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One of the pressing social problems of the State of California is crime and violence. California is one of the top ten states in terms of crime and violence rates. In the recent years, the state's crime rates are higher than the US rates. Moreover, an important aspect to give attention is the young offenders. Apart from the adult crime trends, the state is also as cautious to the emerging trends of juvenile delinquency, crime and violence.
The initial response to this increasingly significant social problem is to make arrest and punishment more austere and harsher. In fact, California is one of the states which have joined in demanding harsher treatments for juvenile offenders. In the recent years, citizens have been demanding for longer and harsher sentences for the youth offenders. Likewise, the legislation also pursues this aim. It has been passed by the legislation to give longer and harsher sentences in the juvenile court system. Accordingly, juvenile police arresting procedures are enhanced.
However, our group believes that it is not arrest and punishment that will ameliorate this pressing social problem in California. Rather, we see that juvenile delinquency can be better addressed through prevention and arrest and punishment can only serve as components of a more effective strategy. To recognize these and other components of juvenile delinquency, we first give a detailed presentation of juvenile delinquency as an important social problem in the state of California.
A Report of Juvenile Delinquency
Persons under the age of 18 are considered to be under the age group, juveniles. At the onset of the 21st century, the juvenile population has increased similarly with that of other population groups. In the US consensus last 2002, it was estimated that there are 73 million juveniles with low point in 1984 and growth rate of 17% up to 2002. This makes 25% of the entire population of the country. Moreover, current projections indicate that the juvenile population in the United States will grow as much as 36% of the present population.
Along with the increase of juvenile population is the growing concern for juvenile offenders. Based on 2002 data, one in 12 crime offenders are underage. These crimes include committing murder alone and with accomplice, membership to youth gang, drugs, theft, vandalism and other law-violating behaviors. In ten years period from 1994 to 2004, there had been a steady decline in juvenile arrests. However, this trend was broken with increases in 2004 to 2006 periods. However, in spite of reported decreases, the occurrence of juvenile delinquency is still high. Likewise, reported decreases may not also be considered as the sole descriptor of the real scenario because only the reported cases are taken into account. A significant number of juvenile offenders are not reported, arrested and trialed accordingly in court. In 2008, there were 2.11 million arrests of persons younger than 18 which are 3% lower than 2007. These offenses comprise 17% of all violent crime and 26% of all property crime arrests. Figure 1 shows the percentages of crimes involving the youth.
Figure 1Percent of Arrests Involving Juveniles (2008)
From the figure, we can see that arson and vandalism are the crimes with highest juvenile involvement. These are followed by disorderly conduct, robbery and burglary. Sex offense and forcible rape also have high percentages. The crimes with the least juvenile involvement are fraud, drunkenness, prostitution and driving under the influence of drug or alcohol.
Figure 2 Number of Juvenile Crimes Reported (1985-2002)
On the other hand, Figure 2 shows the number of reported juvenile crimes within 17 years. We can see that there is a steady increase of simple assaults, weapons, aggravated assault, and theft from 1985 to early 1990's. All of the crimes except simple assaults showed decrease from mid 1990's to 2002. However, in spite of the decreases, the number of cases is still relatively higher especially for simple assaults, theft, robbery and burglary.
Present Juvenile Delinquency Programs
Juvenile law enforcement is a prelude for juvenile justice system. Once a juvenile is apprehended for a law violation, it is the police officer who first determines if the juvenile will move deeper into the justice system. It is the law enforcement agencies who track the volume and characteristics of crimes reported to them and use this information to monitor the changing levels of crime in their communities. However, not all crimes are reported to law enforcement, hence, most of those that are reported remain unsolved. Today, juvenile law enforcement's new incident-based reporting systems include: victim reports of offender characteristics in crimes and law enforcement records used to develop an understanding of juvenile offending. These reports are used to account for the statistics of juvenile offenders.
In terms of juvenile holding and custody procedures some juvenile correctional facilities look very much like adult prisons. Private facilities continue to play a substantial role in the long-term custody of juveniles unlike adult correctional systems. There are more than twice as many privately operated juvenile facilities as publicly operated ones and private facilities hold less than half as many juveniles as are held in public facilities.
Creating Public Value for the Youth: A Project against Juvenile Delinquency
Given the importance of juvenile delinquency not only in the State of California but also the entire country, we now present a project against juvenile delinquency. This project was formulated based on the concepts of public value as proposed by Moore. The next section provides the detailed description of the project along with its aims and objectives, rationale, budget outline and other components of the project.
Youth Well-being and Delinquency Prevention (YWDP) Program
Promoting Well-being of the youth is a pre-requisite for mitigating juvenile delinquency" is the guiding principle of this project. Juvenile delinquency will be addressed by promoting well-being of the youth before pursuing stricter arrest and punishment of the youth offenders. This is a gap we see in present programs being implemented today whereas we see this aspect as the most important component against juvenile delinquency. The subcomponents of the project are: family, sports, education and the community.
The aim of this project is to promote well-being of the youth as a component of Delinquency Prevention Programs. The organization believes that youth well-being is a prelude for more effective juvenile delinquency prevention. Specifically, the objectives of the project are: to encourage participation of the family for youth well-being and against juvenile delinquency; to pursue increased participation of youth in the state's sports activities; to coordinate with the education sector in pursuing the goals of this project; to deepen youth involvement to community programs; and to link the proponents of this component to the second component.
The rationale of the project lies on these concepts: family as the basic unit of the society, youth empowerment, education as an effective partner, collaboration and cooperation and holistic approach.
The total budget of the project is $ 5 million. This budget will cover project initiation, implementation and budget monitoring.
"Promoting Well-being of the youth is a pre-requisite for mitigating juvenile delinquency." - YWDP Program
This serves as the guiding principle of this project. We believe that juvenile delinquency can first be addressed by promoting well-being of the youth before pursuing stricter arrest and punishment of the youth offenders. Promoting well-being of the youth is a gap we see in present programs being implemented today whereas we see this aspect as the most important component against juvenile delinquency. Again, as a famous saying goes, "Prevention is better than cure."
Components of the Project
The main components of the project are the youth well-being, the initiative of this project and the existing youth delinquency prevention programs. To promote youth well-being, four subcomponents will be pursued: family, sports, education, and youth organizations. Under the family subcomponent, this YWDP aims to promote better child-parent and sibling relationships. Moreover, we believe that increased participation of the youth to sports shall enhance the desired behavior and practices for them. This is also true for the education. For the youth organizations' subcomponent, YWDP wishes to deepen the involvement of the youth in community projects.
On the other hand, the second main component of the YWDP is discussed in the earlier part of this paper. This is composed of the present juvenile delinquency programs from the juvenile police task force, court system, and in-house or residential holding and custody of youth offenders.
Figure 2 Components of YWDP Project
Project Aim and Objectives
The aim of this project is to promote well-being of the youth as a component of Delinquency Prevention Programs. The organization believes that youth well-being is a prelude for more effective juvenile delinquency prevention. Moreover, we believe that this initiative shall cover not only the reported cases but also the unknown ones unlike the present prevention programs.
Specifically, the objectives of the project are:
To encourage participation of the family for youth well-being and against juvenile delinquency;
To pursue increased participation of youth in the state's sports activities;
To coordinate with the education sector in pursuing the goals of this project;
To deepen youth involvement to community programs; and
To link the proponents of this component to the second component.
Rationale of the Project
Youth delinquency and crime is one of the most pressing social problems today. Statistics show decreasing but still very high occurrence of juveniles being involved to both violent and property crimes. Not to mention, authorities admit that there are still significant number of cases that were not reported and included in the published statistical reports. The main response of authorities in this problem is stricter and harsher arrest and punishment against youth offenders of the law.
The purpose of YWDP Project is to promote youth well-being as an important component of more comprehensive program against youth crime and delinquency. The question now is how this program can help to mitigate juvenile delinquency as a social problem. The answer comes in the following claims:
Family as the basic unit of the society. If we really intend to solve this problem, we should start on its roots. With this project, parent-child relationship and relationship among siblings will be enhanced. As we know, dreadful relationship with parents and family problems often push youth towards unfavorable behavior and crime offense. Through free seminars, workshops, consulatation, and counseling, awareness of parents and families about importance of ensuring youth well-being in order to prevent and mitigate effects of juvenile delinquency. The participation in these activities must be implemented during court trials along with the sentences and punishment ordered. Likewise, participation shall also be open to the public including parents with or without children being involved to juvenile delinquency and crime. Together with family relationships and counseling professionals, we can help parents handle their children to prevent children from committing crimes again. Targeting the family will provide long-term benefits for the youth, their family, and their community.
Youth Empowerment. Moreover, this project encourages youth empowerment through participation to youth sports events and involvement to community projects. This project will allow youth to organize and to participate in youth sports and other competition events. Likewise, they will also be encouraged, if not required to cooperate in the projects of their communities. They will also be authorized to form youth organizations (not youth gangs) which are bounded with guiding principles promoting social responsibility among the youth. In the long run, this will promote the desired behaviors such as sportsmanship, responsibility, sense of achievement and others. Their free time will also be used to more productive activities.
Education as the most effective partner. Youth spend perhaps most of their time at school. Hence, it only makes sense to make teachers and school officials as partners in implementing programs for the well being of their students. By endorsing better teacher-student relationship and encouraging increased participation of the youth to activities implemented by their school. Moreover, the school may be a source of relevant information about behaviors of the youth, involvement of the parents, and the necessary cooperation of the school and its officials. The school is expected to have the most authority and ability to encourage youth and parents participation to this project.
With partnership with the schools in California, this project aims to conduct a month-long celebration every year promoting youth well-being as an effective tool towards prevention, mitigation and eradication of youth delinquency. This can create increased awareness, concern, and involvement of students, parents, teachers, and school officials of the present status of juvenile delinquency and the prevention of this. With the help of schools, the value of the youth will continuously promoted among the primary stakeholders.
Collaboration and Cooperation. The project will take its strength on collaboration and cooperation. The success of this project will depend on favorable collaboration with the existing youth delinquency organizations, schools and its officials, and the community (county and state). Likewise, cooperation of the parents and the youth is the outmost requirement of this project. Continuous collaboration and cooperation of the parents and the youth are necessary for the long-term achievement of project goals. Cooperation of the parents and the youth, the primary stakeholders, will be necessary for the success of the project. Collaboration will also mean division of tasks and consideration of all the aspects represented by each member or stakeholder of the project. This leads to the concept of holistic approach.
Holistic Approach. Cooperation and collaboration of the primary stakeholder also allows the project to implement a holistic approach in addressing juvenile crime and delinquency. By seeking cooperation of the youth and their parents and collaboration among educators, professional counselors, existing organizations, and project coordinators, juvenile crime and delinquency will be addressed through a holistic approach- considering the roots of the problem, doing bottom-up, up to bottom and outward communication, planning, and management approaches. Nevertheless, cooperation and collaboration will only result to favorable scenarios of synergy among these various components and stakeholders will be achieved. Holistic approach and synergy will facilitate smooth division and achievement of project goals and will enable the project to focus on relevant activities and goals.
Project Implementation and Management
The first step for the implementation of YWDP program is project implementation. Project implementation is composed of communicating the project, human resources and other facilities which will be necessary for the actual implementation of the project. Communicating the project will be done through printed materials, websites, and campaigns. This will be done by human resources who will be given honorary compensations on a project basis. Other facilities such as headquarters, computers, printers, etc will also be included in the project budget.
The second step of the project is its actual implementation. This will be divided into the four components of the project: family, sports, education, and community. For the family subcomponents, workshops and counseling will be implemented. For the sports subcomponent, construction of sports centers and sponsorship of sports events will be the foci of the project. For education, the project will initiate Youth Delinquency Prevention Month: A Celebration of Awareness, Concern, and Involvement Towards Youth Well-being. Lastly, for the community, YWDP will sponsor workshop for the existing youth organizations for leadership, entrepreneurship and juvenile delinquency prevention. The project will also sponsor youth activities for the betterment of their community, the state or their county. YWDP will also implement project evaluation and monitoring. This will be composed of research, data gathering, and thorough project evaluation and monitoring with the use of Balanced Scorecard.
Funding and Budget of the Project
Funding of this project will come from state budget for juvenile delinquency programs. In the recent years, California has proclaimed increased budget appropriations for programs dedicated to the youth including those which are dedicated to enhance arresting procedures against youth offenders. Through this project, an amount of this budget will be dedicated to YWDP's youth well-being projects. Table 1 shows the budget outline of the
Table 1 Budget Outline
Communicating the Project
Construction of Sports Centers
Youuth Delinquency Prevention Month
Workshops for youth org's
Youth group activities
Project Evaluation& Monitoring
Research, Data gathering
Evaluation and Monitoring Procedures
$ 5 Million
Project initiation will be given $1M for communicating the project via posters, leaflets and other publications. Human resources and other facilities will also be allotted with $500,00 and $300,000 respectively.
Majority of the budget will be devoted to project implementation. The $3M budget for the implementation will be divided among the four components of the project. Large potion of the budget for implementation will go to construction of sports centers and sponsorship of sports activities. Likewise, large amounts will also be devoted to community projects to be organized and implemented by the youth. For the education subcomponent, the YWDP will give $300,000 for Youth Delinquency Prevention Month in order to promote youth well-being as an initial step to prevent juvenile delinquency. The family subcomponent will receive $500,000 for its workshops, scholarships, and counseling activities.
Lastly, YWDP will also implement project evaluation and monitoring to ensure and measure and effectiveness of the program. Another $1M will be devoted for research and data gathering, technological and miscellaneous needs, and thorough project evaluation and monitoring by using balanced scorecard to measure the effect to all of its stakeholders according to their own perspective.
The following figure is a poster presenting the project. It is composed of the project's guiding principle, objectives, components and some of its activities. The poster also shows images of some of its activities in comparison to the prevailing juvenile delinquency conditions.