Juvenile delinquency is any actions by minors or youth that goes against the social
norms and values. The anti-social acts are deviations from the normal patterns of living in
society. Also, juvenile delinquency in the school environment is determined by the violation
of rules and regulations. The school is a public socialization agent, and it provides
educational training for minors. The majority of schools have a chain of command, which is
considered a guide to behavior. Juvenile delinquency in the school environment is attributed
to multiple factors that lead to deviations from the standard. Firstly, the school rules and
regulations can contribute to juvenile delinquency byincreasing frustrations on the students.
Frustrations from the school environment can lead to minor offenses, such as truancy,
negative labeling of teachers, and authority figures(Lucero et al., 2015). Students often have
negative reactions towards rules, which contributes to low levels of commitment and bonding
within the school environment.
Also, the school environment is characterized by peer attachment and interactions,
which bring about pressure. Students exposed to peer pressure are likely to join gangs and
other groups to gain acceptance. Involvement in negative peer groups increases the risk of
drug abuse, violent gangs, and other unwanted groups. Peer influences lead to increased risks
to school dropouts and the complete disengagement from societal rules(Lucero et al., 2015).
Therefore, peer interactions within the school environment have increased risks of deviations.
Poorly organized and functional school environments and rules contribute to
increased levels of delinquency. For example, laxity in implementing the school rules leads to
increased cases of bullying, abuse, and other unwanted behaviors towards students and
teachers. Also, the school systems' inadequate functioning is responsible for the general
decay of the school rules and regulations. Increased distrust within the school environment
contributes to tension between students and teachers (Özbay, 2005). Essentially, the school is
a secondary socialization institution;the disregards of rules and regulations are disruptive to
the functioning of the institutions, and the effects are evident in student behavior.
Juveniles avoid delinquent behavior due to the rewards and punishment responses towards
acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Most schools administer punishment in the form of a
suspension and other disciplinary actions that have significant effects on behavioral change.
According to Hirschfield (2018), school policies and practices, disciplinary codes, and
enforcement exert the greatest impact on disproportionate minority contact. Schools utilize
punishment to ensure control and discipline for the students. The use of punishments, such as
physical pain, reprimands, and withdrawal of attention invokes fear and, thus, it is an
effective method to decrease negative behavior.
Moreover, the use of positive reinforcements and rewards leads to the reduction of
juvenile delinquency. Rewards are in the form of recognition, and often it leads the students
to experience a sense of belonging and connectedness between students and teachers. An
inclusive environment avoids social problems, such as negative peer pressure, bullying, and
other forms of engagement (Farrington, 1979). Therefore, positive relationships and
reinforcements promote teacher-student relationships and a reduced recurrence of
Also, part of positive reinforcements in student behaviour includes the use of groups
influences to promote good behaviour, meaningful relationships between students and the
general sense of well being. The use of peer influences and counselling among students help
identify needy students and reinforcing positive relations. These actions reduce the incidence
of bullying, drug use and other negative behaviours. Besides, the use of counsellors within
the school provides an avenue to air out issues.
Landmark Court Decisions on handling a Juvenile Offender
Miller v. Alabama (2012)
Miller v. Alabama is a Supreme Court case involving 14-year-old, Evan Miller, and
his accomplice, in a murder conviction. The 2012 case involving juveniles led to the death of
Cannon, the murder victim. The ruling was considered unconstitutional due to the age of the
offenders during the crime. Miller's sentence was life term without parole, and this ruling
should have considered his age(POV, 2014). Given the nature of his crimes, the sentence was
socially acceptable. However, the decisions' constitutionality should take into account the age
and the different attributes associated with juveniles. For example, the lack of maturity and
the general sense of underdeveloped responsibility lead to reckless, risky, and impulsive
decisions. Due to underdevelopment, juvenile offenders are vulnerable to bad choices and
negative influences (Cornell Law School, 2012). Besides, juvenile behavior is attributed to
the environment, and the inability to extricate themselves from the settings should be
considered in the sentencing.
Roper v. Simmons (2005)
Roper v. Simmons is a 2005 case involving Christopher Simmons, a 17-year-old
arrested and sentenced for the murder of Shirley Cook. Simmons was convicted for first-
degree murder, and his sentence was death. Based on his age, the Supreme Court reviewed
the case to examine the death penalty's constitutionality for a juvenile offender. Based on
ruling from the Missouri Supreme Court, the sentence was considered unconstitutional since
it violated the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Therefore,
the court decisions were based on the evolving standards of decency, which summoned
public and national organizations to comment on the executions (American Psychological
Association, 2004). The criminal justice system should focus on the rehabilitation of the
juvenile offender instead of retribution.
The criminal justice system presents different treatment for juvenile and adult
offenders. Juvenile offenders are under the age of 18, while adult offenders are above the age
of 18. The existence of laws governing juvenile offenders' sentencing takes into consideration
the developmental elements and their contribution to juvenile delinquency. Juvenile offenders
are subjected to psychological analysis, which ascertains their vulnerability to criminal acts.
Consideration of their developmental aspects leads to identifying traits, such as
impulsivebehavior, immaturity, and other attributes that will influence their choices
(Scialabba, 2016). Adults are subjected to comprehensive trials without the necessity of
Moreover, the juvenile system advocates for different treatment of juvenile and adult
offenders since there should be a unique consideration under the law. Juvenile sentencing
should be based on the development and reform of the offender. However, the United States
experiences a lack of uniformity in the juvenile and adult demarcations in the criminal justice
system. Therefore, a major distinction between the juvenile and adult offender is the age
difference, which commands the developmental reasoning (Scialabba, 2016). The
developmental concept borrows from the psychological and sociological explanations on
criminality. Juvenile offenders are considered under-developed and this influences their
choices and motives in committing crimes. Therefore, a distinction between adult and
juvenile sentencing factors in the developmental processes and its influence on behaviour.
Based on the Roper v. Simmons and theMiller v. Alabama cases, age played a crucial role in
ascertaining the sentences' constitutionality against juvenile offenders. It also, reveals the
United States constitutional provisions and their responsibility to the welfare of children, in
terms of rehabilitations.
American Psychological Association. (2004). Roper v. Simmons. https://www.apa.org.
Cornell Law School. (2012, June 25). MILLER v. Alabama. LII / Legal Information
Farrington, D. P. (1979). Delinquent behavior modification in the natural environment.
The British Journal of Criminology, 19(4), 353-372.
Hirschfield, P. J. (2018). The role of schools in sustaining juvenile justice system
inequality. The Future of Children, 28(1), 11-35.
Lucero, J. L., Barrett, C., & Jensen, H. (2015). An examination of family and school
factors related to early delinquency. Children & Schools, 37(3), 165-173.
POV. (2014). Three Supreme Court Cases That Have Shaped Juvenile Justice.
Scialabba, N. (2016). Should Juveniles Be Charged as Adults in the Criminal Justice
Özbay, Ö. (2005). The Factors Leading to Juvenile Delinquency: School, Family,
District, and Substance Use (Case of Ankara).