Juvenile delinquency basically follows a similar trend exhibited by normal adolescent development. Children and youth follow a trajectory toward criminal behavior rather than participating randomly. The two types of delinquents as identified by researchers include those whose onset of antisocial behavior start in early childhood and those whom this inception correspond with entry into adolescence. Regardless of the case, these developments of juvenile behavior provide families, communities and the legal systems with the opportunity to intercede and prevent the onset of delinquent behavior and involvement of justice system (Siegel & Welsh, 2014). Prevention programs that are put in place focus on ensuring youths do not engage in crime and direct their energy in meaningful life.
It is noteworthy that, juvenile delinquency costs the society and the government considerable amount of resources. As such, early intervention measures curtail these costs. Prevention program which are effective are the ones that seek to stop the cradle to prison system, by moving as close to the cradle as possible. Intervention at early stage prevents delinquent behavior and enhances the development of juvenile’s resilience and assets.
One of the prevention strategies is the positive youth development model. This approach addresses the needs of juveniles who might be vulnerable of entering the criminal justice system. The model contains six life components including work, relationships, education, community, creativity and health (Siegel & Welsh, 2014). These components enable the youths to be empowered and redirected towards positivity.
In addition, most of the programs for prevention of juvenile delinquency that have proved to be effective are integrated into various programs. The most effective programs aims at early actions and focus on risk factors and behavior development of juveniles. The programs entail;
Classroom and behavior management programs: Which are programs that are integrated in the classroom to enhance good behavior and relations among juveniles (Vries, Hoeve, Assink, Stams & Asscher, 2014). In addition, prevention programs like social competence promotion curriculums. These programs include important knowledge and skills in the curriculum that help shape the social development of children throughout school.
Bullying being an early sign of antisocial behavior can also be mitigated through bullying prevention programs in schools. With proper monitoring and guidance and counseling, children can learn the importance of respecting others and dealing with emotional distress from an early age. Similarly, there are conflict resolution and violence prevention programs also available in school. Youths who engage in crime are probably compelled by emotional distress, and personal conflicts. Understanding and knowing how to deal with these conflicts allow juveniles to stay safe from negative ways of solving crimes.
After school recreation programs on the other hand are program that ensure that children are pre-occupied with extra-curricular activities after school, so as to avoid being lured into delinquency.
Comprehensive community interventions are focused on integrating community efforts in guiding the youths into responsible behavior (Patacchini & Zenou, 2012). The community must be involved in prevention as it is the greatest player in social development of the juveniles. Finally, mentoring programs help in mentoring the youth through exposure to real life success stories of people in the society. Role models are an important element in mentorship and can help encourage the youth to pursue their education and achieve a fulfilling life in the future.
Ultimately, juvenile delinquency prevention programs must be based on the roots causes or risks of delinquency. When juveniles are deterred from crime, the family, and the society benefit from the economic and social contribution that such youths have in the future. Tex payers save a lot of money, which otherwise would have been spent in incarceration. There are great benefits from preventing juveniles from delinquent behavior than the amount spent on this prevention programs.
- Patacchini, E., & Zenou, Y. (2012). Juvenile delinquency and conformism. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 28(1), 1-31.
- Siegel, L., & Welsh, B. (2014). Juvenile delinquency: Theory, practice, and law. Cengage Learning.
- Vries, S. L., Hoeve, M., Assink, M., Stams, G. J. J., & Asscher, J. J. (2014). Practitioner Review: Effective ingredients of prevention programs for youth at risk of persistent juvenile delinquency–recommendations for clinical practice. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.