, but also youth peers. Peer pressure is a huge contributor
to reasoning of why kids commit crimes.
Traditionally the juvenile justice system has employed sanctions, treatments
and rehabilitation to change problematic youth behavior after it has occurred,
but it has been proven that it is more difficult to turn them around once they
are fully engaged in criminal behavior. According to the National Institute of
Justice Journal: Violence by Young People, “prevention is more effective and
less costly than treatment after the fact” (1995). Therefore, more prevention
programs have been created within schools to keep children away from drugs and
violence. This method has proven to be more effective in keeping teens out of
trouble than treatment after the fact.
There is a long road for reform within the juvenile justice system, programs
and treatments that include such large population take a while to adjust to
change. We can see a brighter tomorrow for America’s youth with programs such
as Positive Youth Development (PYD) and Trauma Informed Intervention (TII).
Programs such as PYD focus on building the strengths and assets of juveniles
rather than punishment. We see more programs such as TII that are interested in
fixing psychological problems within our youth community. If we are interested
in a successful juvenile justice system we must focus on Positive Youth
Development, Trauma Informed Intervention, detention reduction, humane and
rehabilitative juvenile facilities, evidenced based practices, a focus on high
risk youth, and strong partnership with the community (New America Media, 2012).
The communities role in this problem is to provide more adequate prevention and
rehabilitation programs for our at risk youth and delinquents as well as
partnering up with the federal and state government to create a better plan on
allocating funds to these programs.
"Juvenile Crime-Costs and Policy
Implications." California Legislative Analyst's Office. Web.
11 Sept. 2012. <http://www.lao.ca.gov/1995/050195_juv>.
Nature, Youth Need Second Chances, and Not Incarceration.
"A Roadmap to the Future of Juvenile Justice-New America
Media." New America Media. Web. 11 Sept. 2012.
"Statistical Briefing Book." Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Web. 10 Sept. 2012.