Crime, especially committed by the youth, comprises a major, escalating portion of the nation’s criminal problem. What is more, majority of adult offenders in the country’s jails grew up from child and adolescent life of criminal behavior. In addition, many of the adults in prison today began their criminal careers as youths and teenagers. This paper very briefly seeks to describe the picture of a criminal, his home life, his relationship with his parent/s, the nature of his gang, as well as the ethnicity of most of these who commit crimes.
A lot of studies on demographical statistics have been made to figure out the problem of juvenile delinquency where the life of a common criminal usually starts out. As a result of these studies, awareness is achieved as to what to do or how to deal with this rising problem of youth in general. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) formed a Study Group on very young offenders to look at the special case of children from ages 13 down and examine the incidence and the frequency of crimes committed by this particular age group.
According to their study, the number is rising of children committing crimes based on the record of the juvenile justice system; i. e. according to court caseloads. Considering their age (at a very young age of 13 – below), one would automatically understand the odds of these children committing more crimes as they pass through adolescence into adulthood (2). Statistics show, as U. S. Department of Justice’s has done in their survey, that youth offenders, with ages ranging from 7 to 12 years, are becoming more and more involved with the juvenile justice system. One in ten juvenile arrests involves kids under thirteen years old.
Offenses range from arson, rape, homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, to not so serious but persistent disruptive behavior such as truancy and incorrigibility. These children “have a two to threefold greater risk of becoming serious, violent, and chronic offenders” (OJJDP, Mar. 2003). Of course, if these children are not given enough attention and not dealt with effectively, by the authorities (including, first of all, their parents), the likelihood is that they will be spending their future years, in a more prone condition, to commit the same crime/s repeatedly (given the opportunity), as they had already committed the same in the past.
Added to this dismal prospect, is the continuing threat to public safety and property (Loeber and Farrington, 2001). Sociologists, in an attempt to explain and point out the reasons behind delinquency, have concluded that there are connections between specific youth behaviors with the home environment, family background, the neighborhood, associations, and many other aspects that together, or separately affect the formative years of young people’s social environment. Delinquent children usually come from a background of difficult circumstances.
Parental alcoholism, poverty, breakdown of family, abusive conditions in the home, death of parents during armed conflicts or drug overdose, and the HIV/AIDS scourge, and etc. are some of the various reasons that can leave children virtually orphaned. One or both parents may be physically present, but because of irresponsibility on their part (if even one of them is addicted to drugs or alcoholic), a child may grow developing certain ways and attitudes that are directly/indirectly caused by the parent/s addiction or drug-related behavior.
In this case, true delinquency lies on the parents; and the children are, in a way, orphaned or unaccompanied, and without any means of subsistence which, in the first place, the parents’ fundamental responsibility to provide. Generally, and increasingly, these children are born and/or raised without a father.