Juvenile Delinquency refers to antisocial and criminal behavior committed by youths; these are individuals under the age of 18 years. The extent of delinquent activities in a community can be used to gauge the general state of morality and order in that place. There are several theories, laws and even practices that are followed, to try and combat this deviant behavior or ascertain what triggers such behavior.
Siegel & Welsh (2009), in their book Theory, Practice and Law try to unravel some of these issues. In chapter 9 of this book, the main issue being addressed is that of peer influence and delinquency. There is a high chance that association with delinquent peers may lead someone to engage in delinquent behaviors. If the friends an adolescent hangs around engage in smoking and drinking. The adolescent will soon join them, and this is a pathway to bigger crimes. Petty theft may soon generate to serious robbery and such actions may lead to arrest. It is suitable for parents or guardians to know the kinds of friends their children associate with, and advise them accordingly.
The issue being discussed in chapter 10 is the aspect of education and delinquency. Evidence is clear that those students who like skipping classes and had poor grades were likely to be delinquent. The poor-performing students, if not well encouraged by their teachers and parents, may feel that they are not suited to learn and, therefore, turn into criminal activities. This will increase the decadent behaviors in a community. On the same note, a research carried out on the juvenile delinquents indicated that a higher percentage of them had not received education or had little education with most of them being school drop outs. Early delinquent behavior also culminated to poor school performance. Poor performing and schools with general indiscipline were observed to give rise to a society with many delinquent youths. Schooling occupies the youth and; therefore, they will not have the time to engage in illegal activities..
Chapter 13 is about the development of the juvenile justice system, how it was then and now. In the early 90's, children and youths were seen as potential adults and were in the same trial and punishment procedures like adults. It was later learnt that juveniles, housed with adults were learning adult criminal activities, and upon leaving those institutions were ready to enter into the criminal world without having gotten any helpful reforms.
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This necessitated the idea of forming a separate court system for the juveniles with their own rules and different reform procedures. They focused on re educating the youth, religious training and apprenticeship in various trades. This improved further with the female juveniles being separated from the males. The aspect of trying to understand that the circumstances leading them to these deviant behaviors are not the same and, therefore, different treatment was accorded to the various genders. A number of other reforms continued to be made till the present day juvenile justice system. All this are geared towards reducing the number of juvenile delinquents and for the correct and helpful reform or rehabilitation services to be offered to the youths.
Parents too should be involved and assist their children by offering their basic needs and support. Guidance and counselling for the disturbed is recommended. The three main issues were the aspect of peer influence in delinquency, education and the evolvement of the juvenile justice system.