One of the biggest problems which the United States is faced with is
juvenile crime. The reason experts feel juvenile’s commit crimes is because of
risk factors when they were younger but experts still have not found the main
reason why juvenile’s commit crimes. Some risk factors associated with juvenile
crime are poverty, repeated exposure to violence, drugs, easy access to firearms,
unstable family life and family violence, delinquent peer groups, and media
violence. Especially the demise of family life, the effect of the media on the
juveniles today, and the increase of firearms available today have played a big
role in the increase of juveniles crimes.
The most common risk factor is the demise of the family life and the
increase in family violence. Between 1976 and 1992 the number of juveniles
living in poverty grew 42% and this caused an increase in crimes by juveniles.
Many of these juvenile criminals have been abused or neglected and they also
grew up in a single-parent household. Research has found that 53% of these
children are more likely to be arrested, and 38% more likely to commit a violent
crime as an adult, then their counterparts who did not suffer such abuse. The
symptoms of child abuse are high levels of aggression and antisocial behavior
and these children are twice as likely to become juvenile offenders. Also
improper parental care has been linked to delinquency such as mothers who drink
alcohol or take drugs during pregnancy cause their babies to grow up with
learning disorders, a problem which leads them to be juvenile criminals.
Another risk factor is the effect of the media on the juveniles of today.
Before the time a child has reached seventh grade, the average child has
witnessed 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on the television. There
is no doubt that heavy exposure to televised violence is one of the causes of
aggressive behavior, crime and violence in society. Television violence affects
youngsters of all ages, of both genders, at all economic levels, and all levels
of intelligence. Long-term childhood exposure to television is a casual factor
behind one half of the homicides committed by juveniles in the United States.
The increased availability of guns has played a big part in escalating
the number of crimes committed by juveniles. In Los Angeles juvenile
delinquency cases involving weapon violation grew by 86% from 1988 to 1992,
which was more then any other type of juvenile offense. According to a
University of Michigan study found that 270,000 guns accompany secondary school
students to class daily. This is startling because it shows how many more
juveniles are carrying guns and the juvenile use of guns in homicides has
increased from 65 to 80 percent from 1987 to 1991.
The possession of firearms plays a big cause in the delinquency of
children and is playing a bigger role in the crimes which juveniles commit.
Another cause of the increase of juvenile crimes has been the effect of children
seeing multiple murders and other acts of violence on the television. Finally
the demise of the family life and the increase in family violence has been the
biggest factor in the increase of juvenile crime.