Juvenile offenders continue to make the news with their delinquent behaviors that are often disturbing to the natural balance of the order of the society. There is a growing concern with the number of juvenile crimes that is committed in the society at present and that the measures that are currently in place appear to be ineffective. Juveniles commit serious crimes that warrant greater punishment that the judiciary system metes out to these children. But advocates on children rights would argue that juveniles are not mentally developed to deal with the punishment that would suit the crimes that they commit. The harsh reality is that juveniles are more conscious of their actions than most people think and they are cognizant of the punishment that goes with the crime. If a child is bold enough to commit murder because of the learned behavior that one can take the life of another person because of being wronged, then the juvenile should be tried as an adult because the learned behavior can have been avoided. The increase in juvenile offensive behaviors requires immediate attention and clearly there is a need to prevent future involvement and occurrence of the minors who commit heinous crimes. Despite the calls for stringent measures to be taken against juvenile offenders, careful consideration must be taken when the justice system treats juvenile offenders as adults as there are long term negative effects and an increase in recidivism when treating juvenile offenders as adults.
In the 1980s, The Department of Juvenile Services created a system that primarily focused on providing care in facilities that focused on the treatment in the community and secure facilities and programs (History of Juvenile Justice System, 2015). This system allowed for the treatment of juveniles as juveniles and not adults despite the crimes that were committed. But, the increase in the number of juvenile offences has opened the door for calls to change the policies on how the justice system deals with juvenile offences. Historically, “children from as young as 7 years old who were accused of wrongdoing were imprisoned with adults” (History of Juvenile Justice System), but these policies changed in the early 19th century and the United States Judiciary system carried out a number of researches that helped to reform the system and allowed for juveniles to be tried and treated in the juvenile court system under the “parens patriae” (History of Juvenile Justice System, 2015). The treatment involved rehabilitating these children instead of treating them as adult offenders. The reality is that adult courts are associated with criminal activities and juvenile courts are civil in nature, but recent advocates on juvenile offenses argue that juveniles who commit murder have committed criminal activities and should be treated as criminals.
Arguably, the treatment of juvenile offenders as adults is a critical issue in the Criminal Justice System as there is a growing concern that these juveniles must be treated and tried equally with adult law offenders. In many cases, the challenges of dealing with these juvenile offenders are great as there are negative and positive effects of treating minors as adults. Redding argues that despite the best intentions, juveniles who were tried in adult criminal court are more likely to contribute to increasing recidivism rates (Redding, 2003) as such measures rarely focus on the essential assets of the Positive Youth Justice Model of learning and belonging (Family and Youth Service Bureau, 2010). Parents and prosecutors often have conflicting ideas on treating juveniles as adult offenders as the moral and ethical considerations are great. Many persons argue that parents are responsible for the way their children behave and should be held accountable for their children’s actions, but the truth is that the society as a whole contributes to the overall development of children. Therefore, the prosecutors and parents must develop measures that can help to make minors accountable for their actions even as they attempt to develop the moral and ethical standards of acceptable behaviors.
There are social and environmental problems that impact the actions of the juveniles and these factors are integral to the way that the minor is socialized. Children who are exposed to intense criminal activities are likely to commit various criminal activities. These minors are treated as criminals and the real problems are not dealt with so as to help the juveniles not to repeat the actions. Juveniles who commit criminal offences are often victims of emotional, psychological, and social challenges and in order to alleviate the problems that these offenders commit. But, these challenges can be overcome if the justice system begins to address the problem and focus on early intervention programs that will help to reduce the children’s flow into courts and incarceration facilities (Fordham News, 2010). In doing this, the judiciary system would create laws that will assist children’s advocate group to better understand the underlying problems of juvenile crimes.
Juvenile offences cause political and economical challenges in the society as the judiciary system becomes flooded with the increase in the numbers of juvenile offenders. The government has to provide more facilities to house these juvenile offenders and this place a strain on the economic structure of the country. Arguably, by criminalizing the juvenile justice system there is a greater likelihood that juvenile offenders will be deterred from criminal activities as employing tougher punishments for juvenile actions can provide more positive outcomes to the community (Bazemore & Day, 1996). Additionally, there is less financial strain on creating psychological treatments programs that may take extended periods to become effective. The juvenile offenders who are housed by the state add expense to the country’s economy as the government must now provide for juvenile offenders who have parents who could easily provide these services. Based on these arguments, juvenile offenders who commit violent crimes and are treated as adult offenders will deviate from criminal activities, but advocates against such offences argue that there is a greater need to maintain the traditional treatment and rehabilitation process that will be more effective in treating minor offenders.
In concluding, the increase in juvenile offences creates a number of social, environmental, emotional, economic, and political challenges for the society. It is therefore important for the stakeholders in juvenile development to create plans and laws that will help to treat the core of these problems as juvenile delinquency and juvenile offensive behaviors are learned behaviors that arise from the factors in the society. As a result, one could easily argue that law makers and child advocates must increase their strategies in order to create punishment that will address the needs of the juvenile offenders and the victims of their offensive behaviors. These measures will help to reduce the recidivism rate when juvenile offenders serve their specific sentences as adults or juveniles. But, treating juvenile offenders as adults and applying grave punishment for juvenile offenses can be bad choices as the law makers only treat the problem at the surface level and leave the real problem of social and emotional challenges to build and increase the rate of recidivism in these offenders.
Bazemore, G., & Day, S. E. (1996). Restoring the Balance: Juvenile and Community Justice.
Juvenile Justice, 3(1), 3-39.
Family and Youth Services Bureau. (2010, July 29). Primary Sources: Better Approaches to
Juvenile Justice | National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth. Retrieved from
Fordham News. (2010, April 6). Judith Kaye Stresses Importance of Education at Flom Lecture.
Retrieved from http://news.fordham.edu/education-and-social-services/judith-kaye-stresses-importance-of-education-at-flom-lecture-2/
History of Juvenile Justice System, Juvenile Justice in the United States (2015) Retrieved from
http://www.djs.state.md.us/history.asp 5 February 2016
Redding, R. E. (2003). The Effects of Adjudicating and Sentencing Juveniles As Adults:
Research and Policy Implications. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 1(2), 128-155.