The late 1980s through to the early 1990s, United States of America experienced a serious rise in juvenile crime. This resulted to the introduction and enforcement of state laws that unlike the existing legislations that emphasized on rehabilitation, they were tougher and emphasized more on disciplining offenders. Since then, juvenile crime rates have been reported to decline significantly. Currently, state legislatures continue to rebalance their strategies of dealing with juvenile crime and delinquency so as to identify techniques that are likely to produce better results at lower cost. Nowadays, policymakers have more and enriched information available to them in regards to juvenile crime, factors influencing it and ways it can be prevented (Levitt, 1997). This paper will analyze the reliability of some of the sourced of this information, the recent trends in juvenile delinquency, analysis of juvenile arrests between 1980 and 2012, and finally discuss the importance of determining a chronic offender at an early age.
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Are the official and unofficial sources of data on delinquency reliable and valid? Talk about the reliability of the UCR (Uniform Crime Report) and self-reporting.
Self-report reports are intended to offer participants an opportunity to reveal information relating to their law violations (Brown, 2014). This method is founded on the basic assumption that the anonymity of the participant and the confidentiality guarantee supported by academic qualifications will inspire more and more people to disclose and accurately describe their criminal activities.
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There is a notable discrepancy in research findings regarding the reliability of this method of crime data collection. Consequently there have been heightened criticisms of self-reports as a criminal data collection instrument. Some of the critics claim that this method may provide inaccurate data due to a number of reasons including, the respondents may lie, they may exaggerate situations, they may also forget, or understate their illegal activities. There are also other issues that are linked to unreliability of this method (Brown, 2014). They include definitional and interpretational issues of the data collected.
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A research conducted in 1980 revealed that very few youths commit serious inconsistent offenses (Spaeth, Weichold & Silbereisen, 2015). Additionally, majority of the samples used for such studies are not always fully representative of the population being studied and in most cases, they do not include sufficient high-rate lawbreakers to help the researcher differentiate them clearly from other delinquents. Consequently, self-reports are not 100 percent reliable but when conducted under due diligence, they can still provide the researcher with the information they seek.
Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)
The UCR is the most popular and most widely used source of criminal data, including juvenile crime data. One of the major advantages of this method of crime data collection is that the information collected is usually accurate as compared to that collected using self report studies. Furthermore, the UCR provides information of the frequency of arrests as well as the gender, race, age and other characteristic of the individuals arrested. While UCR provides more reliable information than most other criminal data collection instruments, it still has a number of shortcomings that critics claim could alter the accuracy of the data collected. The UCR provides information relating to crimes that were reported to the police only and since not all victims report their ordeals to the police, the data collected may not be accurate.
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Additionally, in an incident where more than one crime was committed, the UCR does not record all the crimes but only reports the most serious crime. This means that some crimes. Although reported may not be reflected in the UCR database (Gallupe, Bouchard & Davies, 2015). This can greatly affect the reliability of the data collected. Although UCRs are not 100 percent reliable but they can still be relied upon to provide the researcher with the information they seek.
Trends analysis of juvenile arrests between 1980 and 2012
1n 1980, the juvenile crime arrest rate was about 300 in every 100,000 persons ages 10-17. This figure remained relatively constant until 1986 when there was a significant rise in arrests hitting an all time high, 500 arrests in every 100,000 persons ages 10-17, in 1994 (ojjdp.gov, n.d). The number of juvenile arrests decreased slightly in the following year, 1996 and was then followed by a steady decline that was experienced between 1997 and 2001, taking the number of arrests just below the initial 300 in every 100,000 persons ages 10-17 that was recorded in 1980. There was a slight increase in the number of arrests between 2002 and 2006. This saw the number of arrests rise back to 300 arrests in every 100,000 persons ages 10-17. In 2007, the number of arrests remained relatively constant followed by a steady decline since.
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In mid 200s, there was a notable increase in the number of juvenile Crime arrests, which was then followed by a steady decline since. This saw the trend heating its lowest level since 1980 in 2012 (ojjdp.gov, n.d). In 2012 the recorded arrest were only 182 for every 100,000 youth between 10 and 17 years, a rate that was 38% lower than the rate that was recorded in 1980 and about 63% lower than the rate that was recorded during the peak, 1994.
Why is it important to determine the chronic offender at an early age?
Identifying a chronic offender at an early age is a crucial aspect in curbing crime. Most organizations, including schools, juvenile justice, and social services focus more on preventative or remedial measures. Studies show that prevention is a much better and more fruitful approach (Spaeth, Weichold & Silbereisen, 2015). Experts claim that out of all the measures taken to reduce juvenile crime, preventive interventions are most likely to have the largest success rate in terms of crime reduction. Determining a chronic offender at an early age means that the offender will not have committed any serious crimes thus preventative measures can be implemented on time.
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