In 1869, United States President Ulysses Grant initiated the Peace Policy, which was implemented until the 1900’s. The policy was first described in his inaugural address, wherein he stated that there was a need to properly treat the Indians, who were the first settlers in the United States. The President expressed his willingness to support any actions and programs that would lead to their civilization and their eventual citizenship. He then also appointed the first Indian to lead the Indian Bureau, as well as established an Indian Commission that would look into the activities of the Indians.
As soon as the Peace Policy was implemented, the Christian Church started taking Indian children, from age five years old onwards, away from their families and sent them out to live in boarding schools. These children stayed in the boarding schools for the entire year and were not allowed to be visited by their family members. Other children were registered in regular day schools in Indian reservations, but these institutions still followed the Christian way of education.
Approximately 100,000 Indian children experienced this form of education, as implemented by the government of the United States. Unfortunately, instead of simply receiving education, these children experienced different forms of abuse, as well as a forced adaptation to the American way of life. The children were also driven to perform different acts of labor that were only pertinent to adults. Psychoanalysts have expressed that such kind of forced adaptation of American ways among young Indian children have resulted in an attitude that may be carried on by the next generations of American Indians.
This attitude can be simply described as the discipline of civilly waiting in line without complaining and showing any impatience even when the wait takes several hours. However, this attitude also included the expectancy of having their mouths washed with chlorine, as well as lye or soap, when they are found to speak Native phrases. The Indian children learned how to keep their rooms clean but in order to achieve this cleanliness, they had to scrub the floors and accumulate blisters of their hands, feet and knees.
The education that President Grant thus mentioned became an experience where these Indian children were violated of their human rights because they were compelled to perform acts that they did not even want to do. The human rights issue became even more serious because these acts of pushing individuals to perform against their will involved young children and not adults. Other analysts considered these boarding school experiences as a form of genocide because it specifically targeted a single population.
These Indian children were torn away from their parents and not allowed visitation for at least a year, until they are considered to be educated, according to the American standards of living. The Indians were the first occupants of the United States and they have lived in the wild. The next settlers were the Europeans and they found the Indians to live like “savages. ” The forced education of these Indians thus involved physically locking them down and pushing the language, attitudes and customs of the European-Americans.
The peace policy thus resulted in the construction of approximately 500 schools along the Western coast of the United States. Unfortunately, around 460 of these schools were run by the Church and only a small percentage was managed by the Indian Bureau. These schools were running on limited budgets, so the children were not only physically and mentally abused to learn the American culture, but also starved and were left untreated if ever they got sick during their stay in these boarding schools.
These children were also pushed to work as farmers to other American families and their pay was collected by the administrators of the boarding schools. Thus the children’s stay at the boarding schools taught them how it feels to live as members of the lowest level of the American society. The boarding schools also taught the Indian children to imbibe the Christian culture and to lose their Indian gods. The traditional attire of the culture was also replaced with customary clothes of European-Americans. Even the Indian language was swapped with the English language.
It is should be understood that the language of the Natives is not simply words that these individuals speak, but also a sign of respect for their culture and a medium for social relationships. To date, the effects of the Peace Policy could still be felt in the succeeding generations of American Indians. Different forms of abuses, as well as aggression could be observed in the current Indian society and this was most probably acquired during the several decades of education that these Natives received in order to assist them in joining the American society.
One similar situation as the Peace Policy is the issue of serious and violent juveniles, which are currently considered as a dangerous group of individuals in society. The number of juveniles is not significantly huge but their unlawful and aggressive behavior has caused damage in both property and public safety. Several legislators, as well as psychologists have looked into the ways on how to deal with this issue and possibly intervene to reform these young individuals.
One of the proposed methods of reforming these juveniles was to put them in rehabilitation centers that are designed to accommodate criminals of this particular age group. However, the effects of the Peace Policy of 1869 still lingers on and thus this plan of putting serious and violent juveniles in a rehabilitation center may also result in the same revolt. In addition, psychologists have pointed out that juvenile delinquency is strongly influenced by family values and thus the maintenance of juvenile offenders in institutions that are far away from their families may even worsen the situation.
It is thus important that the proper intervention schemes be implemented, after a comprehensive and thorough assessment of the entire situation. Putting juvenile offenders in rehabilitation centers may possibly increase the risk for these individuals to detest efforts in teaching them proper attitudes and behavior. It is important that these individuals first understand which actions are acceptable to society, as well as which particular behaviors are lawful. This may actually be done by the parents of these juvenile offenders.
Analysis of the current population of juvenile offenders shows that most are males and they are initially reported to conduct small petty crimes. When these individuals are not caught or are left unsupervised by either their parents or teachers in school, these individuals tend to commit bigger crimes. It has also been shown that these juvenile go through a path which involves the gradual evolution of the nature of their actions. They start with simple delinquent acts and further progress to performing criminal acts if left unaddressed by a figure of authority such as their parent or teacher.
This escalation can thus pose as a problem to public safety because the juveniles feel that they can perform any action that they feel like doing. The situation may also worsen if the juvenile adapts the behavior of alcohol and drug abuse and he is more likely to perform juvenile or criminal acts under the influence of illegal substances. The average age of a serious and violent juvenile is 14 years old, yet this age is considered as an understatement because these ages are only based on the juveniles that have been caught by police authorities.
Other juveniles who were clever enough to avoid an encounter with the police may be of a younger age. In addition, the theory of crime states that criminal behavior starts at an early age and may worsen as the juvenile grows older (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990). The theory also describes that criminal behavior commonly starts at the age of eight years old, when the values of the child should be actively instilled, in order for the child to known which actions are acceptable and lawful to society.
Current policies are being reviewed by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the Department of Justice. Based on their gathered reports of previous rehabilitation programs, there are still a number of factors that have to be considered in order to address the problem of juvenile delinquency. Reference Gottfredson, M. R. and Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. In: Jacoby, J. E, (ed. ). Classics of criminology, 3rd ed. Illinois, Waveland Press, Inc.