Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Treatment

Introduction

Juvenile delinquency has been noted to be a major issue facing societies across the globe. Juvenile delinquency refers to the large forms of disapproved behavior of teenage and adolescents that is not approved by the society and that leads to some form of punishment or correction action carried out in the interest of the public. Examples of acts that fall under the category include begging, truancy, vagrancy, stealing, hijacking, kidnapping, drinking and gambling (Chowdhury, Khan, & Uddin, 2012). Juvenile delinquency is regarded as a societal problem that causes negative consequences such as mental health, financial, and work-related problems. Young offenders are indicated to represent a large proportion of all offenders in the justice system. Analysis of the juvenile delinquency rates reveals that among the cities with highest rates of 12-15 juveniles cases were located in the United States, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany (de Vries, Hoeve, Asscher, & Stams, 2018). These countries have also been noted to have the highest rates of serious violent delinquency among the youths. A young adolescent who exhibits disruptive and delinquent behavior or with multiple risk factors need constructive change-oriented treatment. There is a possibility of these young adolescents escalating their behavior to chronic and serious criminal behaviors, which would be expensive to the society (de Vries, Hoeve, Asscher, & Stams, 2018). This highlights the need to invest in preventive interventions early enough. Several factors have been attributed to the engagement of juveniles in criminal activities. Among these factors include psychological factors, cultural factors, family condition, family control, and relationships. This paper seeks to evaluate the juvenile delinquency prevention and treatment through the analysis of general description of delinquency prevention, exploring the fundamental principles of prevention, evaluate some examples of the types of prevention that have been used, and establish the effectiveness of the prevention methods that have been adopted. 

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Description of Delinquency Prevention

Considering all the personal, family, societal, and community costs associated with juvenile delinquency, it is important to ensure that this phenomenon is dealt with and prevented from occurring. The society has a duty of ensuring a change in mindset and perspective not by just putting emphasis on physical transformation. This calls for the need to ensure that there is enough attention geared towards the family, neighborhood, and community factors that may propel negative behaviors among young adolescents. Delinquency prevention and intervention initiatives involve identification of the risk factors that lead to the delinquent behavior and seeking means to deal with these factors, as well as, creating a protective factor that can be effective in dealing with these risks. It has been noted that traditional delinquency prevention approaches have been focused on dealing with school-age youth. However, contemporary delinquency prevention approaches and intervention places the emphasis on different development stages of a child including pre-birth, childhood, and adolescence. It has been revealed through research that effective delinquency prevention programs are those that target the youth and in the right way. On this note, it has been highlighted that intervention focused on high-risk delinquents’, average results to higher effectiveness in the reduction of recidivism as compared to interventions that target low-risk delinquents. This thereby implies that juvenile justice systems are most likely to record more success in minimizing recidivism when they concentrate on the interventions on higher-risk youth. Delinquency prevention programs may range from therapeutic programs including restorative oriented, programs centered on skill building, and counseling (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2013). In selecting the delinquency prevention program, it is important to select a program that matches the needs of the youths. 

Fundamental Principles of Delinquency Prevention

The process of delinquency prevention is governed by a number of principles geared towards ensuring their success. The first principle points out that delinquency prevention is an essential element in minimizing crime in the entire society. On this basis, it is noted that the youth need to be assisted on how to acquire behaviors that are not criminal in nature and, thereby, take part in lawful and beneficial to the community. Seigel and Welsh (2014) note that the youth needs to be provided with guidance to facilitate their adoption of humanistic orientation about the society and life in general. 

The second principle for delinquency prevention states that for the initiatives to be effective, it is important to enlist the involvement and engagement of all members of society. The collective initiative of members of society facilitates harmonious development of the youths to a level characterized by a positive personality. This collaboration from all members of the society is supposed to be experienced right from early childhood phases.

The third principle on delinquency prevention elaborates on the importance of developing a prevention program that needs to be child-centered. It is important to note that young people need to take up an active position and partnership responsibilities within society. It is essential to understand that children should not be regarded as objects of socialization. 

The fourth principle concentrates on the need to put emphasis on the well-being of young people all the way from their early childhood. With this realization, the delinquent prevention program needs to take full account of the root cause of the delinquent behaviors. On this basis, the prevention program needs to be developed in accordance with the national legal system.

The firth principle as set out in the United Nations Guidelines calls for the need to establish progressively delinquency prevention policies and systematic study and the elaboration of appropriate measures. Such initiatives focus on the need to avoid criminalizing and penalizing a child for an act that does not lead to serious damage to the development process of the child and harm to others. This principle highlights that these policies and measures should entail opportunities such as education that would be essential to meet the needs of the young people. The measures would also function as a supportive framework that can help in safeguarding the process of personal development for all the juveniles with more focus put towards the young people identified to be at a higher risk. The policies and measures need to include specialized philosophies and approaches for prevention of delinquent acts and should be based on laws, processes, institutions, facilities, and a service delivery network that is focused on minimizing the motivation, need, and opportunity that leads to delinquent behaviors. The policies developed need to incorporate official interventions guided basically by the general interest of the young people in a manner that allows fairness and equity. The prevention policies should be focused on safeguarding the well-being, development, rights, and interests of the juveniles (United Nations Assembly, 1990). The policies need to factor in the actions and conduct of the youths that are contrary to the social norms and values. It is important to ensure awareness that frequent labeling of youths as deviant and delinquent, may lead to cementing of the undesirable traits among the young people. 

The sixth principle highlights the needs to create community-based services and programs focused on dealing with juvenile delinquent behavior. Focus on this need to be placed on areas where no agencies are non-existent. This principle indicates that formal agencies should only be used when other means have been exhaustively used without realizing the intended results.

Types of Prevention Used for Delinquency Prevention 

Among the delinquency prevention program that has been used are evidence-based programs. The most common types of evidence-based programs are multi-systematic therapy (MST) and family functional therapy (FFT), which have been noted to yield benefits on recidivism. Multi-systematic therapy involves family systems approach that is designed to assist parents to deal effectively with their child’s problematic behavior. This form of therapy is offered at homes, in schools, and within the community. The family functional therapy concentrates on the youths with substance abuse, delinquency, or violence within their home environment. It puts the attention on the need to improve the function of the family by enhancing their problem-solving skills and emotional connections through the ideal parental structure for children at homes. These programs have been implemented in different states such as Pennsylvania, Florida, and Washington. The FFT allows the young people on probation and their families get the necessary assistance. A family therapist engages the family and assists the family members to create a positive change in the home environment. The therapy has three phases with the first phase requiring the therapist to deal with how to manage resistance to therapy, by encouraging family members and creating awareness that negative interaction and communication can be changed. The second phase involves taking the family members through new channels of dealing with different situations with the assistance from the therapist. In the third phase, it involves encouraging family members to utilize the newly acquired relational skill in their social institutions. 

Another program that has been used in delinquency prevention programs is the parent-child interaction training program. In this program, calls are made requiring the parents and children to take part in the program for a period of 12 weeks. The program is structured to equip the parents with the skills needed for parenting children between 2-7 years. The program is ideal for children who have been indicated to portray behavioral problems. A therapist offers guidance to the parents on the most ideal manner to react to any children’s behaviors. 

Another prevention program that has been used is a bullying prevention program. The program is commonly used in junior high and elementary school. The program involves having anonymous students informs the teachers and administrators about their peers who are engaged in bullying, as well as, the victims of the bullying act. With the information, the bullies and victims are brought together where they get professional advice on how to move on from the challenge.

Analysis of the Effectiveness of the Prevention Program

The application of delinquency prevention programs has yielded positive effects in dealing with the issue of problematic children. It has been shown that focusing on a specific risk factor that contributes to delinquent actions, the programs are able to produce a more positive outcome. These programs not only deal with the delinquent behavior themselves but also tackle the risk factors and minimize the likelihood of the problems recurring. Most of the prevention programs are structured to focus on education and provide necessary information to the young people. This has been noted to raise their awareness on the delinquent actions and help in understanding the consequences that they may face. The prevention program seeks to assist young people to raise their hope and consider the numerous opportunities for them to exploit. (Taylor, 2014).

A review of the parent-child prevention program minimizes attention deficit. The program is structured in a way that children are assisted to progress down the program on how to lessen aggressive behaviors. Parents have benefited from this program as they discover how to strike a friendship with their children. The program has earned its position as a support system for parental involvement. This has been effective in enhancing increased family functioning that has been noted to have positive impacts on child functioning. The bully prevention program has been noted to be essential in ensuring a safe classroom environment that fosters health interaction. Students have learned how to be less aggressive and how to react in bullying situations. 

It can thereby, be indicated that delinquency prevention program deflects costs of social resistance and costs involved in the legal process. Children have been sensitized and gained intellectual enrichment, which has been noted to lead to delinquent acts. Children who have been engaged in these programs have improved on their social relationships and led a stable life. Research has indicated that not all delinquency prevention methods are absolutely effective. Among the ineffective delinquency prevention methods is the scare tactics, which have been indicated to be ineffective since it is pegged on the notion that crime rates are prevalent due to the lack of fear of juvenile detention. This was later noted that fear was not among the motivation for youths engaging in positive behavior. 

Description of Delinquency Treatment

Delinquency treatment seeks to provide a remedy for conduct disorder. Treatment is concerned with the increased prevalence of juvenile offending. Delinquency treatment seeks to change the trends from using punishments for young people engaged in dealing with delinquent juveniles. Research has revealed that those who enter the criminal system are exposed and, in most cases, fall into issues of substance abuse, family problems, physical, and sexual abuse. This placed the need to come up with treatment intervention that involves comprehensive assessment, treatment, and utilization of support services. This led to the focus on family-based treatment geared towards family functioning (Rubin & Pepler, 2013). 

The Fundamental Principles of Delinquency Treatment

The principles of delinquent treatment aim at ensuring that the treatment interventions are carried out effectively and efficiently. It is important to establish legislative laws that outline the purpose of the actions set out against the delinquent juveniles. The laws need to clearly indicate that there should not be the use of torture nor inhuman acts in treatment interventions for delinquency. This points out that corporal punishment is prohibited. This is discouraged since punishment has been revealed to cause emotional disturbances and may only escalate the problem (Sexton, Fisher, Graham, & Elnahrawy, 2015).

The principles further provide that legislative laws and policies should offer measures that prohibit solitary confinement. Solitary confinement has been noted to violate a personal liberty of the adolescents and may lead to negative consequences on their development. Utilizing solitary treatment for delinquency has been largely described as being unsuccessful. Use of physical restraint should not be included in the treatment approaches. 

Types of Delinquency Treatment 

There have been different types of delinquency treatment that have been used. Biological intervention is among the treatment modes that are used in dealing with a delinquent juvenile. Juvenile delinquency has been largely associated with abnormal biological factors. Among the factors, are neurological processes that have facilitated the delinquent adolescent. Among these conditions are abnormal functioning of steroid hormones and neurophysiological abnormalities. The problem can be dealt with using drugs and different pharmacological agents. The use of these interventions has been noted to assist adolescents to reduce the rate of engaging of delinquency. 

Another treatment intervention that is used to treat delinquency is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive deficiencies have been indicated to cause aggressive behaviors and increased likelihood of violence in adolescents. These factors have been indicated to lead to inadequacy problem-solving skills and reduced thinking capability (Young, Greer, & Church, 2017). The cognitive behavioral therapies may adopt two approaches. The first approach may entail the involvement in training in social skills and pro-social behaviors such as highlighting essential moral values and anger management. The second approach that may be used deals with problem-solving capabilities and techniques for self-control. In this treatment intervention, the therapist assists the young people on their judgmental abilities. The adoption of this treatment plan facilitates equipping the adolescents with capabilities to make good decisions (Knight, Belenko, Wiley, Robertson, Arrigona, Dennis, Wasserman, 2016).

The effectiveness of the Treatment interventions 

There is no enough evidence seeking to establish the effectiveness of delinquency treatment. However, few studies have indicated that the delinquency treatment facilitates the improvement of family interaction and relationship. Following on, the delinquent programs have also been noted to lead to a reduction in aggressive behaviors. These have been noted to minimize the rates of arrests and convictions. The young people following the delinquent treatment approach are able to enjoy the strengthened parent-child relationship. People are able to understand different interventions of dealing with family issues. Use of treatment approaches has been shown to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. It assists young people to develop a new perspective on dealing with life issues. 

Comparison of Delinquency Prevention and Treatment

Both delinquencies prevention and treatment strategies aim at recognizing risk factors, developing interventions for dealing with these factors, and establishing a means of offsetting the risk of delinquent behaviors. The prevention and treatment interventions both assist the parents in relating with their children in an efficient manner. The interventions seek to smoothen the family functioning. Both the delinquency and treatment approach target the same category of people, which is the young people who are at the risk of engaging in delinquent acts. Through the adoption of prevention and treatment approaches, they seek to minimize the spread of delinquency and other criminal activities (Friedlander, 2013). The prevention and treatment interventions are indicated to be essential elements of the juvenile justice system as they provide capabilities on how to deal with delinquent juveniles and attain desired results. 

Juvenile delinquency and treatment initiatives have some notable differences. Delinquency prevention approach extends their reach to even the youths who are not engaged in delinquent behaviors. On the other hand, delinquent treatment focuses its attention specifically to the youths who are engaged in delinquent behaviors. It can, therefore, be identified that the prevention approach seeks to prevent the delinquent behavior even before they take place, unlike treatment initiatives that focus on addressing the delinquent after they have already been experienced. 

Conclusion

Juvenile delinquency has been noted to be an issue across the globe. Juvenile delinquency refers to the large forms of disapproved behavior of teenage and adolescents that is not approved by the society and that leads to some form of punishment or correction action carried out in the interest of the public. Delinquency prevention and intervention initiatives involve identification of the risk factors that lead to the delinquent behavior and seeking means of dealing with these factors, as well as, creating protective factors that can be effective in dealing with these risks. Delinquency prevention programs may range from therapeutic programs including restorative oriented, and programs centered on skill building, and counseling. The application of delinquency prevention programs has yielded positive effects in dealing with the issue of problematic children. Most of the prevention programs are structured to focus on education and provide necessary information to the young people.  A review of the parent-child prevention program minimizes attention deficit. Delinquency treatment seeks to change the trends from using punishments for young people engaged in dealing with delinquent juveniles. Studies have indicated that the delinquency treatment facilitates the improvement of family interaction and relationship, and reduction in aggressive behaviors. Both delinquencies prevention and treatment approaches aim at recognizing risk factors, developing interventions for dealing with these factors and establishing a means of offsetting the risk of delinquent behaviors. Prevention approaches seek to prevent the delinquent behavior even before they take place, unlike treatment initiatives that focus on addressing the delinquent after they have already been experienced.

References

Assembly, U. G. (1990). United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency: The Riyadh Guidelines. A/RES/45/112). UN Doc.

de Vries, S. L., Hoeve, M., Asscher, J. J., & Stams, G. J. J. (2018). The Long-Term Effects of the Youth Crime Prevention Program “New Perspectives” on Delinquency and Recidivism. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 0306624X17751161.

de Vries, S. L., Hoeve, M., Asscher, J. J., & Stams, G. J. J. (2014). The effects of the prevention program ‘New Perspectives’(NP) on juvenile delinquency and other life domains: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMC Psychology2(1), 10.

Friedlander, K. (2013). A Psycho-Analytical Approach to Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Case Studies, Treatment (Vol. 9). Routledge.

Knight, D. K., Belenko, S., Wiley, T., Robertson, A. A., Arrigona, N., Dennis, M., … & Wasserman, G. A. (2016). Juvenile Justice—Translational Research on Interventions for Adolescents in the Legal System (JJ-TRIALS): a cluster randomized trial targeting system-wide improvement in substance use services. Implementation Science11(1), 1.

Rubin, K. H., & Pepler, D. J. (Eds.). (2013). The development and treatment of childhood aggression. Psychology Press.

Siegel, L. J., & Welsh, B. C. (2014). Juvenile delinquency: Theory, practice, and law. Cengage Learning

Sexton, T. L., Fisher, A. R., Graham, C., & Elnahrawy, N. A. (2015). Evidence-Based Practice in the Prevention and Treatment of Adolescent Behavior Problems. In Handbook of Adolescent Behavioral Problems (pp. 85-104). Springer US.Taylor, R. (2014). Juvenile justice: Policies, programs, and practices. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

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