In the recent years, there have been surging numbers of high-profile cases involving adolescent who commit violent crimes. This drastic rising of violent crimes involving children has attracted public attention. Nevertheless, it is clear that over the years there have been an upward trend in juvenile cases as argued by Espiritu et al. (2003). Indeed, through in-depth observation, it is worth understanding that juvenile delinquency is creasing especially among young offenders of between seven and eight years. Furthermore, it is observed that children of less than 13 years are frequently being arrested for juvenile offenses. The recent statistics in fact, point out clearly that the youth make about one-third of the juvenile arrests for arson and about one-fifth of the juvenile arrests for vandalism and sex as implied by Espiritu et al. (2003).
According to Espiritu et al. (2003), children who get involved in crimes in adolescence are at very high chances of transitioning to becoming violent, serious and chronic offenders. Espiritu et al. (2003) observe that the chances of juveniles perpetuating criminal behaviors when they engage in delinquency in their younger ages are very high. They point out that delinquents have high potentials to perpetuating their delinquency for longer periods of time, even lifetimes. Hence, the particular juveniles can pose immense to property and people. Moreover, the particular group of offenders has high potentials to impacting funds and resources for justice, education and social services agencies.
Therefore, it is imperative to comprehend well the trend in juvenile offenses. The official records about children in the Juvenile Justice System in the US shows there is a consistent surge in the cases involving children and this is supported by Snyder (2001) that very young children who are below the age of 13 are those younger are fairly common in the United States juvenile justice system. Snyder notes that, despite the fact that, a significant number of the juveniles are referred directly to the court by their family members, social services and schools; often the first contact for many of the juveniles is the arrest by law enforcement officers. Snyder and Sickmund (cited by Snyder (2001)) show the data collected by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program indicate clearly that the law enforcement agencies made nearly 253,000 arrests of juveniles who were below the age of 13 years in the year 1997. Furthermore, (Snyder and Sickmund points out that nearly 10 percent of the particular arrests were for status offenses such as curfew violation, running away from home and violation of liquor law. Therefore, according to the implication by Snyder (2001), children of 13 years and below made up 9 percent of all the recorded juvenile arrests. That is, the arrests of individuals below 18 years in the year 1997. Moreover, Cloward and Ohlin (2013) argue that delinquency is prevalent among adolescents with the US juvenile justice system due to the reason that, there is a large number of the inmates below the age of 15 years. This argument is supported by Slowikowski (2011) that, nowadays the arrests of youth for property related crimes have go down by 17 percent however, the arrests for violent crimes have increased by 45 percent. Ideally, Slowikowski argues that the chances of juveniles being arraigned in court for violent crimes, use of dangerous weapons and drug related offences are very high in comparison to the past years.
Ryan et al. (2013) points out that in the study where a diverse sample of at least 19,833 participants was used and it included 24 percent female, 13 percent African American, 8 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent Native American, there was a steady and high reoffending rate of children between the years 2004 and 2007 observed. In their study, Ryan et al. evaluated family, education, peers drugs and alcohols among other factors to arrive at a conclusion that there was a consistent high reoffending rate within the study period, and a relatively high proportion of youth recidivate in a short period of time. Another observation from the work of Ryan et al. (2013) is that youth coming to the juvenile justice system with an open an active case of neglect had very high chances of for recidivism. In fact, Ryan et al observed in about 18 months of the initial arrest, nearly 61 percent experience a subsequent arrest. A majority, at least 67 percent of the subsequent offenses transpired before the youth turned 18 years of age. In response to the increasing juvenile cases involving children who commit violent offenses, there are a number of theories that have been advanced to attempt and explain delinquent offenses however; the major theory that best explains juvenile delinquency is the Social Disorganization theory.
According to Steenbeek and Hipp (2011), Social Disorganization theory implies that in the failure of the skills and networking abilities of any given community organizations, be it educational, law enforcement, health care, religious organizations, business or social service, a particular community may experience high crime rates through a failure in social order and a lack of obedience to social rules. Therefore, it is imperative understanding based on Social Disorganization theory that, areas where there is lack of obedience to social rules by children due to the community reducing their chances of advancement, experience social disorder i.e. they experience conflict and despair. This is due to the reason that the children turn to antisocial behavior. Strain theory as observed by Steenbeek and Hipp (2011) explain when a person has goals which the economic mainstream creates desirable and is incapable to attain the goals set before him/her in a genuine way, the particular person will find alternative ways of achieving his/her goals, habitually turning to criminal behavior. In addition, Cultural Deviance theories point out that as a result of the draining lifestyle of children living in worsened environs the children often turn to social isolation and delinquent behavior. Simply, the Social Disorganization theory implies that when a community creates conflict for a young people to achieve success, the youth experience status frustrations since they cannot reach goals set by the larger society. Hence, they turn to delinquent behavior.
Cloward, R. A., & Ohlin, L. E. (2013). Delinquency and Opportunity: A Study of Delinquent Gangs (Vol. 6). Routledge.
Espiritu, R. C., Huizinga, D., Loeber, R., & Petechuk, D. (2003). Prevalence and development of child delinquency. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Ryan, J. P., Williams, A. B., & Courtney, M. E. (2013). Adolescent neglect, juvenile delinquency and the risk of recidivism. Journal of youth and adolescence, 42(3), 454-465.
Slowikowski, J. (2011). Juvenile Arrests 2009.
Snyder, H.N. 2001. Epidemiology of official offending. In Child Delinquents: Development, Intervention, and Service Needs, edited by R. Loeber and D.P. Farrington. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., pp. 25–46
Steenbeek, W., & Hipp, J. R. (2011). A longitudinal test of social disorganization theory: feedback effects among cohesion, social control, and disorder*. Criminology, 49(3), 833-871.