Preventing Juvenile Delinquency through Proper Education and Care
There is much discussion about methods of preventing juvenile delinquency. But no specific measures can be taken here because the delinquency of children and young people is just one symptom of the generally wrong mental development of young people. Preventing their delinquency means taking prevention of other behavioral disorders as well. By properly educating young people from birth to adulthood, we will do everything in our power not to go down through antisocial behavior.
Measures against juvenile delinquency can be summarized in these activities:
- assistance to the family in raising children and youth
- greater care of the school for the proper development of young people
- establishment of professional institutions for the care of children and youth while they are not under the supervision of parents
- proper care, education, and professional training of mentally underdeveloped children and youth
- early detection and remediation of still relatively harmless behavioral disorders
- care for neglected children in professional educational institutions
- training of professional staff for counseling and re-education of educators and for psychotherapy of children with behavioral disorders
Measures to Combat Child Prostitution
Child prostitution can also be suppressed by these measures: a) relentless fight against pimping b) harsh punishment of men who sexually exploit minors c) social protection of educationally neglected girls and girls d) systematic sexual education of children and youth.
Educational Measures for the Re-Education of Juvenile Offenders
When a young man has already gone through delinquency, he needs to undergo intensive and long-term re-education and psychotherapy. Our Criminal Code provides for a number of educational measures for the re-education of juvenile offenders (Criminal Code, Article 69) (Please check the law in your country or state):
- Disciplinary measures: reprimand, referral to a disciplinary center
- Measures of enhanced supervision: by a parent or guardian, in another family, by the guardianship authority
- Institutional measures: referral to an educational institution, to a correctional facility, to an institution for defective minors
Limitations of Current Measures for Re-Education of Juvenile Offenders
In practice, none of these measures is satisfactory. Reprimand courts apply quite often. But this is only a formal measure that can have no effect. No case of juvenile delinquency is so easy as to be able to use a few words of reprimand given by a judge. After all, we have seen that “preaching” is the wrong method of education!
The young man’s stay in the disciplinary center is too short to be more effectively influenced by education. The Criminal Code stipulates that a juvenile stays in such an institution for a maximum of 20 days continuously or for a month for several hours a day. Juvenile delinquency is an expression of deep disorders in a young person that should be treated for at least half to one year, and sometimes for several years.
In the family of a young delinquent, we discover the basic causes of crime. Therefore, it is illogical to expect from the same family that they will succeed in re-educating the minor by “enhanced supervision” over him. Theoretically, this would be possible only if parents and other educators in the family first undergo re-education, psychotherapy and instruction on how to treat their child properly. It also takes a lot of time, and during that time a young offender needs to be taken care of if we don’t want him to delve even deeper into delinquency. In addition, many parents of juvenile delinquents themselves are so damaged individuals that their reeducation does not achieve any success.
Courts rarely refer a juvenile for re-education in someone else’s family. This is understandable because few people want to accept such a difficult and responsible task. In addition, the successful re-education of mentally severely impaired youth requires special aptitudes and extensive professional experience.
Juvenile offenders are often entrusted with enhanced custody oversight. But even this measure is only of a formal nature. Contact of a young man with a guardian – usually a social worker in the municipality – once or twice a month – cannot bear fruit. This measure could only be successful if the minor’s contact with the guardian is much more frequent – preferably every day – and the guardians are specially trained for the job.
The court’s order to send a young offender to an educational institution also does not always achieve the desired effect. There are too few educational institutions, juveniles often have to wait a long time to be admitted to the institution, during which time in one third of cases they commit new crimes. Our educational institutions, according to their expertise, are not quite up to their difficult task. It would be necessary to significantly increase their number and to have professional staff who would be specially trained for the re-education and psychotherapy of mentally damaged youth. The same applies to the referral of young people to correctional facilities and institutions for defective minors.
Proposed Solutions to Combat Juvenile Delinquency
Only in exceptional cases, when he has committed a particularly serious crime, can a young offender be sentenced to juvenile imprisonment for a minimum of one year and a maximum of 10 years (Criminal Code, Articles 79 c and 79 d). (Please check the law in your country or state)
The poor success of these measures to rehabilitate the personality of juvenile offenders is best illustrated by the fact that in many cases they return to delinquent behavior even after educational measures have been taken. However, there are fewer and fewer of these “recidivists” every year.
In some cases, delinquent behavior continues into adulthood. Bovet L.: “Psychiatric aspects of juvenile delinquency.”, Geneva, 195, says 10 to 20% of juvenile offenders become adult criminals.
Measures to combat juvenile delinquency would be more successful if implemented in this way:
- Thorough psychological-psychiatric analysis of each and the mildest case
- Intensive, long-term and sufficient professional re-education and psychotherapy of minors in open (outpatient) or closed (institutional) educational institutions; first in milder cases, second in more severe cases; first in counseling centers and dispensaries for psychohygiene, second in educational institutions
- Intensive, long-term and obligatory re-education of parents and other permanent educators of minors in counseling centers and dispensaries for psychohygiene.