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Juvenile Violence and Influence of Education

In law, the term Minor or infant is used to denote an individual who is below the age in which one lawfully becomes an adult and is legally yielded rights granted to adults in society. The terms “infant”, “child”, “adolescent”, “teen”, “youth”, “juvenile” and “young person” are used interchangeably, though some jurisdictions make some distinction amongst these terms. This age may vary, with respect to the jurisdiction and application, but is normally set at 18, 20, or 21. In specific, the position of “minor” is influenced by the age of the majority. Minor status holds unique restrictions, penalizations, and securities that are not applicable to adults (Vitacco, pp. 537-544).

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Authorities ratify laws to brand certain forms of activity as unlawful or illegal. Activities of a more unsociable nature can be denounced in a more positive manner to express society’s dislike by means of the application of the term criminal. Pertaining to this context, laws have a tendency to use the expression, “age of criminal responsibility” in two different fashions.

As an explanation of the process for handling alleged wrongdoers, the scope of ages specifying the immunity of a minor from the adult system of prosecution and penalty. Most nations maintain a juvenile justice system co-existing along with the adult criminal justice system. In this case, the hearings are basically welfare-based and children requiring unavoidable steps of treatment and/or care are dealt with. Children committing offenses are redirected into this system.

As the physical capability of a young to perpetrate a crime. Thus, children are judged incompetent of committing some sexual or other offenses which require the capability of a more senesced quality (Crews, pp. 126-8).

Hence, each jurisdiction considers whether any given child is a party to a committed offense, and accordingly, decides the proper actions to be taken to deal with the child. It is evidenced that, in some cases, an association is made between youth as a defense and defenses that moderate accountability on grounds of mental infirmity. Differentiation between children, young offenders, juveniles, etc. are used to signify matching intensities of incapacity. The observation of most is that this association is not beneficial as it entails that children are in some way psychologically imperfect but in reality, the fact is that they just lack the perspicacity that grows with age and experience (Sprague, pp. 197-206).

This is a facet of the civic policy of parens patriae. With respect to criminal law, each jurisdiction considers the characteristics of its own society and the accessible substantiation of the age at which unsociable conduct begins to evidence itself. A number of societies have a certain degree of indulgence toward the juvenile and inexperienced, thus do not desire their exposure to the criminal law system ahead of all other approaches being exhausted. This leads to some advocating the policy of doli incapax (i.e. incapability of doing wrong) and leave out liability for all acts and omissions which would be deemed criminal up to a particular age (Dünkel, pp. 37-9).

Thus, in spite of any act of wrongdoing by a minor, a criminal prosecution cannot take place. However, even though no criminal charge is inferred, other avenues of law can be implored. As evidenced in Nordic countries, an offensive activity by an individual below 15 years of age is regarded by and large as an indication of the troubled development of a child. This causes the public authorities to take suitable administrative steps to aid the development of the child. These measures are decided upon by assessment of the needs of the child which include counseling or arrangement at a special care unit or juvenile homes. This policy in dealing with minors as incapables of committing offenses does not essentially reveal contemporary sensibilities. Thus, if the validation of the excuse is that a child below a particular age lacks the capability to form the men’s rea of an offense, it may not be a sustainable view. Certainly, given that different people develop physically and intellectually with varying speeds, specifying an explicit age limit might be termed uninformed and unreasonable (Crews, pp. 126-8).

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At the same time, the logic of children and adults being treated in similar ways in criminal evaluation is also quite irrational. Keeping in mind, their inexperience of life, nascent mental and intellectual capacities, it might be considered unjust to treat young children and adults along the same lines. Thus in accordance with the above discussion while judging a juvenile on an offense a number of factors should be taken into account: the severity and nature of the offense, age of the offender, circumstances under which the offense was committed, mental status of the child being tried, his/her upbringing, the attitude of the adolescent and last but not the least proper analysis of the case. It is also the responsibility of authorities to take proper measures to reinstate the child. In order to counter this social problem, an in-depth analysis of this hazard must be carried out (Vitacco, pp. 537-544).

The threat that an adolescent will become tangled in aggressive offenses depends on several different factors, including individual features, family values, peer and school factors, surrounding environment, and everyday actions. The center of the majority of the juvenile violence research is based on personal characteristics and the environment of the surroundings in which the child grows up and a few other factors which relate to an amplified risk of association with juvenile violence, mostly as offenders or in some cases even as victims. In general, the findings of the juvenile violence researches indicate violent crimes are in most cases committed by males. Nevertheless, the numbers of females becoming involved in violent conduct seem to be raising surprisingly, with a report even stating that, at age of 13, females exhibiting a slightly raised rate of vehement behavior than observed in males. The findings of these reports point out that numerous juveniles who incorporate violent behavior start doing so by the age of 15. A closer look at neighborhood conditions of underage offenders indicates that several violent juveniles are residents of impoverished neighborhoods (Sprague, pp. 197-206).

Nevertheless, the majority of minors who reside in those surroundings are not involved in severe delinquency. In an assessment of adolescent males residing in hazardous neighborhoods in the District of Columbia and Los Angeles, it was found that a small group of outlaws were accountable for a high percentage of violent offenses and that the majority of youth in these vicinities were not involved in violent offending. A report prepared by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) for the US Congress states that the contribution of firearms plays an evident role in juvenile violence that is grave enough to come under the attention of the law enforcement authorities. It goes on to say that firearms were involved in 80% or more of the violent occurrences in each of the analysis reports on this topic. In particular, the usage of firearms was reported in 85% of juvenile homicide victimizations in the DC juvenile violence analysis and 91% of the homicide occurrences involved a juvenile in the Los Angeles homicide evaluation (Dünkel, pp. 37-9).

Further, 83% of the juvenile homicide reprobates in the Milwaukee homicide study used firearms to assassinate their victim. The study of adolescent males residing in high-risk localities in Los Angeles reported that 40% carried, at some point in time, a gun or knew a close companion who possessed a gun, signifying that guns are fairly easy to get to these youth. The convenience of accessing firearms in rural areas seems to be fairly comparable. Nonetheless, it comes out that not all juvenile gun possessors are uniformly dangerous. Few researches on this topic recognized high-risk and low-risk firearms owners and established a linkage between high-risk gun ownership and unsociable conduct. A considerable number of situation-guided conditions seem to be related to a rise in juvenile violent offending, such as surroundings, an hour of the day, and the existence of gangs (Dünkel, pp. 37-9).

Certain studies probed these situational circumstances and concluded that forms of juvenile violence are not consistent across locations. In Washington, DC acts the violence mostly took place either on or close to school premises and often during the after-school hours. The disparity was observed among the findings on juvenile homicide victimizations in DC and those in Los Angeles. Here, incidents occurred mostly during the late hours of the night, in open public places, and in some association with gang members. As found in prior examinations, the juvenile violence studies reported escalated rates of delinquency among juvenile gang members than the non-gang members. Even though the majority of young in these quarters are not into gangs, most of them are very conscious of gang activity in their surroundings. As a matter of fact, 36% stated that in some cases force is exerted on neighborhood children to join gangs. Those who had been a gang member at some time testify that they initially used to hang out with permanent gang members, on average, at age 12, and eventually were promoted a full membership at age of 13. Largely, these findings put forward that juvenile violence often occurs in the background of unsupervised factions of adolescents (Jones, pp. 148-50).

The OJJDP reports state that roughly half (48%) of the offenses committed were in a situation where the absence of a grown-up prevailed on a regular basis after school. The children who find a supervised environment tend to be less offending than those with lesser amount after-school hours overseen by grown-ups. The knowledge of the primary caretaker of a child regarding the whereabouts of his/her child after school is in reality a much more concerning factor than adult supervision. More concerning is the fact that a number of adolescents, including the non-delinquent as well, are debarred from school at least once. This shows that educators and schools are facing troubles in providing positive guidance to these youth. Even though temporary removals and rustications may be defensible from the school establishment’s angle, plainly releasing young people, unsupervised, only intensify the problems. There are also other factors that contribute to the rise in juvenile violence (Muschert, pp. 840-846).

Movies, music videos, video games are easily accessed by the youth. Some of these exhibit disturbing content and leave a mark on the innocent subconscious of the young. These eventually arouse violent feelings in the adolescent. To summarize the causes it may be said that there is no single cause of violence among the juveniles. Many concerning factors may be stated which is likely to increase the disturbing turbulence during adolescence. Significant influences include accounts of premature aggression during childhood, exposure to family or neighborhood violence, disadvantaged relations with parents, drug and alcohol abuse, having aberrant company, gang membership, and performance failures in school, and domiciling in an underprivileged community with decreased economic opportunities (Spain, pp. 85-102).

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Some issues, named “protective factors,” facilitate reducing the probability of violence in adolescence. These comprise of personal bigotry toward violent activities and dedication to school, caring attitude of parents (or other grown-ups), and keeping the company of people who condemn violence. Individual personality as well as family, school, and friend group influences interact in complicated ways with environmental circumstances to fabricate violent behavior. Family interactions are of utmost importance before the age of twelve, whereas influences of people whose company an individual obtains are most significant during later adolescence (Feld, pp. 3-22).

Awareness is the most probable strategy to counter juvenile crimes. Knowledge aids in understanding a problem and reaching a solution. It furthermore brings forth the path to self, social and global consciousness. These three phases of awareness guide oneself through self-discovery and assessment invokes realization of one’s surrounding social world’s functioning and provides background for the individual’s understanding of his role in society. This multi-phased awareness generates an understanding of the changes necessary. This remarkable ideology is brought forth by Ginwright and Cammarota in their paper New Terrain in Youth Development: the Promise of a Social Justice Approach. This paper asserts a social justice model offering three major contributions to the subject of youth enhancement (Muschert, pp. 840-846).

  1. The focus is repositioned from personage and psychological models to the problems met by the youth.
  2. The center of attention is shifted to sociopolitical and economic aspects affecting young people.
  3. The youth is boosted to implore the roots of social issues and to address them.

The earliest form of education that an infant must receive is parental. Delaying the start endangers both the infant and society. This begins an informal learning process at a very early stage and gradually education is formalized. Even economically impoverished parents should be educated about the influence of their actions and inactions on their offspring. The infants may require stress management, anger management, ways to stay alert, and methods to conquer certain learning disabilities. This calls for further open curricula and better-trained educators. Along with the formal learning programs of the school after school initiatives are also critical. The objectives of these programs are to steer the youth away from gang activity and drug abuse, bring down the degree of non-attendance and enhance academic performances, and at the same time structuring vital self-discipline, communication, and job skills. (Muschert, 840-846)

Implementations of many of these necessary alterations are time-consuming. This is where the friction begins between the existing deep-seated institutional bureaucracy and the philosophy of teaching. With the advent of the Internet, it can be used as a means for change. Education is now just a mouse click away for anyone who needs it. It presents itself as an unparalleled instrument in the war against ignorance, racial discrimination, dearth, and crime. This course can only be presented to the ones who have hope. Hope appears with the realization of change as a possibility. Change, as a possibility, can only be brought about when presented with the opportunity. Opportunity arrives if the gates are unbolted. (Spain, 85-102)

Works Cited

  1. Crews, Gordon A & Reid H. Montgomery; Chasing Shadows: Confronting Juvenile Violence in America; Prentice Hall, 2000
  2. Dünkel, Frieder & Kirstin Drenkhahn; Youth Violence, New Patterns and Local Responses– Experiences in East and West: Conference of the International Association for Research Into Juvenile Criminology; International Association for Research into Juvenile Criminology, International Association for Research into Juvenile Criminology; Forum Verlag Godesberg; 2003
  3. Jones, Gerard; Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-believe Violence; Basic Books, 2002
  4. Muschert, Glenn W; Teaching and Learning Guide for: Research in School Shootings; Sociology Compass, 1, 2, 840-846; Miami University; 2007
  5. Feld, Barry C; Race, youth violence, and the changing jurisprudence of waiver; Behavioral Sciences & the Law; 19, 1, 3-22; Centennial Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School, 229 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA; 2006
  6. Spain, Sarah E. Kevin S. Douglas, Norman G. Poythress, Monica Epstein; The relationship between psychopathic features, violence and treatment outcome: the comparison of three youth measures of psychopathic features; Behavioral Sciences & the Law; 22, 1, 85-102; Department of Mental Health Law & Policy, Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida; 2004
  7. Sprague, Jeffery, Hill M. Walker, Steve Stieber, Brandi Simonsen, Vicki Nishioka & Linda Wagner; Exploring the relationship between school discipline referrals and delinquency; Psychology in the Schools; 38, 2, 197-206; Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior, University of Oregon College of Education; Lane County Department of Youth Services; 2001
  8. Vitacco, Michael J, Michael F. Caldwell, Gregory J. Van Rybroek, Jason Gabel; Psychopathy and behavioral correlates of victim injury in serious juvenile offenders; Aggressive Behavior; 33, 6, 537-544; Mendota Mental Health Institute, Madison, Wisconsin; 2007

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