The Role of Social and Family Values in Juvenile Crime

Dr. Adam Tabriz
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

The phrase "Juvenile" relates to a person who is barely old enough to be considered an adult in its literal definition. In other words, an individual who isn't fully developed and mature sufficient by the meaning of the prevailing societal and epoch norms. A Juvenile bears no privilege to things, activities, and environments decided by the society to be only befitting adults.

Before we go further, it is requisite to keep in mind that what declares a person adult or determines the cutoff age after we consider an individual adult is a separate discussion. However, in short variety of complex factors within a given society and culture influence that check, including but not limited to education, required necessary skills, social engagement within the constituency, and religious faith.

Yet still, the virtue of the argument roots not from as to who is an adult and should be tried and treated like a grownup; but if within the society we can establish a harmony between family values, social values, and legal boundaries based on the said values and hold everyone to those standards. Then within such a framework, hold every person accountable for their action. For instance, if society determines that a 17-year-old is still a juvenile, no one should argue that we should treat a 17-year-old as an adult. Because by definition, "a juvenile is not fully developed and mature enough," thus is incompetent, just like a person with a mental disease who fails to make a sound judgment.

Constitutionally definition of Juvenile is as rigid as "Black and White." For instance, a Juvenile in the "Indian constitution" is if a child is below 18. Yet, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 came into force on 15 January 2016. Under the juvenile constitution act, if a minor aged between 16 and 18 commits a crime but is arrested after age 21, he should be tried as an adult.

There are many forms of the double standard in the modern common law statutes besides existing loopholes to try juveniles as adults. For example, in many regulations, killing a pregnant is considered double murder, even though abortion (even during late-term) is utterly legal in the same society. Then comes the big questions:

What is the base of our argument, if we should hold a person of a certain age accountable, and to what set of standards?
Is it about the semantics of what defines the phrase “Juvenile”?
Or is it about recognizing if the committer of a crime is mature enough to realize the nature and consequences of their wrongdoings?

The latter questions pertain to two different phenomena yet still can be legally acceptable if the legal system of a given society produces clear answers to them and upholds those standards without prejudice. But, leaving a judge or a jury the decision as to who is adult or Juvenile is a hypocrite and utterly outlandish.

According to American Bar, Published in June 2016, a 14-year-old boy was jailed and charged as an adult for throwing a rock at police during a political rally in New Mexico. According to the publication, it seems as if it was not until the 1700s that the laws in the United States distinguished between juveniles and adults within the criminal justice system. Children as young as seven were charged, tried, and sentenced in adult criminal courts. Even though we were past that point a long time ago, we are still struggling to establish who understands the consequences of their action and who is not!

Today, many states have so-called "Statutory Exclusion Laws," where the legislature grants the adult criminal court sole jurisdiction over certain cases involving juvenile offenders. The "Statutory Exclusion Laws" vary by state, but when a claim falls under one of the statutory exclusion laws, it mandates that the case be filed in adult court instead of the juvenile court.

Those who believe in trying "juveniles" as adults do so based on the assumption that It offers an adequate punishment for severe crimes the juveniles commit. Yet, the same does so, not considering the Juvenile's maturity. They believe it lessens the likelihood that a repeat culprit will engage in multiple violent crimes, yet it fails to offer an opportunity for rehabilitation.

Supporters of the idea also believe that holding the teens to the adult standard of accountability treats those teens who are almost adults as part of the adult system. Still, at the same time, it creates an element of risk for the child while they are in prison. That builds confidence in the justice system for the victims; it seems to furnish a standard of uniformity for the harshness of the delinquency and offers services to the youngsters that would not be available in the juvenile policy. At the same time, it curtails the number of options available for the sentencing of the minor because Judges who work in the juvenile justice system have multiple options available to them when sentencing children who commit a crime.
Photo by David Veksler on Unsplash

To the irony, holding juveniles to adult standards presumably provides a means to teach them accountability, hence treating severe crimes with the seriousness they deserve. Most of all, It empowers the community with an alternative to having a voice in the process of retribution.

The reoffending rates of juvenile wrongdoers are stereotypically much lesser than for adults who are sentenced to jail or prison. Meaning it creates more opportunities for youth to become repeat offenders. It averts the Juvenile from a new start even after making necessary changes. Statistics collected from 15 different states indicated that children indicted as adults after release from jail had a re-offense rate of 82% compared to a 16% rate for their adult counterparts.

It is postulated that holding the Juvenile to the adult justice system does not reflect the children's understanding in question. And it does not always reflect a measure of blame.

Such disparity does not provide youth-specific services, is a process that seems to disproportionately target minority demographics, fails to allow a defendant to be tried by a "jury of their peers.", and eliminates civic responsibilities for actions at home.

The Juvenile criminal charge in the adult court may restrict the parents' civil obligations for their child's conduct because the individual is being treated as an adult in the situation.

The double standard of juvenile accountability is another issue brought up by many people. They claim up to 85% of the adjudicated females are status offenders, whereas only 20% of the boy offenders are institutionalized.

Family values are among the most potent socializing forces in an individual's life. They teach children to control improper behavior, delay indulgence, and respect the rights of others. Contrariwise, families can also teach juveniles aggressive, antisocial, and violent demeanor. In adults' lives, family responsibilities donate a significant stabilizing impetus. Given these options, family life may unswervingly underwrite the development of felonious and criminal inclinations.

Behavioral issues during childhood predict successive delinquency and criminality. Some of these conducts stem from various parental/family immersion forms. Although behavior problems in youth arise to predict failure, most juvenile lawbreakers eventually break such behavior. All in all, the road to criminality is complex and includes multiple pathways.

Down of Family values as a Trigger of Bureaucracy and a vicious circle of Juvenile Delinquency

Treating the Juvenile as an adult means one thing and one thing only; that is the takeover of the social bureaucracy of the youth faith. Those with strong and healthy family values, without a doubt, are safe from juvenile crimes. However, the issue comes when there is a natural crack in the family's foundation. Once we agree on the latter phenomenon, then we should turn around and ask ourselves the question:

Who is the real criminal or delinquent here? Parents or the Juvenile? — And who needs to be rehabilitated or even punished? — parents or the Juvenile?
Furthermore, do the prevailing social norms, and statutes offer support and flexibility to the families to raise their children within those values?

The early experiences with parents and family on succeeding aberrant and criminal conduct are vibrant. Indeed, Juveniles who are neglected by their parents, grow up in homes with sizable conflict, and are inadequately supervised are at the most significant risk of becoming delinquents. There appears to be a snowballing upshot such that the existence of more than one of these negative family traits further upsurges the prospect of delinquency. Not all children follow the identical footpath to the fiasco, as different amalgamations of life experiences may produce delinquent behavior.

Constructive parenting practices during early childhood and adolescence prevent delinquent behavior and assist adolescents involved in such conduct in desisting added lawbreaking. In contrast, children raised in caring, loving, and accepting homes are less likely to become deviant.

In our current collective social system, bureaucracy seems to be undermining family values that are the primary catalyst of juvenile delinquency and criminal behavior. Bureaucratic solutions primarily focus on the punishment instead of the solution. They converge on shortcuts of deciding who can be held responsible for a crime, even though it utterly disregards the role of the actual perpetrator.
Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

So, Let's pick who is accountable for juveniles' crimes; the government or family, the socially and biologically mature individual, or the 17 years old boy from a family with a broken, neglected value structure.

I believe where to draw the line if a juvenile can fully judge their action is irrelevant. For instance, a 30-year-old individual imprisoned in a room all his life by his parents can never differentiate right from wrong if he is suddenly introduced to an urban society such as New York City.

Now, let us presume that the administration misbehaved imprisonment. So, if the person mentioned commits a crime, someone or entity neglected that person. We can never expect a person to make a sound judgment if we fail to create a realm for that person to learn the norms and values of that society.

The hypocrisy of Juveniles being tried and treated as adults is solely the upshot of disparity of crime cause and effect, meaning juvenile criminality is not the cause of the crime, as it is the effect of a community and parental negligence irrespective of the age, sex, and maturity. And juvenile rehabilitation shall start from the families and their immediate social structure.

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Adam Tabriz is a Physician, Writer, Entrepreneur, and public health policy, expert. He is an advocate for Personal liberty. The combination of his experience and expertise underlines his passion for advocating true “Personalized Healthcare” and “Healthcare without Borders.” His favorite slogan is: “Peace of mind would come to all people through the universal respect for the basic human rights of everyone”

San Francisco, CA

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