The question of how we can help our at most risk youth is something that I have constantly thought about over and over again because kids are our future and each of them should be able to have a chance to be somebody and to become successful. I have always thought of solutions so that we can help our youth stay out of trouble so that they don’t ruin their futures. In my opinion some youth have a harder time to reach a level of maturity that helps with their decision making and a lot of the times it has to do with the environment that they grow up in because there are a lot of kids that don’t have healthy home lives.
One of the biggest issues is that we need to educate rather than punish because if we keep just punishing these juveniles then it’s not going to solve any issues because they are so young and they need to learn from the mistakes that they make especially when they don’t understand what they did is a crime because some don’t.
Some kids have a mentality where they will keep doing something until they get caught but when they get caught then it’s sometimes enough to change their ways and to learn from it. In my opinion, we shouldn’t be so hard on these kids and to rather get them the help that they need to turn their lives around and to be a great asset to society.
We should try to understand what’s going on in these juveniles’ lives and to aim at helping with all, especially if they didn’t grow up in a healthy environment. We should try giving out all of the counseling that they need especially if they have attachment issues, trust issues, etc. We need to be able to understand why they commit crimes and to understand why some feel angry and sad.
Some states don’t give the right rehabilitation times for juveniles, usually they hardly give any rehabilitation time which is a big mistake because they aren’t going to learn anything, they are going to have a higher chance at committing crime again, they are not going to be able to turn their lives around successfully, etc. They need plenty of time to learn and to get all of the rehabilitation that they need. We can’t just send them to juvie for a few months and expect everything to be all better for them because that wouldn’t be the case. Some youth are in and out of juvie for years with no success in changing their lives because they are not getting the proper tools to help them and not getting enough education and might need more counseling and therapy to help with their behavior. One of the biggest problems in the juvenile justice system is that it’s sometimes more focused on punishment than on educating and trying to understand why some of these juveniles have the issues that they have. If the juvenile justice system would be more focused on helping these kids rather than correcting them and punishing them, then it would solve a lot of issues with the system and it will lower reentry rates of juveniles tremendously.
Another huge issue with the juvenile justice system is that there is a lot of disparity that goes on especially with Hispanic and African American youth (Hess, 26, 2013). It has been found that Hispanic and African American youth are caught more with crimes than white youth are because they don’t have all of the advantages that white youth have because they typically live in broken homes and try to be away from home as much as possible which can cause them to get into more trouble like joining gangs, stealing, violence, etc. A lot of the times they live with only one parent which causes that parent to not know everything that goes on in their child’s life because they would be at work most of the time so that they can provide for their family and to keep a roof over their heads and so they typically don’t know what happens while they are gone at work or running errands. Not having more involved parents in their children’s life is definitely risky which is why these kids living in a single parent household are more at risk with getting into crime and is why we typically see higher rates of crime in Hispanic and African American youth compared to white youth.
Since these kids don’t get much authority from their parents then they typically have a harder time in school and accepting authority from school staff and teachers which causes them to get into more trouble at school. They usually don’t get the best grades either which can cause them to drop out or not graduate which can cause them to get into even more trouble and crime. I believe that these solutions are what would help prevent at-risk youth from getting into trouble or crime. If we provided more rehabilitation and counseling instead of just throwing them into the juvenile system without any kind of support, then it’s not going to help them in any way and wouldn’t provide any kind of resources to help change their lives for the better. We have to give the right amount of time of rehabilitation, for example, 6 months to a year depending on the type of crime. If we taught them certain tools on how to handle life situations then it could help them tremendously and will help reduce reentry.