The Solution to Juvenile Crime

         My twelve year old innocent little sister was the last person I ever expected to be labeled a criminal. She had never done anything extremely wrong before this incident. I remember it so well. I came home from school and found my sister and her friend Crissy in her room with a shoe box full of makeup. There was everything from lipstick to eyeshadow. Curious to where they got all this makeup, I turned around, shut the door, and asked for the juice. Their response was lame, yet me being my gullible self I believed them. They said Crissy's mom worked for a makeup factory so she gave it all to them. After a few weeks the makeup stash had almost doubled, and my sister decided to confess. She came in my room with a troubled look on her face. When I asked her what was wrong she began to cry and said she felt guilty and had to tell someone. Her and Crissy had been walking up to the store after school everyday and stealing the makeup. I was very shocked, and wanted answers. She told me there was no reason for what they did, but the simple fact that they were bored.
         Statistics show that juvenile crime is continuously on the rise for the United States. Official U.S. reports showed that "about one fifth of all persons arrested for crimes are under eighteen years of age. In the 1970's juvenile arrests increased in almost every serious crime category, and female juvenile crime more than doubled" (Encarta Article 2). Juvenile offenders have soared since the 1980's. While adult violent crime rates remained fairly steady. This shows that our adults are learning, but our future isn't. Steve Macko said in his article "There is a bitter battle over how to combat the nations fastest growing crime problem--juvenile offenders" (Macko 1). Before we know it our juvenile crime rates will be higher than adult crime rates. Statistics show that "Juvenile arrests in Arizona were up from 53,096 in 1990 to 64,647 in 1994" (John 11). Its also shown that "Between 1982 and 1991, the rate of juvenile involvement in homicide increased 138 percent, rape 166 percent, robbery 70 percent, and aggravated assault 94 percent (John 45). We must put a stop to this ongoing epidemic of juvenile crime.
         Children who feel bored or ignored will turn to criminal activities for entertainment, the adrenaline rush, or just to get attention. Many children in America are lacking attention. This may be caused by uninvolved or inattentive parents which is the parents fault and should be changed, but most children lack attention because both their parents have to work to support them. It used to be that the father worked while the mother stayed home with the children giving them all the attention they need. Now there must be two incomes coming into the house to support the family. Children are getting less attention from their parents, not by choice but because of the economy. When a parent can't be around their child all the time they can't discipline them for all the wrong things they do.
         Children see that they can get away with the little things, so they suspect they can get away with bigger crimes. It was stated in an article on the internet that "Families have also experienced changes within the last 25 years, more families consist of one parent households or two working parents; consequently, children are likely to have less supervision at home than was common in the traditional family structure. This lack of parental supervision is thought to be an influence on juvenile crime" (Encarta Article 3).
         Children usually get out of school around three o'clock, and parents usually get home from work around six o'clock. This gives children three hours to have the house to themselves, or walk the streets looking for a crime to commit.
         Children need a place to go and activities to attend after school so they aren't out on the streets committing crimes. I propose that we begin providing after school activities including; sports, arts and crafts, and musical programs. This could be a requirement to keep them busy and out of trouble, but if we find something the child is interested in, they will want to be involved in something that their good at, it makes them feel good about themselves. It's our job to find out what their good at and give them the chance to succeed in whatever it is.
         Many questions will arise about the funding of this program. Which shouldn't be a question when it comes to keeping children out of trouble, but unfortunately it has to be, due to unwealthy, struggling families who can't afford many things. But because this is after school activities I think the program should be held at each individual school and since public schools are government ran the extension of hours would continue to be run by the government. This does include a rise in taxes, but I believe that parents and nonparents (all taxpayers) will be willing to pay a little more in order to reduce juvenile crime dramatically. The money saved from not incarcerating children will definitely cover this program. Just think, your tax money will be spent as a positive reinforcer and not on a juvenile hall. There could also be additional funding awarded to each school by corporate sponsors and wealthy families. Each individual school could find a corporation to sponsor them like the little league teams do. The corporations wouldn't be expected to give a lot. Any little bit would help, but the program would be mostly run by the government. There may be little fees here and there for various reasons, and many will be willing and able to pay these fees just to keep their children out of trouble, but those not willing will have innumerable ways to compensate for the unpaid bills. Such as volunteering to run the arts booths, coaching a sports team, teaching music, monitoring the halls, or even carpooling the children home. We would use all volunteers to run these programs so we know that they want to be their for the children and they will show them their best and most loving attention. If we paid adults to be their they may do it just for the pay check. Overall I know this sounds costly, and it is. But the amount that comes in from even a tiny tax increase goes along way. The tax increase wouldn't affect each individual family at all.
         There would be a lot of work that need to go into this project, but if people want to get children off the streets, they should be willing to help to put this plan together. As stated in the ACLU fact sheet on juvenile crime "Both California and Florida currently spend more on corrections than they spend on higher education. Other states are not far behind. Average cost of incarcerating a juvenile for one year is between $35,000 to $64,000. In contrast, the current cost of Head Start's intervention program is $4,300 per child a year" (ACLU 1). My program won't cost as much as incarcerating a juvenile.
         There is already existing programs for late night when many crimes are committed by juveniles. One of these programs include Midnight basketball, which has many different benefits for children, these include; leadership, self esteem, and education about diseases. On the advertisement for this program they stated "Midnight Basketball provide and develop a comprehensive, structured evening program which will result in a productive alternative to criminal activities" (Midnight Basketball 1).
         There are many other alternatives to try to eliminate juvenile delinquency. Such as crime prevention classes, the rehabilitation of juveniles who become involved in deliquesce, and locking a child up. But an article on the internet said "On the other hand, being locked up in adult prisons increases, not lessens, their desire to commit crimes. While in the adult prison, the juvenile offender may learn from older, more hardened criminal. When he is released back into the community in his twenties--undereducated, unsocialized, unemployable, and at the peak of physical power--he will be the very model of the very person we wished most to avoid" (problems 2). None of these treatments have been most effective. Many children continue to commit crimes after these treatments have been implemented.
         I know this program would be a positive aspect for our society, it just might take a considerable amount of work, but there must be something we can do to stop juvenile delinquency. Many forms of punishment have been elaborated to warn children off from various criminal activities. Thinking if they get caught they will be punished, but many children aren't scared of punishment anymore. I believe if we reward them with the stuff they like to do before they commit the crime they will continue in the program and realize crime isn't the smart place to be.

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