Juvenile Justice: A Necessity

It is an unfortunate fact that crimes do exist in any community of any country in the world. Crime and criminals plague many of our streets today. Whether a street is located in a highly urbanized city or in a remote village in the outskirts of a small county, crime could be committed by various kinds of people. No one could blame anyone who would feel unsafe or even gripped by paranoia when walking alone on a darkened street alley. No one can ever say that the streets are truly safe for people today. In fact, some people would not even feel so secured in their own homes.

We have to acknowledge the fact that there could be no place in the world, which we can say it is truly free from any crime. Whether a community is located in a so-called third world state or to be found in a highly developed country like the United States, people everyday commit crimes ranging from light offenses to more serious felonies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has categorized crimes into violent crimes (which include murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) and property crimes (which include burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson).

However, what is staggering are the percentage rates of crimes committed by juveniles from the crime statistics. In the latest edition of Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) it is published that in 2002 one in twelve murders in the U. S. involved a juvenile offender and one-third of murders committed by a juvenile offender also involved an adult offender. We have to take note that aside from murder, there are different kinds of crimes and that statistical data by the OJJDP is only for accounted murder crimes committed by 17 years old and below!

The picture would surely be more appalling if we include the other types of crimes committed by juvenile offenders and if we include those delinquencies, which are unaccounted or unreported. What causes juvenile delinquency? According to The History Channel Website, the causes of juvenile crime “focus either on the individual or on society as the major contributing influence. Theories centering on the individual suggest that children engage in criminal behavior because they were not sufficiently penalized for previous delinquent acts or that they have learned criminal behavior through interaction with others.

A person who becomes socially alienated may be more inclined to commit a criminal act. Theories focusing on the role of society in juvenile delinquency suggest that children commit crimes in response to their failure to rise above their socioeconomic status, or as a repudiation of middle-class values. ” In the newspapers, most of the juvenile crimes that were reported were committed by children from disadvantaged families. There would be Juveniles from well off families also who commit crimes mostly for the lack of sufficient parental guidance and control.

Socioeconomic situation could also cause the rise of juvenile crime rates. Fewer job openings for the youth and the rising rate of unemployment could also lead some youths into criminal activities. Other causes of juvenile delinquency, mentioned in The History Channel Website include “frustration or failure in school, the increased availability of drugs, alcohol, and guns, and the growing incidence of child abuse and child neglect. ” An important reality that should not be ignored is that, juvenile delinquency and juvenile crimes are primarily the accountability of the parents of the children who committed the crimes.

There could have been no delinquent children if there are no delinquent parents. The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice has indicated, “thirty-one percent of jail inmates had grown up with a parent or guardian who abused alcohol or drugs and forty-six percent had a family member who had been incarcerated”. What is the cost of Juvenile delinquency? The Legislative Analyst’s Office has enumerated the “cost” of crime.

These are: costs to government (operational expenses of the justice system), medical costs to individuals and government (due to injuries suffered), costs to property stolen or damaged, loss of productivity to society (because of death, medical and mental disabilities), loss of work time (by victims and their families), loss of property values (in neighborhoods with high rates of crimes), pain and suffering of crime victims (their families and friends as well as communities plagued by crimes) and loss of productive “citizen” (when a juvenile offender is not rehabilitated and continues to commit crime).

As we become well aware of these sad realities about our youths of today, we should be more vigilant in the communities where we live in. We must remember that it is in this neighborhood where our families also live. It is in this community that our own children play and will be raised.

We just cannot allow anything terrible to happen with them as they get exposed to the kind of activities that some unscrupulous community members do. We must not allow anything worst to happen. It is imperative that we should work together to make our communities safe and happier place to live in. For this very reason, we cannot ignore the importance of juvenile justice.