Juvenile Violence Essay Research Paper Youth violence

Juvenile Violence Essay, Research Paper

Youth violence in our country has risen dramatically in the past decade. The number of violent arrests of youth under the age 18 has increased dramtically: 36 percent between 1989 and 1993, more than 4 times the increased reported for adults. During that period, juvenile arrests for homicide increased by 45 percent, while adult homicide arrests increased by only 6 percent (FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, 1994). Among teenagers 15 to 19 years old, the escalation of gun violence is particulary alarming: one of every four deaths of a teenager is attributable to a firearm injury. The number of juvenile violent crime arrests will double by the year 2010 if current arrest and population trends continue. Can our communities bear another 260,000 such arrests each year? What are the causes of this epidemic of violence? And how can we solve it? As the chief Federal agency dealing with the administration of justice for both adults and children, Department of Justice (DOJ), through its enforcement programs, U.S. Attorneys, and the office of Justice Programs and its five program bureaus, has developed an extraordinary network of programs and services to help States and local communities throughout the Nation prevent delinquency and deal with juvenile offenders in the most constructive ways possible. Through both research and practical experience in the field, DOJ programs help to identify effective strategies and approaches for working with juveniles who are at risk of delinquency or who are in the juvenile justice system. Law enforcement efforts and court interventions are essentials to our ability to respond swiftly and appropriately to teens who commit serious, violent crimes. But so is work in the area of prevention. There are prevention programs that work to keep those not currently involved in the juvenile justice system out of the criminal justice system. They are on solid research and sound principals. They reflect the Administration s belief that prevention requires systematic efforts to reduce the opportunities and incentives for responsible behavior. Research shows that many delinquency prevention programs are effective. Other programs show evidence of success, but they have not been evaluated. Some delinquency prevention programs are not effective or require support from multiple systems to be truly effective, and if implemented inappropriately, they can be counterproductive. Prevention involves a continuum of care that starts at the beginning of a child s life and continues through late adolescence. The most dramatic of these prevention programs are early interventions targeting children and their families in the first 5 years of life (Mendel). Research suggests that predatory and psychopathological violence may be more effectively treated by early interventions and that the family-focused interventions are among the most promising to date (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1995). Since the family is the central unit responsible for the primary socialization of children, efforts should be made to preserve the integrity of the family and extended family, including adequate day care facilities. Families should be provided with necessary assistance in resolving conditions of instability or conflict. When a settled family environment is lacking and efforts of the community and extended family to assist parents have failed, foster care and adoption should be considered. Such placements should replicate, to the extent possible, a stable family environment and avoid the problem of foster drift . Special attention should be given to children affected by rapid and uneven economic, social and cultural change; in particular the children of migrant and refugee families, and innovation and socially constructive modalities for the socialization of children should be designed. Measures should be taken to help families learn about personal obligations and encourage their involvement in family and community based activities (Mendel 1995). Effective delinquency prevention interrupts the processes that produce youthful deviant and delinquent behavior and encourages those processes that support healthy development of children of children. Understanding the roles of risk and protective factors help us understand how we can prevent delinquency. The greater a child s exposure to risk factors, the greater his or her chances are of becoming delinquent. However, even a child exposed to multiple risk factors can avoid delinquency if he or she is shielded by enough protective factors. Our challenge is to help communities recognize both types of factors and to aid them in establishing programs that reduce risk and help youth become productive, law-abiding adults. Community based risk factors as well as the media are known to influence children throughout child. Community based services, which respond to the interests of young persons, including community development centers and recreational facilities, should be developed and strengthened. Adequate shelter should be provided for young persons who are no longer able to live at home or have no homes. Services should be provided to deal with the difficult transition of young persons to adulthood, including special programs for young drug abusers that emphasize care, counseling, assistance and therapy. Voluntary organizations serving young people are to receive financial and other supports. Local youth organizations should be created and strengthened and given participatory status in management of community affairs. They should encourage youth to organize collective and voluntary projects, particularly to benefit young persons in need of assistance. Government agencies are to provide necessary services for homeless or street children. A wide range of recreational facilities and services of interest to young persons should be established and made easily accessible (Hawkins 1995). In terms of the media s influence, the mass media should ensure that young persons have access to information from a diversity of notional and international sources. It should portray the positive contributions of young people to society. Information on services, facilities and opportunities for young persons should be disseminated. Mass media in general, and film and television in particular, should minimize the portrayal of pornography, drugs and violence, display violence and exploitation unfavorably, avoid demeaning and degrading presentations, especially of children, women and interpersonal relations, and principals and roles (Hawkins 1995). Children living in disorganized neighborhoods with high crime rates, high population density, physical deterioration, lack of natural surveillance of public places, and low levels of attachment to the neighborhoods are more susceptible to violent and other criminal behavior. Prevention strategies for children from conception to age 6 should target families and children in these neighborhoods (American Psychological Association, 1994). The family is considered to be the most important factor in this age group. A healthy family environment promotes attachments, effective family functioning, and social and academics readiness. Poor family management practices can result in children being at increased risk of crime. These practices include parents failure to establish clear expectations for children s behavior, failure to supervise and monitor children, and excessively severe, harsh, or inconsistent punishment or child abuse and neglect. Parents training can reduce poor family management and a child s early aggressive behaviors and conduct problems. Programs designed to enhance parent-child interactions promote attachment and bonding to the family. These services are particularly critical in disadvantaged settings with scarce resources and low levels of community support (Mendel, 1995). According to J.D. Hawkins (1995), risks affecting children from conception through age 6 are related to the individual, the family, and the community. Increased exposure or exposure to more risk factors, especially early in childhood, increases risk of crime and violence exponentially (Hawkins). Prevention efforts must also continue during later childhood and adolescence to reinforce the benefits of these early prevention programs. Ages 7 to 12, the overriding principle in this age group are to focus on education and strong family support. Transitions from elementary school to middle school are difficult and can influence delinquency for this age group. The availability of firearms increases the chances that children in this age range will become involved in homicide rather than fistfights and verbal arguments. Youngsters failing academically and lacking commitment to school are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior than those seeing academic success as valued and viable. Alienation and rebellion, association with peers who engage in delinquency and violence, favorable attitudes towards delinquency, early, initiation of delinquency and violence, alcohol intoxication, and physiological factors can all be precursors to delinquent behavior. Effective strategies for programs designed to work with seven to 12 year olds include the following: to effectively take advantage of the opportunities with which the adolescent is provided; to provide meaningful, challenging opportunities to contribute to family, school, peers, and community in developmentally appropriate ways; and to recognize the child s effort both to signify his or her individual worth and to provide an incentive to continue those efforts (Kroch Crime Institute, 1999). The overriding principle for this age group is to focus on continuing school, positive peer models, and opportunities for work for older adolescents. Adolescents growing up in violent homes, exposed to generalize hostility, or exposed to child, maltreatment also have higher rates of self-reported violence. The highest rates of violence were reported by youth from multiple violent families. Adolescents who have been victims of child maltreatment are more likely to report involvement in youth violence than those who are non-maltreated. Research points to a strong correlation between delinquency, drug use, and associating with delinquent, drug using peers (Koch Crime Institute). There is little evidence that interventions focused on peer relations in this age group are effective in decreasing antisocial or violent behavior. In fact, the effectiveness of peer mediation and conflict resolution is unclear due to lack of research. Therefore, strategies that focus on vocational training and employment, with an intensive educational component and after school activities (including recreation, mentoring, and targeted gang prevention) are most likely to produce the designed rehabilitative results. Youth development programs prevent delinquency. 9 out of 10 juveniles involved in gangs for three or more years reported committing serious crimes, compared with only 3 out of 10 non-gang youth in positive peer environments (Koch Crime Institute). Programs that introduce at risk youth to positive peer environments can have a significant impact on their lives. For example, the Boys and Girls of America target high-risk youth in 64 public housing complexes across the nation, and their programs have helped reduce the juvenile crime rate in these areas by 13 percent (Hawkins 1995). Government is under the obligation to make public education accessible to all persons. Educational systems should work with parents, community organizations and concerned with young persons. Young persons and their families should be informed sbout the law and their rights and responsibilites, as web as the universal value system, including United Nations instruments (Howell 1995). Particular attention should be extended to young persons who are at social risk, utilizing specialized programs and educational materials. Attention is also to be given to policies and strategies for the prevention of alcohol, drug, and other substance abuse. Schools should serve as resources and referral centers for medical, counseling and other services to young persons, particularly those with special needs of suffering from abuse or neglect. Teachers, adults and students need to be sensitized to the problems and perceptions of young people belonging to underprivileged, minority or low-income groups. School systems should attempt to meet and promote the high standards, and regular monitoring and evaluation by appropriate professional organizations should be insured. Extra- curricular activities of interest to young persons should be developed by school systems in cooperation with community groups. Special assistance should be given to students who find it difficult to comply with attendance codes and to drop-outs (Hawkins 1995). School policies and rules should be fair, and students should be represented in school policy, including policy on discipline and decision-making. The department of justice plays a pivotal role in delinquency prevention. The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) has a mandate to improve the law enforcement, criminal, and juvenile justice systems response to crime and delinquency at the state and local levels. This mission supports the Department of Justice (DOJ) goal of increasing public safety. DOJ offers unique leadership based on its national prospective; ability to fund, replicate and disseminate information about programs that work. DOJ has been actively involved in identifying and supporting delinquency prevention strategies that work. Based on the latest research and evaluation findings on risk factors related to early and persistent delinquency, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, has designed a strategy to develop, test, and implement delinquency prevention programs that will help ensure the future of our children. Comprehensive community- based initiative are being launched through the leadership of citizens, local law enforcement, justice officials, and a variety of other agencies under OJJDP (Howell 1995). DOJ programs can bring criminal and juvenile justice system agencies together with other community groups to prevent crime and delinquency in both the immediate and long term. These linkages and resources encourage collaboration between criminal and juvenile justice agencies, community members, and local organizations, resulting in a cost-effective and focused response to preventing crime. This collaborative approach is way of dealing with crime before it can get stranglehold on communities. Law enforcement agencies actively promote a wide range of prevention strategies, even when they are not running the programs. Police organizations encourage the engagement of local community organization in addressing crime s causes and view these programs as vital resources in comprehensive community-focused problem solving. Programs that decrease delinquency also reduce demand on a multitude of justice resources that, in many high crime jurisdictions, are stretched to the limit (Howell 1995). Other prevention systems such as OJJDP seek to focus its assistance on the development and implementation of programs with the greatest potential for reducing juvenile delinquency and improving the juvenile justice system. To that end, OJJDP has set three goals that constitute the major elements of a sound policy that assures public safety and security, while establishing effective juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs. To promote delinquency prevention and early intervention efforts that reduce the numbers of juvenile offenders entering the juvenile justice system, the numbers of serious and violent offenders, and the development of chronic delinquent careers. While removing serious and violent juvenile offenders from the street serves to protect the public, long-term solutions lie primarily in taking aggressive steps to stop delinquency before it starts or becomes a pattern of behavior. The second goal would be to improve the juvenile justice system and the response of the system to juvenile delinquents, status offenders, and dependent, neglected, and abused children. Lastly, the third goal to preserve the public safety in a manner that serves the appreciate development and best use of secure detention and corrections options, while at the same time fostering the use of community-based programs for juvenile offenders. Underlying each of the goals is the overarching premises that their achievements is vital to protecting the long-term safety of the public from juvenile delinquency and violence (OJJDP). Some program strategies must be applied with care. Not every delinquency prevention strategy has been successful in reducing delinquency. The following descriptions of prevention strategies reflect OJJDP s interest in supporting implementation of only those programs proven successful through impact evaluations or programs deemed to be promising. Sufficient research and data are now available to support programs and strategies that are effective and worthy of replication without perpetuating programs that, however superficially attractive, do not get the job done (cite). Initial evaluation of some programs suggest that they do not effectively prevent juvenile delinquency (Hawkins, 1995). Gang streetworkers, this program seeks to redirect gangs and gang members toward more prosocial activities through the efforts of streetworkers appear to be counterproductive when these activities are not part of a comprehensive program incorporating other approaches and services, such as employment training and assistance in finding jobs. Guardian Angels, only one citizen patrol strategy has been evaluated experimentally: the Guardian Angels patrol in San Diego. This evaluation did not find that the Guardian Angels patrol reduced violent crimes. Although the program appeared to reduce property crimes, the difference was not statistically significant. Lastly, mentoring programs designed primarily to provide moral support do not have desired effects on such outcomes as academic achievement, school attendance, dropout rates, and various aspects of child behavior, including misconduct or employment. To be effective, such programs should make supportive relationships (Hawkins 1995). To conclude, research on the prevention of serious and violent juvenile offending reveals many useful lessons: Successful intervention are those that address multiple risk factors. Single-focus interventions are unlikely to be effective because antisocial behavior emerges from a complex array of risk factors. Programs that involve the family will be more effective than those that do not. Interventions that are successful with specific groups of youth may not transfer to a universal setting where fewer youths exhibit similar problems. Keeping these lessons in mind, researchers and program planners can design more effective long-term interventions to prevent serious, violent juvenile offending. Clearly, prevention can curb crime and delinquency. If programs target high-risk children and their parents early life, and if they provide intensive and extended (2 years or more) counseling, education, and parenting assistance and highly skilled youth development professionals, prevention efforts yield powerful reductions in later aggressiveness, delinquency, and criminal behavior can be prevented


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