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At Risk Students And Juvenile Offenders

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					Statistics show that juveniles are responsible for a large portion of violent crimes.
They commit one-third of all burglaries and commit one in seven of all homicides.
Juvenile crime has increased across the board. Many juvenile offenders who are
arrested stop committing crimes and do not go on to become repeat offenders but in
the past 10 years there has been a large increase in repeat offenders in the juvenile
category. There is a large group of juveniles that are not deterred by the thought of
punishment. Many states have lowered the age at which a juvenile can be charged
with a violent crime. In most cases juvenile courts attempt to rehabilitate juvenile
offenders rather than punish them. Juveniles rarely get long prison terms; they are also
given special treatment by having their name kept from the public. What is Probation?
Usually the first step with a first time juvenile offender is to offer probation. Probation
involves a sentence in which an offender remains in the community under the
supervision of a probation officer for a specific amount of time. Probation is the
sentence that most judges apply for juvenile offenders. During probation, restrictions
are set and the offenders are ordered to obey laws, obey their parents and attend
school. Many times, restitution, or a repayment to the victim is required. Two-thirds
of the juveniles in the court system are currently on some measure of probation.
Pre-Delinquent Behavior A parent should be aware that pre-delinquent behavior is
often a precursor of juvenile tendencies. This is behavior that often leads to breaking
the law. While there is no single cause of delinquent behavior, there are certain risk
factors that place young people at risk for becoming a juvenile delinquent. The
following factors should be a cause for concern if a parent finds a child experiencing
life with these factors present. Having family members with a criminal record
contributes greatly to young people getting involved in a life of crime. Younger family
members learn that it is acceptable to be involved with criminal activity by modeling
themselves after the older family members. Failing in school is also a red flag for
parents. Students who fail in school or who drop out are very high risk for getting
involved in violence. Part of this stems from having too much idle time while the
other factor involves the fact of the failure causes them to have a negative self-esteem
and a poor self-worth. Another indicator is when a juvenile seems to lack empathy.
Empathy is the ability to share in another’s emotions or feelings. Juvenile offenders
often lack the ability to see a situation the way another person sees it. For example a
juvenile offender may not understand how vandalism hurts the victim. Changing the
behavior of a juvenile offender often takes intense effort and not giving up. For many
offenders, the behavior must be taught. Sometimes they must learn the basic
difference between what is right and wrong. They may also need to learn ways to
avoid peer pressure and how to say no. It is during this crucial time that parents may
need to seek outside help. Counselors, pastors, and school teachers are often great
resources for young people. Parents should never hesitate to ask for guidance when
dealing with at-risk kids. Ten ways to change behavior in at-risk kids improve family
relationships spend time with other trusted adults ask trusted adults for feedback work
to improve self-esteem choose friends who obey laws make repayment for wrong
actions become involved in school activities develop job-related skills volunteer in the
community join a support group Where to Go For Help Programs that help at-risk
kids the most are the ones designed to teach specific skills or change behavior. These
programs help train offenders and help them deal with anger and conflict. One
successful program is Young Juvenile Offender Program (YOGI). This program offers
several types of help from social skills training to anger management. Only 15 percent
of the students who graduated from this program re-offended. This is in direct contrast
to 40 percent of juveniles who did not attend and reoffended. Some other support
groups are available in different states, Al-Anon, National Domestic Hotline, and
other support groups are listed in the local phone book.
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