Juvenile Delinquency

    Juvenile delinquency refers to the behavior of children which is disapproved by the society. Juveniles are people under the age of majority. Children who commit crimes are tried in a court system that is different from the adult court system. Juvenile delinquency involves social actions by children that can be defined as deviant or antisocial by established customs. In most cases, a juvenile delinquent is a person below 18 years who is found to have violated criminal laws and thus subject to punishment by a childrens court (Cristian, 2005).
Causes of juvenile delinquency
    Different groups of professionals give variant interpretations of juvenile behavior. The biological theory is based on the fact that criminals are different from other people in their organic composition and this explains their criminal behavior. Other explanations hold that criminal activities are due to sociological factors and the social life of the offenders. The theory connects environmental factors to criminal activities of the offenders. For in this case, peer group influence may be a strong determining factor in the behavior of juveniles or the behavior of the child may be due to family issues (Mandel, 2009). Other people also hold that juvenile crime is due to socio-economic factors like poverty, family breakdown or the social system (Rou
ek, 1958). Juvenile crime can also be caused by psychological factors due to the developmental stages that the children may be going through. During growth and development, the child focuses much attention on setline conflicts between the insensible derives and the adult world. The behaviors of individuals will be shaped by how they try to control the impulses of their actions. In most cases, some of the factors will generally overlap for some people (Cynthia, 2009).

Juvenile justice system
    The juvenile justice system is a special system and different from the adult criminal courts. The two have some differences and similarities. The basic elements of the juvenile system are the status offender. Status offender is a person charged with an offence that would otherwise not be so if it was committed by an adult. For example, eloping from home, improper sexual actions, truancy, smoking or use of alcohol before the requisite age and lose of parental control. The laws used to prevent status offenses are more an effort by the society to prevent future harm to the minors and the community rather than as a form of punishment. Status offenses is not considered a serious crime to warrant imprisonment but the major concern is the influence of magnifying such behavior  into crimes that may need the attention of law enforcement officials. Community based programs are preferred instead of incarceration like in the case of adults. Although arrests are usually carried out, incarceration is not instituted. In particular cases, detention is used as the final solution is sought. Another option may be placement in healthier homes in order to alter and enhance the living conditions and possibly reform the child. There are programs like drug rehabilitation, anger control programs, after care behavior and education used to combat status offenses (Calderon, 2006).
    The law enforcement agencies are equally involved in the juvenile justice system and they are given a lot of discretion in the process. The officers may be exposed to matters that may include their judgment on family background that does not require criminal prosecution. The arrests occur in very serious offences and this depends to the discretion of the law enforcement officers. The delinquent offender is then taken to the juvenile court where the decision is taken. The procedure is the same as the preliminary bail trial or indictment and the mention of the charges. The children are not entitled to constitutional rights to bail like the adults. The court basically decides whether the child can be released into the care of the parents put the child into temporary care of the state or in protective institutions awaiting the court decision or transfer. Generally, those that are more likely to run away are not released but a petition must be drawn within 24 hours. A child can only be detained if there is probable evidence that they did commit the crime. The same applies to the adult justice system but the adults have more control over the bail process. The indictment process is similar except that the juvenile system is a bit faster and the juveniles are not entitled to jury trials. The hearings are usually adjucatory where the judge makes the final decision and they are closed to the public. The findings of both justice systems are dispositions which may include release, fines, probation, rehabilitation programs or institutionalization (Calderon, 2006).
    The intake process is important in the decision making. The parole officials, the defense and prosecution attorneys and the judge must attempt to find a solution. Apart from plea bargaining, the juvenile offences can lead to several other options. The interrogation process takes into consideration factors like family, social status. Religion, academic level, work skills, emotional issues and past history of crimes and ultimately influences the decision in both adult and juvenile systems. While in the adult system the raised issue is whether the defendant is guilty or not, in juvenile system, the offender must be found to be delinquent beyond reasonable doubt (Snyder, 1995).
The role of the police and community
    The communities and the police must collaborate in order to combat juvenile crimes effectively. The police have the legal mandate to fight crime while the communities are the major culprits of such crimes. The communities are in better position to understand the behavior of the children since they commit the crimes within the communities. The communities also have a major role to play in reducing juvenile delinquency bearing in mind that most of the causes of these crimes stem from the community (Wootton  Heck, 2002). The community should endeavor to offer the youth alternative and positive ways to value their lives especially through education. The juvenile police are supposed to investigate and establish the purpose of all crimes as per the criminal procedure code. The police must establish facts about the criminal acts and the required correctional measures. They also team up with other social workers to arrange programs aimed at rehabilitating the delinquents. The police are also responsible in enforcing all legislation related to juvenile delinquency.


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