Everyone needs proper love and care from his or her parents. Growing up, a lot of changes takes place and come the adolescent period, learning about life takes on full force. This means that a person could either be influenced into taking a positive or negative person in character. This goes to show that juveniles do not turn into criminals overnight. There is always tell-tale signs before anything bad occurs. These youths would have been craving for their parents’ attention for a long period. Therefore, it is safe to say that more often than not, youths who turn to committing crimes lack parental guidance and attention, thus driven by negative influences to seek attention, fun and cheap thrills through the wrong methods.
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Juvenile crimes are on the rise these days. Juveniles are law offenders aged mostly from 12-17. However, certain books or journals would state the starting age at 10 and end it at 18. Therefore, there are no exact age group. Instead, a rough estimation that youths are those in their teens. Usually, youths do not commit serious offences. They are more prone to petty crimes like traffic offences, drug addiction, and even illegal immigrants (Kassim n.d.) However, illegal immigrants do not mean that Malaysian youths travel aboard without passports; instead it implies the number of youths who enter the country illegally. Drug offences are also one of the highest because although illegal and a lot are being done to stop it, drugs and narcotics are still, unfortunately, within reach of anyone. This covers trading, transporting, smuggling and even private consumption of drugs.
The causes of youths turning to crimes have a wide range of reasons. This includes the internal reasons, which is the background of the individual himself, and the external reasons which is the area he lives in and the peers he mixes with.
We start off with the internal reason, which is the individual’s background. It has been shown that broken homes are a main factor on why youths rebel and turn to crimes. This is because the child who does not have enough love and care from his family will have low self-esteem, become lonely and will soon develop anger and hatred towards others due to his own lack of guidance (Kassim n.d.). Parents who are too strict or too lenient, despite giving adequate attention to the child too can produce negative attitudes. When a parent is too strict, they have the concept of children should only do as told, not what is right (Wickliffe n.d.). this is because a child that have no say on his own would go out into the outside world and behave as he likes without knowing the consequences of his action. On the other hand, parents who are too lenient too have bad effects on kids. This is because a child who has too much freedom gets away with anything he did easily, no matter how serious his faults are.
Next, there’s the home environment factor. Homes that are dilapidated beyond the acceptable level causes stress towards the kids, thus causing them to stray outside their homes (Kassim n.d.). They do not feel at ease staying in an uncomfortable house, therefore they go out to release the stress. However, the group of people they meet outside their home is a whole different matter. Once outside their home and away from the watchful eye of their parents, youths tend to hang out with peers of the same fate. This means that the people they mix with are probably also homeless and steal or rob for a living, or are addicts. The financial status of the individual is another major cause for delinquency. Youths who do not come from financially secured families are prone to thefts. Their reasons are that they have to support their families and themselves.
Now, we talk about the external factors. Peer influences and the open-ness of the media are also to blame for the rise in juvenile crimes. Peer influences are usually closer to home and places where the youths hang out. Peer influences are very easily absorbed because even a normal youth have troubles fitting into the crowd, what more would a troubled teen feel? In order to be accepted, youths tend to mix around with peers of the same age or group, e.g. same race, background, or even history. The media plays an unfortunately high role in these juvenile crimes because the effects of the programs shown are absorbed in a blink of an eye. The television does not care what ages of audience are watching (Reasons for Juvenile Crime n.d.). The amount of graphic and violent shows aired on TV is enough to tell a child that crimes are a norm in the world. These leads to the children growing up to be youths who want to emulate what they see on TV. Not only that, the youths turn into violent individuals and release their anger in a wrong manner. These youths have highly aggressive behaviours.
The area that a youth lives in is also another factor to why he turns into a criminal (Milburn 1999). This is because when a person lives in a notorious area, the people living there are the people whom he communicates most. This means that they “bad” people are your closest friends, thus you’d hang out together often, doing things that the majority wants to do, which is more often than not, negative activities. The area alone is never at fault of such delinquencies. It is often coupled with peer influences that, together, group up to be one strong influence. In the long run, the youth who was once innocent, starts to indulge in crimes, starting small, then slowly gathering courage to increase to weight of the crime.
There are ways to curb these problems. Firstly, there is the “start from home” solution. This means that the parents of youths itself should monitor their children’s reaction to anger, distress and negative emotions. Parents should be able to recognise a child’s bad behaviour and nip it from the bud. When the problem is identified, it is easier to help the parents help the child. If a child tends to show absolute anger to the slightest thing, then it is best that the child is sent for psychological treatment.
Another method is not involving the parents only, but also the school. The schools and higher learning institutions should have stricter rules and regulations (The Solution to Juvenile Crime Is Simple n.d). For example, when a student is absent, the teachers and lecturers should take the initiative to inform parents. They should understand that a child is being placed under their responsibility for a certain period of time in a day. Students who misbehave in schools shouldn’t be slapped with penalty points and just forgotten. Parents must be informed.
Solutions to these juvenile problems are harder to execute, because the consent of the youth must be gained. Without it, the youth may refuse to receive treatment and therefore not attend the courses prepared. The use of psychologists is usually recommended for anger management. This is a one-on-one process, which is private and personal, thus encouraging the youth to be more honest and open. This would ensure that the youth has the best and professional method of help, instead of just seminars and talks which more often than not, is ignore and attended just because they have to.
Next step is usually done when the juvenile is already caught. He is sent for a rehabilitation program (Kassim n.d). This program varies for youths who are already educated from every level and youth who were school drop-outs. This is because fully educated juveniles have a shorter period of rehab and lesser activities. Within this rehabilitation program too, there are character building camps in order to mould the youth into a better person and making him realise that not everything is not correctable. This program also helps them realise that after prison, they will still be able to blend in with the society (Kassim n.d.).
Other than professional help, simple things like community programs are also helpful. This is because the juveniles are able to mix around healthily in a safe and good environment. The activities are refreshing and recreational, something very much suitable for the youths who have spent long periods behind bars. Not only do the juveniles have an activity to do, he is also making friends and keeping out of trouble at the same time. This is not only benefiting the parents, but also the society. The society can rest assured that there are steps taken to ensure that a good living environment is catered to them.
The conclusion of my research paper is that the steps in preventing these increasing numbers are obviously not sufficient. This is because if the steps and methods used to curb these happenings are working, the numbers would not be increasing and the newspapers would not be printing that much of juvenile cases almost everyday. We should not only rely on the policemen and schools. Instead, the parents and friends of these juveniles should be supportive in helping them believe that they can change their lives, and still be accepted regardless of their past history. The community will be a better place, and so will the country be more peaceful if everyone worked together to ensure that their children does not stray through the wrong path in life. If everyone care and was serious in stopping their children from sitting behind bars, then surely lesser teens would be involved in crimes due to the “lack of attention” factor.
The society should work together in ensuring that the youths of today really become leaders of tomorrow, and that the saying does not become a forgotten theory. If everyone just keep pointing fingers onto one another, nothing will change and the numbers of juvenile delinquencies will just keep on increasing.
Kassim, Abd Wahab
Juveniles on Remand: Trends and Practises in Malaysia
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Wickliffe, Joseph A
Why Juveniles Commit Crimes
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Juvenile Justice: Facts And Figures
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1999, Leap in violent juvenile crime
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Reasons for Juvenile Crime
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The Solution to Juvenile Crime Is Simple
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