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Youth Delinquency in Australia and Globally

Question:

Discuss about the Youth Delinquency And  Justice.

In the modern era, youth delinquency has proved problematic to handle. There are increasing cases of youth offending in Australia and globally. Despite the existence of several policies to suppress the issue, youth delinquency is on the rise. The increasing rates of youth felony have prompted policymakers and scholars to research alternative ways of addressing the issue. However, the deferring views on the cause and ways of controlling youth crime by the policymakers, scholars, and public have complicated the process of finding appropriate solutions. Public comments on the proposed changes by the Queensland parliament explicitly illustrates that the society is far from establishing a coherent strategy to address youth delinquency. The commentaries posted by the public on the article implicitly posit youth offending from the classical theory perspective. The comments illustrate that the public believes that juveniles commit criminal acts out of individual choices and rational considerations. This position severally challenges academic literature on youth justice as it postulates that there is no significant difference between youth and adult offenders.

Public views on youth delinquency significantly rely on the existing implicit theories on youth offending. According to Shoemaker (2010), implicit theories are personal constructions about a particular condition or occurrence that exist in the mind of individuals. These constructions differ according to people. As Cunneen, Whites, and Richards (2015) expound, the implicit theories are characteristically equivocal and inconsistent in explaining an occurrence. Additionally, these personal constructions tend to be descriptive and deductive in their explanation to a phenomenon. As a result, several theories exist on youth delinquency. Each perspective strives to persuade the public that its position is relevant. In spite of these discrepancies, implicit youth delinquency theories are vital in understanding factors that propagate youth offending and direct policy formulation.

In the ‘Courier Mail naming and shaming comments,' the main concepts of youth offending reflected by the public’s comments conform to the classical and strain delinquency theories.  However, the significant percentage of the public founded their comments on the classical youth delinquency theory. According to Cunneen, Whites, and Richards (2015), the classical theory posits that the young people are rational individuals who have free will and ability to make choices. The classical theory suggests that a person engages in criminal acts intentionally after calculating the costs and benefits of such actions. In this respect, the theory rules out the effects of externalities in youth delinquency. As illustrated by the comment of one member of the public, all criminals should be accountable for their actions regardless of their age since they commit crime intentionally.

Role of Implicit Theories in Understanding Youth Delinquency

Consequently, a majority of those who commented on the article supported the naming and shaming of the young offenders. Moreover, some even suggested that the delinquent youths should be shamed alongside their parents. According to one of the individuals who commented on the post, naming and shaming the offenders will act as a deterrent measure. However, there are those who argue that naming and shaming the offenders is not a sufficient disciplinary move. Instead, they insist that corporal punishment should accompany the naming and shaming. As depicted by the comments of a section of the public, naming and shaming the offenders without severe punishment could further escalate the rate of youth delinquency. This punitive view summarizes the stand of those who employ the classical approach to youth felony. As Marina and King (2009) expound, studies show that those who use the classical perspective on youth offending are more likely to be punitive than those who utilize the strain theory. 
On the other hand, there are those who commented on the post from the strain theory viewpoint. The strain theory employs the positivists’ school of thought to criminology. In this view, this section of the public argued that social strains such as poor parenting, economic hardships, and ineffective policies motive the youths to engage in criminal acts. The  strain theory argues that crime goes beyond free will. The difference between those individuals who applied the classical theory and the strain theory in their comments is that the latter was against the use of coercive force to handle the young offenders. This section of the public indicated that the use of coercive force is one the drivers of teenage delinquency. Moreover, they stated that naming and shaming of the offenders is not the long-term solution. Considering that emotions are one the key drivers of criminal acts, naming and shaming the offenders could inflict more strain on the young people escalating the rate of crimes. As argued in one of the comments, eradicating social and economic inequalities is the only way to address the issue of youth delinquency.


Besides, those who argued from the strain theory perspective pointed out that naming and shaming of young offenders could lead to stigmatization. In the modern society, a good reputation is essential for success. Consequently, naming and shaming young offenders could adversely affect their future success as people will have negative presumptions about their behaviors. With psychologists confirming that humans can change their behaviors, it is irrational to condemn young people without solving the social forces that compel them to participate in criminal acts.

The Classical and Strain Delinquency Theories in Public Opinion

Academic literature tends to agree and disagree with some of the comments made on the post. Particularly, scholars differ with the comments on the measures which should be implemented to address youth delinquency. From the comments, it is evident that majority of the public prefers the use of punitive strategies to address delinquency issues. However, as Reynolds and Crea (2015) indicate, youth delinquency is a complex issue which is influenced by multiple factors. The complexity of the issues implies that it motivated by free will or by social strain. Interestingly, Maahs and Pratt (2017) posit that public opinion on youth delinquency is not based on scientific research. Instead, it is based on societal assumptions. As a result, these opinions are biased and insufficient in informing policy formulation. According to Maahs and Pratt (2017), the use of imprisonment or punishment as a way to combat youth offending is a strategy that lacks objectivity. In the comments, a significant percentage of the public supported the naming and shaming policy as an effective measure to suppress youth crime. However, this move does not delve into the key external forces that compel the young people to commit criminal acts.


Studies also refute the notion that criminal activities are based on personal decisions.  A significant percentage of the public posted that the young people engaged in crime intentionally. However, according to Ciardha and Gannon (2012), some of the criminal activities are prompted by psychological distress. Moreover, Ciardha and Gannon (2012) point out that social learning influences some of the offenses. In this respect, it is nature of the society that shapes the behaviors of the young people. This argument challenges the deliberations of classical theories. Instead of the society assuming that youth delinquency is intentional, they should embrace that multiple factors motivate the condition.

However, academic literature seems to have significant support for those who commented from the strain theory perspective.  According to Hoeve, McReynolds, and Wasserman (2014), the classical theories prove insignificant, particularly in the case recidivism. From the comments, the majority of the people supported the naming and shaming of frequent offenders. However, Hoeve, McReynolds, and Wasserman (2014) advise that instead of punishing recidivists, they should be subjected to psychological screening to establish their mental wellbeing. Notably, studies have established a positive correlation between youth recidivism and mental disorders. In particular, Baglivio et al. (2016) maintain that maltreatment of offenders increases the possibilities of reoffending. This view contradicts public support for naming and shaming of delinquent youths. Naming and shaming of criminals are psychological maltreatments that can have a permanent damage on a person’s emotions. Despite its adversities, Hoeve, McReynolds, and Wasserman (2014) state that majority of people support harsh punishments for youth offenders since they believe that it deters criminal activities.

Scholarly Perspectives on Youth Delinquency


Furthermore, scholars disapprove the equal treatment of youth and adult offenders. According to Cunneen, et al. (2015), youth offenders are legally incompetent and should not be equated to adults. The public has shown massive support for keeping distinct boundaries between young and adult offenders. According to Farrington, Loeber, and Howell (2017), it is widely accepted that age affects the decision-making ability of individuals. In this view, Young offenders should not be handled as the adult delinquents since they differ in their decision-making abilities. However, Farrington, Loeber, and Howell (2017) agree that this leniency in law has motivated juveniles to commit criminal offenses. 

Unlike the views presented by the majority of the comments on the article, the public prefers a rehabilitative and a no coercive approach to addressing youth delinquency. According to Pealer, Terry, and Adams (2017), the public understands that young people are still in the developmental stage and their behaviors can be easily altered. In fact, the society has significantly advocated for the abolishment of youth imprisonment. This revelation contrasts the views presented by those who called for harsh punishment for young offenders in the comments section. 

Conclusively, the comments by the public to the Courier Mail article theorize youth offending from the perspective of classical and strain theories. While a significant percentage of the public posted that youth offenders should be treated equally with adult criminals, this view contradicts the one by academic literature on public opinion on youth crime. However, they both agree that the public tends to support a punitive framework in designing youth justice systems. Moreover, some of the comments agree with scholarly works that youth crime is a complex subject that requires an inclusive policy approach to manage.

References

Baglivio, M. T. et al., 2016. Maltreatment, child welfare, and recidivism in a sample of deep-end crossover youth. Journal of youth and adolescence, 45(4), pp. 625-654.

Ciardha, Ó. C. & Gannon, T., 2012. The implicit theories of firesetters: A preliminary conceptualization. Aggression and Violent Behaviour, Volume 17, p. Aggression and Violent Behaviour.

Cunneen, C., White, R. & Richards, K., 2015. Juvenile Justice: Youth and Crime in Australia. Fifth ed. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Farrington, D. P., Loeber, R. & Howell, J. C., 2017. Increasing the Minimum Age for Adult Court. Criminology & Public Policy, 16(1), pp. 83-92.

Hoeve, M., McReynolds, L. S. & Wasserman, G. A., 2014. Service referral for juvenile justice youths: Associations with psychiatric disorder and recidivism. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 41(3), pp. 379-389.

Maahs, J. & Pratt, T. C., 2017. I Hate These Little Turds!”: Science, Entertainment, and the Enduring Popularity of Scared Straight Programs. Deviant behavior, 38(1), pp. 47-60.

Maruna, S. & King, A., 2009. Once a Criminal, Always a Criminal?: ‘Redeemability'and the Psychology of Punitive Public Attitudes. European Journal of Criminal Policy and Research, Volume 15, pp. 7-24.

Pealer, J., Terry, A. N. & Adams, K. R., 2017. Voices from inside the walls: Views of the juvenile justice system from the youthful offenders. Corrections, 2(2), pp. 130-147.

Reynolds, A. D. & Crea, T. M., 2015. Peer influence processes for youth delinquency and depression. Journal of Adolescence, Volume 43, pp. 83-95.

Shoemaker, D. J., 2010. Theories of Delinquency: An Examination of Explanations of Delinquent Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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