There are many slang terms to describe a young person heading down the wrong side of a long, hard road. Dependent upon your age, misguided youths may have been branded as greasers, hippies, punks, hoodlums, or slackers, but what exactly describes the life of a juvenile delinquent?
Joseph A. Wickliffe, course developer and instructor of several units instituted by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute studied and later shared, in lesson format, the reasons why many juveniles commit crimes.
Looking for Answers
To recognize and explain why criminal intent presents in this sector of our population, it is important to look at the influences of one’s environment during developmental stages. Family and peers, in conjunction with the desire for material items, are often pushed by society’s definition of upward social mobility, but at what cost? Social change, such as starting a new school or moving to a new home, can also bring about anxiety and hopelessness for the adolescent with delinquent tendencies.
The branding of this population sector simply stems from the adolescent stage of when a child is considered still a juvenile but when he or she commits a wrongful act against the societal norm, he or she then is labeled a juvenile delinquent.
The influence on a juvenile expands farther than just the family dynamic but also reaches to society at large or how they view their position in life. Sometimes the juvenile will place his or her needs above the law. The desires are so strong that it often conflicts with the consequences of right and wrong.
As the world is in more peril, juvenile delinquency may pose one of the most influential issues we now face. Aside from the increase in social awareness, juvenile delinquency and its aftermath continue to rise. According to Wickliffe, the shift in this rise may have begun with the tragic events at Colorado’s Columbine High School. Wickliffe also notes juveniles are now exposed to higher instances of drug and alcohol abuse, as well an alarming increase in gun violence. Perhaps we have reached epidemic proportions.
The Road Forward
Addressing the elephant in the room, Wickliffe poses the simplistic question, “how can we solve the problem of adolescent delinquent behavior”? Answering this question is far from easy, as often the legal consequences of a juvenile crime do not fit the crime.
To gain a better understanding of delinquency, Wickliffe urges society, the courts, and the legal community to focus on understanding how an adolescent or teen who has committed a crime views his or her circumstances. Although environmental factors certainly contribute to a delinquent mindset, are there biological factors at work as well?
Although there appears a need for additional studies and analyses, the legal system is also intertwined with the problems facing our youth. As laws vary from state to state, California, under the Welfare and Institution Code, Sections 601 and 602, defines the juvenile offender as any person under the age of 18 who has been legally processed through juvenile court and found to be delinquent either by illegal action or malicious deed.
Wickliffe concludes that any young adult who has been legally defined as a juvenile delinquent faces a difficult future. Instances of runaways, teenage suicides, teen pregnancies, and problems with adult relationships are only the tip of the iceberg. He also expresses that our children’s dependence on electronics and the age of social media may also influence the way a child or adolescent views his or her surroundings.
In conclusion, Wickliffe understands that for society to fully understand juvenile delinquency and the various contributing theories as they relate to social issues may help us better understand the overall perspective of this growing epidemic.
Contact a Compassionate Attorney
For both the parents and the juvenile, being accused of a crime can be extremely terrifying. San Jose criminal defense attorney, Thomas Nicholas Cvietkovich understands both the societal and legal ramifications of juvenile crime. Contact Attorney Cvietkovich at (408) 898-9770 to schedule your free consultation today.