Juvenile delinquency is an age old problem that waxes and wanes thru the generations. We seem to be in one of the waxing cycles and the experts have their theories on it which are just that theories.
So let's add my theory to the mix.
I've already put forth some of my thoughts on this in a piece about kids and booze (located in this blog).
First off in my mind this is the "Excuse Generation". Nothing is ever a persons fault, there is always some excuse for it, lame as it maybe and the parents buy into it to protect their offspring "Oh no little Johnny/Susy it's not your fault that person's upset with you because you threw paint on their car, you're right they shouldn't have parked it there to tempt you." Why shouldn't the parents buy into it. It saves the parents from having to take a stand, develop a back bone, not be friend but be a parent in all it's responsibilities and duties.
The other reason is who is going to know about the criminal activities of their kids? Very few , the victims, the police, the courts, the family after that no one unless the family decides to publicize it, which they probably won't do. All this because the law shields kids from public shame and humiliation to a certain age 16-18. That sounds like a good idea why should a child who just destroyed or stole someone's property, or or committed an act of violence against another person or animal (serial killers start this way) or committed other crimes have to pay publicly for their criminal activities? I think they should and so should their parents. I think when little Johnny/Suzy gets arrested their mom and dads name and address should be right there in the police blotter with their criminal offspring's name.
Tough yes. Cruel no.
I remember reading about a judge in a small town somewhere in the heartland back in the '50s or '60s whose town was experiencing one of those waxing periods. Nothing as serious as today's murder and mayhem just vandalism, fighting, truancy crimes of that nature. He took action to curb this problem. If you were arrested and convicted in his court your name and your parents name and address were published in the local paper no matter your age. Your parents are now upset and embarrassed in front of employers, neighbors and friends everyone they know. So when little Johnny/Susy says "I'm going to hang out" the parents now want to know where, with who and what they are going to be doing since the last time their little darling went to 'hang out' their name got in the papers and they can't have that again so they started taking their parental duties serious.
As far as little Johnny/Susy went, they were sentenced to a term in the jail. Actually a special cell by themselves in the police station where they couldn't and wouldn't be hurt by other prisoners. Their sentence was carried out in a certain number of weekends, from when school got out on Friday until Sunday evening. Proms, dances football games, parties you missed them all and no visitors except mom and dad. If little Johnny/Susy served their time and didn't get in trouble again for a specified time period he erased their record, sort of a precursor to the accelerated rehab our courts now offer. Needless to say crime pretty much dropped to zero when kids and parents found out they could and would be held accountable for their actions.
Unfortunately now we don't hold people accountable for much of anything in their formidable years. Parents seem to think they are suppose to a friend rather then a teacher in how to live a good, decent, caring life where they treat other people as they would like to be treated themselves. The results of this negligence is printed everyday in the newspaper, shown every day on the TV news, murder, rape, senseless violence, drugs and alcohol.
I believe all it would take to bring the crime rate down a few percentage points is to have parents act as parents and learn that telling their child "NO" could be the greatest gift they ever give them. Since as the laws are written in today's society parents are only held responsible financially and most of the time insurance covers that. Since they are not embarrassed because no one knows about their child's crimes what reason do they have to change.
It maybe time to enact the laws that judge used years ago in today's society or maybe you can find an excuse not to. If you find that excuse and use it, the next time you hear of a school shooting, or senseless violence, rapes, drugs that happen to some stranger or someone you know and wonder why it happened and who let it happen, look in the mirror for your answer.