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The Increase in Children's Crime and Why Family is Part of the Problem

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Part 1

Juvenile Crime is effecting neighborhoods and can be prevented. Kids are growing to be future criminals this should not be the case. Many of my friends who offended as juveniles have ended up in prison. There are several similarities they all had in common. Most of them lived in single parent homes or had older siblings who negatively influenced them. Family has to have the most significant impact on how you conduct yourself in society. I grew up in a single parent home as a child without a father because he was in prison. I often ponder and think why I was able to stay away from trouble and not follow bad examples around me. Growing up my mother roomed with family who were very liberal. She was so much different from my aunts they use to tease her all time they said she was stuck up and thought she was better than them. Having her as a role model help shape my values and taught me integrity. The youth are future products of our society why not work for better outcomes. Juvenile crime prevention is the topic I will be researching. As you know we have programs set up to assist the youth to stir away from the streets. I do not know of any particular programs but there are many outlets for the youth. Including church, school, and sports which all were effective in my youth. Growing up I remember my friends who got sent to juvenile hall later ended up in prison. The same justice system having a high recidivism for adults is nearly identical for the youth. Early intervention can probably help society greatly it’s almost like nipping crime in the bud while changing the perspective of lost kids. They are the future so correcting juveniles while they are still under the authority of their parents is practical. By law they are obligated to attend school and abide by a curfew why not teach them while they are still in the nest. Prevention probably creates alternatives and insight for juveniles to make the right choices. There are many factors for the reasons teens commit crime. Some of them may be broken homes, gangs, drugs, mental illness or just not having good role models. Prevention probably addresses most of those issues by providing service for the youth. As far as for a rehabilitant I would assume prevention being an alternative to juvenile hall so they don’t end up there. There is a program called Scared Straight where they take delinquents to speak to convicts who are incarcerated some of them serving life sentences. The juveniles start out acting tuff as they enter the prison but most of them end up breaking down into tears. It’s almost like boot camp because the convicts are yelling in their faces as a drill sergeant would. For the stubborn kids I could see this being effective because they get to see someone who was once in their shoes tell them how they making a big mistake. It’s an unpleasant outlook of were the path there leading might have them end up. That is the harsher side of reaching to the ones in need of guidance but perhaps there are subtle approaches that will work better for others. Help and guidance for the parents has to be just as effective. Good relationships between parents and other authority figures can help create a foundation for their wellbeing. Traits are developed but can be pass down like genes. I’m going to learn how to turn this revolving door into a one-way exit. What are compromising environmental pressure’s teens deal with and how can we assess them?

Part 2

I first started my research to find out what early intervention actually consisted of. I started off by looking up and reading over various government and local organization websites. The first website I found was youth.gov where I found an article titled Prevention and Early Intervention. The very first line I read took my attention which read “Juvenile delinquency follows a trajectory similar to that of normal adolescent development” (youth.gov). That statement confirmed my idea of youth following the footsteps of role models rather than committing crime on their own. We as social beings mirror the acts we see around us which makes me think of what kind of examples were set for our disturbed youth. In the article another line stood out to me which read “cradle to prison pipeline” (youth.gov) this metaphor was spot on. It referred to path of delinquency to prison as a pipeline. Once again my thoughts on the issue were sustained delinquency was an ongoing affair. The most cost effective way to stop the pathway was at the beginning of the pipeline. Not only could prevention help raise exceptional citizens it is proclaimed to be cost effective. A 2001 Washington State Institute study found that the benefits of prevention programs were greater than their costs. These programs can save tax payers seven to ten dollars for every dollar invested because of money saved that is spent on incarceration(youth.gov).

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There were a number of general programs I found to assist the youth. They were not named but it gave me a general idea of what their objectives were. Many of these programs were involved with school including class room behavior, bullying, mentoring, and after school recreation. Reading over the types of programs offered it brought back a memory for me. When I was in my senior year in High school we had a freshman buddy program. I was given a freshman to mentor for the entire year. Traditionally freshmen are bullied but this program really turned things around. Maurice was the name of the kid I mentored he was very outgoing but tended to get in trouble. I was required to meet with him 1 hour a week, the program help me as much as it did him because I strived to set a good example. A local program I found here in San Diego is called the community assessment team also known as CAT. There was not too much information other than their mission statement. They Provide comprehensive case management for families of troubled youth. Their website had a number to support their claim and you know what they say numbers don’t lie. 86% of the case managed youth improved their resiliency sounds good to me (saysandiego.org). Another local program I found was the STAR/PAL program which was led by officers and other collaborative partners. There programs are free and dedicated to unreserved at risk youth. The various activities setup for the youth focused on violence prevention, mentoring, leadership, civic engagement, outdoor enrichment, and physical fitness. Until this day many people regard law enforcement as the opposition. Intercity citizens have been depicted throughout the media to having rival relationships with officers. Television stations often supporting both sides of the fight placing blame mostly on officers but the real issue is the ongoing feud. The injustice being committed is a whole other story but changing the perspective of the kids can be a start to end this game of cops and robbers. This connection is a great opportunity to build a positive relationship between the community and law enforcement. The last program I researched was Titled T.I.P stood for Truancy intervention program. This program assigned a probation officer to a school to make sure at risk students are attending class and keeping up with school. Their goal in the mission statement is to enhance academic achievement. I had peers in high school who would attend school maybe once a week some even dropped out their freshman year. If they had this program maybe they would have had a better chance at getting a decent education. Some parents especially single mothers need a father figure to intervene and help them correct their child. I know my mother did she would call my uncle to have a talk with me and for the most part he got me back on track. My aunts are also single mothers and often would resort to calling the police on my cousins for not going to school. This personalized program can be a great assistance to single and working parents it as an excellent prevention strategy.

After researching the types of programs that are available to assist the youth I went on searching for potential risk factors. I first search for an understandable definition to my liking and found a quote from Kirby, L.D and Fraser, M.W “Risk and Resilience in childhood”. Risk factors are personal characteristics or environmental conditions scientifically established to increase the likelihood of problem behavior (Kirby and Fraser). Although I used the quote I could not find the book in the library so I continued my search for other books. I found another book with Mark W. Fraser and Jeffrey M. Jenson Titled Social Policy for Children and Families: A Risk Perspective. I read over the first chapter which covered risk and resilience it went into detail of identifying risk factors and protective factors. They broke down the risk factors into three categories which were environmental factors, social factors and individual factors (Fraser and Jenson pg.7). Adolescents with more than one risk factor have a greater chance of occurring a problem later. Issues within their personal life and community effect children’s outcomes and behaviors as an adult. I went over each of the risk categories to get a good idea of what they were. Environmental risk can include issues such as poverty, low economic opportunity, and neighborhood disorganization. Social risk include rejection, school failure, poor family bonding and bad parenting. Individual factors were developed traits possibly genetic such as alcoholism, hyperactivity, and sensation seeking. After reading the chapter I began to see a pattern, at least one risk in each category if not all applied to me and my peers growing up. I wanted get another perspective on the subject so I began researching for other resources.

I found a chapter by Beverly Killian titled “Risk and Resilience”. It focuses on social ecology of children and ways of increasing resilience. Reading over the article it had the same risk factors but interesting supportive thoughts on why delinquent behaviors may arise. “The way in which children and key role players understand and think about events and circumstances is critically important in determining their impact” (Killian pg.35). The Chapter had a great outlook on contextual factors which included family, culture and ideologies. It separated relations in five systems called microsystems, mesosystems, exosystems, macrosystem and chronosystems. I’ll briefly explain each system starting with microsystem which consist of interactions within the child’s immediate environment. Primarily these interactions were between family and school which are optimal for children to adapt. Mesosystems consist of connections of two or more microsystems for example family’s interactions with community members. A strong mesosystem can help a child persevere when there is a lack of support. A macrosystem consisted of culture which determined the child’s place in society. The last system was the chronosystem which consisted of cultural and historical changes such as technology transformation. It gets deep the patterns in our society can be broken down into a science. The cliché of being a product of your environment is a fact. I probably could tell you these were issues contributing to delinquency but I didn’t realize the significance of their correlation.

The last two chapters in the books I read over about risk factors also had ideas on protecting the youth from risk. “Protective factors are attributes or characteristics that lower the probability of an undesirable outcome” (Benard, 2004; Rutter, 1987; Werner & Smith, 1992). I went on two research protective factors and resilience. So the risk where broken down into categories including environmental, social, and individual. So I went over the protective factors for each of the categories that supplemented the risk. Environmental factors included prosocial activities, caring relationships, and social support outside the family. Social factors included low parental conflict, commitment to school and pro social values. Individual factors included having social skills, low stress and positive attitude (Fraser and Jenson pg.9). These were said to exert developmental issues which can be very effective. Going to church and participating in sports were excellent outlets that help me build caring relationships. Church members were like family they would genuinely care for me, checking in on me once a week making sure all my basic needs were being met. Playing sports is where I met most of my friends which help me create more relationships in support of my interest. I think back and wonder if I didn’t have either of the two it would have caused a great imbalance which would have probably lead to antisocial behaviors. Sense of belonging and security give the youth the confidence to engage in their community. Family and external support correlate and help develop skills for children such communication, a sense of justice and general positive attachments which is important for a child’s development. Further conducting my research, I briefly went over models of resilience. Resilience had three models in which these factors can be applied. The first model in early studies simply applied the concept of having supportive factors opposite of the risk. Which is ideal but it focuses more on the problems than the strengths of the child. The universal model suggest that resilience is a human capacity to overcome adversity where you can even be strengthened by adversity (Beverly Kilian pg.44). The objective was to nurture this capacity and focus on the strengths of the individual, community, and family. This was my favorite of three because it focuses on strengths which is ideal for progression. The last model focuses on protective capacities and processes as a whole that enable adaptation despite adversity. “It seems that only 50% to 66% of children have the capacity to bounce back despite adversity” (Beverly Kilian pg.44). To be successful increasing resilience we have to focus on the individual’s strengths and building a pro social environment. Knowing that you are loved and excepted from more than one person is important to overcome struggles leading to delinquency.

Part 3

Going through with my research I learned what issues cause youth to become delinquents. Upon searching for the issues I was able to discover various solutions including the ones that worked for me. I originally thought it was by the good choices I made along with my mother’s good example I was able to overcome my surroundings. I came to the realization that my resilience was not by chance but by a collaborative of efforts by my family, community and peers. Some of the most important aspects of prevention had been implemented in my life which without my complete realization. Initially I was searching for environmental issues but I recognized more aspects of the problem. I had a good idea of the types of issues that there are amongst our youth but their correlation is what I was able to learn. There are many aspects of the environment that can affect the behaviors of youth. Including how their parents conduct themselves down to the economic opportunity in their neighborhoods. It is not just about teaching them values, leading by example and preparing them for adversity is very important. Parents do not have full control of the child’s surroundings but by utilizing their resources and being engaged they can help prevent delinquency. I discovered the importance of juvenile crime prevention as a whole. It can save us money and create a hopeful future for the oncoming generations. I did not have a clue of what programs we had for prevention but upon my discovery I was intrigued. Police officers are truly being able to serve the community by engaging with children. The positive relationship between are youth and law enforcement can help create a relationship that will serve coexisting members of communities a good purpose. Prevention is more important than I initially thought it concerns many aspects of our society. There are so many ways we can protect are youth and prevent them from becoming menaces. Prevention has a reverse domino effect where we can put the pieces back to together and secure are youth’s future.

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