By definition a juvenile delinquent is a young person, under the age of 18, who fails to do what is required by law. Our juvenile court system has the difficult task of finding the proper way to deal with these individuals. Unfortunately there is no perfect solution. Should juvenile delinquents be treated harshly? Should they be treated as an adult? Should they be put into a rehabilitation facility? There have been several different opinions presented to answer these important questions. We need to learn which opinion will make the most impact on the future of our children as well as the future of our communities.
Although the United States delinquency rate has declined since the mid 1900’s, it is still among the highest in the industrial countries. To reduce delinquent behavior and improve societal wellbeing, it is essential to develop effective intervention programs. (Thornberry, Huizinga, & Loeber, 2004). Many studies are being conducted to determine which method best achieves this goal.
The first step to reach this goal is to determine the underlying cause of the juvenile delinquency problem. We must answer the question; what are the factors that push a young person to commit crimes or engage in other illegal activities such as drugs and gang life? It has been found that drug, school, and mental health problems are strong risk factors, in the male population, for involvement in persistent and serious delinquency. Fewer than half of the females in this study had drug, school, or mental health problems. However, it is important to remember that females had a much smaller proportion involved in serious delinquency. Factors such as child behavior, school performance, and neighborhood characteristics have been investigated as additionally potential leads to juvenile delinquency. (Thornberry, Huizinga, & Loeber, 2004).
In a study of more than 1000 adolescents... [continues]
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