Juvenile Criminal Behavior among the Youth
Juvenile criminal behavior among the youth has been on a steady increase. Research conducted by Pyrooz and Sweeten (2015) indicates that children as young as five years old in the United States are involved in gang membership. These kids are engaged in all crimes ranging from petty theft and public disturbance to robbery with violence and drug abuse. The alarming rate at which juvenile centers admit young offenders has led to the need to conduct further research as to what promotes the growth in some young people, and how to deal with the situation. This paper seeks to establish some of the reasons leading to juvenile criminal behavior, patterns studied in juvenile crime, and ways to prevent the youth from participating in crime.
Pyrooz and Sweeten (2015) attempted to establish factors contributing to the probability of youth getting involved in crime. According to their study, some of these factors include substance abuse, financial instability, and peer pressure from their fellow young people and adults. They also noted that the ratio of gangs forming increased in areas of low-income status, and the offenders were associated with criminal activities such as drug abuse and trafficking, petty theft, robbery with violence, and public destruction of property. Due to financial instability , most people seek for other means of fending for themselves. A large number of juvenile offenders are school dropouts who lack qualification for employment. Others find an easier way out by resorting to the crime pattern which has faster returns, than having to wait for a low wage due to their lack of experience or qualification. Young people also tend to be dysfunctional under the influence of drugs. They lose the ability to think rationally, and act out unreasonably under influence, or have a false sense of confidence in committing crimes.
Some of the patterns noted by Martin et.al (2008) in their research after profiling young offenders can be classified according to age, gender, environment, and race. It was noted that the number of male offenders was higher than that of the females. The figure was higher because boys are more agile, daring, and easily influenced into joining gangs, and committing the vices mentioned. Some act out individually while for others, becoming part of a group is a privilege. Most of them are oblivious to the activities that other gang members get involved in, and later find out that their counterparts take part in criminal activities. Most of them get initiated willingly or unwillingly, just to be part of the group, while others are threatened against leaving.
In the journal done by Martine et.al, their research sought to develop methods that are useful in identifying young offenders (2008). Their methods would then be used to come up with adequate programs used to prevent further increase of juvenile criminal activities. The research was conducted through observation, whereby participants were selected from a city with a high crime rate. These participants were taken from a juvenile system and underwent behavioral and psychological assessment. From the research, a profile was created that indicated that most of the offenders were male, mostly from African –American descent, and they came from a poor background living in an environment that promoted crime.
Various studies indicate that several methods can be used to curb the high crime rate among the youth. The first major step is to understand the reasons that motivate young offenders into committing a crime. As discussed above, the main reasons prompting criminal activities include peer pressure, financial instability, and access to drugs. Spruit et.al (2016) suggest that young people need to be kept busy and involved with positive recreational activities. Their study mainly focuses on using sports to promote healthy activities during their free time. The authors state that young people stand to gain a lot by participating in sports. Those activities are healthy for their body and mind. However, the study mentions that the extent to which sports has influenced juvenile delinquents is yet to be determined. Participation in sports has been suggested as a substitute for other means used before, for example, the boot camp program. Boot camps have been previously used as a rehabilitation method for juvenile offenders (Polsky & Fast, 1993). The programs involve intense physical, psychological, and emotional exercises and activities, meant to punish young criminals and serve as a warning to prevent them from further committing crimes. This program is supposed to scare young children from crime, and give them an oversight of what to expect when imprisoned as adults.
Other ways mentioned in preventing the increase of juvenile offenders include counseling for those already incarcerated to determine the reason for their actions, the introduction of community policing programs in which members keep vigilant watch over the children to prevent them from joining gangs (Spruit et.al, 2016). The young offenders can also be rehabilitated by being enrolled in community schools, and teaching them basic skills that can be used by them to get employment as an alternative to crime for financial reasons. The state should also work in close collaboration with communities to keep watch over those released to ensure they do not go back into crime.
Martin, D., Martin, M., Dell, R., Davis, C., & Guerrieri, C. (2008). Profile of incarcerated
juveniles: Comparison of Male and Female Offenders. Adolescence, 43 (171), 607-622.
Polsky, H., & Fast. J. (1993). Boot camps, juvenile offenders, and culture shock. Child & Youth
Care Forum, 22(6), 403-415.
Pyrooz,D., & Sweeten, G. (2015). Gang Membership between ages 5 and 17 years in the United
States. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56 (4), 414-419.
Spruit, A., Van Vugt E., Stouwe, T., & Stams, G. (2016). Sports participation and juvenile
delinquency: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(4), 655-671.