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Fear of crime, based on the weak social bonds and loose cohesion within societies create distrust between people. New policies are used and crime control shows a more punitive and harsh character to those who break a law. This in turn, causes other problems as prison establishments face stifling conditions such as overcrowding and all of these because prevention mechanisms did not operate when everything were in their beginning (Grivas, 1997).
In this unfavourable and inhospitable social framework the modern youngster is called to construct a well organised and balanced personality and become mentally matured, in order to be developed into a responsible, productive and law abiding adult. However, the sentimental intensity, the denial of the establishment, the insecurity and suspense of the future, the excessive dynamism of this age and the natural inclination/desire for revolution and change, often drive them into behaviours that exceed from the limits of the acceptable and therefore makes him confronted with the law. Within these frameworks, the examination of this phenomenon of juvenile offending has to be considered.
First of all, the selection of the groups age that I explored in my project was considered to be very essential and necessary. Albeit, our subject is the juvenile offending, it was critical for us to set some kind of limitations. In Europe the youth is defined from the age of 15 up to 25 years of a person. However, when we have to deal with a matter such as delinquency, the terms and foundations, in which we will base on for our analysis, are different between these groups age.
According to the title of our project I have made a distinction of three groups with different age: the offenders which are in their childhood, the adolescent offenders (up to 17 year old), and the youngsters from the 18 up to 25 year old. I chose to focus mainly to the adolescence period, with frequent mentions to the childhood, but minimal to the adult life of a person.
The childhood period of a person could not be absent from this project, as long as it constitutes the anteroom to the adolescence and thereafter adult life of a person. This period acts decisive for the forthcoming course of the individual, provided that his experiences and the way he was raised is the most contributing factor for the shape of his personality. Consequently, the childhood itself constitutes a research field of the causes that makes juveniles to offend and will later result to suitable prevention strategies.
Regarding the offending of the young people, is in its prime during the adolescence but as it ends this phenomenon shows a critical abatement for most of the people (Kourakis, 2004). As for those who continue their offending behaviour (persistent offenders), it is clear that they adopt with certainty a general delinquent attitude in their life, and we have to deal with the matter in a different basis. The main point, and as long as we accept that it is a natural action, is for juvenile offending not to exceed its normal limits (quantitative and also qualitative). In other words not to be expanded into more serious and more violent. It is crucial and imperative for us to investigate the causes and then be led through them to any proposal for preventive methods, applicable before the expression of the delinquent behaviour takes place but also after that in order to avert its relapse.
Continuing my project, I have tried to give clarifications of the term ''offender''. Can we allege that there are juvenile offenders or delinquent juveniles, and if yes, which factors will lead us to one or another definition? Who are these people which are in higher danger to become objects of treatment from the repressive institutions of the state? What are their social, economical and family characteristics? Do we have the ability to distinguish those which face a moral danger or everything is open to all?
Then, the description of the socio-economic characteristics helped me understand better the ''picture'' of the child we study. The in-depth analysis of several statistics was not considered to be necessary. Of course by studying them it gave me the general view of the social profile of the juvenile offender, however I could not neglect the information I took through my reading, according to which actually every juvenile (independent its social and family characteristics) is potential offender. Consequently, it is not possible to act deterministic and therefore via numbers to design the picture of the child-potential offender. When we deal with the fragile world of juveniles and adolescents in particular everything can prompt to an infringing behaviour.
I chose to neglect all the classical theories which attempt to give a simple explanation on the matter and on the contrary I focused into the concrete, socio - economic framework in which the young individual grows the elements that it acquires from it and according to that creates his character. Thus, I was more interested to research his social environment, society's problems, the stimuli that he accepts, his experiences that shape his thoughts, his phobias, his hopes and his goals.
Ultimately, his actions and behaviour are highly depended to the values of the society he lives in and the ideal models that his social environment teaches him. These social processes construct his personality and in order to find the causes which give birth to youth offending, four core sectors were chosen that directly and deeply influence juvenile population: economy, family, media, school.
Deliberately, I wanted to make a short review of some prevention programs, not only for these children that face a moral danger and have already offended but also for those that have not presented any problem (the aim is also to prevent them from offending in the future), these programs could resolve many youth offending issues.
Conceptual, statistical and theoretical justification of juvenile offenders in the modern social framework
1. Young offenders and social framework.
a. Juvenile delinquents or juvenile criminals? Conceptual delimitation of the object
In order to examine and investigate this matter objectively and correctly it is essential for us to explain from the beginning the conceptual bases in which we will continue our project. Thus, a segregation between these two basic terms: juvenile offending and criminality, must take place.
According to the law, offenders which are committed under the age of 18 (the age at which a person is considered an adult in the U.K) it is necessary for us to use the term juvenile delinquents rather than criminals. This is essential because of the minors situation. In other words a juvenile delinquent cannot be considered entirely as a person fully responsible for his action and consequently is not possible for the minor to be completely imputed for his actions (Kourakis, 2004).
Individuals under the age of 18 cover a period of their life at which they construct their personality, they are often misled from children or adolescent immaturity and many times they are not in a position to make correct decisions simply because they are unable for a balanced decision-making. Consequently, the use of terms such as "criminality" and "criminal" would be wrong and inaccurate as they include in them the element of absolute responsibility and conscience of the action.
Furthermore, the label ''criminal'' in this critical and sensitive age of childhood and adolescence would have tragic results in terms of stigmatization. Stigmatisation is a social process that takes place within the social environment but it also takes place within the psychological environment of the juvenile. Juveniles opinion about himself derives from the way he is dealt by the world of adults. Thus, the label ''criminal'' leads the child to adopt the criminal role that others gave to him and therefore achieves the malicious prophecies.
Of course, the characterisation of juvenile as juvenile delinquent (instead of juvenile criminal) does not ensure us always that the serious and negative consequences of the stigma will not take place. Only the contact of the juvenile, even a short-term, with the social control officials is most of the time capable to prompt the minor to re-construct his self-image and therefore develop a breaching and even worse a criminal career in his life. Possible, that is the reason we achieve better results when the officials intervention is small. In other words, when the juvenile begins to offend, the fewer official's intervention there is the better results (Kourakis, 2004).
The use of the terms stated above, (even the term juvenile delinquent that is considered to be softer) inevitably gives negative attributes into the child's character and to make matters worse, endogenous traits in his personality. Hence, subconsciously, these terms give to the social environment the perception that these individuals are exclusively accountable for their situation.
Furthermore, remarkable is the fact that when we refer to young delinquent individuals, unwittingly we think about males. Likely this happens because, such characterisation inevitably encompasses the element of violence (no matter if physical violence does not take place), and the common thought is led to pictures of violent boys as we subconsciously have correlated them with violent behaviours. However, nowadays this has begun to be reversed as girls also become violent (Siegel, 2004).
However, we have to agree that it is naive on the behalf of adults' society, the characterisation of juveniles which face problems with the law and come in contact with the control officials as offenders. This is because of the indisputable datum that the way of an individual's behaviour is a cognitive action that the older teaches to the younger. Having said that, we can support that the wider social sphere has a responsibility for the individuals delinquent actions. Thus, societies through lacks, omissions, wrong handling and sometimes via a total or partial indifference, force the young people into impasses and actions contrary to the law.
Consequently, before criticising and labeling the non-conformistic behaviours, a detailed examination and revision of the social environment should take place as it is society itself and its problematic structure that prompts young people into crime.
According to this, and as G.Panoushs (2005) commented on the matter, whether we want it or not, children that offend are our own children and they were not born from monsters (so they cannot be considered as born criminals), neither have been landed to our country from another planet. For each crime of young person is accountable at least one adult and one institution that they did not work properly. Therefore, in our project the term ''offender-criminal'' is only used conventionally as we do not completely accept the term and the internal characterÎ¿logical differences that it entails.
b. Evolution of juvenile offending: relation between age and offense.
For the majority of young people, the offending behaviour can be considered as a sporadic incident in their life. The breaking of laws and society's rules is dependent and closely connected with the maturation process and it tends to recede as long as the individual becomes an adult (Federal Ministry of Justice, 2001).
Internationally, the majority of juvenile offenders commit less important offenses with lenient sentences and most of the time do not proceed to serious offenses. Only 3% of juvenile offenders is related with violent crimes, and even these crimes are between some groups of people with same age because of personal differences between them (Federal Ministry of Justice, 2001).
However, even those who in their young age had relationships with criminal teams (gangs), they stop their criminal career as they get older. Thus, the increase of the family obligations and early adult duties in general are the decisive factors for this. Only a small percentage of this group of people will actually adopt an offending role and face the crime control officials. That is exactly the group of people that should be the main planning axis of all prevention programs. Therefore, the official prevention policies should focus on the factors which give birth to crime through the hindrances created by the socio-economic environments.
Concisely, we have to accept that juvenile offending is a natural phenomenon that is expressed only by a small percentage of young people more as a way to revolution. Moreover, we should mention that the age of 14-16 seems to be the point where juveniles offend the most but as this period passes the juvenile delinquency is abated (Kourakis, 2004).
Equally important to be noted is that the less state intervention with juvenile offenders the better results we have in the disengagement of individual's offending behaviour. According to this, and as we will refer in the following chapters, even if an arrest and penal prosecution of the perpetrator takes place, actually rehabilitative approaches will be applied because they will act more effectively in minor's consciousness. Thus, the stigma is prevented and it is made clear to the individual that he proceeded to a ''bad'' action.
2. Juvenile offender profiling and typology of crime.
The juvenile offender figure is mostly represented having the following characteristics: male between the age 14-16 with limited education (high school) emanated from a problematic family. Female offenders are mostly younger than boys and are involved in less serious offenses like begging (Vithoulkas, 2005). The most common offenses that juveniles are accountable of are mainly related to the General Road Rules (for example driving without license) and offenses associated with drugs, robberies, burglaries, theft, shop-lifting are present but constitute a small percentage in this group's age.
Surprisingly, notwithstanding the fact that in recent years juvenile offending does not present augmentative tendencies (in deed nowadays juvenile offending is decreasing), there are many concerns because juvenile offenders begin to commit more serious crimes like homicides (Vithoulkas, 2005).
That clearly show that young people's aggressiveness is increasing, fact that should prompt us to find the socio-economic changes that take place within the social context and therefore cause this reaction (aggressiveness). However, statistics show that the number of relapse within the European countries remain low compared to those of USA and Canada where juvenile violence is more intense and frequent.
3. Justification of juvenile offending : theoretical approaches, concerns and proposals.
As it was mentioned before, the existence and spread of the juvenile offending phenomenon is not independent to the social sphere that gives birth to it. Consequently, it is very important to give a short description of the modern reality's dark elements that have direct impact in many young people's life.
a. Modern reality: property, unemployment and social exclusion.
The ideal picture of society equally distributes the economic sources, political and labor rights and has equal and fair access for all people to essential goods such as accommodation, food-clothing, but also equal access in decision-making for the public affairs. However the reality abstains by theory. Through anomie and strain, individuals have become offenders as long as honesty, courage and moral fiber can easily be hidden and disguised. All people in daily-basis are familiarized with illegal acts. The interest of money for money sake have become a core value amongst societies and wealth and material goods constitute the basic requirements for the achievement of happiness.
The individuals income is henceforth the transubstantiation of his social identity. In other words, what we are is determined by the way we portray ourselves in a material way. On the contrary, the legal means for an individual to achieve success are limited and even though wealth is close to us only a small proportion of people can really have it. The rising figures of unemployment worldwide affect the advanced countries and the sentimental world of children which from a sensitive age are pressured to make decision that will influence the course of their life (Kourakis, 1999). Schools are not evaluated for departing knowledge but for their ability to train students to get high-paying jobs (Siegel, 2004).
Additionally, children at a young age learn to protect their belongings and inanimate objects have become goods of high importance that should be protected and kept away from other children. the child learns how to play but it is more important to learn that his property is exclusive. Therefore, children have to play but at the same time have to focus on their toys and as competitive adults seek consolidation of their status symbols, children become claimants of their personal belongings. Thus, acting like claimant, children think with an individualistic tactic (Busckaglia, 1982).
Within this individualistic framework, reforming wealth to a supreme value, and abstraction in achieving an economic success through morality, young individuals will certainly experience conflict between their emotions. however, as children adopt these social characteristics are then in front of the refusal of their very own creators. The denial of the equal development, the intense insecurity caused by the unemployment and finally, the lack of confidence in relation to their societies make juveniles disappointed and as Kourakis has argued, "It is a disappointment that could easily be mutated into a political disobedience, social opposition and uncontrolled aggressiveness towards everything, with fear of unknown consequences for the social balances" (Kourakis, 1999).
Furthermore, a new threat is added in the limelight. The social exclusion is an indisputable barrier on juvenile's hope for social award and the fact that people do not have the 'traditional' criteria on defining social classes make juveniles vulnerable for social exclusion. At the past, the lower social - economic classes could hope for career development and increase of income in order to switch over to another social class (more affluent). Unfortunately nowadays, this hope is kept up from a new group of people which is wholly and permanently excluded from any kind of social activities (including work).
This exclusion influences not only the adults but also the children under their protection. The lack of means for economic success causes aggressiveness and revengeful behaviours toward the society that promised but cannot fulfill. According to this, the child, defenseless, fragile and not yet mentally armed, confronted with poverty and social rejection will declare his dissatisfaction via offending the law.
Nowadays, it is clear that the traditional morals and values (such as the family) are doubted and collapsed and new are brought which their quality and functionality is doubtful. This value vacillation of our days, where adults try to find behaviours to adopt, does not leave moral bequests to younger people. This means that, when young people do not have the background of morals and values are therefore prone to choose their own attitudes to deal with the data in their life such as: use of internet, increase of immigrants and coexistence.
Thus, it is very important for young people to have right models which will imitate and through this imitation will become responsible, productive and law-abiding citizens. According to this, it is not so much the lack of right-models (I strongly believe that respectable people always exist) but the intense publicity of wrong model citizens from the media that drive people to wrong objectives.
Consequently, the sovereign characteristic of modern world is privation both of material goods and sentimental supplies. A modern world that demands productivity, punishes disobedience but offers very little..
b. Relationship between family and offending behaviour of the minor.
Most of the psychologists and psychiatrists agree that family plays the most fundamental role in the expression of child's offending behaviour. The fact that, almost in every society, family is the direct environment by which young individuals are being influenced without even knowing it, reveals how essential this concept is when we talk about juvenile delinquency.
Furthermore, a sociologists proportion also examines the family in order to find the deeper causes that lead to the adoption of criminal behaviour in general. These sociologists, highly influenced from a Greek sociologist Aristotle that made clear the importance of moral education, support that the persistent delinquent behaviour (particularly this has the most importance) of an individual does not come from the cultural structures neither from the relationship with illegal groups of people (social-learning theory). Durkheim, Le Blanc, Novack, Wilson and Hirschi converge with this theoretical approach (Cusson, 2002).
Characteristics such as lack of self-control, mental and psychological disabilities, anti-social behaviour and spontaneity constitute common traits of individuals that face problems with the law. These features are usually expressed when children grow within a 'void' pedagogic social environment, and contribute a lot in his illegal entanglement. Moreover, indiscipline, neglect, family instabilities and deviation of parents into crime lead the juvenile to behavioural disorders. This, in turn, makes the juvenile uninterested to become law abiding individual (Cusson, 2002).
However, these estimates support that the temperament of the child is a dependent role. According to Brennan, Herrnstein, Sampson and Laub, even when parents fulfill all the requirements in order to give right upbringing to their child its difficult and complex character causes 'paternal' moral abandonment, and as Cusson has argued "it is easier for someone to be a good parent with an easy going child whereas parents of a difficult child are in danger to become exhausted and therefore show less patience and affection" (Cusson, 2002).
Nonetheless, education and moral guidance of juveniles as well as the socio-economic class of their family are the most significant factors associated with delinquency.
According to the education matter, experts believe that six main attitudes are generators of offending behaviour (Cusson, 2002 and Georgoulas, 2000). Thus a report of these six attitudes towards children will take place in the following page.
Strict/harsh confrontation of children and the parallel frequent imposition of harsh punishments promote juvenile delinquency.
Parents need to be actively involved in their child's education and disagreement on the education ways between parents, cause internal sentimental conflicts and moral confusion of the children.
Parent's excessive protection or parent's insufficient love/affection as well as neglect and domestic violence promotes juvenile delinquency.
Weakness of the parents to understand in time the deviating behaviour of the child but also exaggeration in describing it will also create delinquency.
Excessive consumption of goods make children not able to understand that the material benefits require toil and effort in order to be acquired, while at the same time makes children exigent aggressive and violent in order to take what they want.
Excessive psychological and sentimental dependence of a child on his parents, in the best case scenario impedes the maturation process and does not help him to become self-reliant and independent. In the worst case scenario, the child during adolescence and teen-rebellion period, may go away from his parents and even reach to the point of leaving the parental house and hence, become vulnerable to serious dangers.
However, there is another point of view that supports that the objective social parameters of the family, clearly have the force to influence deeply the sensitive mental world of the child and can equally lead to unlawful attitudes. In other words, between many factors that cause juvenile delinquency, sovereign factors are the parents economic class, the criminal or deviating behaviour of these parents (inevitably makes juveniles to adopt delinquency), the existence of only one parent in family, conflicts between the parents as well as divorces and adoptions. (Georgoulas, 2000).
Nevertheless, according to researches that have been carried out in the past it has been rendered clear that the existence of only one reason is not capable to promote juvenile delinquency. The existence of three causes or even more is essential in order to a criminologist be able and legally claim that a juvenile is in a moral danger to become delinquent. Children that face economic poverty, bad education and school failure, are more prone of becoming delinquents (Utting, Bright, Henricson, 1993).
Even though the children of affluent families have less possibilities to break the law in the future, not all deviant behaviours could be explained by the fact of poverty as we often see young people from affluent families committing crimes too. Another opinion that also prevails is that the children which belong in the inferior social - economic strata and live in downgraded regions are at some way already stigmatised because of their class, fact that causes biased behaviour of the police towards them. These children, because of their social characteristics, attract in some degree the attention and supervision of social control mechanisms, increasing thus the probabilities of arrest in the event of an illegal action.
Equally important to be mentioned, is that in case of serious offenses, factors such as low income or harmonious conditions within families (or disharmonious) do not play any role.
Having said that, we can see that the reasons for juvenile delinquency in the UK converge with what was mentioned before. Between a lot of reasons, mainly is reported the intense wish of acquisition of an object with parallel lack of money to buy it. Also, the use of stolen money in order to prove that are important and gain respect. That mostly takes place within gangs culture and clearly shows lack of maturity and incomplete transmission of values from their parents.
Furthermore, it has to be mentioned that, even though the type of parental monitoring plays a dramatic role, however, it influences the child mainly at the stage of his early adolescence and has the tendency to be decreased with the passage of time, when it is replaced by the influences of the same age children. According to the experts, the role of parents acts as crime preventive and gets to its maximum even before the child becomes ten year old. The whole preparatory work of the parents should not fail to take place at this particular moment if we want to have results in the future (Utting, Bright, Henricson, 1993).
Decades before, Papanoytsos had pointed out the dangers that children face with the dissolution of the 'nuclear' traditional family. emphasizing that "â€¦ no environment can ensure and guarantee the mental stability and the intellectual health of child as much as the family", since 1978 he sounded the alarm for the upcoming resignation of the family from the traditional operations and their replacement by the offered services of shops and enterprises. The entrusting in third parties except house, of simple daily work as the cleaning of house, the cooking, and the entertainment, included dangers for the education of children (Papanoutsos, 1997).
c. The influence of the media and their contribution in the adoption of delinquent behaviour.
It is known that human beings are affected by each other and acquire each other's traits through cohabitation and imitation. Thus there is nothing in human behaviour that is not learned as long as all learning is based on imitation. According to this, during our infantile and young age, through mimicry, we learn how to speak, how to eat, how to walk, dress ourselves and in general how to behave following the socially acceptable norms. Particularly the babies, but also the children worship to observe the peoples reaction and then they select and adopt elements from them.
A big proportion of their free time (especially those who live in the big cities) is dedicated in watching the television programs. This activity is specially dear in young age because of the continuous alternation of pictures but also because, through television children have the opportunity to observe other people and thus do their most beloved thing; imitation.
Thus, as long as an important number of television viewers is composed from children and adolescents, the constitution of rules and laws for their protection is significant. Most of the countries have provisions of prohibitory transmission of programs that can harm the children from bodily, intellectual and moral side. Concrete hours of broadcasting programs which include pornographic scenes or scenes of violence are fixed and news programs directors, are compelled to abstain from the dramatization of facts and from the depiction of natural scenes of violence (Kamarianos, 2005).
As regards the effect of the media (mostly the television), on its viewers and consequently on the children, the two most influential theories of media-related aggression have been proposed by Albert Bandura and Leonard Brekowitz, however, the opinions differ with sovereign four theories: the aggression-reduction theory, the arousal theory, the addiction theory and finally the social learning theory.
The theory of aggression-reduction has its roots on the opinion of Aristotle. According to that, theatrical dramas had positive effect on the viewers because it was offering them the chance to defuse their negative sentiments and thus feel expiation. This opinion was supported from many in matters of television watching. It is said that the sentimental attendance in acts of violence and more generally in aggressive behaviours offer the spectator the ability to be exempted from the same wishes. The theory even if it was never empirically proved, continues to be supported nowadays mainly from people which are actively involved with the reproduction of television and transmission of scenes of violence.
According to the arousal theory, television programs influence the television viewers and can lead them to the adaption of aggressive or even violent behaviour, under certain circumstances. In other words exposure to television violence increases aggression because violence increases excitation, or "arouses" its viewers. The reward of the use of violence in many movies/television programs, or the use of violence from the 'good' characters in the films, prompts the individual to use more violence in his daily life, in case he experience a disappointing event. In other words, the projection of television violence that is a result for a fair reason justifies in the consciences of television viewers the aggressiveness and then prompts them to act the same in their life problems. However, again this theory was not possible to be confirmed from the researchers.
For the supporters of addiction theory, the continuous television projection of scenes of violence causes progressive insensitivity and indifference when the individual faces similar but real facts in his life. Once again the researcher could not confirm this theory. However, the theorists insist that the addiction in the presented by the media violence, takes place with four different ways: firstly with the minimization of bodies intensity when the individual becomes witness of some violent fact (tachycardia).
Secondly, the systematic desensitization that takes place during the viewing of aggressive and violent behaviours and the parallel connection of this violence with the daily life routines (e.g. lunch time). This results in the progressive relaxation into the programs that include violence, specifically for the children, except if parents negatively criticize the violent character or the violent act.
Another consequence is also the refusal of people to help other people when they face difficult situations and need our help. This apathy and frigidity is because of our continuous exposure in watching violence. Finally, the excessive television watching of these programs is likely to cause such type of addiction and desensitization to its viewers that the emotion challenge to be possible only with the projection of more and more violent scenes via the television.
According to Bandura who is a supporter of the social learning theory, the ways of behaving are learned by observing others, and that this is a major means by which children acquire unfamiliar behaviour. Furthermore he supports that people do not have any innate instinct that leads them to violent actions, but their violent behaviour is a product of observation of other peoples violence. Even if the influence, mainly in the juveniles, is not usually expressed, however this behaviour is possible to appear when the individual expects something, and he thinks that he is going to get it through the use of violence (Lampropoulou, 1999).
However, Bandura after the conduct of empirical research realized that, the reward or on the contrary the punishment of a violent action, influences also the way that a child will react after watching a violent television program. For example when the aggressive behaviour was criticized, punished or did not have successful result, the children were more willing to follow the particular model. On the contrary, where the violent action remained unpunished or was awarded, the imitation rate of the juvenile viewers was significantly increased. Therefore, it was obvious that even the children that watched the disapproval and punishment of aggressive action, a significant percentage of them, imitated those of the first group, with a small time-delay.
However, once again the researchers accept that the degree in which children will be influenced, depends on the quality of the program and on their intellectual maturity (in the case of children we cannot be certain of such a thing), but we can be certain for the quality of their relations with their family environment.
Nevertheless, several experiments that were carried out finally proved that the aggressiveness of the children is excessively increased after the viewing of a violent act. Not only this, but we also cannot know when the child will carry out what it watched from the television. Furthermore, the identification and the possibility of imitation depend on, according to EU Maccoby, the plausibility of the violent action that is represented from the extent of television watching. Those who watch television for a long time, believe that they live in reality, while in reality they lose the contact with it (Kamarianos, 2005).
No one can dispute the fact that children lack of critical thinking and Intellectual maturity. Moreover, no one can dispute that children are prompted from a innate tendency to imitate as well as no one can disagree that children nowadays, spend most of their time in watching the television. Hence, it is more than clear that the messages they absorb through the media, will potentially make them perpetrators of violence.
According to that, the companies and the advertisers, indirectly admit the following, when they boldly admit that their objective is the children population, which in consequence should be seen as the future purchasing public, and thus they should educate them accordingly. What they do is handle the plasticity of the children character, which is amplified with the use of strategies via the television.
d. The formative role of school in legitimate or illegitimate behaviour.
What is the role that school has to play nowadays and what is its attitude toward the needs and problems of children?
Unfortunately, the school in our days from a place of knowledge, culture and growth of spirit has been transformed into a tool of mass production of future biddable and apathetic people. The educational system, despite the efforts for reformations, continues in the teaching of concrete quantity and quality method, with main aim to prepare the student for an entry into the higher education institutions.
The fragmentary choice of objects to assimilation does not allow the students to have a complete picture of reality, but only offers limited pieces of the reality. When knowledge is fragmented, it then makes children alienated not only from the society that are members of, nor from their natural environment (generally the world), but becomes alienated from themselves as well. It is not possible for the juvenile individual to compose an explicit picture of himself and understand the questions that he seeks to answer, such as his identity, origin and destinations (professional, personal), in order to set his objectives for his life as an adult.
The way of teaching, old fashioned, anachronistic and inflexible, allows only the use of concrete methods, vocabulary and quantity of information, leaving this way no space for the import of innovations from the schoolteachers. Beyond this, the everyday routine and repetition of the same things made the teachers unwilling to undertake creative initiatives which will make change the educational system.
Furthermore, the main characteristic trait of teaching is lost constituting exclusively a solution for professional career. The majority of people that want to get involved with teaching, chooses that mostly for bread-winning reasons, while the attitude that keeps toward the work is strictly professional. The era in which teaching played mainly a moral advisory role, has passed for good. Furthermore, it is also doubtful if parents henceforth wish something like that from the schoolteachers of their children.
Thus, a degenerated, alienated form of educational system emerges which manufactures the idea of the 'median' student (how can a median exist if every child has its particularity?) and mass-organizes the knowledge, and aspires in the mass, almost like in factories, production of units of work.
Within schools, nothing is different. Surprisingly what we see inside schools is the lack of freedom that prevails, the repression of spontaneity, and the barriers towards creation and growth of critical thinking. The abstraction of the right to have a different opinion, the unreasonable functional memorization (monkey see, monkey do) of the theoretical courses, the prohibition of initiative to use different way of expression, creates barren spirits, deprived from the ability of originality, criticism and reaction (Kourakis, 1999).
Only a small proportion of students, accomplish to fit into this mould of the educational system, and these are the so-called 'promising' students, in which the teachers focus, whereas the other children are literally abandoned. This informal, but by no means aimless, rejection is expressed by a lot of students through aggressive behaviour inside the school environment (e.g. bullying) and ironic attitudes towards teachers. Vandalism actions within school environments condense all of the dissatisfaction and hostile sentiments of students towards the educational system.
What else remain for the school to teach? Unfortunately, those who do not fulfill the criteria of the 'good' student but wish to achieve the objectives and goals that school ordain, the only road is the via hypocrisy and dishonest means (e.g. plagiarism). With indirect but explicit way, young children learn that they can acquire objectives through violating the rules and manipulating those who protect them (i.e. in our case their teachers).
During the writing of this project I tried to give the basic aspects that characterize the phenomenon of juvenile offending, with particular focus on the offending of adolescents.
First of all, the segregation between the juvenile offenders and criminals was very essential. The juvenile offender has not yet constituted personality and neither has rendered explicit in his conscience what is correct and what wrong. Juveniles wish to test their limits and to find to what degree can press the system, remaining unpunished (behaviour that is absolutely normal for this age as through this way young people absorb better the rules). Moreover, it was found that juveniles are in a such a condition where any exterior factor can become fatal for their future as long as any negative characterization stigmatizes them. Consequently, the use of term 'criminal' is invalid as long as we are not able to fully blame them for their actions because of most of the time they do not know what they are doing.
First of all, the modern reality imports the adolescent from his early age into the thought, according to which wealth and economic award are considered as goods that will bring people happiness. The desire for material goods, money and luxury is excessively expressed within societies, albeit the legitimate means to acquire them are full of barriers. The child learns that adults must claim objects like money but does not have to claim goods like education, dignity, respect. Juveniles mentality is submerged by the insecurity of unemployment and the pressure for direct decision-making for their professional career. Young people inherit a moral emptiness, and then are called to distinguish the right from wrong, albeit, they have not been taught such a thing. The catalysis of moralities from the adults for sure does not give the ideal model. Hence, young people that lack of morale, but also lack of the means to economically succeed, experiencing intense disappointment and aggressive sentiments, it is very possible to turn juveniles against the wider social environment.
Furthermore, the progressive dissolution of traditional nuclear family is also related to aggression. The increasing incomplete education, the frequent neglect of children from their parents or on the contrary the over-protection and the excessive offer of material goods, the domestic abuse of children, the family conflicts-divorces and the bad economic situation of the family, certainly leave the child exposed to unlawful temptations that encourage the offending of the laws.
Moreover, we saw that sometimes this behaviour can be the result of the frequent watching of programs with inadequate content. The theories that analyze the influence of media on young people are often refuted. However, the child and the adolescent belong in a special category of television viewers, which absorbs everything indiscriminately, without processing it and sometimes express in real-life what they saw. The imitation is one of the main learning process, and when the projection of violence and aggression is accessible in young people it functions calamitously to their consciences. Thus, the only way that can stop young people watching violent programs, is parental supervision but again, this is impossible because most of the time they are absent.
The school could practice a preventive role, however in our days it has lost the instructive tinge that had in the past. The main objective of the educational system is henceforth the mass creation of model students with concrete skills and knowledge, which will be conventionally included into the job market. The adherence in the barren assimilation, the lack of initiatives cultivate barren and biddable spirits. The child through a knowledge which was selected partially, is not able to understand vital things like the society and therefore his social identity.
Thus, he becomes unable to envision and engrave his future. The aggressiveness inside the school (vandalism, vilification of teachers etc), shows that children reject the system that approves the anachronism, the monkey see-monkey do and the blind hunting of professional establishment, and lead students into hypocrisy and violation of rules. Hence, the 'bypass' of the system via wretched means is for some students the only way to school success, but when children are taught to behave like this within schools, what will prevent them from behaving the same way outside the school?
To conclude, I believe that the renewal of personnel within the educational system with persons scientifically worked under anthropocentric matters, will bring new impetus, will make it flourish and will also constitute an important step towards an effective confrontation and prevention of juvenile offending. Moreover, the degree of concern for the problems related to children also determines the future course of a country indiscriminately in all its sectors. Thus, I support that we cannot gaze with optimism the future, as long as we turn our back on young people's needs, dreams, demands that envision a better society. Ultimately, I strongly believe that the best way to avert juvenile delinquency is to prevent it by raising the morale of the whole society.