It is widely agreed that juvenile delinquency is affecting the lives of various people in the U.S. such as teachers, parents, neighbors, and families in general. Although the rates of delinquency have been declining, it is still worth noting that the rates still remain high. As such, various programs have been developed in an effort to minimize the high levels of delinquency. Some programs have proven successful such as S.T.A.R. (Students Transition and Recovery) program and youth challenge in Georgia. It becomes important to analyze such programs to understand how they work, the sociological theories affiliated with them, and recommendations that would improve Georgia’s delinquency prevention efforts.
The Students Transition and Recovery (S.T.A.R.) Program
In Georgia, around the areas of Savannah, the government and juvenile control bodies have launched various programs to combat juvenile crime. S.T.A.R. is one such program. Governed by the S.T.A.R. programs, Inc., it is a company responsible for licensing, implementing, and maintaining a unique program of discipline for schools without suspending or expelling the vulnerable youths (S.T.A.R. Programs, Inc., 1). The program is designed for learning institutions that regard students’ suspension or expulsion ineffective. S.T.A.R. program was established in 1993 in Montgomery County, Texas with a mission of helping juvenile offenders worth detaining. In the areas it has been implemented, the program has helped to mitigate juvenile offenses and the number of referrals directed to the office for disciplinary issues. Most importantly, the program has assisted in enhancing the academic output of students (S.T.A.R. Programs, Inc., 1). Also, the outcomes of the program are met with cost efficacy compared to the traditional techniques of dealing with juvenile offenders. As such, the program should continue being implemented in Georgia for enhanced outcomes as far as controlling juvenile crime is concerned.
The National Guard Youth Challenge Program
This is another effective program offered in Georgia. The Congress established this free program in 1993 with an aim of changing the lives of young people aged between 16 and 18 years who are finding it hard to complete traditional high school (Georgia Youth Challenge Program, 2). The program empowers the young people to embrace positivity, be responsible, and become an achiever. Moreover, its graduates are provided with mentors for one year to help them transit into adulthood smoothly. Worth noting is that the program operates on a voluntary basis thereby making it difficult to compel a juvenile into joining. Nonetheless, the program has been successful in helping juveniles who are willing to turn over a new leaf since its inception.
Main Sociological Theories Underlying the Programs
Several sociological theories underlie the programs, but of major importance is the general train strain theory. The theory affiliates delinquency with a strain of feeling that one is not being the part of the economic mainstream, which contributes to the urge of indulging in delinquency. Lack of ability to achieve positively perceived valued goals among juveniles can lead to delinquency (Froggio, 3). Most part of strain results from social factors that lead to negative stimuli, for instance, child abuse, failure in school, and other stressful events. Siegel and Welsh established that juveniles who report mixed feelings of anger, stress, and anxiety tend to have increased likelihood of indulging in delinquency as a way of relieving themselves from the shackles of their predicament (4). As such, society has to look for various programs that can help to prevent the level of juvenile delinquency. The programs look for factors that trigger juveniles to indulge in criminal activities and then take the necessary actions to curb the situation.
Improving Juvenile Prevention Efforts
Despite the programs and other interventions set up to mitigate juvenile delinquency, it is worth noting that there might be a need for perfection periodically due to particular environmental changes. An outstanding factor contributing to crime is a lack of positivity as already seen. Therefore, along with the available programs, I would create an intervention for kids at a younger age and name it “Bright Future”. The program would adopt prevention strategies that focus on juveniles of any age and race in an effort to help them embrace positivity early enough to shape their future. Also, the program would have other services such as a curriculum for conflict resolution and violence prevention strategies and counseling services for drug users.
Overall, the program would aim to mitigate juvenile crime, improve the behavior of juveniles, their attitudes as well as academic excellence. Another way to improve these programs would entail empowering them to take care of particular crimes. For instance, where a child has committed a less serious crime, the programs can be used to help the child rather than taking him/her to the detention center. In this way, the program would be used to shape the juvenile to grow into a responsible person. However, there could be other crimes worth detention such as murder, rape, and armed robbery. Nonetheless, it would be important for the programs to finds ways of linking up with such juveniles while in the detention center to offer them counseling services to help them embrace change.
In conclusion, juvenile delinquency can deter the ability to grow with positivity. The programs developed to curb the negative acts of juveniles that lead to crime should be empowered and reviewed regularly to determine the changes worth making. Most importantly, the community, law enforcers, and parents of the victims should see to it that every alternative is implemented before a child is taken to detention. This would involve using these programs and other interventions that can help a child to live up to what the society expects of him/her. Thus, strengthening the socialization process and improving social institutions can help to prevent juvenile crime and have a better society of rational beings in the future.
- S.T.A.R. Programs, Inc. Juvenile Disciplinary Programs: S.T.A.R. Programs, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.starprograms.com/
- Georgia Youth Challenge Program. Home – Georgia Youth Challenge. Retrieved from https://www.georgiayouthchallenge.org/
- Froggio, G. (2007). Strain and Juvenile Delinquency: A Critical Review of Agnew’s General Strain Theory. Journal Of Loss And Trauma, 12(4), 383-418. doi: 10.1080/15325020701249363
- Siegel, L., & Welsh, B. (2013). Juvenile delinquency: The Core (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.