Friday, November 2, 2007

Analysis of Juvenile Delinquency

Obviously, I feel very strongly about allowing our youth to have the opportunity to reform by trying them in the Juvenile Justice System of America. How could we possibly think that the youths deserve tougher punishments, such as those faced by adults on death row? Having stated my opinion over the past few posts, I feel it is important to analyze the factors contributing to my reasoning, as well as what the United States believes and is doing to try to diminish the number of youth who commit crime. The government should force more money and time into the prevention of crime since this issue is so important to our country as a whole. More help from the government must be implemented. As stated before, prevention is vital. The future of America is at stake when we risk the moral development of our youth. Many doctors and researchers have discovered what kinds of programs will work, and the step by step process to take.

Certain issues, such as abandonment, social institutions and peer pressure all promote violence, but could be prevented through programs that implement their services within the school environment. In youth, the choices in life are numerous, and just one simple lack of judgment could send a juvenile straight to court; and, if placed in adult courts, could ruin his or her future. But, with juvenile services, the child is given the opportunity to reform. If, however, prevention is so vital, why does the video game and media industry keep marketing their violent programs to the youth of our nation? Video games especially increase the likelihood that a minor will perform violent actions, as stated by Dr. David Walsh whose theory includes: children imitate the people they identify and participate with, as well as those that give rewards and cause repetition. Video games, as well as television, encourage all these aspects that promote learning, in this case, of aggressive behavior. With such facts such as before leaving elementary school, the average American child has seen 8,000 murders and 100,000 violent acts due to television. How, then, can we blame the youth for their confusion in what is wrong and what is right? The world of a child is complicated enough as it is without bombarding their developing brains with immoral scenarios they might actually admire. Experiences and knowledge gained as a child may not necessarily be at the fault of the child, but will have a significant impact on their future lives. We must prevent these causes of negative behavior from invading the minds and actions of the young.

With all this violence in the media and in video games, there is no surprise that many children suffer from mental issues. The National Institute of Mental Health discusses a program that while extremely costly, may lower the amount of juveniles that are admitted into the juvenile delinquency programs. Also, one must analyze how it came to be that a six-year old boy nearly beat a baby to death. This article also discusses whether or not the impact of a poor family has a great deal to do with a young child who displays violence. I have no doubt that a child who grows up in a family or community in which violence is an everyday occurrence will unfortunately learn for his or herself that violence is accepted in that realm. This scenario is true because of Albert Bandura’s theory of observational learning in which the young child watches their authoritative figures and copies their actions (in this case, violent acts).

While prevention would be ideal, it may not occur in the next few decades. However, over four decades ago, the Supreme Court realized the importance of giving youth the same rights guaranteed to adults by the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. In in re Gault, the different punishments between what a 15 year old received and what an adult would have received are noted. The 15-year old boy was sent to an institutionalized school until the age of 21, while an adult would simply have gotten a fifty dollars fine and an imprisonment sentence of two month maximum. How is this fair? Why should a youth be punished more than an adult who theoretically should have more sense? In reality, this more severe punishment was actually intending to help the child never commit a crime again. The program was trying to reform the individual. Therefore, those people that think juvenile courts are too easy on criminals can see in this example that this is not the case. However, in re gault finally did take care of the lack of due processes for youth. In re Gault finally took care of this fault in our judicial system so that juveniles were not seen as “second class.” Now, juveniles get the same due process by law, even though their punishments remained more severe. Americans are realizing that the youth deserve the same rights, even though the goal of the hearing may be to provide correction, not punishment. If prevention cannot occur, the juvenile courts truly try to reform the child, because at this stage in their lives, most of them are open to change. As another example of a more successful harsher punishment given by the juvenile court system, we can analyze two kids, Michael and Jason, who were both 16 when they committed the crime. Jason was sent to juvenile court and received a long sentence in a reform school, while Michael was sent to adult courts and received a fairly short sentencing. Jason, after being released from his reform school, has not committed another crime, while Michael immediately committed one after his short jail sentence. Reform schooling in the juvenile system is exactly what children like Michael needed. With so many resources out there for juveniles to use, there is no excuse for Americans not reforming the youth.

The people of America are now seeing youth as equal under the law, in some aspects. With the scientific knowledge available proving that a youth’s brain is not as developed as an adult is enough information in itself to end the debate over whether or not capital punishment and serious punishments should be applied to America’s youth.


Akansha said...

I agree with the fact that youth should not receive the same punishments as adults because their brains are less developed than those of adults; adults should, in fact, have better sense than youth in making judgements that lead them to court. It is incredibly shocking that a youth can be sent to prison for a multiple number of years while the adult merely got a fine. I think that there should be a set of standards instated in order to deal with the youth-- a set of standards that encourage rehabilitation. I feel like rehabilitation should be the aim of our judicial system in dealing with youth. They should be given a second chance to redeem themselves and become better citizens. A second chance will enable them to lead better lives in the future--possibly reducing the crime rate in the entire country. I also agree with the fact that environment has a huge impact on the actions that the youth take in the first place. Violence on television and in video games fosters criminal behavior in America's youth; however, this is a problem that will need many decades to fix.

katiegane said...

I agree with your assertion that many outside factors play a large role in contributing to a juvenile's behavior. I also do not think that it is fair for juveniles to receive a far harsher punishment than adults for the same crime. This punishment, however, is also beneficial because it serves to rehabilitate a minor so that one will not continue to commit misdemeanors as one progresses in life. Maybe the fact that the American justice system assigns more intense punishments to the youth of our nation is because we realize that the current juveniles are America's future leaders. If we didn't try to fix their problems, what would be teaching them, and as a result, how would we be bettering America as a country? While I agree that all citizens should receive equal punishment for equal crimes, the rehabilitation policy for juveniles could ultimately prove fruitful to our nation as a whole.

Imran said...

It is strange that sometimes juveniles receive harsher punishments than adults, but does that sometimes come with the idea of rehabilitation? You allude to that when writing about Michael and Jason. So is it fair that youth can be sentenced longer, if there is a possibility of rehabilitation? I feel like there are good arguments for both sides. Younger people should have lighter sentences than adults, but if there is evidence that reform schools can help maybe that is the best option.

Messi said...

I agree with your argument using rehabilitation instead of punishment. There exists more incentive for people who just receive a short punishment to commit the crime again. The only thing I find a bit unappealing about the rehabilitation program is that it unintentionally separates these youth from the rest of society. But besides that it seems to be helpful. I don't necessarily agree that video games and television violence encourages violence in youth and potentially cause them to commit more crime. Simply because there exists other factors like living conditions, the family's application of discipline, and economic status. I also believe that these programs should stay out of the hands of the government, its too distance to make a real impact. I should either left to local governments so they implement it as they see fit. But overall you seemed to make a good point in showing there needs to be a reform in juvenile crime prevention programs.