Adolescents tend to behave in a manner that is contrary to the accepted rules. They engage themselves in activities such as underage smoking and abuse of drugs in an attempt to find their place in the world. Juvenile offending or delinquency refers to the illicit demeanor of minors. Research suggests that change in behavior as young people grow contributes a great deal to their character formation. For instance, a repeat offender is noted from childhood as exhibiting strange behaviors. On the other hand, individuals that portray limited delinquency reveal signs within the adolescent period and their behaviors are non–recurrent. This is what is identified as a risk factor in juvenile offending. This paper seeks to discuss and explain some of these risk factors in detail relative to juvenile offending.
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Juvenile delinquency is subdivided into various categories such as status offenses and criminal behavior. These offenses are solved by juvenile courts as well as the criminal systems of justice. Before the juvenile court movement began in the United States, youth who had been in court were incarcerated with their adult counterparts. However, this aspect later changed and special juvenile courts were developed for them to serve their special needs (Vito p.19).
The first individual risk factor is related to prenatal and perinatal issues. Studies have been conducted to identify if there is any link between complications at birth and delinquency. However, no positive results have been found so far. For instance, mothers who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children exhibiting disorderly behavior. It is also common knowledge that often cases of juvenile offending have an effect on the boy child. This is attributed to poor family relations and insufficient fatherly love, attention, and negative influence as a result of clashes with people who have bad personalities. Other individual risk factors include the psychological, behavioral, and mental states of young people. Some types of person-specific characteristics are connected to delinquency. The perfect social behavior characteristic that may be noticed in a child before the age of 13 is often aggression. Furthermore, aspects such as hyperactivity, attentiveness difficulties, impulsivity, risk-taking, and later violent actions are considered potential risk factors in juvenile offending. It has been noted that juvenile offending can further be observed in the school setups. For a long time, educationists have observed a student who has a difficulty in any activity in school is likely to engage in juvenile offending. Such students include those that perform poorly in class as well as those that appear to have come from a lower social class.
Social risk factors likely to have an effect on the lives of juveniles include family structure and peer influence. Family elements like poor parenting, size, discord at home, mistreatment of children, and anti-social guardians are connected to juvenile offending. In addition, there is evidence a child raised from a family with one parent was likely to engage in deviant behavior and delinquency. Because this was the case, suggestions such as punishing parents whose children were involved in juvenile offending were proposed ( Vito, p.20).In relation to peer influence, documented studies reveal the close connection between involvement with delinquent peer grouping and delinquent behavior. For youth, a possible indicator variable for delinquency is the existence of antisocial peer friends. Elements such as peer delinquent behavior, approval or delinquent behavior by peers, attachment to one’s peers, amount of time spent with peers, and peer pressure towards juvenile offenses are well linked with adolescent anti-social behavior.
Community risk factors for delinquency are also among the most evident in children who engage in juvenile offending. According to this explanation, the nature of the environment children grow in could determine the extent to which they may or may not participate in juvenile offending. Under community risk factors, areas in the community where juvenile offending could likely occur include schools and neighborhoods. Schools normally have policies in place regarding, retention of grades, suspension, and expulsion of defiant students, and how the school monitors juvenile delinquency. Such policies affect minorities and consequently act as a negative indicator for at-risk students. For instance, suspension and expulsion of students hardly decrease the level of undesirable behavior, instead, there is an increase in the extent of delinquency. A potent link exists between living in adverse neighborhoods and involvement in criminal activity. The level of poverty and insecurity in such neighborhoods doubles the chances of youth staying in such areas being involved in juvenile offending.
The above sentiments bring to the fore the fact that several interventions need to be in place to understand the relationship between risk factors and juvenile offending. This is because the risk factor approach is the best way to understand the tribulations in juvenile offending. What should be done is for intervention methods to identify just what type of risk factors can be changed in a bid to solve juvenile offending.
Vito, Gennaro F and Julie C, Kunselman. Juvenile Justice Today. London: Prentice Hall, 2011.Print.
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