Juvenile Detention Centers: Discipline or Abuse? 

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When one imagines their childhood, they may think of playing at the playground, coloring in their favorite coloring books, or having their parents tuck them in after a bedtime story. Sadly, this does not always become everyone’s reality. In fact, every day there are young children pulled away from their homes, and being sent to juvenile detention centers for petty crimes they committed. According to Natalia Orendain, “Every year, more than 1.3 million young people are arrested in the United States” (par. 6). Children should not be sent to juvenile detention centers because it can interfere with the emotional development of a child, and may affect further opportunities in the adolescent’s life.

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Furthermore, children are still growing from ages twelve and under, and juvenile detention centers would only negatively impact them in numerous ways. Orendain mentions, “Their brains also change in ways that are similar to a person who has been through a traumatic experience” (par. 4).While attending the facility, one might experience bullying, depression, isolation, lack of affection, etc. This is inhumane for a child to undergo at such a young age, especially while other children their age have the opportunity to possess a normal childhood. The experience of juvenile detention only leaves an immense amount of emotional damage on a young adolescent. Consequently, in many cases, the situation ultimately leads to suicidal thoughts and depression. In fact, “Suicide is the leading cause of death among adolescents in juvenile detention facilities, with rates 3 to 18 times higher than the age-matched general population adolescents” (Bhatta par. 2). A child’s youth should be full of joy and laughter, not depression and isolation. In addition, juvenile detentions not only damage the emotional development of a child, but also affects their future.

Moreover, while attending a juvenile facility, a child may believe their life is over, and as if nothing will be the same. The adolescents reentry into society can be difficult, and they may have a strenuous time feeling normal and/or rehabilitating their social skills. According to Orendain, “It also makes them more likely to do poorly at school, have bad relationships, and struggle to get a job” (par. 8). Rather than having a normal childhood, they are secluded to believing they are criminals and that’s who they will grow up to be. Some negative impacts the facility causes include lack of confidence, poor social skills, and the development of mental health issues. For instance, “Isolation of young people can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems” (Orendain par. 11). The development of these illnesses will undoubtedly affect the rest of their life in many ways. Although this may be the case, some argue that these facilities are convenient for a young adolescent.

Many people believe that juvenile detention centers have some benefits to them. For example, Orendain states, “To help these young people to change their ways, juvenile detention includes rehabilitative efforts, including behavior management, writing classes, religious services, and how to manage money” (par. 7). Yes, there are some advantages to these facilities, however, not all opportunities are offered in every juvenile detention center in America. In addition, a child is supposed to feel safe and at home while growing up, yet a detention center is quite the opposite. According to Orendain, “It feels like you are in a factory rather than a home” (par. 9). “They lack natural light, and the buildings are surrounded by chain-linked fences topped with barbed wire” (Orendain par. 9). This is a threatening environment for a child to grow up in and/or experience.

In conclusion, juvenile detention centers are not a place for children due to the many effects it has on an adolescents life. It’s time to start looking for alternative solutions, before immediately jumping to this horrid option.

Works Cited

  1. Bhatta, Madhav P., et al. ‘Suicidal Behaviors among Adolescents in Juvenile Detention: Role of Adverse Life Experiences.’ PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 2, 2014, p. e89408. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A478794210/GPS?u=txshracd2549&sid=GPS&xid=56094b2d. Accessed 1 Oct. 2019.
  2. Orendain, Natalia. “Should Children as Young as 12 Be Sent to Juvenile Detention?” Actively Learn, https://read.activelylearn.com/#teacher/reader/authoring/1014328/notes.
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Juvenile Detention Centers: Discipline or Abuse? . (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved November 28, 2022 , from
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