Combating Juvenile Delinquency
A juvenile may be defined as a young person, usually below the statutory majority age recognized under law. Therefore, juvenile delinquency refers to the partaking in crime or illicit activities by persons considered as minors under law. Most legal systems consider all persons below the age of eighteen as juveniles and prescribe certain measures for dealing with youth crime such as the courts, boot camps, or juvenile detention facilities. Juvenile delinquency is often characterized by rebellious and disruptive behavior that cannot be controlled through parental intervention and, therefore, subject to action at law (Burfeind & Bartusch, 2011, p. 238). Depending on the nature and type offense, an individual below the statutory majority age (usually eighteen) may be prosecuted and tried as an adult.
Most people are affected by youth offending in some way. It affects families, teachers, and even neighbors. In addition, the victims, the witnesses, and the perpetrators of the crime are usually affected, as well. A number of programs have been implemented in an attempt to reduce juvenile delinquency (DeLisi, Hewitt & Regoli, 2014, p. 495). While some have proved extremely successful, others have failed to yield the desired outcomes. Several programs are currently in use, but the most effective ones have been those that intervene by assisting the young people and their families from an early stage. Those that intervene after the occurrence of the delinquency, such as juvenile detention, tend to be ineffective because by the time of intervention, the deviant habits are fully developed. Successful programs tend to intervene early on before the commencement of deviant behavior.
A number of programs aimed at early intervention have been instituted and various groups have attempted to deal with the problem in a number of ways. To avert juvenile delinquency, it is imperative to have some knowledge of how antisocial demeanor develops and come up with means and programs to terminate the developmental path. The most inveterate and hardcore offenders frequently display signs of deviant behavior early in life. By intervening to prevent deviant behavior among minors from an early age, future criminal activity can be prevented effectively (Siegel, 2013, p. 308). Among the programs that have proved effective include prenatal and childhood visitation by professional nurses, training programs involving parent-child interaction, education programs, and recreation.
Prenatal and childhood visitation by professional nurses has been exceedingly successful at discouraging and preventing juvenile offending because it occurs at a very early stage of the minor’s development. In addition, it focuses on broad and holistic aspects of the minor’s life instead of matters relating to crime only. Typically, the program involves visitation by nurses to low-income mothers between their time of gestation and the second year after delivery. These visits are usually conducted with the focus on the health and well-being of the child and the mother. Another important aspect of the program is that the problems related to maternal behavior can be reduced considerably. Training programs relating to parent-child interaction have also been implemented. Such programs typically last for about three months and are usually designed to equip parents of children aged between two and eight years having considerable behavioral anomalies with appropriate parenting skills.