There has been a significant growth in the number of violent juvenile crimes over the past decade, which has stirred a heated debate on effectiveness and viability of the juvenile system. According to statistics in the US Department of Justice at the beginning of the 21st century one among four residents in the US were below 18 years of age. Therefore, the number of minors has been large and providing services to this population has been a challenge. The government has been on a mission to ensure efficiency and viability of the system through allocation of resources and development of proper infrastructure (Demarest, 2013). However, there is also a need to look into the role of society in dealing with this problem.
For example, the most prevalent problems have been associated with drug and alcohol abuse. The family plays an imperative role in developing the character behavior of the children. It has been said that properly behaved children come from families that practice proper decorum, ensuring self-control. However, children brought up in families with abusive parents, characterized with alcohol and drug related abuse eventually demonstrate behavioral problems. Juvenile criminal justice system has been characterized with various challenges such as lack of teachers who can educate the incarcerated young people. There has been a great challenge in recruiting and retaining qualified teachers in the juvenile criminal system. In addition, with the increasing numbers of juvenile offenders there has been a challenge in ensuring proper placement of these offenders (Broemmel, 2013).
The main objective of the juvenile justice system is to facilitate the reformation of the juvenile. It plays an imperative role in providing appropriate services in the effort of ensuring the return of the youthful offender on course, which will ensure that they do no break the law in the future. There has been a concurrence of ideologies from various research and experts opinions that a majority of the juvenile offenders has different types of mental health disorders and complications. The juvenile justice system has been characterized with lack of appropriate and proper mental health services (Office of Justice System, 2011). For example, there has been a lack of community based services for juvenile offenders who have not been detained. In addition, majority of detention facilities also lack appropriate, proper and suitable mental health services for offenders in the juvenile systems.
There has been a view that the US department of justice has underplayed the significance of drug addictions as a major factor contributing to the increase in juvenile offenders. This has led to the development of insufficient addiction and drug and substance treatment resources and measures. In addition, there has been a lack of school programming for juvenile offenders as a majority of the juvenile offenders are school drop outs or minors with a very poor attendance record for students. Therefore, the juvenile justice system also needs to develop and provide appropriate and proper educational programming and experiences for minors in the juvenile courts. There has also been a high rate of recidivism in the juvenile justice system, and the system has underscored significantly in dealing with this problem. For example, the juvenile justice system does not maintain specific statistics in regard to juvenile offenders (Demarest, 2013). This has led to increased percentage of reoffenders who after serving a detention or probation commit other crimes.
According to the Youth Transition Funders Group, which is an organization that advocates for reforms in the youth and juvenile justice, more than 100,000 minors are held in jail each day in the US. The juvenile justice system is different from the adult justice system on focusing on rehabilitation, education and prevention. There is a need for more reforms as the zero tolerance policies adopted by the government has done little in educating the young people. For example, research shows that, between 1988 and 1994, the number of juvenile arrests arising from violent crimes doubled (Broemmel, 2013). This led to straining of the juvenile justice system such as the intake, detention, and rehabilitation services.
Maltreatment, child abuse, neglects and victimization have been among the major factors contributing to unfortunate outcomes as the minors grow up. They have been associated with increased likelihood of a child being arrested as a juvenile by 59% and also increased the chances of minors being involved in violent crime by 30% according to a study. This study involved a close analysis of 1500 children, where a comparison was done on 900 abused children comparing them with 600 children who had not been abused (Office of Justice System, 2011). In the same study, a racial analysis also established that abused white children were less likely to engage in violent crimes as compared to black children.
For example, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that, in 2006, there were more than 905,000 children who were victims of child abuse and neglect. Research has it that although abuse and neglect may not result to immediate physical injury, it has dire consequences on children, family and the society at large. It has often been difficult to separate the physical, psychological and behavioral consequences relating to child abuse and neglect. For example, abused and mistreated children tend to display poor physical health and psychological effects such as fear, inability to trust and poor mental and emotional imbalance (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2008). In addition, the children also tend to display difficulties during adolescence, juvenile delinquency, abusive behavior, drug and substance abuse, as well as adult criminality.
There have been tremendous changes on the public policies, which affect the juvenile court’s delinquency. This has been in response to rising concerns on increased violent crimes and chronic offenders in the juvenile judicial system and the need to ensure effectiveness and viability of the juvenile judicial system. For example, there have been various proposals, which will facilitate the improvement of the juvenile judicial system. For example, the proposed changes in broad categories include the removal of more serious offenders from the juvenile justice system to the criminal court. In addition, there is a need to experiment with new dispositions and more sentencing options, which will facilitate wide options among the juvenile offenders. There is also need to change the correctional programs in light with the changing populations and up-rise of juvenile offenders in adult prisons (Stevenson, et al, 2013). To cope with the rising challenges in the juvenile justice system, there is also a need for modification of confidentiality laws, which will lead to more open proceedings, which will include victims in the juvenile justice system.
In conclusion, even with the improvements in the juvenile justice system, there is a need for incorporation of more community based programs. This is due to the fact that even when the juvenile judicial system improves, it cannot be able to get rid or prevent child abuse and neglect. An integrated approach towards dealing with the juvenile justice system will facilitate integration of government activities and community based programs in developing more result oriented and effective ways that improve juvenile justice system.
Broemmel , M. (2013). Problems with Juvenile Justice. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from e-How: http://www.ehow.com/about_5365215_problems-juvenile-justice.html
Child Welfare Information Gateway . (2008). Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from child welfare Information : https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long_term_consequences.cfm
Demarest , W. (2013). Most Important Issues Facing the Juvenile Courts Today. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from e-How: http://www.ehow.com/info_7959162_important-facing-juvenile-courts-today.html
Office of Justice System. (2011, March 14). Impact of Child Abuse and Maltreatment on Delinquency, Arrest and Victimization. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from Office of Justice System: http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/child-abuse/impact-on-arrest-victimization.htm
Stevenson , C., Larson , C., Salcido , L., Gomby , D., Terman , D., & Behrman, R. (2013, February 11). The Juvenile Court: Analysis and Recommendations. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from The Future of Children: http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=55&articleid=310§ionid=2054