When a juvenile commits an act that would be criminal if committed by an adult, the juvenile is determined to be delinquent. Delinquent acts may include crimes against persons, crimes against property, drug offenses, and crimes against public order. Delinquency prevention efforts seek to redirect youth who are considered at-risk for delinquency or who have committed a delinquent offense from deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system (Delinquency Prevention). Preventing juvenile delinquency to most seems like an easy task. Often you will hear people say, If the child is/was disciplined correctly, there would be no room for trouble. This statement is often wrong when it comes to successful prevention methods. As adults, we can enforce the harshest discipline or minimal discipline as a prevention method, and a child would still be a delinquent if the preventative methods used are not effective. Successfully preventing juvenile delinquency takes time and patients with the delinquent to get to know what the underlying cause of delinquent behavior may be as well as, parental involvement and community involvement are the starting points in successfully preventing delinquency if the child displays delinquent behavior or has already committed delinquent acts. According to Matt Smith of NCJJ.org, studies show that in the last decade, juvenile delinquency has declined; If we as adults want to keep the decline consistent and save the lives of juvenile delinquents who eventually become future adults, we must strategize and come up with more successful prevention methods that work and are juvenile friendly. Punishment is not always the answer nor is it always effective. In this document, I will discuss research based on parental involvement, community involvement, that serves as successful ways to deter juvenile delinquency and delinquent behavior.
In most cases of delinquency, the delinquent has failed to have sufficient parental involvement or positive role models in their lives to help guide them in right direction. Studies have shown that, Adults influence the lives of adolescents in a variety of ways. Bandura (1971) suggests that people tend to display behaviors that are learned either intentionally or inadvertently, through the influence of example. Since identity formation is a central focus during adolescence, adolescents are particularly likely to be influenced by the adults in their environment (Erikson, 1968). Adolescents often look to adults to determine appropriate and acceptable behavior, as well as to identify models of who they want to be like. Adult influences, however, can be both positive and negative, and some adults may be more influential than others (Hurd, Zimmerman, & Xue, 2009). For example, if a child grows up in a two-parent household and the both parents work full-time jobs, share the household responsibilities and is involved in just about every aspect of the child's life; teaching them the skills needed to become responsible adults, more than likely that child will be less likely engage in delinquent behaviors. This is because the child has positive influences to interact with daily. Using the same scenario, but one parent (the mother) is the only adult in the household who works a regular job and the father is a drug user, has been incarcerated several times and is often abusive in many ways. The father makes his lifestyle seem cool and acceptable for the child. The child in question is with the father more when he is not incarcerated because the mother is often working double shifts, so she rarely has time to be actively involved in the child's life; he/she looks up to the father, therefore adopting the father's behavior versus' the mother's behavior and good work ethic. The child will more than likely partake in delinquent behavior because this is what he/she see through interactions with the father. The father feels that this behavior is acceptable and does nothing to change his behavior in the presence of his child(ren) therefore, the child(ren) as well believes this behavior to be acceptable because the father has not displayed any positive parental involvement or role model behavior. The child(ren) in this scenario is more susceptible to delinquency and becoming a future convict than a productive citizen.
Although research devoted to the effects of nonparental adults on adolescent development has grown recently, much of this research has focused on their positive influences, such as supporting, inspiring, and modeling positive behaviors (Beam, Chen, & Greenberger, 2002; Hamilton & Darling, 1996; Hirsch, Mickus, & Boerger, 2002; Rhodes, Ebert, & Fischer, 1992). Researchers have given little consideration to the negative influences that nonparental adults may have on adolescents by modeling socially inappropriate or illegal behavior. A notable exception is a study conducted by Greenberger, Chen, and Beam (1998) in which they found that adolescents' perceptions of the negative behavior of a very important nonparental adult were predictive of adolescent misconduct. This finding suggests that nonparental adults can have a negative influence on adolescents if adolescents consider the nonparental adults to be very important persons in their lives. Other researchers have suggested that nonparental adults can negatively influence adolescents, even when these adults are not considered very important persons in the adolescents' lives (Hurd, Zimmerman, & Xue, 2009). Parental involvement in a child's life is most important in preventing delinquency successfully. With positive role models, a child will adopt the behaviors of those closet to them may it be a parents, legal guardians, or other influential adults that a child's looks to for guidance and will often aspire to be like in the future. The more involved a parent(s) are in a child life and if that involvement inspires positive behavior and lifestyles, that child(ren) has a better success rate of refraining from delinquent behaviors and activities.
Community involvement is equally as important in successfully preventing delinquency also. We have all heard the saying It takes a village to raise a child. This is very true. Some children are not fortunate enough to have a two-parent household or a positive role model at all in the home. This is where people in the community would step in and actively participate in being the best role models to those who are unfortunate and be that beacon of hope for those children. Community involvement not only include the people in a child's immediate neighborhood, community involvement also includes community-based programs, community activities, and the school system in each designated community. To effectively support youth and prevent delinquency - schools, youth-serving organizations, faith-based institutions, businesses, and government agencies as well as youth and families must collaborate to share expertise and resources. Strong partnerships with relevant organizations and agencies in your community are critical to preventing delinquency because working together will help in delivering a consistent message while reaching youth through various channels. It also presents valuable opportunities to share resources, develop joint goals and objectives, and learn from each other. The North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention partners with Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils in each county to bring together community leaders, locally and statewide, to reduce and prevent juvenile crime (Strengthen the Involvement of Parents and Communities). Community-based programs and collaborations such as these are very effective and intuitive when taking steps to prevent delinquency. Not only does it build a trust system among juveniles and adults, it also builds stronger communities and relationships.
Juvenile delinquency is a major issue in our country. Although, studies have proved that delinquency has declined in the last decade, there are still many areas in our country that still have high delinquency rates among certain groups of people. To successfully prevent delinquency, preventative methods must first begin at home. Parents must become a part of the movement in successfully preventing delinquency and further delinquency. As a parent, you must become and remain a positive role model for juveniles. Juvenile are very impressionable beginning early in life. Children often imitate what they see and become what they have learned from adults in their environment be it a natural parent or an adult the juvenile look up to. Adults who have influence in a child(ren)'s life should always ensure that they are the best influence that they can be. With positive influence, we create future productive adults and less convicts for our society. Community involvement is also an important component in preventing delinquency. Communities are not only support groups for the juvenile but, a community should also be considered as an extended family. Some children are not fortunate to have a two-parent household or a household that has a positive influence or role model to look up to and may turn to someone in the community or within a community organization for guidance. As a community, there should be steps to ensure that the juvenile or delinquent is receiving all the positivity they can receive and that they are being shown that there is more to crime and delinquent behavior. Communities must show juveniles that they are there for them when they need them and build a up a relationship of trust and family-oriented atmosphere, be the shoulder the juvenile or delinquent can lean on in times of need when they have no one else. Communities and community's leaders must collaborate and come up with effective programing and ideas to ensure that our juvenile do not turn to or return to juvenile delinquency because this is the only thing they see and know. As the statement says, It takes a community to raise a child. Let's display that saying in actions and not just words.
Delinquency Prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2018, from https://www.crimesolutions.gov/TopicDetails.aspx?ID=62
Hurd, N. M., Zimmerman, M. A., & Xue, Y. (2009, July). Negative adult influences and the protective effects of role models: A study with urban adolescents. Retrieved September 30, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2752426/
Smith, M. (2017, September 27). NCJJ Report Shows Juvenile Crime Keeps Falling, But Reasons Elusive. Retrieved September 30, 2018, from https://jjie.org/2015/02/26/ncjj-report-shows-juvenile-crime-keeps-falling-but-reasons-elusive/
Report Original Publish Date 02/26/2015
Strengthen the Involvement of Parents and Communities. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2018, from http://www.policyforresults.org/youth/prevent-juvenile-delinquency/strategies/strengthen-the-involvement-of-parents-and-communities
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