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Juvenile Justice and Safety: Early Intervention and Prevention is the Answer

The court system that deals with matters involving children below a certain age, especially those who may be delinquent, in need of supervision, subject to adoption, or charged with committing a criminal offense, and are not to be tried in adult criminal court

Juvenile Justice and Safety: Early Intervention and Prevention is the Answer

The juvenile justice system in the US is a collection of local and state-based courts and systems that respond to juveniles accused of breaking the law. Instead of remediating juvenile disruptive behavior, it’s believed and proved by research that early intervention and prevention are far more effective.

By engaging in a lawful and socially helpful manner, we can make a change in a young person’s life by teaching them to adopt a positive, non-destructive and humane orientation towards life and society.

Why Does Juvenile Delinquency Happen

There are various studies conducted regarding juvenile delinquency. A study by Derzon and Lipsey (2000) and Wasserman and Seracini (2001) indicates family characteristics such as the size of the family, discord in the home, poor parenting skills, antisocial parents, and child abuse are the leading causes.

The Biomedical and Pharmacology Journal (Nourollah M, Fatemeh M, Farhad J. A Study of Factors Affecting Juvenile Delinquency. Biomed Pharmacol J 2015;8(March Spl Edition) shows the four main factors influencing juvenile delinquency: education, family separation, addiction to drugs, and occupation.

Silverthorn and Frick (1999) recognize two types of delinquents. Children with the onset of delinquency show how severe antisocial behavior is in early childhood and those that coincide with adolescence. The study also indicates that individuals with antisocial tendencies in early childhood are three times more likely to commit repeat violent offenses than individuals whose delinquencies start in adolescence.

Early Intervention

With growing research in the field of juvenile delinquency, it can be concluded that intervention shows far better results when it’s done as soon as the child shows antisocial behavior. This prevents delinquency and further supports the child to develop positively. It further decreases the youth’s rate of relapse into previous disruptive behavior.

Not only does it benefit the child, but these intervention programs also have a financial benefit. Taxpayers and the government saves as the costs for incarcerations and court proceedings are reduced significantly. It saves young lives from being thrown away and wasted, and it significantly prevents the onset of adult criminal careers in these individuals. A youth incarcerated as a juvenile is far more likely to become a career criminal. It considerably reduces the cost and burden to society and saves us billions of dollars.

Prevention Programs That Show Promise

There is considerable research done in the field of juvenile delinquency to determine which prevention programs are the most effective. Current studies indicate that effective programs involve acting as soon as possible and focusing on known risk factors, including children’s behavioral development (Loeber, Farrington, & Petechuk (2003).

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recommends that the following community and school prevention programs are employed:

  • Programs:
    • Behavioral and classroom management.
    • Classroom-based multi-component (treating hyperactivity or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
    • Bullying prevention.
    • After-school recreation.
    • Mentoring.
    • School organization.
  • Curriculums:
    • Social competence.
    • Violence prevention and conflict resolution.
  • Community Interventions (reducing underage drinking, preventing and addressing drug addiction, parent and child interaction training, prenatal and infancy visitations, and more)

The Bottom Line

Harsh prison sentences, remediation, and scare tactics are ineffective in guiding juvenile delinquents to follow the right path. Prevention programs like ‘Juvenile Boot Camp’ and ‘Scared Straight’ did not achieve the intended goal of bringing juvenile crime and delinquency down. 

The ‘tough on crime’ attitude employed by institutions to include harsher sentences on youths (by sending them to adult prisons) actually had a higher relapse rate than juveniles sentenced to juvenile detention facilities.





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