Deeming Juveniles Delinquents

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Criminal Justice – Deeming Juveniles Delinquents
Mariam Milian
CRJ 499
Strayer University
January 25th, 2013

Deeming Juveniles Delinquents

The Juvenile Justice System was created to deal with juveniles that commit a delinquent act. A delinquent act is defined as an illegal action that if committed by an adult would be deemed a crime.

I personally know a consultant that is an expert in dealing with problem children. Her name is Niurka Espinola and she happens to be my classmate in Strayer University, Doral campus. As a professional in this specific field, Ms. Espinola possesses wide knowledge in this specific subject matter. Her expertise comes primarily from her education and training in child development, early childhood education, teaching, on hands care and rehabilitation of institutionalized children, who were victims of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. After interviewing her, it was through her observation of the different methodologies that she used, in order for the children to regain trust and accept their new environment as a safe haven, thus creating an arena whereby they could express themselves, without negative repercussions that the realization came to me. There are children in different stages of development, and there are adults.

The age in which a child is deemed a juvenile differs from State to State. We want to believe that if a child is capable of an antisocial behavior, now we can call him a juvenile, therefore, now the bad or illegal behavior can be called a delinquency. In the old days, it might have been a prank, a joke, mischievousness, but not a delinquent act. Let’s take Halloween for instance. What is Halloween, if not a threat to commit a delinquency upon a stranger; if they are threatened, if not given a treat? Why is that acceptable? Why do so many people wake up to toilet paper on their trees, the day after Halloween? Why do so many upstanding citizens talk about their antics when they were growing up, and we laugh, and we know we all did these things? These were normal, fun, silly antics. They are the backbone of our childhood memories. Once in a while we were caught, reprimanded, either by parents, a neighbor or a teacher. We were told why it was not nice, and how it affected the other person, maybe we were made to pick up toilet paper out of their tree for days. The point being, we were not put into a new category because of our childhood behavior, we only learned that, though fun, there were repercussions.

When a child is severely admonished for a small act, there is no room for what happens when there is a an act that carries more weight, so when you belittle, threaten, use physical punishment for a small childhood act, you basically are giving up the opportunity for it to be a learning experience, whereby the child can on his own make amends, and not be made to feel that he is bad (Espinola, 2012). It is the behavior that is unacceptable, not the child (Espinola, 2012). After interviewing Ms. Espinola, I came to the consensus that a behavior can be quantified, but that a child is worth more than that, and that a child that does something that would be considered a prank, does not have the foresight to see what the repercussions could be, unless an adult points the way. This guidance that the adult offers, is sharing of their own experience, knowledge, and wisdom, none of which children possess, until we help them develop their conscious. There has been ample research on whether punishment for inappropriate behavior, or positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior, is better.

There are three known ways behavior can be changed. The most common way is extinction. Any behavior that is not reinforced is likely to stop (RelayHealth, 2012). However, when someone does something good and we say nothing, it does not reinforce good behavior (RelayHealth, 2012). Second way of changing behavior is through negative reinforcement or punishment. Punishing...
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