An Analysis of Juvenile Justice System

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How does the Juvenile Justice system (or the Education System) define the 'norm' for mainstream youth? What does its treatment of young people (as opposed to its treatment of adults) say about our society's concepts of youth? We live in a society in which the 'norm' is enforced by respected professions such as education and the law. This forms cultural knowledge and a perception of subjects such as young people which may not always be fair observations yet the fault does not merely lie in these professions. This assignment will aim to formulate how expectations of the behavior of young people have come to pass and have thus been fostered by institutions such as the Juvenile Justice system. Articulation of the consistency between the treatments of youth versus that of the adult will portray apparent reason and areas whereby another angle could be taken. The paper aspires to portray how youth are perceived in extremes of affection and fear by society.

Moira Rayner wrote that 'there is an attitude problem in Australian Society. We have refused to take children seriously' (1990, pp.1); this statement may be found to be true in many senses. In a survey of how the media perceives Children, it was found that children are considered mostly as 'victims' of a cruel world, 'cute kids' and 'little devils' (O'Sullivan, 1998, pp.1). Although half of the typecasting was labeled negative, through the words alone, the image of youth may be distinguished as almost farcical. The problem of juvenile delinquency lies at the hands of ideologies that have been formulated through generations of moral upbringing. We learn how to bring up our children as moral human beings through our parents who, in turn, learnt from their parents, and so the story continues. The law simply sets the limits of legal human behavior by means of both the actions of the average person and centuries of rearing and moral teachings. By the means of upbringing throughout the ages, the law has allocated boundaries which society has generally learnt to abide by and has accepted as the 'norm'. Dictatorship of what is normal is not set out by a specific genre of professions but by society as a whole.

When a serious offence is committed as stated by the justice system, often the shock of what the world is coming to is looked upon by the older generation and pondered on as they think back to when they were younger. Shelley posted an opinion on the 'Spank Mag' forum concerning this debate, concluding that...the world can't be perfect. It's [social mismeandors have] always been around, it always will be.' (2000, pp.1) She distinguished that there have always been mean, violent and depressed young people and that there always will be, after all, it is human nature for things to go wrong, the problem with society's perception is the fact that connection between behavior in the past and that of the future was similarly able to rise to the occasion of unlawful activities, yet not as exact and not publicized to such extremes.

The Juvenile Justice System was most definitely a positive step forward so as to give children another start at life if they begin to wander, yet it may be said that the practice does not hold enough weight in concern to the more serious offenses and is perhaps forgetting to set children back on track instead of giving them a slap on the wrist (Seymour, 1997, pp305). Due to the fact that children are to a great extent viewed as mischievous victims (O'Sullivan, 1998, pp.1), actions upon the children are often too lenient, yet at the same time those young people who do perform serious injustices are tried by the same jurisdiction. It is no wonder that when young children do commit a crime as severe as murder, a sense of paranoia is created in the public eye (O'Sullivan, 1998, pp.1). Confusion as to whether children are sweet or evil sets the tone. Bennet stated that 'The Youth of today are in a crisis of violence, confusion and cynicism. Without a direction or vision in life, many turn to drugs, sex, self destruction and suicide as a way to anaesthetize the torture of their souls' (1999), perhaps society should change the perception of youth so as to see children as they really are; young adults merely learning and formulating their characters, capable of both good and evil just as any adult is. With this in mind, the consistency between the adult court of law and the Juvenile Justice Systems should undoubtedly be in question.

In the past the Juvenile Justice system has been found to be more lenient than that of an adult court. One of the factors owing to the cause of this leniency is due to the fact that children at a certain age cannot be held accountable for their actions. After the age of 7 a child may be found criminally answerable and after the age of fourteen a child is automatically deemed responsible for their conduct (Mackie C, 2002). Although this is understandable, the law is familiar with the fact that if the child knew what they did was a serious offence then they should be held liable, yet how is anybody to know. The treatment of clemency over these children does not assure that the offenders will be taught a lesson. The utmost effort should be placed on making the young learn from their mistakes. If the law is being

right and wrong whether it is the fault of the guardians or the children themselves. There is suitable reason to be dubious of the Juvenile Justice Systems. As to whether they are dealing with the crimes with a strict enough hand (Funk & Polsby, 1997). But if the children are advised and the law is enforced that they seek help, then the children will either behave more lawfully or they never had it in them to do so at any rate then nothing will be able to stop them. The Juvenile Justice courts should make it their concern to be able to distinguish this before the sentencing is carried out whether the offence was solemn or merely a simple, seemingly derisory one. One should realize that the action is a symptom of a problem.

Conclusively society should realize that the Juvenile justice system does not dictate perceptions of young people. Definition is at their hands, but only because of the fact that they voice what other institutions do not so as to set the standards of acceptable behavior. Normality is to some extent similar to every person's cultural knowledge. How adult culture perceives youth is a fault of their own, acceptance of young people as little adults should be in attendance. Although they should be perceived as young adults, one should also realize that youth are standing on unstable legs as they are still testing the waters of life and all it has to offer. Here belies the reason for difference between the Juvenile Justice system and a regular adult court. Dealing with children is obviously tricky business, while the Juvenile Justice system is present to help the children, it is important that there are incidences where they need not only to be helped but also watched with a close eye. Upbringing is the key influence for a child to form their moral standings, if the child cannot distinguish right from wrong, no matter what they are taught, they will eventually, if not already, grow into a great hazard and should be treated as if they had created an 'adult crime' (Funk & Polsby, 1997)

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