The best way to fight against the issue of juvenile crime would be to prevent it from happening in the first place. According to a government article, “Impact of Child Abuse and Maltreatment on Delinquency, Arrest and Victimization” children who are abused or neglected are 30 percent more likely to commit a violent crime in the future. If there were more effort spent towards finding dysfunctional families and helping them, the violent crime rate of juveniles would experience a drop. In many cases of juvenile murderers, the offenders have been reported to suffer from abuse at their homes; this abuse often leads them following their examples, or violent retaliation against their abusers. Children who suffer from serious types of abuse in their own homes should be separated from the sources as early as possible. Removing the children from their abusers would drastically improve their chances of a living a crime-free life. To solve this problem, more effort and resources must be spent on finding and rescuing these children. Child welfare should be improved to increase its effectiveness in seeking out cases of child abuse. Childhelp, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse, reports that five children die every day as a victim of abuse. Clearly the problem is a large scale one and requires a large scale counterattack, but the resources put into protecting children will also prevent future crimes. One way you can help is by writing to your governor about your concerns, pushing for more vigilant and improved child welfare services. Most importantly, report any grounded suspicions of child abuse. Victims mostly do not report themselves, so it is up to others to help them. This ugly reality is common and can no longer be ignored, if something is to change here, then we must take action.
I have a firm belief that the best course of action against juvenile crime would be a strong stand against it, but mercy can sometimes be inputted. Many juvenile murderers are indiscriminately sentenced to life in prison without parole for the severity of their crimes, in jail, they simply remain alive, never being a part of anything, and benefiting no one. There are people who wish for the young offenders to have a second chance at life by rehabilitating them and alleviating the harshness of their sentence. While I believe that it is possible for a murderer to change his ways, neither justice nor mercy should be given indiscriminately either. The act of murder takes away someone’s life with no way to undo it. Because of the gravity of this crime, careful consideration of the context should be taken to determine whether mercy is suitable. Sometimes it’s the circumstances out of the criminal’s control that causes them to kill, for others they have been led down the wrong path, and some are callous murderers. In any case, before we determine if it is acceptable for the criminal to be rehabilitated, he must first be truly repentant for his actions. It is counterproductive to send any and all criminals to rehab, if they do not even realize the horror and gravity of their actions. Ultimately, the capability of the criminal to be reformed is up to himself.
In court cases where a juvenile is tried for severe crimes, the argument that adolescents are still mentally developing is often used do lessen their culpability. While I agree that minors still lack complete maturity, and have a greater tendency to make mistakes, we are still reasonable beings who understand the moral implications of our actions. Despite my belief that minors are culpable of crimes, I am not trying to encourage the death penalty, what I mean to accomplish by saying this is to make a distinction between actions caused immaturity and moral depravity. A large percentage of juvenile murderers have a history of abuse. They have lived in a different world with different rules from us so their moral understanding may have been completely twisted; however, since this is not a product of immaturity, it should not be thought that all youths are incapable of making basic moral distinctions between good and evil. There are differences between an immature, rashly acting youth, and a murderer shaped by his circumstances and deprived of common sense. Although we are young and lack the experience and judgment adults do, our immaturity should not be a factor in determining the culpability of our crimes as we know what is acceptable in our society and what is not, however, some juvenile criminals have grown up with corrupted principles taught to them by a backwards upbringing. The background, in which these youths grew up in, should be considered as an important factor in deciding their culpability in court, instead of our age.
There are some situations when leniency is needed, but in general, the best approach to juvenile crime is a tough stand against it. Most offenders commit crimes under the awareness that their actions are morally wrong. An example for this can be found in large, organized gangs, which are active in illegal businesses and use violence as a staple of their lifestyle. These types of criminals are completely responsible for their actions, and willingly harm others for their own interests. In a documentary by Frontline, “Juvenile Justice”, four cases of adolescent criminals were documented, one of these criminals, Manny, assaulted a family with the help of two other gang members. In the attack, Manny and his gang assaulted four men, two of them stabbed, and a pregnant woman who was repeatedly hit in the stomach with a baseball bat. Awarding leniency to Manny and his two friends would encourage crime and the mistaken belief that it is tolerated. In these cases, I believe that a more aggressive approach and the threat of justice with a disregard of age would be the most effective method in limiting and deterring adolescents from participating in violent crime. Protecting adolescents from getting their due punishment would insinuate the thought that the young go unpunished. According to Larry Siegel in his book, “Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law.” Research by John Worrall and Tomislav Kovandzic has found that cities which have increased their police force and aggressively enforced the law have shown a decrease in the rate of juvenile crimes. Worrall and Kovandzic’s findings make it evident that when more minors feel the threat of punishment, they will feel less “safe” in committing a crime, and so fewer adolescents will associate with dangerous criminal activities. While I know that it will be emotionally painful to condemn adolescent criminals with a harsh sentence, in the knowledge that their lives will be irreversibly changed, we should remember that these criminals are responsible for their severe actions which merit them severe punishments. In the long term, a more aggressive movement for justice will discourage criminals, and send the message that bloodshed of innocents is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
To first deal with the problem of adolescent crime, we must first recognize that their cases are not often black and white. Not all criminals are the same; many have different motivations for committing their crimes. Some of these criminals callously murder for their own agenda or benefit, such as members of street gangs characterized by their violence. However, there cases of adolescent criminals who are victims of years of abuse, and in desperation, they murder to defend themselves.
An excellent example of a victim-murderer would be Sara Kruzan, who was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, and human trafficking, furthermore, she was blackmailed into murdering a man, the same man who forced and trained her to become a prostitute. For murdering the man who victimized her, Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison. Undeniably, it is wrong to murder, however, in cases like Kruzan’s, mercy should be given. Kruzan was not attempting to make others into victims, on the contrary, it could be said that she was a victim herself. Due to her circumstances and national petitions and campaigns, her sentence was later reduced to nineteen years in prison. Like Sara said in the video, it cannot be ignored when a person takes someone’s life, but the law should not ignore the fact that she was trying to defend her family and herself, and had the law protected her from such a tragic childhood, this murder would never had happened.
There appears to be a problem in our country today. In the media recently, there seems to be an increase in the number of violent crimes occurring. These senseless acts of violence include murder, sexual offenses, and shootings. What makes these severe crimes even more incomprehensible is that many of them were committed by youths with long lives ahead of them. From my observation, there seems to be much controversy and indecisiveness in dealing with these young criminals; some people believe that these youths should be treated leniently, giving them opportunity to reform, while others believe that a strict punishment should be enforced to serve as a warning to other adolescents, preventing them from committing crimes. There is a need for concrete standards in giving mercy; I personally believe that a person’s age should not matter in determining the severity of his punishment. Most people, including minors, know that they are responsible for their actions and should be expected to be held responsible for them. Too much leniency for minors is very likely the reason why so many adolescents are indifferent to the law and are willing to break them without any fear of punishment. The law should be strictly enforced and upheld to discourage crimes, especially those of violent nature, however, I do believe that there is an appropriate place and time for leniency in the court, and in some situations, it is actually needed.