What is often missing from discussions of juvenile crime today is recognition that children and adolescents are not just little adults, nor is the world in which they live the world of adults.
To best answer the questions of how to deal with young offenders requires knowledge of factors in the individual, family, social settings, and community that influence the development of delinquent behavior; of the types of offenses committed by young people; and of the types of interventions that can most efficiently and effectively prevent offending in the first place or prevent its recurrence.
This study reviews literature in all of these areas to provide an objective view of juvenile crime and the juvenile justice system in the United States.
Many such changes were enacted after the juvenile violent crime rate had already begun to fall.
The rehabilitative model embodied in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, focusing on the needs of the young offender, has lost ever more ground over the past 20 years to punitive models that focus mainly on the offense committed.
In recent years, this concern has grown with the dramatic rise in juvenile violence that began in the mid-1980s and peaked in the early 1990s.
Corner Store Essay - Juvenile Delinquency Thesis
Although juvenile crime rates appear to have fallen since the mid-1990s, this decrease has not alleviated the concern.
Although young people can approach decisions in a manner similar to adults under some circumstances, many decisions that children and adolescents make are under precisely the conditions that are hardest for adults—unfamiliar tasks, choices with uncertain outcomes, and ambiguous situations (see, for example, Beyth-Marom and Fischhoff, 1997; Cohn et al., 1995).
Further complicating the matter for children and adolescents is that they often face deciding whether or not to engage in a risky behavior, such as taking drugs, shoplifting, or getting into a fight, in situations involving emotions, stress, peer pressure, and little time for reflection.
Creating the appropriate public policy for a period of semiautonomy is no small task (Zimring, 1982).
To further complicate the matter, crime rates peak in mid- to late adolescence, making policy toward young offenders of special importance.