Everyday we read in the newspaper or watch T.V and hear news of crimes committed by Juveniles. With all of the crime being reported by the media about juveniles, one can’t help but wonder if all of our nation’s youth are juvenile delinquents. Although there are many cases where the juvenile did not commit a serious crime, there are others where the crime is so bad the juvenile court system tries the juvenile as an adult. Instead of seeking help for the individual, our justice system places them in adult facilities to “teach them a lesson.” The justice system fails to see what the cause of this outbreak is in a child whether it was abuse, neglect, or where they grew up. The juvenile justice system needs to see that by simply teaching the juvenile a lesson, it does nothing to deter crime.
Juvenile delinquency is known to be a recent concept. “Prior to the 20th century, no formal differentiation had been made between society’s response to crimes committed by juveniles and its response to crimes committed by adults” (Austin, Johnson, Gregoriou). In the late 18th century, juvenile detention centers began to form throughout the United States to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents. The first of these were created in Chicago, Illinois in 1899. These new facilities as well as the juvenile court system were not accepted at first until the U.S Children’s Bureau was created in order to monitor what was going on the courts. Many people wonder who is categorized under a juvenile delinquent. Donald Shoemaker, author of Juvenile Delinquency states, “ Any minor who commits a status offense (condition of the person’s age at the time of the committed crime) which includes running away from home, truancy from school, disobeying their parents, as well as any criminal offense is considered a juvenile delinquent” (Shoemaker 3). Usually, the maximum age is eighteen for juvenile court, but some states have lowered the age limit.
There are many different causes to the development of juvenile delinquents; there are also many different theories such as the Rational Choice Theory and the Social Disorganization Theory. Randall Shelden, author of Delinquency and Juvenile Justice in American Society, states that the rational choice theory is when “ choices are often not based on pure reason and rationality; rather, they are determined by a host of factors” (Shelden 187). For example, many young children are motivated to join gangs through the rational choice theory. “Clearly, many acts of delinquency are planned and carried out with specific consequences in mind. However, when we are dealing with youngsters, it is important to remember that often, youth do things with little fore thought of their consequences” (Shelden 67). In other words, the juvenile weighs the pros and the cons and makes a rational decision based on the outcome of the costs.
According to Robert Shelden,” Social disorganization theory has been one of the most popular and...