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Juvenile Crime Essay, Research Paper

Recent studies have shown that there has been a growth in juvenile delinquency since the 1970’s. It is believed that by the year 2010, juvenile crime will double. Congress is moving to implement harsher penalties for underage criminals, but more effective law enforcement and stiffer penalties cannot effectively combat crime.

Not everyone agrees with the idea that law enforcement and stiffer penalties cannot effectively combat crime. Some people say that tough law enforcement policies have reduced crime. John J. DiIulio Jr. who is a professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University argues, “that tough law enforcement policies have reduced crime rates in many American cities?such efforts are a necessary response to the threat posed by a growing population of teenage males” (157). Other individuals plead that more effective law enforcement will contribute to juveniles being under stricter control and prevent crime. With harsher penalties, a juvenile delinquent would take a longer time contemplative if he or she should commit a crime or not. Finally, others say that a higher presence of policemen on the streets would cause more arrests and at the same time keep fewer criminals on the streets. Criminals would not have many opportunities to commit crimes if more policemen were on the field taking care of those who do commit crime.

On the other hand, tough law enforcement policies are not the correct way to reduce juvenile crimes. Having a strong family foundation and having more prevention programs can deter most of the problems associated with juvenile crime. Although some people say that tough law enforcement policies have reduced crime, it is evident that this law enforcement fails to address more serious problems. One of the problems that it fails to address is the problem of poverty. Poverty is one of the causes of juvenile crime. A juvenile who is poor has a higher tendency to commit a crime, due to the fact that this juvenile has needs which neither his parent or himself can afford. These needs can range from an automobile to a shirt or a pair of shoes (Males, Docuyanan 167-70). Another problem which law enforcement fails to address is the way a child is raised at home. A child who is looked after by his parents and who is properly raised will have a strong sense of communication. Since his parents will always be alert to the juvenile doings, crimes would more likely never occur. Finally, the other problem, which fails to be address, is that sometimes these laws are not proper for the offense. If a juvenile does commit a crime, he will get harder punishment not because of the crime committed, but because who he is, a juvenile.

The people, who think that more effective law enforcement will contribute to juveniles being under stricter control and prevent crime, are most likely erroneous. Neither stricter laws nor harsher penalties would keep all juveniles under control. Moreover, in order for a juvenile not to commit crimes, he or she must possess strong family values and a strong conscience. These values and strong conscience are obtained through a good education and strong family bondage which stricter punishment and law enforcement fails to provide. In addition, a home that is violent free, is also a good model for a juvenile. It is believed that limited exposure to violence at home limits how violent a juvenile will become. As Delbert S. Elliott said, “most violent behavior is learned behavior.”(84) Finally, parents monitoring their children’s emotions and reactions and setting punishments at home when the child does something wrong will almost guarantee that a child will be under control.

Some individuals seem to think that the solution to prevent juveniles from committing crimes is to have more policemen in the field. This would be a waste of taxpayer’s money. Even with stricter laws and more policemen in the streets, juveniles will still commit crimes. Besides, punishment increases the likelihood that juveniles will become violent career criminals. Also, more police enforcement could encourage juveniles to feel threatened and to rebel while becoming apprehensive towards other citizens. In addition, since more policemen would be on the streets with the primary objective to watch juveniles, a rise in police abuse towards juveniles would occur. Finally, more policemen mean more arrests, but who guarantees that juveniles who are not arrested or convicted would stop from committing crimes.

Juvenile crimes are serious problems, which require very thoughtful solutions. Prevention programs are more effective than stricter punishment. Through prevention programs and boys and girls clubs, juveniles would stay out of gangs and develop a sense of friendship with other kids. In a place like the boys and girls club, juveniles would learn how to communicate and become friends with one another. In addition, through these programs, there would be fewer juveniles on the streets. Fewer juveniles on the street would most likely decrease the probability that if crimes are committed, a juvenile will not commit these crimes. Also, it is very important for a juvenile to learn how to control himself or herself. Prevention programs would teach juveniles how to control their anger and emotions. These teachings would be very useful for a juvenile once he or she comes across a hostile situation when a decision must be made. In other words, when a juvenile becomes upset and aggravated, he or she would react in a mature sane matter instead of going off and doing something out of the ordinary, like committing a crime. In conclusion, through lessons and activities learned in these prevention clubs, juveniles would learn how to use their mind and put their energy and effort into something positive such as creating special projects for their community.

DiIulio, John J. Jr. “Law Enforcement Can Effectively Combat Juvenile Crime.” Sadler 157-166. Rpt. of Arresting Ideas: Policy Review. Excerpt. N.P.: Heritage Foundation, 1995.

Elliott, Delbert S. “Environmental Factors Contribute to Juvenile Crime and Violence.” Sadler 83-89. Rpt. of Youth Violence: An Overview: Center for the Study of Youth Policy. Philadelphia. 1993.

Males, Mike, and Faye Docuyanan. “Law Enforcement Cannot Effectively Combat Juvenile Crime.” Sadler 167-174. Rpt. of Crackdown on Kids: Progressive. Feb. 1996.

Sadler, A.E. Juvenile Crime. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1997.


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