IntroductionThe younger generation is important to the future of the country,yet juvenile crime continues to be a serious problem in the United States. Overthe years the numbers have decreased, but the data shows that the number ofyouth committing crimes in the US is still in the millions. The focus ofdetention centers, court agencies, juvenile justice policymakers, and parentsalike is to reduce the rate and the occurrence of recidivism among the juvenilepopulation.
Recidivism is the tendency of persons with prior criminal history,to be arrested, convicted, or incarcerated repeatedly. The facilities that dealwith the criminal population look at recidivism to determine how successfulinstitutional programs are and what is and is not working. There has been muchresearch done on what contributes to recidivism. Recidivism is a complexproblem with numerous predictors, but in this research paper, two areas will bediscussed. I will focus on the area of parenting and the effects it has on theadolescents who fall victim to recidivism, as well as neighborhood-levelfactors that influence recidivism. While looking at these two factors thatmaintain the rate of recidivism, I will present current solutions that havebeen employed to attempt to reduce the trend, through community andinstitutionally based programs. The research and analysis presented in thispaper should offer valuable insight for social workers, juvenile justiceprofessionals, policymakers and any person who is concerned with public safetyand who are interested in the success of the youth and future generations.Parenting and Juvenile RecidivismWhen minors commit small offenses, parents usually disapprove inthe moment and then it is forgotten.
Parents believe their child made amistake, and think that their disapproval will be enough to deter the childfrom doing it again. However, it takes more involvement and presence of parentsin a child’s upbringing and follow through with discipline, if needed, todiscourage further engagement of more serious offenses. The involvement ofparents plays a prominent role in the lives of children as they are developingand learning self – control (Williams and Smalls 2015).
Parents are a child’sfirst teacher and they learn what they can and cannot get away with by how activethe parents are in their lives. A child that does things frequently and can getaway with them is more likely to continue to gauge how much they can get awaywith, without consequence. Without proper parenting skills or tactics, thelikelihood of juvenile delinquency and recidivism are at a higher risk.
CharlesW. Turner and Thomas Sexton did a study that concluded, rejection from parents,hostility, poor communication, and poor supervision of children was found to besignificant risk factors associated with delinquent behavior by adolescents(2010). Adolescents are trying to navigate life and the guidance andsupervision of their parents can give them a greater understanding of what isacceptable behavior. When parents do not take this aspect of parentingseriously, it can influence their children having a higher likelihood of beingrepeat offenders. Ruthie Williams and Elsie W. Smalls explored four researchquestions to gain further understanding of the relationship between parentalsupervision and recidivism among juvenile offenders.
These four questionsexplored the relationship between the monitoring of offenders within adetention facility, positive parenting styles, permissive supervision, andinconsistent discipline practices in relationship to recidivism among juveniles(2015). From this research, they concluded that there are relationshipsbetween parental influence and the chances of a child recidivating. It shouldcome as no surprise that the less engaged in monitoring, the more likely achild is to be committed to detention facilities and be committed more thanonce.
There are many ways in which parents can influence theirchildren’s behaviors and neglect is one of the many that also leads childrendown the path of delinquency. Neglect is defined as “any recent act orfailure to act on the part of the caretaker, which results in serious physicalor emotional harm…” (CAPTA 2010). With little structure in the home andless positive parental physical engagement, children are more likely to try to findwhat they are missing from home, in places outside of the home.
Children whofeel that they are rejected by their parents and those who are victims ofneglect and abuse are at greater risk of being a delinquent when they reachteenage years. If these teens are lucky, they will have an ongoing case withchild services to help get them into a better situation. However, in manycases, these teenagers are picked up and released back into the samecircumstance of neglect. Teens who are involved with both the courts and childwelfare are also more likely to recidivate because they find themselves undermore scrutiny. Emotionally, an adolescent who is being brought up in aneglectful situation, feeling all the pressures of social institutions, willfind themselves engaging in criminal activities. It cannot just be the job ofchild welfare workers to help those who have offended.
Juvenile justice courtsand child welfare need to work together to help those who are in unfortunate,neglectful situations. Research shows that adolescents who are dually involved,the population of youth that has simultaneously open and active cases in bothchild welfare and juvenile justice, are at greater risk for recidivism (Ryan,Williams, and Courtney 2013). Within 18 months from the first arrest,approximately 61% of dually involved juveniles experience subsequent arrests.Persistent maltreatment is an important predictor of the likelihood that achild will recidivate. Adults who have teenagers that are in detentionfacilities need to take parenting classes, to prevent the lackadaisicalparental techniques and offer children more hope and positive outcomes in theiradolescent and adult lives.Neighborhood Effects on RecidivismJuvenile recidivism does not solely lie in the hands of theparents. Where children live can also be a huge motivator for their actions.The saying, “I am a product of my environment” holds true in thiscase.
Children’s brains are like sponges, they absorb everything around them.They are vulnerable to the ways of others around them. Many adolescents thatare found in the criminal system come from neighborhoods that fall under theUnited States poverty line.
In these neighborhoods, the mentality of those thatlive there is different from those who live in a wealthy neighborhood. Crimesare committed in all neighborhoods, but the types of crimes that adolescentscommit vary by the kind of neighborhood they live in. In densely populated,low-income neighborhoods, there is a greater availability of drugs and alcohol,more gang members, more gang-related activities, more violence, more juveniledelinquents and the increased concentration of adolescent offenders results inmore crime. These are predictors as to why an adolescent might offend orreoffend when in the same area or areas of similar makeup (Grunwald et al.2009).
The higher the disadvantage of a neighborhood, the more likely theadolescent is to commit drug crimes. Drug crimes can escalate to violent crimesand the cycle is continuous in these neighborhoods. The more involved a teen isin their neighborhood, community watch, or neighborhood organizations to cleanand keep the neighborhood safe, the less likely that person is to offend orreoffend.
As humans, we internalize who we are by how others perceive us to be,and once a child is labeled as delinquent and a criminal, the more likely thatchild is to find groups and activities that hold this perception to be true.Sociologist Erving Goffman has a theory that he refers to as the dramaturgicalmodel of social life, where he examines the nuances and importance of face toface social interaction. Goffman’s theory is the idea that people put on aperformance as they interact with each other, that people are always under whathe calls, “impression management”. Impression management is whereeach try to present themselves and behave in ways that will avoidembarrassment. So, for many juvenile delinquents who recidivate, it is simplybecause they are in the confines of their neighborhood and their everyday interactionsare with other delinquents. For some, the combination of poverty, ethnic ties,opportunity, and the economic benefits of drug selling are all factors thatmotivate these youths, majority Hispanic, to engage in these criminalactivities (Grunwald et al. 2009).
Not wanting to disappoint family membersthat are affiliated with certain activities, not having the opportunities to beinvolved in better neighborhood activities, and the lack of stabilityeconomically, are some of the neighborhood level factors that push thisrecidivism forward and maintain its existence among juveniles.Solutions to Juvenile RecidivismSomething is going on today, if so many children are committingcrimes that place them in confinement. Adolescents are released back into the homeof neglectful and abusive parents, are subdued by the projections of other’sperceptions, and coerced by the constraints of the neighborhood in which theyreside. When they are released back into the home where the neglect andabuse is taking place, the chances are higher that they will end up back in theback seat of an officer’s vehicle and in front of a judge. To disrupt thistrend in the lives of the offenders, Thomas Sexton and James Alexander offerthe solution of functional family therapy. “Functional Family Therapy (FFT)draws on a multisystemic perspective in its family-based prevention andintervention efforts” (Sexton and Alexander 2000).
This approach is familybased, and focuses on treatment of behavioral problems of adolescents. The problemsmay stem from home, school, or neighborhood external factors, so these factorsmust be examined during treatment. For the success of this treatment, offendersand parents, must be open and willing to be a part of every phase of thetreatment. Functional family therapy has the lowest rate of recidivism whenimplemented.Another way to reduce recidivism is through restitution programs.
Major parts of this kind of program include monetary payment to the victims ortheir families, community service work, mediation between the offender and thevictim, and job information services. Though probation is a way to monitorjuvenile’s, probation alone is not enough to reduce the rate of recidivism(Butts and Synder 1992). Juveniles that participated in restitution programshad a lower chance of recidivating, as well as those who were on probation anda part of a restitution program. Some would criticize and say that nothing willstop recidivism among juveniles unless the juvenile themselves want to changetheir behavior. Indeed, it is the choice of the offender to want to change,however, with guidance and proper choices laid out before them, the want tochange will be greater than the want to revert back to old ways.ConclusionConcerns regarding juvenile delinquency andrecidivism are important to society when the youth is vital to the future ofthe country.
One day the youth will become adults and those adults will beresponsible for the way the country is perceived, accepted and ran. It is up tothose in authoritative positions now to help the youth that have been labelledjuvenile delinquents by society. Nonetheless, the prevention of delinquency andrecidivism starts in the home.
If a child is brought up in an abusive andneglectful home than the chances for offending and recidivating are greatlyincreased. The neighborhood environment which an adolescent is exposed to has asignificant effect on their outcomes. If the youth is surrounded by criminalsand criminal activity, there is a higher chance of involvement. “Assessing theextent to which particular risk factors are associated with continued orcurtailed re-offending represents an important line of inquiry” (Wolff et al.2015). Policy makers, juvenile court systems, parents of offenders, and thosewithout teens in the juvenile system; they need to explore better parentingtechniques and more community involvement opportunities need to be created.
This will aid in the reduction of the rate of recidivism and delinquency amongjuveniles. Treatment plans, and restitution programs are good ways thatfamilies and communities can get involved in the rehabilitation of theoffenders. Witnessing juveniles provide restitution services, can change theway society views the offender and thus change the way the view themselves. Itis indeed a multisystemic process that everyone should take a part in building.With these changes and efforts from all, there will be a greater chance forthere being no child left behind.