juvenile delinquency





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The current statistics of juvenile delinquency are astounding. I will look at the most recent statistics and a few of the programs implemented to reduce or prevent delinquency. Before delving to deep into juvenile delinquency it is important to consider the definitions of “juvenile” and “delinquent”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives two definitions of “juvenile”: 1. Showing incomplete development, and 2. A young person; one below the legally established age of adulthood (1997). Merriam-Webster defines “delinquent” as: offending by neglect or violation of duty or law (1997). As a complete definition of juvenile delinquent it is safe to repeat “a person below the established age of adulthood that offends by neglect or violation of duty or law (1997)”.
The history of juvenile delinquency had harsh beginnings. Children were viewed as non-persons until the 1700’s(Rice 1995). They did not receive special treatment or recognition. Discipline then is what we now call abuse. It was believed that life was hard, and you had to be hard to survive. The people of that time in history did not have the conveniences that we take for granted. For example, the medical practices of that day were primitive in comparison to present-day medicine. Marriages were more for convenience, rather than for childbearing or romance. The infant and child mortality rate was also very high. It did not make sense to the parents in those days to create an emotional bond with children when there was a strong chance that the children would not survive until adulthood (1995).
At the end of the 18th century, “The Enlightenment” appeared as a new cultural transition. People began to see children as flowers, who needed nurturing in order to

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bloom. It was the invention of childhood, love and nurturing instead of beatings to stay in line (1995). Children had finally begun to emerge as a distinct group. It started with the upper class, who were allowed to attend colleges and universities.
Throughout all time there has been delinquency. It may not have had the delinquency label, but it still existed. In ancient Britain, children at the age of seven were tried, convicted, and punished as adults. There was no special treatment for them; a hanging was a hanging. Juvenile crime is mentioned as far back as ancient Sumeria and Hammurabi, where laws concerning juvenile offenders first appear in written form (1995).
Industrialization set into motion the processes needed for modern juvenile delinquency. The country had gone from agriculture to machine based labor intensive production. Subsistence farming quickly turned into profit making (1995). People who were displaced from their farm work because of machinery were migrating to the city to find work. This led to urbanization in such places as Chicago, which in turn caused the cities to burst at the seams (1995).
There was also a huge increase in the amount of movable goods that were produced and these moveable goods were easy to steal. The stealing of these goods made property crime rise tremendously in these urban centers. The wealth of the upper class increased, and stealing became a way of living (1995). These large urban centers also created another problem. The work place was now separated from the home and during the hard times both parents took jobs. There was also very little for the youths to do, especially when school was not in session. It was then that youths were becoming

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increasingly unsupervised. These youths were largely unemployed and without supervision, and with movable goods easily available, stealing became a way of life. The huge influx of people to these urban areas overwhelmed society (1995). The factories could not keep up, and unemployment became a factor, which led to widespread poverty.
Poorhouses were created to keep youthful offenders away from trouble. The idea behind them was to take the children of the “dangerous (1995) ” classes out of their “dangerous environment (1995).” Kids who were thought to be salvageable needed to be saved. The majority of these children were rounded up for the crime of being poor, not because they committed a crime. These houses, sometimes referred to as reform schools, were very harsh. This was contradictory to the ideas that they needed nurturing and love. In New York, houses of refuge were created to do