Living insecurely in their little insular worlds, most juveniles are fueled by their selfish, self-centered desires. Even with experience as their best teacher, juveniles often feel superhuman and invincible, at least until the worst of all possible scenarios happens to them. Typical of youth, such unbridled and extravagant thinking causes juveniles to feel practically untouchable by the long arm of the law.
As personal perceptions make a person's reality what it is, the perceptions of juveniles, no matter how warped, lead them to take risks that mature, responsible adults would not dare take under normal circumstances. Normally guided by an innate sense of right and wrong, most juveniles are compelled to do the right thing. When they do not, the guilt and shame associated with deviant behavior can become overwhelming. The delinquents, however, seem to be unburdened by guilt, indifferent to a moral code, and inclined to pursue distorted, often dangerous ideals.
Until law enforcement intervenes and the judicial system imposes punishment for illegal behavior, juvenile offenders (whether labeled as such or not) may feel frankly and unjustifiably immune to punishment, unless the adults in their lives take responsibility for administering it. Threats of punishment are mild, fleeting thoughts, usually undaunting until the juvenile offender experiences them firsthand. Threats of legal ramifications do not even seem real to the juveniles who commit the crimes. Sadly and tragically, errant juveniles commonly even accept the idea of going to prison, as if it was a rite of passage, expected as naturally in life as marriage and children. Juveniles learn what is and what is not acceptable behavior from parents, guardians, peers, mentors, and role models. In addition, if those human examples have produced less than desirable behavior and failed socially or economically in the world, ill will and hostile feelings will be spawned in the juveniles who mirror...
References: Collins, R. & Coltrane, S. (1992). Sociology of marriage and the family: Gender, love, and property (3rd ed.). Chicago: Nelson-Hall.
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