The juvenile justice system and the actions aimed at reduction of juvenile delinquency are highly important for the whole society not only due to the fact that delinquents are dangerous for normal members of the society, but also because the rates of juvenile delinquency define the future overall crime rates and the well-being of the whole country. The aim of this essay is to analyze the statistics of juvenile system from 1980s to 2000s, to discuss positive and negative tendencies, to identify weak points in juvenile system and suggest possible solutions.
In general, the figures show comparatively low crime rates in 1980s, then the increase of almost all crimes in the middle of 1990s and a total decrease in the end of 1990s up to 2001, which indicates that the general set of measures used in juvenile system has proved to be efficient (Shoemaker & Wolfe & McDonald, 2005). In particular, between 1992 and 2001 the decline in the number of violent crime arrests was greater for juveniles than for adults. Also, in 2001 among the violent crimes (murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault), only aggravated assault had a juvenile arrest rate that was not at or near its lowest level in two decades.
However, there are several figures in the statistics showing the urgent problems. First of all, the rate of female juvenile crimes has become higher which means that the existing system does not adequately address women. Also, high race disparity is witnessed for juvenile crimes (for example, around 40-45% of crimes are committed by black juveniles). Though the disparity rate has reduced from 6.3 times to 3.6 times, the domination of black delinquents shows that it is necessary to pay more attention to this problem. Also, the high rates of murdered children under 5 years old are horrifying, together with the fact that in 51% of these murders, the offenders’ only weapons were their hands and/or feet!
Finally, a burning problem in juvenile environment is drug abuse. During the period from 1992 to 2001, juvenile arrests for drug abuse violations increased 121%, while adult arrests grew 33%. In my opinion, special attention should be paid to this problem, and responsibility for storing drugs, not speaking about selling them, should be much stricter. Also, it is necessary to understand that simply addressing particular crimes and their rates will not help to reduce overall crime rate, because the crime rates shows the atmosphere of the whole society (Shoemaker & Wolfe & McDonald, 2005). For example, in the situation with small children murders and race disparity, it is necessary to influence the whole social layers and improve the feedback system as well.