Tendency to commit crime is somewhat similar in human beings irrespective of their age, all this tendency requires is a spark in the form of an opportunity through which it can be fulfilled. It is therefore not a misconception if said that even children have somewhat equal or in some circumstances greater tendencies and vulnerability towards committing acts that are driven towards with a criminal intent and motive.
One of the basic reasons that experts devise towards such acts by juveniles is the profound influence of the socialization agencies and forces that influence and mold their behavioral patterns in which the agency and institution of media is the most prominent as far as attitude and perception manufacturing is concerned.
Many programs and films shown on television project strongly on elements such as affluence and materialism which is primarily driven by commercial factors such as money, moreover many such programs also strongly emphasize upon inventing new, novel and innovative ways of conducting crime which further fuels the instinct of conducting and fulfilling their needs through simple and work free means of crime.
It is primarily because of these factors that the crimes being conducted by juveniles is raising at a rampant rate and since laws have been architected to control human nature and restrict to a certain boundaries and demarcations, during the course of this discussion we will be looking at the different salient features of the juvenile justice system along with the responsibilities that other social institutions have towards the alleviation and curbing of crimes that are normally conducted by juveniles.
The dramatic escalation of violence committed by and against people is shocking (Eron et al., 1994). Although according to Federal Bureau of Investigation, the murder rate in the year 2009 dropped almost 7.2 percent in comparison to the murder rate of 2008. Similarly crime rate of crimes like rape and assault had been decreased up to 4.2 percent each and crime rates of robbery and burglary fell by 1.7 percent and 4.2 percent respectively (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2009) but still the violence among the youth has increased sharply.
There is no simple explanation for the presence of aggression, nor is there any obvious, easy way to reduce it. The fundamental basis of violence is absolutely clear: the human capacity for aggression.
History and the structure of the Juvenile Justice System
The concept of a separate juvenile justice system in the United States was introduced in the year 1868 in order to prevent crimes being committed by children from being treated by adult courts. Termed usually as a byproduct of the Progressive Era in which the social ideas and views of people began to change, the necessity of a separate court for children with different laws dealing with their innocence and conviction became mandatory.
Some of the objectives of American juvenile justice system at the time of its inception were to protect children from adult prisoners, divert youthful offenders from crime and criminal courts and at the same time promote the rehabilitation of juveniles from criminal influences and offences. The system has been designed in order to protect children or juveniles when they conduct adult offences or offences that are categorized as illicit only when conducted by juveniles such as truancy, beyond parental influence and control or after running way from their own homes. With the passage of time as crime shows an overwhelming influence with psychological rules and principles crimes committed by youth are usually categorized as individuals who have lost their way from the right way rather than straight away declaring them a hardcore, rogue criminal.
Furthermore the laws that have been drafted for crimes conducted by juveniles accentuate more on proper guidance and disciplinary counseling for such individuals so that they could be rehabilitated and can understand their role and the participation that they need to make in the society for making a better living.
Even though it can be said that the laws for juveniles vary from state to state but their core focus shows considerable similarity to each other. Many states such as Massachusetts have special courts through which crimes committed by juveniles are dealt and a similar pattern of legal procedure is also followed in other states like Colorado. Once the decision of juvenile intake is made, juvenile enters into the juvenile justice system.
First either the prosecutor or the court will decide whether to file the case in juvenile court or in the adult court. Before starting the formal hearing of the case, the court will try to find other solutions like whether the crime committed by the Juvenile is serious or not, or the evidence of the crime, juvenile’s previous criminal record and whether rehabilitation measures are successful in the case or not.
Depending on these factors the court will decide whether to dismiss the case, handle the case informally or order the proper hearing of the case. According to the statistics more than 25% of the young offenders are dismissed due to non-severity of the crime or they are first time offenders. (Corriero, 2006)
The juvenile system works under the same idea and philosophy as the normal justice system of the country. It is based on the rewarding of good behavior and attitude rather than strictly dealing with bad. Delinquents held in these facilities are provided all proper and deserting opportunities of completing their education such as academic diploma or completing their schooling through programs such as GED though which they can also acquire college credits. In addition to this many detention centers with the passage of time have also started to provide juveniles the opportunity to work among the inmate staff of the prison such as being a teacher’s assistant, gardener or a member of the kitchen team. (Burton, 2002)
Another important aspect that needs to be considered in this particular context is the procedure that is followed when conducting the proceeding of juveniles and cases related to juvenile delinquency. Unlike usual proceedings which are usually open to the public, proceedings related to juvenile cases are restrained and limited only for the people who are involved in it.
Other than this, legal records of juveniles are cleared usually at the age eighteen to twenty one. However in some of the states such as Massachusetts these conditions are practiced with slight alterations such as in the court of these states all court records including that of juveniles exist forever. A reason for this is that sealing the record does not make major difference as the legal record is still available and is in the possession of the law enforcement agencies through which it can be retrieved anytime.
Furthermore in many of the places where such juvenile crimes are committed, the news media is restricted not to report the identity of a minor that was involved in the crime activity. In addition to this the legal proceedings of a case involving juvenile is normally supervised by a judge rather than a jury panel. One of the key issues that the juvenile justice system is confronted with is the increasing sexual violence and harassment cases that are emerging within the system. This is vindicated from the fact that the US Justice Department has filed several lawsuits against various outsourced juvenile facilities which have been blamed for being involved for being involved in sexual and physical abuse and molestation by guards which has also resulted in the death of many juveniles.
Juvenile Justice System and Parental control
The goal of any legal system established in the world is based on a single idea through which an outlaw or an individual violating the law is punished so that he can rectify his mistakes and can make an effective contribution in the betterment of the society. Similar is the criterion of the juvenile justice system through which an individual is deterred from the execution of any illegal act. (Krisberg, 2005)
However apart from the legal institutions the role of other important social institutions is also prominent in alleviating such tendencies among children and out of all others the role of family as an institution and as the prime agency of socialization is the most crucial. Since the highest level of interaction in a family between parents it is their responsibility to facilitate a healthy atmosphere of interaction between family members so that children can address their problems to their parents without any hindrance or hesitation.
It is very important for parents to ensure that their child does not become a victim of any rogue or rebellious company or peer group, express love and affection to him, spend time with him and allow him a completely free and non-restrictive environment so that he can talk and discuss all his problems with his parents without the existence of any communication barrier.
Another way through which the role of parents becomes significant in the entire process is through the repeated enforcement of the fact that they love a lot and are confident are about the fact that he will never violate their trust and faith that they have in their child or children. (Third Jurisdiction, 2010)