Child and Juvenile Offenders in America and Abroad

Crime happens anywhere, anytime and anyhow. In any country, crime happens not just everyday but in every tick of the clock. There is a crime or rather; there are crimes that occur in any corner of any country. Adults are thought to be the most crime offenders but young people nowadays are growing in numbers not just in America but also in other countries. It is quite alarming that many of children and youngsters that are involved in different crimes. It is said that children are the hope of one’s country. What will happen to the next generations to come if the considered hope of the country is engaged in crimes?

Would one’s country’s future still be stable or would the country’s today’s stability collapse? And for that, this paper will discuss about the existing juvenile crimes. The Code of Napoleon from France supported the idea which many civilizations have believed in, through out the history, that juveniles or people under a determined age are not completely responsible for their crimes and are not morally responsible. The House of Refuge in New York City, which was opened in 1824, was the first institution or “jail” for only juveniles.

There were other 19 institutions that were established around US but these institutions were not established only for juvenile offenders but also for the dependent children. Way back in 1870 in Massachusetts and 1872 in New York City, there were special juvenile hearings and courts that were developed. Also during those times, juvenile judicial system was developed. In 1899, the first special juvenile court was established in Chicago. US government claims to be the leader in the fight of human rights. Ironically, US has repetitively declined the international charters that advocate the rights of the children.

It should be understood that a minor violation done by a juvenile is actually a call of help. The juvenile is indirectly telling that they have problems and so they needed juvenile guidance clinics, aid bureaus and special school programs. Some of the causes of the violent activities of the juveniles are the media, gangs, and school atmosphere and persons social environment. Vandalism, shoplifting, underage drinking and using of marijuana are the higher percentage of minor criminal behaviors committed by the juveniles. The re-emergence of nationwide gang problem was happened in 1988.

Adolescents tend to join a gang whenever they feel “different. ” Gang members are, if not all, delinquent. Gangs are formed because, for juveniles, it is a “social support. ” Adolescents usually join a gang when they do not get their need of being love and sense of belonginess at home. For them, they can get the love and belonginess they can not get at home by joining gangs. In addition, gang gives them the feeling of security and stability. Aside from gangs, school atmosphere is another problem why juvenile crime happens. Many students bring guns and knives in schools.

It was in 1998 when school shooting was prevalent in which students kill or injure other students and teachers. The worst incident to date happened in 1999. It was the attack in Littleton, Colorado where there were fifteen dead and scores wounded. Therefore, schools should have tough security systems. It is thought that children who committed crimes were lacking of parental control. But media is one of the many causes to consider why juvenile crime happens. Children and teens are exposed in seeing violence on media like television.

It was 1991 when juvenile crime rates an all-time high at 430 acts per 100,000 adolescents. In 1997, juvenile crime rates begin to increase in Europe and Asia while stabilizing in the United States. In 2001, the adolescent killers of 2-year-old Jamie Bulger were set free from an English institution and were given new identities and because of this, debate over juvenile justice in the United Kingdom was generated. And in 2002, a German boy kills his 17 teachers and students then shoots himself. This act tragically proves that school violence is not a uniquely American phenomenon.

It was during 2003 when Japan reached all time high juvenile violence and experts were predicting that there were no slow down in the next coming years. It was during the administration of President Richard Nixon in late 1960’s had begun the today’s so-called “tough crime”. Anti-crime campaign started to put more attention on youth by 1980’s. As of 1997, 2. 8 million juveniles were placed under arrest and by the end of the same year, 100,510 youth, which the majority population was composed of poor youths, were detained in adult or juvenile detention facilities (Roberts, 2000).

Today’s view of politicians and courts is that personal responsibility is the key to all social questions and the response should be enacted to more punitive laws. In 2000, reports said that $40 billion a year was the incarceration costs in America and is still growing. The average cost per inmate, as of 2000, was $23, 500 a year. The decline of the living standards of Americans has affected the majority of the Americans and Elliot Currie said that the growth of prison population, more particularly the increase of juvenile offenders, was the cause of the economy’s decline.

Criminologist Elliot Currie states in his book Crime and Punishment in America that: “Thus, while we were busily jamming our prisons to the rafters with young, poor men, we were simultaneously generating the fastest rising income inequality in recent history. We are tolerating the descent of several million Americans, most of them children, into poverty–a kind of poverty that, as study after study showed, became deeper and more difficult to escape as time went on. ” (Roberts, 2000) It is quite disturbing that the number of youths in prison is growing and having a great impact in the majority of American’s life.

Looking outside America, juvenile crimes are also rampant. In France, Austria and Hungary have a saddening fact that juvenile crime is increasing. On the other hand, juvenile crime in Sweden has not lessened and in Holland, it has doubled during the last twenty years. Russia has also a problem regarding with juvenile offenders because it is increasing faster than the growth of the population. While in Germany, as adult crimes had increased to 25-30 percent after a decade, juvenile crime had increased by 50 percent (The New York Times, 1897).

It is a very poignant fact that the hope of one’s land became and is increasingly becoming a juvenile offender. It is sad to face this reality and so through united efforts, people should start to act and help in eliminating child and juvenile crimes not just in America but also abroad.

References

International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). 2000 March 18. US Government report reveals growing numbers of children in adult prisons. Retrieved July 22, 2008, from http://www. wsws. org/articles/2000/mar2000/jail-m18. shtml Juvenile Crime. History. com Encyclopedia.

Retrieved July 25, 2008, from http://www. history. com/encyclopedia. do? articleId=213484 Juvenile Crime. Study World. Retrieved July 22, 2008, from http://www. studyworld. com/newsite/ReportEssay/SocialIssues/Political%5CJuvenile_Crime-321150. htm Juvenile Delinquency and Children’s Rights in the United States and Abroad. Retrieved July 24, 2008 from http://academic. cengage. com/resource_uploads/downloads/0534645666_34535. pdf 2008, July 25. Juvenile Crime; A Book About It Dealing with Its Alarming Increase. The New York Times. Section: Saturday Review of Book and Arts, Page BR1.