Juvenile Delinquency

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Statement of the Philippine Hierarchy on Juvenile Delinquency Youthful crime is not something new in human affairs. But in our age the problem of juvenile delinquency has assumed such proportions as to cause grave concern to the community and to call for special comment and prompt remedy. To an alarming degree the records of wrongdoing reveal that the criminals are under 21 years of age, and many of them are under 18, a fact which is reflected in the unsavory notoriety which has gathered around the term "teen-age gang." The crimes involved run from general disorderliness and insubordination to acts of the gravest violence, not excluding murder. And the wave has spread its influence so widely that it has affected society at every level, and there is hardly a family with growing sons and daughters which does not feel apprehensive of its contagion. What are the reasons for this upsurge of youthful criminality? Obviously at the root of it is that primordial rebellion which we call original sin, which at all times and in all places has been prolific in wrongdoing. But why is this evil root producing such luxuriant fruit precisely now and precisely among our youth? Let it be said at the very beginning that it is a great mistake to treat juvenile delinquency as a malady detached from the body of society. There is juvenile delinquency because there is adult delinquency. And therefore its most basic cause is a decline in public and private morality, as its most fundamental remedy is a reformation of life at all levels of society. This is an unpleasant necessity that many reformers refuse to face, and as a result deserve from youth the scriptural rebuke: Physician cure yourself. Nevertheless, there are special reasons why the evil is flourishing in our day and these deserve mention and discussion. The first reason is to be found in the fact that hundreds of thousands of our boys and girls are growing up without serious religious formation. The first source of religious training for children should be the family. But with a very large fraction of the parents themselves products of the very system that creates juvenile delinquency, not much is to be hoped for from that source, until the parents themeslves seriously study and practice religion. Too many homes are without any religion except perhaps a few traditional observances that have lost most of their meaning. As a consequence, the children are raised in an environment devoid of Christian virtue. There is a lack of true love between husband and wife; an absence of proper esteem for honesty, truthfulness and chastity. The parents in too many instances seek their happiness elsewhere. They are constantly out of the house in quest of diversion, according to the potentialities of their income, at gambling tables, night clubs, or movies. The care of the children is confided to maids, houseboys, chauffeurs; or they are simply left to their own devices. Little effort is made to exercise parental authority; with cruel indulgence fathers and mothers yield to their children's every whim, spare them every hardship, pass over every misdeed. It is obvious that such a home is little prepared to fulfill its most important function of turning the child's heart and mind to God. Unfortunately, religious instruction outside the home can do little to compensate for these domestic failures. The number of priests is too few to allow pastors to take proper care of their flocks. And the schools are still far from offering a solution. It is true that religious instruction is authorized by law in our public schools but the implementation of the law is very frequently attended with grave difficulties. In many cases widespread poverty adds new occasion for the downfall of the young. Fathers and mothers are forced by the need of earning a livelihood to be frequently away from home for long periods. Housing conditions are often such as to deprive the members of the most elemental privacy, and are so...
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