When crimes are committed by young people, it is considered juvenile delinquency. It can be any type of crime, kinds that are committed by all ages. But because young adolescents and teenagers have less comprehension of the consequences their actions can cause, they are punished differently by the juvenile court system. The punishment juveniles receive when convicted of committing a crime are designed to prevent them from committing another illegal act.
Causes of Juvenile Delinquency
Family plays a huge part in the development of an adolescent, both positive and negative. Adolescents learn what is and is not acceptable by the surrounding environments, which is dominated by the family life. For example, if a father disrespects and hits a mother, then a son might consider this as acceptable and copy it later in his life.
Coming from a broken home through abandonment or divorce can profoundly affect a teen's perception of life. Sometimes in these situations, a teen can be neglected, punished too harshly or not regularly disciplined. Any of these conditions can cause juvenile delinquency as the teen has missed out on complete moral development.
Outside influences or other things out of anyone's control can be the causes of juvenile delinquency. Within society, there are several external forces that can lead an adolescent in the wrong direction.
Drug use is becoming a widespread crime and concern among adolescents. Alcohol and drug abuse can lead to criminal behavior as teens lose control or turn dangerous due to the effects these illegal substances have on mood, cognitive thought and personality.
Sometimes a teen has faced the hardship of a physical or mental disability. Society can be very judgmental of individuals with handicaps. Because their judgment can be impaired, these adolescents may want to get revenge towards those perceived as against them.
Peer pressure and influence is a very powerful motivator in a teen's life. Sometimes a boy or girl will commit a crime because their friends have pressured or dared them to do it. At other times, an adolescent may be jealous of a friend who has more and is motivated to steal so he or she can possess the same materialistic items.
Mass Media and Technology
As much as parents try to protect their children from negative news and non-appropriate media, it is almost impossible. Teens are exposed to everything through social media, computers, etc.
Since knowledge is carried around in the palm of their hands, adolescents often have an inflated sense of independence. While it is true they have easier and quicker access to information, they do not understand the true mean of being independent or are not mature enough to handle it.
Easy access to information through the Internet allows teens to read and view things that are not appropriate for their age. Girls fantasize about love affairs. Boys picture themselves as invincible. Girls see women glamourized and commercialized, while boys see men enjoying pleasures they cannot truly comprehend. This endangers both sexes to be either victims or the predators of sexual crimes.
Teenagers are becoming more and more isolated as they depend on technology as their main point of contact with others. As adolescents leave their home and enter society, sometimes they cannot handle the interaction that comes with living on their own, having a job and getting along with others. This can trigger emotions and reactions they have not experienced in the past. These uncontrolled responses is one of the causes for juvenile delinquency.
Solutions to Solve/Prevent the Problem
Be a Model
Family plays a huge part in how a teenager views society and what is right or wrong. How members treat each other and those around them influences a young person's attitude and outlook. Parents, siblings, and other family members have a responsibility to be a role model for developing adolescents. These youth look to them to teach them how to behave and interact with others. They are also the moral backbone of the family and influence teens on what are acceptable ways of thinking and acting.
Know Your Kids
Take the initiative to learn about your child's circle of friends, get to know their teachers and find out more about the people they interact with on a regular basis. Teenagers are still developing mentally and are easily influenced. They need parent’s guidance to figure out the difference of good or bad. Causes of juvenile delinquency include lack of parent responsibility to teach them moral behavior.
Talk with Teenagers
Parents should speak to teenagers about society, sexual development, peer pressure, positive and negative relationships and other aspects of life that can either lead them in the right direction or steer them down the wrong path. They should have an open line of communication so that their teenage child feels comfortable approaching them with questions or concerns, both negative and positive. Also let them know that there are consequences for illegal behavior and committing crimes.
Maintain a Good Relationship
When parents have a friendly relationship with their teenager, it can help prevent the causes for juvenile delinquency. A healthy relationship allows their child to feel free to discuss anything with their parents. Sometimes one parent is better at this than the other, but this is okay. As long as the teen has a parent he can turn to, it will very beneficial.
Limit Media Access
It may be hard, but is very important. Not only can teenagers learn illegal behavior or have access to inappropriate material, they can also fall prey to online predators. Sometimes when a teenager is a victim of a crime, he/she will commit the same crime as an attempt to overcome the stress or guilt.
It will take a lot of control and supervision and it must be handled in a way that a teen does not think his/her privacy has been violated. Often the best thing to do is just be straight forward in the beginning, laying out the rules right away so there are no justifiable objections later.
Seek Professional Help
Parents also need to realize it is okay to seek professional help when needed. Guidance counselors at school can help. There are professional psychologists and psychiatrists who specialize in adolescent and family issues. Some social workers are trained to deal with teenage problems. There are several therapy groups for juvenile delinquents. There are also community and government resources available to families who cannot afford these services.