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Juvenile offenders are individuals who have not attained the majority age according to the law. In New York, the legal system recommends particular procedures that should be undertaken when dealing the juvenile offenders. Some of the legal system associated with juvenile delinquency in the state of New York include juvenile courts and detention facilities because some of the juvenile offense is always treated as civil cases rather than criminal cases. Therefore, they always tend to avoid certain requirements are considered in criminal cases such as the right to a public trial or right to jury trial. In New York, juveniles’ offenders are people who fit into the age bracket of below 17 years. However, if a juvenile commits a crime such as murder, they may be charged and tried like adults. In the past, many juveniles have always been arrested and many pieces of research have stated that the New York state government has a more aggressive criminal justice system rather than viewing these actions as a response to the change in the behaviors of the youth. Some of the juvenile crimes include underage smoking or drinking, vandalism which involves acts such as breaking windows, damaging road signs and defencing walls in private and public property and drug possession among others.
Some of the individual traits of juvenile offenders in New York state include gender. In New York state, most of the violent crimes are always committed by male juveniles. According to a study conducted in the New York state, of the 2,686 juvenile offenders who were sentenced for committing 4 most serious violent crimes which include rape, robbery, homicide, and aggravated assault, male offenders accounted for 82% of all the offenders (Beaver, 2008). Furthermore, male children were more likely to show early signs of aggressiveness particularly through methods such as bullying and male children are also more likely to engage in physical actions that female children. The causes and correlates study found that in general, a higher percentage of male children are likely to get engaged in serious violent behavior than their female counterparts. This finding confirms past studies which state that violence is more rampant in males. However, the research also stated that a smaller percentage of females are also likely to get involved in serious violent behaviors.
Age also plays an important role as a trait of juvenile offenders in New York state. Studies have also shown that most of the juveniles who get involved in violent behaviors start at the age of 15 years. According to a study conducted on 2,686 juveniles who were charged with the 4 most serious offenses were mostly 15 years old and below. In the study, the mean age of all the juveniles who were charged with homicide was 15.8, the mean age of juveniles who were charged with assault-related crimes was 15.6 and the mean age of teenagers who were charged with serious offenses was 51.1 years. The study also stated that the peak of violent behaviors in male juveniles is between 15 and 17 years then the violent behaviors start to decline. In females, the peak age for violent behaviors was at mid-adolescence and then starts to decline after (Vaughn, Howard & DeLisi, 2008). The race is also an important characteristic of juvenile offenders in New York State. The study showed that many African-American juveniles were more likely to be unreasonably arrested for violent behaviors. In the New York state, African American youths make up about 65% of the juveniles in incarceration. Among the 2,686 juveniles who were charged with the four most serious violent crimes, 98% of the total population of youths was made up of African American juveniles. However, in other states such as South Carolina accounted for about 30% of all the juveniles in all the juvenile correction facilities in the state. Another study also stated that 82% of the juveniles in correctional facilities in New York state are African Americans, 16% of the juveniles were Caucasian and 2% were made up of the other races in the United States. However, the African American juveniles were mostly found to have committed more serious crimes such as homicide and assault crimes as compared to other races in the United States.
Juvenile personal relationships and interactions also play an important role in juvenile offenders’ traits. At childhood, family interactions are very important because they have a lasting effect on the juveniles. At early adolescence, a youth’s relations and interactions with their peers is also important because the individual’s peers have the ability to influence the adolescent to act in a particular way. Research indicates that many children who are raised by single parents are more likely to get involved in antisocial behaviors. In many cases, where juveniles are raised by single parents who are not economically well off, they are likely to join gangs to find a means of survival. Single parents who have to work to support themselves do not always have time to take care of their children and monitor the activities of their children (Wilson & Petersilia, 2010). The youths always take advantage of the situation and develop delinquent behaviors because their parents are not around to correct them when they act in the wrong way. The risk is always higher in case, the mother of the child is a teenager. Children who are also raised in the family of more than four people are also likely to develop delinquent behaviors because of the size of the family. In this case, children are not strictly supervised because the parents have to divide their attention to all the members of the family. Therefore, there are some antisocial behaviors of the children that may go unnoticed by the parents. By the time the parents of the child will be able to notice the antisocial behavior of their child, the behavior would have developed and the child has been affected by the behavior. Parenting is the most important in the development of a child because this is the stage where children get to learn things that they should and things that they should not do.
An individual involvement with deviant peers is also a trait of juvenile offenders in New York state. A teen’s involvement with deviant peers had a greater effect on the development of antisocial behavior of the juvenile because of factors such as peer approval of a particular delinquent behavior, level of the attachment to the peer and the amount of time the juvenile spends with his or her peers. The level of teenage delinquency will increase if the teenager finds out that his or her peers approve delinquent behavior. Before the age of seventeen, the teenagers always value their peers and they are more likely to get involved in any activity that their peers get involved in. Therefore, if the teenager’s peers are getting involved in any antisocial behavior, they are more likely to get involved in the behavior because they do not want to feel like they have been exempted by their peers (Hinduja & Patchin, 2008). Therefore, the effect of peers on a teenager will be worse if the child has poor parenting where the child is not monitored by their parents. In this case, they will have more freedom to behave in any way want to.
Juveniles are also influenced by other environmental factors such as a neighborhood. Growing up in a hostile neighborhood increases the likelihood of the juveniles getting involved in serious criminal activities in their adolescence. In the New York state, crime is unequally distributed in space. The geographic distribution of juvenile crime arises in different areas of aggregation in certain cities in the state. For example, cities with higher levels of poverty in New York state and are highly populated always experience higher rates of juvenile crime. There are many cases of juvenile crime in New York state because of the existence of organized crime and gangs in the state. The many gangs and organized crime in the state always recruit teenagers to perform for them some of the criminal activities such as getting involved in the sales of drugs and other criminal activities such as robbery with violence and murder among others (Carver, Timperio & Crawford, 2008). In the New York state, the African Americans and American Indians have also experienced a great level of residential segregation and poverty in the cities. Many juveniles always get involved in some criminal activities with the aim of escaping poverty. In this case, they always get involved in organized crime and gangs in their neighborhood so that they may be able to earn a living through the crimes committed by the gang and gangs also provide these juveniles with security.
Other factors such as school suspension and expulsion also influence juveniles to get involved in crimes because once expelled or suspended, the juvenile gets the opportunity to involve in the issues they were expelled or suspended for. In New York state, a study showed that juveniles in urban areas are more likely to be expelled or suspended, they are followed by the suburban areas and it is lower in juveniles from rural areas. Expulsion and suspension also vary among the youths depending on the race, sex, social economic background and family characteristics of the teenagers. Male students are more likely to be expelled or suspended from schools that female students. The study also indicates that students from minority groups are more likely to be suspended disproportionately (Beaver, 2008). Schools have always played an important role in making attempts to change the behavior of students. There are many programs in schools such as guidance and counseling which aims at correcting the characteristics of students. However, when students are expelled or suspended, they are always given the opportunity to go and participate in the activities that they could not take part in because of the attending classes. Therefore, it is very important for schools to ensure that they find a way of correcting students’ behaviors without sending them away from schools.
Mental illness also causes Juveniles to get involved in crimes. In cases where a juvenile with mental illness get access to a loaded gun, they are likely to use the gun to shoot themselves or shoot other people because sometimes they may not be aware of their actions. Some people also take advantage of the juveniles with mental illness and use them to commit crimes. Criminals are more likely to use juveniles with mental illness to commit crimes such as the distribution of drugs. Some of them easily get convinced to transport drugs from one place to another because most of them are not aware of the substance they are transported and when caught they fail to mention the names of the people who sent them and they suffer on behalf of the criminals.
Many juveniles in New York state always get into crime for different reasons. Some of the major reasons include family background where some children come from poor families and they start committing crime as a means of survival. Some of the youths from the poor families may commit crimes on their own on decided to join gangs to commit crimes as a group because it is more secure in that manner. According the past researchers, male children are more likely to commit crime that females because they always start showing hostile behaviours at a tender age. The study also found out that neighbourhood plays an important role in the process of shaping a child’s future and decisions. Children who are born in poverty-stricken neighbourhoods are more likely to engage in crimes because many gangs exist in such neighbourhoods. On the other hand, children from rich neighbourhood are less likely to commit crimes because the of nature of rich neighbourhoods. Finally, parenting is also very important, the study showed that children with single parents are likely to commit crimes because of cases of poor parenting. Therefore, New York state government should look into these issues and form solutions which will be effective in solving the problems of juvenile delinquency.
- Beaver, K. M. (2008). Nonshared environmental influences on adolescent delinquent involvement and adult criminal behavior. Criminology, 46(2), 341-369.
- Carver, A., Timperio, A., & Crawford, D. (2008). Playing it safe: The influence of neighborhood safety on children’s physical activity—A review. Health & place, 14(2), 217-227.
- Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2008). Cyberbullying: An exploratory analysis of factors related to offending and victimization. Deviant behavior, 29(2), 129-156.
- Vaughn, M. G., Howard, M. O., & DeLisi, M. (2008). Psychopathic personality traits and delinquent careers: An empirical examination. International journal of law and psychiatry, 31(5), 407-416.
- Wikstrom, P. O. H., & Butterworth, D. A. (2013). Adolescent crime. Willan.
- Wilson, J. Q., & Petersilia, J. (Eds.). (2010). Crime and public policy. Oxford University Press
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