Juvenile Delinquency

Essay by trishstarHigh School, 12th gradeA+, November 2002

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Remember doing something mischievous or wrong when you were a kid and getting the label "delinquent" slapped on you? Did you ever wonder what it meant? The legal term "juvenile delinquency" was established so that young lawbreakers could avoid the disgrace of being classified in legal records as criminals. Juvenile delinquency laws were designed to provide treatment, rather than punishment, for juvenile offenders. Young delinquents are usually sent to juvenile courts, where the main aim is to rehabilitate offenders, rather than punish them. But, the term "juvenile delinquency" itself has come to imply disgrace in today's society. A youngster can be labeled a "delinquent" for breaking any one of a number of laws, ranging from robbery to running away from home. But, an action for which a youth may be declared a "delinquent" in one community may not be against the law in another community. In some communities, the police ignore many children who are accused of minor delinquencies or refer them directly to their parents.

But in other communities, the police may refer such children to a juvenile court, where they may officially be declared "delinquents."

Crime statistics, though they are often incomplete and may be misleading, do give an indication of the extent of the delinquency problem. The FBI reports that during the early 1980s, about two-fifths of all arrests in the United States for burglary and arson were of persons under the age of 18. Juveniles also accounted for one-third of all arrests for larceny. During any year, about 4 percent of all children between the ages of 10 and 18 appear in a juvenile court. The percentage of young people in this group who are sent to court at least once is much higher. A third or more of the boys living in the slum...