Juvenile jurisdictions

These changes are not all for the worse. The brain’s capacity for growth in adolescence may indicate that troubled teenagers can still learn restraint, judgment, and empathy. Adolescence is a time of tumultuous change in the brain. An adolescent’s tendency to leap before looking is added to the fact that teenage is a time for seeking out new experiences, including situations that are dangerous. There are differing opinions on psychological and biological theories of delinquency that seek to explain delinquent behavior in terms of individual abnormalities.

The sociological perspective of delinquency generally regards it as a “normal” response and holds that all persons have the potential and the opportunity to commit delinquent or criminal acts. Travis Hirschi, in his book Causes of Delinquency, offers a social control theory with a bonding proposition. This social bond consists of four components: attachment, commitment, involvement and belief. Hirschi states that when individuals do not believe that they should conform to social convention, they are more likely to break the law, and that teenagers are not exceptions to social conventions.

Hirschi believes that attachment to others can help prevent delinquent behavior. Other theorists attribute lower class delinquency, particularly in black adolescents, to thinking that they lack educational opportunities and motivation for learning and, therefore, that they can turn to delinquent behavior. This, however, is an unfounded hypothesis. The educational variables in delinquency formation should not be placed in the context of other determinant factors such as opportunity and learned behavior.

Overall, the probability of an adolescent being arrested is much greater when we consider other factors such as lack of parental affection, broken homes, child abuse, sexual abuse and gangs. The issue of juvenile rights within the juvenile justice system made its impact during the 1960s and 1970s when a series of landmark decisions by the United States courts led to a shift in the juvenile court system from a philosophy based on the doctrine of parens patriae to a new approach in court procedures.

This approach is based on a philosophy allowing equal consideration to guaranteeing juveniles their constitutional rights, responding to their need for treatment, guidance, rehabilitation, punishment, and acting in the best interest of the child and the community. In 1967, the Supreme Court recognized the juvenile’s constitutional rights and granted due process that juveniles are entitled to: the right to counsel, the right to early written notification of the charge,

the right to confront and cross-examine one’s accuser, the right to remain silent, protection from self-incrimination. We might look into how delinquent acts are committed with companions. It is possible that juvenile delinquents have delinquent friends. The indirect evidence regarding the extent to which delinquency and delinquent friends go together could provide proof that relationships between a delinquent child and those with whom he/she associates are significant factors in juvenile delinquency.

In some forms of differential association theory, a child may not have had propensities to delinquency prior to his association with delinquents. But it is possible that after a child acquires delinquent friends, he/she learns the values, attitudes and skills conducive to delinquency and, as a result, becomes delinquent him/herself. One may argue that relationships with peers, especially among delinquents, are sufficiently strong to produce change in attitude and behavioral changes.

We need to realize that, in our society, although teenagers strive to fulfill their parents’ desires, they also look very often to their peers for approval as well. Consequently, our society still has in its midst a set of teenage societies which focus teenage interests and attitudes on things far removed from adult responsibilities, societies which may develop standards that lead teens away from those goals established by the larger society.

@2H(after1H):Vocabulary The words “child,” “youth,” and “Youngster are used synonymously and denote a person of juvenile court age. Juvenile court laws define a “child” as any person under the specified age, no matter how mature or sophisticated he may seem. Juvenile jurisdictions in at least two-thirds of the state include children under 18; the others also include youngsters between the ages of 18 and 21.