Juvenile Crime Prevention
by Amber Maccione
How to Prevent Juvenile Crime
“To ensure that violent juvenile crime continues to drop in the future, we need to continue using comprehensive prevention, early intervention, and graduated sanctions programs to strengthen our families, provide youth with opportunities to succeed, and hold juvenile offenders accountable for their actions” (A National Strategy for Juvenile Delinquency Prevention). I could not have said it better. I have worked with juvenile delinquents for many years now. The key thing to preventing them from a life of crime is providing services for their families and for the juvenile that will help give the juvenile what he is seeking through the life of crime.
Most juveniles think crime is cool. The “badder” you are, the more cool points you get with your peers. In today’s world, being “bad to the bone” is exciting and more attractive than being good. For example, I worked at a school that took in level 4 and 5 students who had been expelled from regular public school. The program was to take these students for a year in hopes of helping them see their error and be able to go back to their home school. I taught a class called “Life Skills”, which allowed me the opportunity to talk about the things the students had done and also how to change and become more productive in their lives. There were two students that were very popular that year and were the worst of the worst. One young man thought it cool to do “licks” (theft, robbery). He was in the juvenile detention center at least two or three times a month. The other young man thought it cool to sell drugs and ride around “strapped” (carrying a gun). All the girls wanted to be their girls. The young man who always ended up in a juvenile detention center told me that he liked going there because he got to see his friends. The other young man was killed on Christmas Day after a drug deal gone wrong.
Preventing Juvenile Crime
What do you think is the best way to help prevent juvenile crime?
And these are not the only students I have known. I have had crips and bloods, drug dealers, and murders in my classroom – all under the age of 18. I have had girls pregnant at 12 sitting in my class and other girls infected with HIV before they are out of middle school. Education is key to helping these students, but you have to give them more than just education. Adolescents need structure. School gives them that, but then the other 16 hours of the day there is none. There need to be programs that hone in on students after they leave school – programs that give them what they have been seeking through crime.
So what do they want that crime provides? It provides acceptance, adrenaline rush, love, popularity, something to brag about, an avenue to get off anger, a way to provide for their family, etc. There needs to be programs that do this.
The other thing that needs to happen is to break the idea that it is cool to be bad. We need to make juveniles accountable for the crimes they commit. It shouldn’t be fun to go to juvenile detention. Juveniles should have to do the time if they do the crime. Just as adults go to jails or prisons, so should juveniles. I don’t think that they should be in the same population as adults, but I am saying that juvenile detention should be a mini replica of what adult prison is like. We can’t just try to rehabilitate. There also has to be punishment.
So with all that said, I think early intervention – through classes for families and the children should be required and offered at local schools. I also think that there need to be after school programs that help with homework and give the students opportunities to do fun things so that they don’t get bored and go looking for the adrenaline rush that crime offers. And lastly, we need to hold them accountable for their actions instead of it always just being a slap on the wrist.
“A National Strategy for Juvenile Delinquency Prevention.” Retrieved from
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Juvenile Justice Lined with Adolescent Development
© 2012 Amber