In recent debate, there have been questions raised as to whether the juvenile justice system is too lenient, allowing juvenile offenders to repeat grave criminal offenses and get away with them, citing little to no parental guidance. Some individuals, and institutions alike, have been advocating for the instituting of dramatic measures such as the revocation of parental rights, removal of children from the home, and even forced sterilization of parents convicted of felony abuse or neglect. However, I do not believe such measures would work to mitigate and/or eradicate cases of juvenile delinquency.
While dramatic and stringent measures may seem to temporarily mitigate juvenile delinquency at first due to the nature of the harsh punishments, in the long-run, it leads to future recidivism. This is because criminal sanction raise the probability that a child would slip back into juvenile delinquent tendencies. When a child is separated from the family or parent as punishment to the parents, they tend to react to this in a rebellious manner that only leads to worse delinquent behaviour.
Whereas such drastic and dramatic measures may seem to instil fear of the law, the children and the parents alike learn to also hate and/or despise the law. As opposed to punishing members of such a family by either stripping their parental rights, it is in the best interest of the child that the approach be more humane, targeting the risk factors.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Family-based community interventions are much more effective in solving juvenile delinquency and family issues. This is because these models address the personal and behavioural problems within the affected families without tearing apart the family unit. This unit is essential for the development of a complete and law abiding citizen.
In conclusion, while punishment seems to instil fear of the law CBT and family-based community interventions resolve the underlying psychological problems, giving the afflicted individuals an ideal to strive towards, leading to the development of law-abiding citizens.
Bartollas, C., & Schmalleger, F. (2011). Juvenile Delinquency (8th ed.). Prentice Hall.