THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND
Young people are a crucial segment of society because they are the basis for future development. They are social actors of change who lobby governments in defining their priorities. The importance of the youth is further stressed by their number in relation to the world’s population. Nearly 50% of the developing world population is youth and children (World Bank, 2010). Based on the 2005 World Population Prospects of the United Nations Population Division, there are 1.2 billion 15 to 24 year olds in the world and one billion live in developing countries. However, most of today’s youth are experiencing various issues such as drug abuse, crime, violence, sexuality and poverty. In addition to these, today’s youth are afflicted by new challenges such as technological advancements. Hence, their importance as partners in development is not translated into action. Rather, in most cases, they become liabilities to society when they become delinquent members. In the Philippines today, the youth are not exempted from confronting such issues. The youth comprises almost one-third of the country’s population. Given their large share in the Filipino population, the youth increasingly play a large role in the development of the Philippine society. Their attitudes, values, mind-set, and priorities will determine the development of the country in the future (Gonzales, 2003:1 at http://www.tigweb.org). With the crucial role the society has placed upon the youth, it is imperative to instill a positive outlook upon today’s youth that will orient them towards development. According to a 2003 Social Weather Station (SWS) survey, the youth acknowledge economic matters, crime, and governance as the country’s main problems. However, despite the fact that they acknowledge the severity of these problems, most of them respond with either helplessness or apathy when asked what they can do to help solve them. Worse, instead of being involved in organizations that address said issues, the Filipino youth is found to have unexpectedly high incidences of involvement in illegal activities such as illegal drug use, criminality, and illicit sex (Gonzales, 2003:2 at http://www.tigweb.org). As a result, the issue of youth violence has come to be viewed with increasing importance and even urgency in recent years. Indeed, there appears to be heightened public sensitivity toward any misbehavior among youth occurring at school or outside of school grounds. This heightened public awareness has been fuelled, in part, by the media attention. As such, children in conflict with the law are seen as those who had a bad start in life with circumstances and experiences very difficult to accept (Report of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, 2002:9). This perception, however, is not in consonance with the obligation of every State to protect all children and to translate all rights in the Convention into reality (Article 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child). Just recently, the country has called to amend the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 and to lower the age of criminal liability from 15 years old down to 12 years old. Apart from it, the juvenile justice systems have long struggled with the inherent tension between their role in meting out punishment for violations of law and their role as an authoritative force for bringing about constructive behavior change in the youth who commit those violations. Hence, effective programming to reduce incidence of juvenile delinquency has been more problematic. In the country, juvenile justice systems resort to many treatment programs. Despite an increasing body of research to address juvenile delinquency, the findings of said researches have not been well integrated into most juvenile justice systems (Improving the Effectiveness of Juvenile Justice Program: A new perspective on...
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