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Delinquent Offenders vs. Status Offenders

Nowadays, so many people commit crimes almost every day; however, if the actions of grown-ups may be controlled by criminal law or civil law, the actions of teenagers cannot be controlled by any of the above-mentioned laws (Siegel & Welsh, 2008). This is why juvenile delinquency is under burning discussions for a long period. Some people still cannot decide whether delinquent offenders are similar to status offenders, or there are certain differences, which play a significant role in the sphere of criminology. To my mind, it is crucially important to distinguish the differences between delinquent and status offenders, as the crimes, committed by them, have absolutely different natures, the consequences of these crimes differ as well, and the reasons for these crimes should be evaluated separately.

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First of all, it is necessary to clear up the definitions of these two types of offenders. A delinquent offender is a 7-16 years old person, who commits an action that could be named as a crime in case an adult committed it (Elrod & Ryder, 1999). It may be a robbery or theft, for example. However, a delinquent offender does not have any criminal responsibility because of their young age. A status offender is a boy or a girl under the age of 18, who refuses to obey established norms and orders or is already beyond any possible control (Flowers, 1986). Status offenders may be truants and teenagers, who drink alcohol or who possess tobacco or guns. Grown-ups have the right to possess tobacco or guns, or alcohol, and this kind of possession is not a crime. However, for teenagers, it is a violation and has to be punished. As we can see, their differences are quite obvious, this is why I cannot agree with those people, who believe that delinquent offenders and status offenders are the same notions.

Even the correctional alternative should be different for these offenders: state training schools for delinquents and community treatment faculty for status offenders (Siegel & Welsh). To my mind, the correctional alternative serves as one of the most significant factors to distinguish these two types of offenders. Delinquent offenders should get a chance to comprehend that their actions are wrong and may lead to negative outcomes. This is why training at state schools is a good idea to help a child to learn from his/her mistakes and choose the right way in the future. Status offenders have more problems because of their behavior, this is why it is better to send them to treatment faculties in order to help them realize what and why they do wrong, and why such behavior may spoil their future. So, the definition of the crime will certainly affect policy in the sphere of criminology and education.

Children under the age of 18 may face lots of problems and challenges in case they do not ask someone for help. Nowadays, so many children want to become independent earlier than they should actually be. This is why the number of delinquent and status offenders increases day by day. In order to provide these children with a chance to change and improve their lives, one of the first steps should be defining the type of violation and further punishment. Sometimes, children are just waiting for some help, but they are not able to choose proper words and commit acts, which may sooner grow into crimes.

Reference List

Elrod, P. & Ryder, R. S. (1999). Juvenile Justice: A Social, Historical, and Legal Perspective. United States: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Flowers, R. B. (1986). Children and Criminality: The Children as Victim and Perpetrator. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Siegel, L. J & Welsh, B. C. (2008). Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning.

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