The burden of delinquency prevention is widely distributed between parents, schools, non-profits, and governmental agencies at the federal, state and local levels. With so many diverse stakeholders, it is difficult to come to solid conclusions about who is responsible for protecting at-risk youth. While much of the research indicates that parents are the first line of defense in identifying and preventing delinquent behavior, parents tend to look to government agencies to create better delinquency prevention programs.
Keep reading to learn about the delinquency programs that currently exist and how government agencies and individuals can do better to minimize the instances of juvenile delinquency in society.
Just the Facts
- Juvenile delinquency is characterized by antisocial behavior that is beyond parental control and subject to legal action.
- Roughly half of all youth arrests are made on account of theft, simple assault, drug abuse, disorderly conduct, and curfew violations.
- In 2009, there were 5,804 arrests for every 100,000 youths between the ages of 10 and 17.
- According to the US Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the juvenile arrest rate declined by 36% in 2009.
- There were fewer juvenile arrests in 2009 than in 1980, and in fact, most juvenile arrest rates have been in a steady decline since 1994.
- Drug abuse arrest rates and female arrest rates have not yet experienced any significant drop.
Much of this is good news, but there is still significantly more delinquency prevention work that can be done to continue the trend toward decreasing arrest rates.
How Is the Government Working to Offer Better Delinquency Program?
The government arm responsible for coordinating delinquency prevention programs is known as the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The council is charged with coordinating federal juvenile delinquency programs and determining how federal, state and local programs can work together to best serve at-risk youth.
In existence since 1996, the council has slowly been increasing their reach and impact. In 2006, they were able to provide $400,000 in funding to support co-operative work in this area between four different government agencies. The funding supported the Federal Mentoring Council, which aims to increase the number of mentor-mentee pairs in the US, particularly those that directly target at-risk youth. It also supported a program known as Shared Youth Vision. Under this program, 16 communities were selected in 2007 to receive targeted support and funding with the hope that these communities could serve as an example of the possibility of partnerships in aiding disadvantaged youth.
The important consideration is that this organization is slowly beginning to unify all of the diverse stakeholders. Its creation in the mid-90s could be linked to the start of the decline in juvenile arrests although there is no conclusive information to prove a causal relationship.
How Can Parents Take an Active Role in Preventing Delinquent Behaviors in Their Children?
Ultimately, parents may have the most control over the behaviors of their children. According to the Prevent Delinquency Project, when families simply find time to be together, it can increase the possibility for positive outcomes and delinquency prevention. A survey from Columbia University showed that children from families who had dinner together five to seven times per week were significantly less likely to experiment with legal or illegal substances.
Additionally, teenagers whose parents are not actively involved or interested in their lives are more likely to become bullies, which may ultimately lead to involvement in gangs or violent behavior. By simply taking an active interest in their children’s lives, parents are in an incredibly powerful position to help stave off juvenile delinquency. However, parents cannot solve this problem on their own, and many do not even realize how important their role is in preventing delinquent behavior.
The bottom line, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, is that single-focus approaches are not effective as delinquency prevention programs. Instead, most agencies now advocate a more holistic, multi-disciplinary approach that takes into account both the family and community environments in which the child is raised.
In this new multi-focal environment, ETO Impact Software can play an important role in ensuring the success of these programs, and ETO Collaborate can help the various agencies and programs work together in a more effective manner. The Pace Center for Girls successfully used ETO software to improve the performance of their delinquency prevention program and ensure they were having the impact they desired.