The Juvenile Court System

This paper discusses that the causality of juvenile offenders has changed, and therefore, the juvenile court system must change.

This paper explains that, because of the shift in the level of violence in teen behavior, the focus of the juvenile justice system has gone from one of individualized treatment and rehabilitation to generalized concerns for public safety and accountability in juvenile offenders. The author stresses that possibly the most needed change is the realization that children are no less prone to violent behavior than adults are. The paper reviews the work of four experts, containing ideas such as juveniles should be held morally accountable for their criminal behavior, and the juvenile court must be vigilant to children’s due process rights and sensitive to the individual developmental needs of juveniles in each case.
One hundred years ago, when the idea of criminal justice was evolving from observations of major urban streets, and the need of children trapped therein, society was not confronted with the specter of Columbine High School, in which teens planned and executed an assault on the student population with semi-automatic weapons and home made bombs. Fifty years ago, when the current theories of progressive juvenile justice were being formed, pop culture music did not fill the radio airwaves with messages that encouraged teens to become violent toward a social order that did not understand them. Nor did teens sit for hours engaged in realistic vigilante 3-d simulations in the screens of video games. Although game makers argue that the violent games are only entertainment, and do not have a causative influence on children’s behaviors, many of these game are designed in the same way as FBI training simulations, in which new agents are taught to desensitize themselves to the prospect of killing another human being.