Juvenile Delinquency

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According to “Juvenile Delinquency,” under the parens patriae philosophy, minors who engage in extralegal behavior are viewed as victims of improper care, custody and treatment at home (Siegel, Welsh, Senna 16). The concept of parens patriae explains the state’s duty to protect minor children who lack proper care and custody from their parents. The occurrence of minor illegal behavior is a sign that the state should intervene. Before more serious crimes are committed, these youths should be taken care of by the state. The best interest of the minor should be at hand. Instead of being punished for their wrong doing they should be treated and steered in the right direction, away from crime. “Under the parens patriae philosophy, delinquent acts are not considered criminal violations and delinquents are not considered “criminals”.” (Siegel, Welsh, Senna 18)

In thirteen year old Emily’s case, she is malnourished and in poor physical condition. She misses school too frequently and is often late for class. To top this all off she is severely beaten at home. Emily states that her parents severely punish her for doing poor in school and failing to help out at home.

Emily’s parents admitted to severely punishing their daughter for her “misdeeds”.They claim to be members of a religious order that believes in this severe punishment of their children. To correct her misbehavior, Emily was placed on a restricted diet and even beaten with a bel by her parents.

The influence of religion has an ongoing contribution to several different forms of child abuse around the world. In reality, an innocent child’s life can be turned into a complete nightmare solely because of the religion they practice. Although many people feel religion is perfect, we need to come to terms with the fact that it is far from perfect. Religion can be extremely harmful to children in society today. If we do not stop the abuse connected to religion, the children of today will most likely go on to abuse their own children in the future.

In Emily’s case her parents practice of religion is crossing a line that should not be crossed. In Prince v. Massachusetts, the court states, “The right to practice religion freely does not include the liberty to expose the community or child to ill health or death.” Their religion does not give them the right to abuse their children regardless of them feeling like she is not doing the right thing at home.

Emily’s parents state that she has joined a gang. Within this gang, the female members are treated as servants by the male members. Her parents stated that her bruises were a result of “punishment” from the other gang members. This statement contradicts their earlier statement of admitting to beating Emily with a belt. Was Emily beat by her parents or the gang? It is possible the bruises are a result of both the gang and her parents.

According to Petersen, one consequence of maltreatment is participation in groups that embrace similar methods for handling conflict (282). Youths are usually so eager to become involved in gangs because of the way they are treated at home. “Studies show that 37% of youth who were physically maltreated engaged in gang involvement. Expressed as odds, physically maltreated youth were 2.35 times more likely to be gang involved than non-maltreated youth.” (Petersen 287). Therefore maltreatment does increase the probability of youth gang involvement in the society today.

As little as one episode of maltreatment is sufficient enough to set off gang involvement. Although this involvement can happen with one episode, the odds of gang involvement are increased with several episodes of maltreatment. With regards to statistics of youth gang involvement, educating both todays and future parents about the effects of child abuse is critical. One of the major reasons educating these parents is so critical is because by the time the abuse is detected by child protective services it is usually too late. The...
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