Sunday, October 28, 2007

Youth as Adults? Absolutely Absurd.

The issue of juvenile justice is complicated. The reason this issue is so complex is that a lot of the crimes committed by juveniles are just as gruesome and horrible as those committed by adults. A very competent teen may know how immoral the acts are he or she committed, but the question lies in how severe the punishment should be with regards to the age of the youth. It would be horrible to throw away a life that could be fixed, but on the other hand, it would be horrible for the government to spend so much time and money attempting to fix this life and failing. Due to both sides of opinions, this issue remains controversial. Some of the crimes committed by our youth are just as cruel and brutal as those that are committed by an adult. For instance, a six-year old California boy almost beat a baby to death. How do we deal with such atrocities? How could we think it is acceptable to punish a child based on the same standards we have for adults? The child’s brain is a unique organ, in that its environment and experiences as a young child condition what knowledge this particular youth has when he or she enters late childhood or early adolescence. With all the knowledge we know about the brain and its development, how could we possibly hold a youth to the same standards that we hold adults? As the most advanced country in the world, we should know that the brain of an adult and a teen are completely different. The teen could easily be rehabilitated since the brain is still forming, and correct moral behaviors could be encoded into the brain.

Due to this scientific knowledge that we have on the brain, it is absurd the lack of emphasis placed on programs to prevent crime in high-crime neighborhoods. The youth is our nation's future. Is it not important what becomes of the United States of America in the future? Why wouldn't the government invest more funding in the application of intervention and after-care programs? In order for our society to continue operating smoothly, our youth must be cared for appropriately.


Yeo!!! said...

Hi Allison, I strongly agree with your opinion that more needs to be done to improve intervention and social services available for youths. However, I think this issue that you brought up is much more complicated then asking for more support for such services. It requires we re-look at the priorities of our society and see how they are prioritized through capital allocation.

We live in a capitalist system (fortunately or unfortunately), and much of the services are dependent on monetary funds. I think that much of the problem is the allocation of capital. It takes about US$50 million to maintain a F15 and how many does the US have? So why does the US government spend so much money on defense? We are not short of funds, just short of human-centered priorities. I am not saying that military defense is not important, but what I'm doing is using this example to highlight the extent to which such areas are receiving such an amount of capital.

If we want to look at providing professional intervention, we cannot ignore the discrepancies found in capital allocation.

Jan said...

I agree with the basic ideas behind this post, but I feel that the issue is much more complicated. The idea of punishing children who commit crimes in the same way that we punish adults is obviously wrong, yet the solution to adolescent crime is terribly intricate. Cultural differences have to be taken into consideration, as youth crime in a rural Minnesota town has to be approached differently than crime in New York City. Peer influence also has a huge impact on the judgment of many children and more often than not will be more influential than any kind of program targeting crime reduction.

annadele said...

I agree with comments made by all but I have a tidbit to add -
While I don't necessary agree with trying children as adults I'm just as reluctant to agree with abolishing the ability to try a child as a adult for any case simply because there are so many reasons for youth committing crimes. What if a child is clearly dissociative or isn't developing properly and is a ticking time bomb? Or if they seem to have done an act with full knowledge and understanding of the consequences? Ideally, though it isn't economically feasible, it would probably be best to create a juvenile court that tried every juvenile case irregardless but that also gave the same sentences. Have you read much about the requirements of a child for being tried in adult court and what the differences are between juvenile and adult sentences for the same crime?

Messi said...

Hmm, I see how teens definitely have a different way of thinking than adults. Young adults are also exposed to their immaturity of their peers in school as well. Societal demands when you are a youth have much more impact than when you are a kid because you are attempting to find your place in the world. I agree with you there, but I feel as though the solution to 'correct' these young adults shouldn't be placed in the hands of the government, or at least the federal government. There are after school programs that exist from religious based groups that attempt to rehabilitate these kids but I feel like they might be getting the wrong message. What these kids need is more after school programs from older adults they could look up to. But I agree with you though, the problem with correcting them is definitely a complicated one.