Conflicting Generational Values in Criminal Justice Organizations

This paper takes a look at two generational values causing conflict among criminal justice organizations and the reinforcement behaviors management uses to establish unity among personnel.

Conflicting Generational Values in Criminal Justice Organizations
    Values of various generations come into conflict within criminal justice organizations on a routine basis. Two particular examples of such values coming into conflict among those in law enforcement and the criminal justice system includes the spanking of children and the role of prayer in public schools. Both values have divided agencies across the board causing arguments and disruptions on whether or not charges could actually be brought against a parent for spanking a child or charges brought against an individual for praying or reading the Bible in a public school.

Those raising children prior to the late 1990s most likely agree that spanking a child is not physical abuse, but instead the appropriate punishment to bring about positive results among children. However, throughout the 1990s, the rule of the road began to change and parents who spanked their children were being arrested on charges of abuse. Law officials, judicial courts, and the department of children and families began struggling within on the principle behind spanking children changing sides on the issue several times. In fact, in 2004, a Canadian court ruled parents and teachers can still spank naughty children (Canadian Court 2004). Likewise, prayer in public schools also brought about conflict. Those growing up prior to the 1960s saw no harm in the Bible and prayers role within the school system, however, once the courts changed those laws, the generations afterwards found it offensive (School Prayer 2006).

Law enforcement, in particular, faces such conflicts on a routine basis as they are often called to investigate supposed abuse cases based on reports of a do gooder witnessing a parent spanking a child in public. It can be discouraging and bring about disputes among the officers of different ages and generational backgrounds. In this case, management looks to reinforcement behavior strategies to boost morale and encourage employee unity by setting aside their differing values and focusing on what the law requires of them. Management provides positive reinforcement as a way to increase both required and encouraged behaviors in the workplace (OSHA). They do so through a set of positive recognition that includes employee recognition, public thankfulness, monetary awards, and even monthly bonuses (Safety Supervision  Leadership 2008).  These positive rewards are given to those who put aside generational value differences and work together. Negative reinforcement such as punishment or the taking away of such benefits and awards is used when conflicts are not resolved and larger disputes erupt.

There are a variety of generational values that come into conflict simply because of the differences in age, and time periods. Many issues that are illegal now were legal in the earlier decades. Just the same, many issues that are legal now were illegal several decades ago. Values change from generation to generation and culture to culture. The criminal justice organizations are filled with a melting pot of both causing plenty of conflicts and disruptions among officers and personnel. Yet management is able to overcome these areas of difficulty through motivational strategies especially reinforcement behavior strategies, which are creating the way for communication and team building among organizations.


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