Juvenilly Jiolence Essay, Research Paper
Chicago police have their eyes pealed. The gangs on the street are on high alert. Just hours before six bullets ripped through a football game at the community park. A fourteen year old and a twelve year old seriously injured, and a thirteen-year old by stander killed by a stray bullet. The suspect, a fourteen year-old gang member, Isaac Cleaves. Two days later Isaac is found hiding in the basement of an abandoned building. You might believe that this is a rare case, but think again. Everyday in America, 365 teenagers are injured or killed by the violence of teenagers. Youth violence is a growing problem in our schools as well as our city and rural neighborhoods. Gang participation is has increased 26 % since 1986, and the crimes committed by children become more and more brutal every day. Something must be done to solve this increasing problem. Whether it be church youth groups or the building of new community centers, the youth of today are begging for a shelter in which to hide them from the brutality of society.
Every day it seems the media carries shocking stories about juveniles who commit crimes. Extensive media coverage of these crimes has increased the nations? concern about the types of crimes committed by juveniles. As Margaret O Hyde writes in Kids In and Out of Trouble, not long ago, kids were considered hopelessly delinquent when they skipped a day of school, stole and apple from a grocer, broke a window, or went joyriding with the family car without permission. Today many juveniles sell drugs, rape, rob, and shoot to kill. While it is true that juveniles do rape, rob and kill it is also true that a large number of American children commit all types of crime. In 1995 29,929,000 young people between the ages of ten and seventeen lived in the United States. During this same year13,829,000 cases went through the nations juvenile courts. Those cases represented nearly 46.3 percent of the total juvenile population in 1996. Lets think about this for a minute. Since there are roughly 22 of us in here, that would mean that approximately 8 of us by the age of seventeen could possibly have gone through a juvenile court. These numbers are startling.
While juveniles commit many kinds of crimes they most often commit property crimes, but recent statistics show that these types of crimes seem to be decreasing. But what statistics also show is the fact that violent crime is increasing. Perhaps most disturbing is the dramatic rise in the number of juveniles arrested for homicide. In 1970, 1,353 juveniles were arrested for homicide, according to FBI statistics. Juvenile arrests for homicide in 1995 numbered 2,505. Compared with 1970, arrests in 1995 increased by 85 percent. Violent crime includes more than homicide. Government statistics show that juvenile arrests for robbery, rape, and aggravated assault have also increased in recent years. In 1970, 3,223 arrests for forcible rape were reported, compared with 4,118 in 1995, and increase of 28 percent. Statistics show that robbery arrests among juveniles also increased between 1970 and 1995, with 29, 363 arrests in 1970 an 44,184 in 1995, a 50 percent increase. In the same period , arrests for aggravated assault ( an attack on another person with a weapon) increased 203 percent, jumping from 20,919 to 63,374.
Experts have linked these increases to several trends. One of the most significant is the growth of street gangs. A significant amount of juvenile violence in America today is connected in some way to these gangs. According to government statistics, 18.1 percent of all homicides in 1979 were gang related, while gangs were involved in 43 percent of homicides in 1994. Although juveniles commit not all gang related homicides, studies in cities around the nation suggest that juveniles commit a significant portion of gang-related homicides.
The connection between homicide, juveniles, and gang activity was documented in a study in Minneapolis. The study covered a period from January 1, 1994 to May 24, 1997, and included one of the city?s highest-ever homicide rate. In 1995, a record 97 homicides were committed in Minneapolis, followed by 85 homicides in 1996. During those two and a half years, almost 45 percent of the 264 homicides were identified as gang related. But the most startling statistic is that out of the 136 individuals arrested or viewed as suspects in gang-related murders, 62 were between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. That represents a 46 percent of the total people linked to these homicides. Of the 62 arrested for homicide or viewed as suspects, 54 were linked to gangs by investigators. Although that only 4 percent of the city?s juveniles belong to gangs, juvenile gang members were believed to be responsible for 12 percent of all the homicides in the two and a half years covered by the study. In addition, juveniles with gang ties were linked to 78.9 percent of the homicides in which a juvenile was arrested. Although gangs have existed in the U.S. for generations, such incidents are a fairly recent part of gang life. This is very startling to experts, police, and the every day American. Today it is a heavy task just to find a child a decent education and upbringing where he will not be plagued by the dangers of his peers.
Another trend that has contributed to the increase in violence among teenagers is the availability of dangerous weapons- particularly guns. Because firearms carried by juveniles are often obtained illegally, it is difficult to estimate how many firearms are in the possession of juveniles nationwide. However, arrest rates for juveniles possessing firearms have risen sharply across the nation. In New York City in 1985, for example, fewer than two hundred young people under the age of sixteen were arrested for possessing a loaded gun. Six years later, arrests for that same offense had nearly quadrupled.
Nationally, statistics indicate that juveniles are not only carrying firearms, but using them with deadly results. Figures from the FBI show that the number of homicides committed by a juvenile with a firearm increased dramatically between 1984 and 1995. Juveniles committed and estimated 3,000 gun related homicides in 1995 and the number is on the rise.
Many strategies are used to punish these young offenders, but a wide variety of strategies have also been devised to prevent juveniles from becoming offenders in the first place. In general, prevention measures follow one of two strategies. One strategy is to set limits or establish boundaries and guidelines for juveniles. Another strategy is to offer juveniles alternative activities to street life, or to work toward improving the lives of poor and disadvantaged children. Communities throughout the nation combine these prevention strategies in their efforts to combat juvenile crime.
Support groups seek to prevent juvenile crime by providing a more structured environment for juveniles. Many different types of support programs exist. Some provide entertainment activities to divert juveniles from the streets. Others provide health services and education for young children or teach adults parenting skills so they will raise healthier children.
Removing guns from the community is another strategy used by officials to reduce juvenile crime. The impact of cutting off the supply of was demonstrated in Boston, Mass, in the early 90?s. Boston police traced handguns sold to gang members, including many juveniles, to one individual in Mississippi. Investigators found that a Boston native attending college at Mississippi State University was buying guns in Mississippi and selling them at home in Boston on weekends. This is just one of the many ways that authorities have cracked down on the increasing problem of juvenile crime.
Because juvenile crime has many causes, its reduction will probably require a combined effort of large and small programs. Many of these programs are already under way, and the causes of juvenile crime are under attack from many directions. Some experts argue, however, that violent juvenile crime will not be reduced by punishment and prevention strategies alone. These must be accompanied by changes in society.
Youth violence is obviously one of the biggest problems that society faces today. Gangs and trouble plague our streets, our schools, and our parks. The future of America lies in the decisions we make today and the actions we take. Take the time to make a difference, write to your congressman, or to the American Civil Liberties Union. It is so imperative that we take steps today to better the streets that our children will one day walk.