Juvenile Violence

In the increasing debate of child criminals and their proneness towards recidivism, there exists the issue of rehabilitation. In point of fact the entire issue of juvenile delinquency hinges upon the ability of the offender to re-enter society not as a criminal but as a redemptive individual ready to become a working part of society. In the questions that arise from the concern over juvenile delinquency the recurring question is this:  Are children who commit crimes rehabilitated by the juvenile court system, or are they more likely to commit criminal acts as adults?

In the answering of this fundamental question, aspects of the child criminal are brought to the forefront of the debate, and these include, the attachment the child has with parental figure and the morality that exists in the child because of that relationship or the amorality that exists because of lack of a relationship. Also, the connection the juvenile has with school and community becomes prevalent when after school programs are a deterrent to crime. Throughout this essay, such rehabilitation techniques will be dissected and examined, and a cause and effect scenario will be produced.

Amalgamating facts on the juvenile delinquent and the process by which they become a delinquent is the aim of this paper. The reintroduction of a delinquent into society will be presented as the purpose of the juvenile court system and whether this system fails or should receive accolades is the determining factor in rehabilitation. Other factors in the rehabilitation of the delinquent, and the effectiveness of these alternative methods will also be presented.

It must also be included in the paper the viewpoint of trying child criminals as adults for their crimes and whether or not such punishment is just and rehabilitative or merely a deterrent in the growth away from such delinquent behavior. In essence, the purpose of this paper is to reveal whether or not juvenile delinquents have a chance to become integral parts of a working society and whether the juvenile court system impedes or motivates the delinquent to become a model citizen.

The question we must then ask is; are juvenile detention centers merely an impetus for juveniles to continue with their criminal lifestyle, and is trying them as adults paving the path towards them becoming a hardened criminal? The intention of this paper is to delve into the causes of juvenile violence, whether or not programs retarding recidivism work and the theory behind their efficacy, and a major section of the paper will introduce violent behavior and its causes (i. e. peer groups, parental control, and cultural background).

Delinquent Behavior/Definition/Parents In view of delinquent behavior there must be a definition and applicable theory to first aid in deciding what causes such conduct (Quas et al. 2002, 247). In Hirschi’s book Causes of Delinquency (1969) there are presented three different theory types in regards to delinquent behavior. These theories have applicable grounds, by which the delinquent acts out, as Hirschi states, Three fundamental perspectives on delinquency and deviant behavior dominate the current scene.

According to strain or motivational theories, legitimate desires that conformity cannot satisfy or force a person into deviance. According to control or bond theories, a person is free to commit delinquent acts because his ties to the conventional order have somehow been broken. According to cultural deviance theories, the deviant conforms to a set of standards not accepted by a larger or more powerful society. (Hirschi 1969, 3) The idea of conformity is a major part of the decision process of whether or not a child becomes a delinquent.

Conformity to whom is the major question presented by each theory. The conformity to a society should discipline a child into model behavior while the conformity to a gang or group of friends whose lifestyle consists of criminal acts is merely another form of orthodoxy in that particular group. In the conformity of either gang or community the underlying current of thought for the delinquent is desire. Human desire to be a part of something and be accepted by that larger group is the impetus towards deliberating behavior.

Humans are creatures whose desires propel them on towards actions, whether or not those actions are legitimated by society or a gang is not concerting but rather a person sometimes feels that their desires are above the law, and when that desire is about acceptance, many formal rules are broken, as Hirschi states, Having thus established that man is a moral animal who desires to obey the rules, the sociologist was then faced with the problem of explaining his deviance.

Clearly, if men desire to conform, they must be under great pressure before they will resort to deviance. In the classic strain theories, this pressure is provided by legitimate desires. A man desires success, for example, as everyone tells him he should, but he cannot attain success conforming to the rules; consequently, in desperation, he turns to deviant behavior or crime to attain that which he considers rightfully his. (Hirschi 1969, 5).

In defining the deviance of a juvenile his or her own personal issues towards conformity become apparent. There is of course the issue of morality with problems about crimes. For a delinquent, their understanding about crime, and their acts therein, depend independently upon who has previously governed their conceptions of the criminal lifestyle. On this issue, Hirschi states, “In strain theory, man is a moral animal. His morality accounts for the pressure that I built into the model.

If morality is removed, however, if man is seen as an amoral animal, then tremendous pressure is unnecessary in accounting for his deviance” (Hirschi 1969, 10). A child, to a certain extent is not solely responsible for their own actions, because they mirror what has been presented to them. Parents should be highly considered when any discussion or debate about the morality of children and their proceeding stature as a criminal is discussed.

The influence of the family in the juvenile’s criminal disposition is further emphasized through Aspy et al.’s article which stating that, Many of these risk factors are related to the economic resources available to the family. Family income has been shown to be protective in that youth from wealthier families are less likely to be involved in weapon carrying (Blum et al. , 2000). Although the number of children below the poverty line is on the decline, overall, there remain racial/ethnic differences in family structure and poverty” (Aspy et al. 2004, 82).