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Juvenile Recidivism Essay

Recidivism is when someone returns to the same behavior that they were previously doing (Unruh, Gau, & Waintrup, 2009). There are many factors that raise the risk of juvenile recidivism such as single parenting, and even when the parents become involved in drug use. When juveniles become high risk for recidivism it is important that the adults whether it be the parents, teachers or any adult in authority step in to help the juvenile to make better choices. By an adult taking an interest in the child it can prevent them from falling into a group that becomes high risk.

From 1984 through 1997 a 71% there was a rise in crimes committed by juveniles that were also violent offences (Jenson, & Howard, 1998, p. 325). Recidivism is when someone returns to the same behavior that they were previously doing (Unruh, Gau, & Waintrup, 2009). Martin (2011), also states that recidivism is “…(the process of relapsing into criminal behavior)” (p. 306). According to Nijhof, et al (2008), “JUVENILE DELINQUENCY DOES NOT TYPICALLY BEGIN with delinquent acts. Rather, it begins with nondelinquent problem behavior” (p. 45).

This paper will look at what could be the causes not only for juveniles committing crimes but returning to the behavior of recommitting repeatedly. There have been some studies that were done and findings have shown that from 1984 through 1997 a 71% rise in crimes committed by juveniles that were also violent offences. They also found that there are 200,000 people participating in gang activity in 79 of the biggest cities in the United States (Jenson, & Howard, 1998, p. 325).

According to Johnson-Reid, Williams, & Webster (2001), “It seems more likely that the needs of these youths went undetected before juvenile court involvement for serious delinquent activities” (p. 219). With all the studies that were done, from African-American, to single parents, it was shown that when a child lives in a step family, they can still do well. The reason for this is socialization theory proves that it is an environment that the child can still grow in a healthy manner. The child is having its needs met in a naturing manner (Mullins, 2010, p. 13).

Also if the parents aren’t married when the child is born, there are no effects on the child. The child is affected when there is no involvement from the father while growing up (2010, pp. 13-14). The first thing we want to do is look at is who may be at a higher risk for juvenile recidivism. There have been some researches that have shown that children with severe emotional disturbance (SED) could be likely candidates for the court systems that deal with youth (Johnson-Reid, Williams, & Webster, 2001, p. 214). Problems in academics can also be a contributing factor.

For instance, if they are in classes where they may have learning disabilities, they may be at a higher risk and find themselves in the court system (Sander, Sharkey, Olivarri, Tanigawa, & Mauseth, 2010, p. 288). According to Sander, et al, (2010), “Negative school factors include high retention rates, frequent use of expulsion or suspension in discipline policies, infrequent use of positive behavior strategies, ineffective classroom management, poor teacher-student relationships, and weak school-community connections (p. 290).

So when the student feels a lack of support from the school, this can lead them down paths of juvenile delinquency instead of causing them to want to do well. Juveniles with learning disabilities and emotional disturbance are becoming prevalent in the court and correction system. A study found that the number of offenders with LD was 35. 6% and the juveniles with ED that was in the corrections was 16-50%. These children had the most amounts of arrests which puts them at a higher risk (Chen, et al, 2011, p. 5). Another risk could be when the father is absent from the youths life and ethnic issues.

When a child is growing up in an African American home and the father isn’t absent, the results are as negative as any other race. The father being absent plays a vital role in the behaviors of the children (Mullins, 2011, p. 16). When a mother is an active state of drug addiction it puts her child at a higher risk of psychological problems. A study has shown that the children don’t get medical treatment for the first two years of their lives, which is only the start of the maltreatment that they suffer (Callaghan, Crimmins, & Schweitzer, 2010, p. 223).

Suchman (2010), states that “Parenting problems observed during the children’s first three years of life include poor attachment, responsiveness, adaptability, and structure juxtaposed with heightened physical activity, provocation, and intrusiveness (p. 483). What the child gets or the lack thereof can be from the mothers own problems from her childhood (Suchman, 2010, p. 484). When these mothers had poor parents themselves it gives them a distorted view of how parenting should be. This many times can lead to the mothers abusiveness and neglect for her own child plus the use of drugs on the mothers part (2010, p. 85). Poverty can play a role in problems that children can face. The lacks of medical attention, poor academic success, along with psychological difficulties are some of the challenges that these children face. The contributing factors that they face are drug use, criminal behavior, and not doing well academically. When these youth are constantly exposed to such unstable behaviors, it plays a vital role in the outcome of their own lives that can cause them to repeat the learned behaviors (Anthony, 2008, p. 6). Another risk factor for juvenile recidivism is when their parents’ divorce.

The divorce can expose them to the difficulties that the parents are having and cause distress on them. (Elonheimo et al, 2010, p. 910). This breakdown in the family unit along with the lack of support for the children can be contributing factors. (According to Elonheimo et al (2010), stated that “Divorce often entails stressors such as parental conflict, poor child-rearing, changes in parental figures and residence, and reduced income” (p. 910). Some other factors that can contribute to juvenile delinquency can be when the child doesn’t get from the mom or dad what they need in a positive way.

Many times the parents just don’t know how to parent in a productive and positive manner. Sometimes the criminal behavior can begin with the parent and it becomes learned behavior for the child. If one or both parents are abusive either to each other or the child it can become a contributing factor also (Latimer, 2001, p. 238). What’s in a name? It does matter what a person names their child. If the name isn’t a popular one then the child may become a delinquent or at least increase the chances.

It’s when the home is already below poverty and the parents give their child a name that isn’t appealing that the juvenile may become at risk for negative behavior. The reason for this is because your name gives off a message to others and this is what they use to determine what kind of person you are, it’s that preconception that we all try to use when we meet someone we don’t know (Kalist & Lee, 2009, pp. 39-40). So if we are motivated by how others see us then how does that leave a child when they are viewed in a negative way by their peers, their parents and their surroundings?

According to Calhoun, et al (1984), states that “…high self-concept was a product of favorable socialization and steered boys away from delinquency, while low self-concept was the result of unfavorable socialization and provide little resistance to deviancy, delinquent companions” (p. 324). Juvenile recidivism may not begin with who is to blame from the home, the environment surrounding them or even how the juvenile feels about them, but when a child goes from one delinquent behavior into committing negative criminal behavior repeatedly, it becomes more of a problem. This could come from how they are treated in the court system.

In 1978 the New York State Juvenile Offender Act was passed and the effect on the courts was profound with the way that the courts treated juvenile offenders. For instance, in the late 1970’s when there were some murders committed by juveniles that drew a lot of attention, the courts used this to cut down on delinquency. The attitude from the people towards juveniles became punishing (Jenson & Howard, 1998, p. 327). According to Jenson & Howard (1998), “Legislation enabling states to transfer more juveniles to the criminal justice system has had negligible effects on youths’ violent crime rates (p. 328).

By incarcerating juveniles with adults it puts them at a higher risk for many side effects. Many of these side effects can include, the juvenile being depressed, and problems with their mental health (Ng, et al, 2010, p. 21). It has been determined that when a juvenile is placed in a prison with adults, the experience is overwhelming for the juvenile. They don’t learn to not commit the crimes but instead they learn an increased amount of criminal behavior from the adults they are with. They are also pushed around by not only the adult inmates but also from the guards that are supposed to be in charge.

They are subject to many offences from the adult prisoners in which they can basically do nothing about (Ng, et al, 2010, p. 30). The way that juveniles are treated by the court system also plays a part in how they react to either repeating the crimes or staying out of trouble. According to Vermeiren, et al, (2004), “Juvenile arrest and court policies range between two extremes: the justice model’, which emphasizes threat to punishment, and the welfare model’, which aims at treating underlying psychosocial causes” (p. 567). Many times it is up to the people dealing with the youth as to what their fate may be.

There are factors that can be considered which are how old the youth is, how many is in the group, what color is the skin of the youth, economic status, what the policies are for that area on juvenile delinquency, and how much the police are watching that specific place where the juvenile is picked up from (Vermeiren, 2004, p. 567). So it can be a matter of a juvenile being in the wrong place at the right time for them to get caught. It could be that the youth is influenced by a group of kids to do something that they would not have normally done.

If policies can change from being hard on the youth to being involved with the youth to set up programs to change their lives then the rate of recidivism may decline. According to Callagan (2011), “Regular and frequent parental support and education, as well as medical and developmental reviews for the infant, have been found to be vital in ensuring a positive parent-child relationship, and optimal physical and emotional development (p. 224). So if the child isn’t getting what it needs from the beginning then it is likely that it will affect it for years to come.

For substance using mothers that have been found to have abusive or neglectful behaviors towards their children, it was found that the mothers can change their parenting behaviors towards their children. The lack of attachment that is between the child and mother can change by the mother receiving counseling. These changes can occur in a limited amount of time (Suchman, et al, 2010, p. 501). Options for juvenile delinquents aren’t just putting them into prison but instead it’s protecting them from becoming at risk in the first place.

According to Jenson & Howard (1998), ‘Communities can prevent delinquency by designing programs that address known risk factors for antisocial behavior” (p. 331). If we begin to deal with these juveniles at an early stage of their lives it is more likely that the risk factors can be reduced instead of waiting till the problems are already there. What they gain from their academics can make a difference also. If their academics are of a poor quality then that can put them at a higher risk of juvenile recidivism (Chen, 2011, p. 15).

Some form of punishment is needed when it comes to juvenile delinquent behavior, but it should be appropriate and helpful. According to Ng, et al (2010), “While they should be punished for crimes committed, the repercussions of punishment in the form of damage to mental health could have long-term consequences that in the end translate into burdens for the society (p. 32). There are many ways of helping juveniles even after they are in the system and have a criminal history. A form of mediation called Family Group Conferencing or FGC.

This is where the offender and the family and the victim would have someone who mediates between them. The outcome many times is to bring restitution emotionally and maybe even materialistically (Baffour, 2006, p. 557). When trying to help someone who has a history of criminal behavior it is important to do it in a way that it will be beneficial. According to Baffour (2006), “Three major paradigms have been advanced to address criminal treatment strategies: retribution, rehabilitation, and restoration (p. 559). We first look at retributive, where the criminal will have punitive consequences for their behavior.

Then we want to make sure that they get rehabilitated as much as it is possible, whether it be drug abuse treatment, therapy for them and for their family. We also want them to know that what they did was wrong and they should have accountability for what they did. This will entail the victim being involved with getting help also (Baffour, 2006, p. 559). One way of intervention for juvenile recidivism is to place the youth into a program that has a limited time for them to stay. This would be a program that is community supported versus placing the youth into a residential treatment program.

While the youth is in the program they would receive help that included the whole family. For the juvenile that went willingly there was a decrease in juvenile recidivism as compared to the ones that were made to go somewhere without their consent (Latimer, 2001, p. 244). When looking at the issues with black males and how they cope with having fathers that aren’t involved in their lives, there are some that seem to do well with it and some that don’t do as well. A 25% incline of homes without fathers is on the rise within the 40 years. Some of these homes have not only the influence of the mom but also the grandmother.

According to Cartwright, et al, (2012), “The absence of fathers is a major factor in many issues such as crime and delinquency, premature sexuality, poor educational achievement, and poverty, which have negatively impacted society (pp. 29-30). So with that being said a study followed five males that were African American. These males were found to be in college and grew up in homes without the father present. Looking at what made the difference for them that didn’t work for many others that end up being repeat offenders in the system (2012, p. 31).

What made the difference that was made for these males that others may of not or maybe they didn’t have enough of it. According to Cartwright, (2011), “…(a) a male role model or mentor, (b) a supportive mother, (c) wanting to achieve an education, (d) respect for their fathers, and (e) resiliency (p. 34). For a boy to have a male role model that can be positive can be important because there are things that they aren’t able to say to their moms that having a male in their life can make a difference (2012, p. 34). These young men are aware of how they are viewed by the people around them because they are black.

Much of society’s influences come from what they see on television. It is important for these men to not be the way society sees them but instead to be the way they want to be and show society that they are different (2012, p. 35). The respectfulness that they felt for their fathers could have been what kept them from feeling anger that many young men feel when their fathers aren’t present in their lives (2012, p. 36). By teaching young black children that don’t have a father in the home that they can obtain an education it can help to get them on a right track (2012, 38).

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