Nowadays, every country has to deal with the prevention of deviant behavior among adolescents and young people, because it is necessary for self-preservation. In our state the level of prevention of juvenile crime is very low, despite the fact that it is one of the components in the fight against crime in general. This article deals with the problem of teenage and young adults’ crime.
Juvenile delinquency is also known as juvenile offending, or youth crime. It is participation in illegal behavior by minors (juveniles). Juveniles are individuals younger than the statutory age. Most legal systems have specific procedures for dealing with minors. They are such juvenile detention centers, and courts. A juvenile delinquent is a person who is typically under the age of 18 and he or she commits an act that would have been charged as a crime if he or she were an adult. It is possible for persons under 18 to be charged and tried as adults depending on the type and severity of the committed offense.
We can separate juvenile delinquency into three categories:
- delinquency, crimes committed by minors which are dealt with by the juvenile courts and justice system;
- status offenses, which are classified as juvenile delinquency because one of persons involved is a minor which are also dealt with by the juvenile courts.
There are two different types of offenders that emerge in adolescence: the repeat offender and the age specific offender. The repeat offender is referred to as the life-course-persistent offender, who starts to offend or show antisocial or aggressive behavior in childhood and goes on into adulthood. The age specific offender is referred to as the adolescence-limited offender. Juvenile offending or delinquency starts and ends during their time of adolescence. Most teenagers are inclined to show some form of antisocial, aggressive or delinquent behavior during adolescence, so it is significant to account for their behaviors in childhood. Thus we can determine whether they will be life-course-persistent offenders or adolescence-limited offenders.
There are several largest predictors of juvenile delinquency. They are:
- parenting style, with the several styles most expected to predict delinquency being «permissive» parenting, «neglectful» parenting, «indulgent» parenting, «authoritarian» parenting;
- peer group association, mostly with antisocial peer groups, as is more probable when adolescents are left unattended.
Other factors that may lead a teenager into juvenile delinquency include poor or low socioeconomic status, poor school performance and peer rejection. There are also biological factors such as high levels of serotonin, giving them poor self-regulation and a bad temper. Most of them are likely to be influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. Risk factors which may be obvious during childhood and adolescence consist of troublesome or aggressive behavior, language impairments or delays, lack of emotional control (ability to control anger), and cruelty to animals.
Nevertheless, it is not apparent whether these aspects of personality are a result of parental influences or a result of “deficits in the executive functions of the brain or some other social factors. Studies of adolescent development show that those young people are more predisposed to risk-taking and the highest rate of offending is among adolescents who live in poor family conditions. There are some family factors which may influence on juvenile delinquency: the way parents discipline a child, the level of parental supervision, particularly harsh punishment, parental conflict or separation, parental abuse or neglect, criminal parents or siblings, and the quality of the parent-child relationship.
Children raised by lone parents are more prone to criminality than those who live with two natural parents. It is also more expected that children of single parents may live in poverty, which is often associated with juvenile delinquency. If a child has low parental attention he or she is much more likely to offend. Many studies have found a strong connection between a lack of supervision and juvenile delinquency, and it seems to be the most important family influence on offending. When parents normally do not know where their children are, who their friends are, or what their activities are, children are more likely to play truant from school and have delinquent friends. A lack of supervision is also associated with poor relationships between children and parents. Children who are frequently in conflict with their parents may be less willing to discuss their problems with them.
Youngsters with criminal siblings are only more probable to be influenced by their siblings, and also start offending, especially if the sibling is older, of the same sex and gender. Cases where a younger criminal sibling influences an older one are uncommon. A violent, non-loving sibling is unlikely to influence a younger sibling in the direction of delinquency, if relationship between the siblings is strained, they will not want to be like, and influence one another.
Peer rejection in childhood is a significant predictor of juvenile delinquency, too. Even though children are rejected by peers for many reasons, it is frequently the fact that they are rejected due to aggressive or violent behavior. This rejection influences the child's ability to be socialized correctly, which can ease their aggressive tendencies that lead them to strive towards anti-social peer groups. This association often entails the promotion of violent, deviant and aggressive behavior. Aggressive young people having been rejected by peers are also more likely to have a «hostile attribution bias» which induces them to interpret the actions of others as purposefully aggressive and hostile towards them. Such attitudes often lead to an aggressive and impulsive reaction. However, hostile attribution bias can emerge at any age during person’s development and often lasts all his or her life.
Various measures are considered to prevent juvenile delinquency. Delinquency prevention is the broad term for all measures aimed at preventing youth from being involved in criminal or antisocial activity. The growth of delinquency in youth is influenced by many factors, prevention measures need to be comprehensive. Prevention services comprise activities such as substance abuse education and treatment, family counseling, youth mentoring, parenting education, educational support, and youth sheltering. Increasing accessibility and use of family planning services, including education and contraceptives can help to reduce unintended pregnancy and unwanted births. They are main risk factors for delinquency. The other ones are placing large groups of at risk children together that only boosts delinquent or violent behavior. «Bad» teens get together to discuss the «bad» things they've done, and it is seen by their peers in a positive light, promoting the delinquent behavior among them. As mentioned before antisocial peer groups are the biggest predictors of delinquency, and especially of life-course-persistent delinquency. The most efficient measures are those that not only separate at-risk teens from anti-social peers, and put them instead with pro-social ones, but also at the same time make better their home environment by training parents with proper parenting styles because parenting style is the other large predictor of juvenile delinquency.
Different measures currently dominate, which are the simplest form of action and response to crime among minors. It is necessary to ensure the priority of preventive measures over others to combat juvenile delinquency with the comprehensive and accurate assessment of the present and future state of crime and its factors.
The basis of the control of crime prevention, in our opinion, should be based on valid and fixed in the law (for example, in the fundamental principles of legislation on the prevention of crime) and in federal programs anti-criminal (preventing the causes and conditions of crime) standards for all major spheres of social life (including education).
In Russia in the last decade there has been a significant increase in juvenile delinquency and crimes committed with minors’ participation. In January 2011, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs there were 186.5 thousand registered crimes, one in twenty (4.9 %) committed by minors or with their complicity, i.e. about 9139 crimes.
After analyzing the works of psychiatrists, psychologists with directed to them teenagers and juvenile delinquents’ department personnel, we have identified the following causes of juvenile crime:
- leading motive for the crime of all groups of teenagers was selfish motive, and the most common type of illegal activity — theft;
- young people with intellectual decline, which tend to act under constraint or under someone else's supervision;
- rejection of social standards and the structure of social relations as a psychological mechanism for the implementation of the unlawful conduct;
- spontaneity, extreme aggressiveness, sometimes — the cruelty, focus on people's close environment;
- psychiatric disorders underlying criminal behavior and criminal activity;
- psychological trauma (parental divorce, death of a close person, problems with peers, etc.).
Juvenile delinquency calls for decisive and drastic measures to prevent it. First of all the problem is how to reduce crime rate in adolescents, and prevent the corrupting influence of juvenile offenders to other teens and adults, hinder their joining repeat offenders’ ranks.
To solve this problem the state has undertaken certain measures, such as the development of juvenile law, special courses on methods of working with children at-risk, procedure output teens from crisis situations. But in addition to these programs, we offer the following measures:
- establish in educational institutions (schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, vocational institutions) at least one compulsory lesson per week, in secondary school (7–11 forms), and courses on the prevention of antisocial behavior in adolescents;
- improve the training of teachers for work on this issue;
- identify groups that are prone to delinquency (and not to hide them and try to hold educational talks, as educators used to do);
- increase activity work of the juvenile delinquents’ department personnel and police psychologists with detected groups of young people, individually and collectively;
- engage minors in free further education: sports clubs, art, natural sciences;
- increase the activity of children and youth organizations in different spheres;
- impose censorship for media and television (from 7:00 to 23:00) broadcasting violence, various crime investigations, propaganda of unhealthy life (advertising of alcohol and tobacco);
- employ older adolescents (16–18 year old teenagers) during holidays if possible in their sphere of interest;
- develop a method of interaction of bodies of trusteeship and guardianship and psychologists with families with dependent children prone to criminality and with disadvantaged families;
- control measures listed in social staff reports and the anonymous, independent social survey among minors.
Great expectations for the realization of all these aspects rest with the bodies of state power of subjects of the Russian Federation, but for the most complete and extensive initiation of the proposed measures they should be supported by the integrated and unified state programs and funding.
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