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Race with Juvenile

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In this paper this author will discuss race and ethnicity of juvenile offenders in the United States' criminal justice system. First, one must understand what race and ethnicity is. According to Wilson, J., (2000), race is defined as 'one of five categories'white; black; American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut; Asian or Pacific Islander; or other. The term 'black' includes African Americans and people of this racial designation whose ancestral origin lies outside the United States (e.g., Haitians).' (p. 2). Ethnicity is defined as 'Ethnicity usually indicates a person's country or countries of origin.' (p. 2).

'Children are one third of our population and all of our future.' (Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981). What society puts into the future of the children is also what they can expect to get out of them. There is an increase in juvenile offenders, especially females. According to Wilson, J., (2000), It is difficult to pull statistics on different ethnicity juvenile offenders. (p. 2). For example, to differentiate the statistics on the amount of arrests of Caribbean blacks versus native U.S. blacks is impossible because such specific ethnicities are not recorded. Therefore, how are statistics drawn to determine the race and ethnicity of juvenile offenders? Several ways: Arrest reports, self report offending data, public records, and official data taken from criminal and juvenile justice agencies. Wilson, J., (2000) does state however there is a lack of consistency in gathering data for comparison. Statistics are taken from intake at juvenile facilities, juvenile court paperwork, and FBI reports. In addition, census reports are a critical factor for assessing and tracking juveniles in households across America. It has become increasingly critical in 2010 for all households in America to fill out the census paperwork. This author accidentally threw away the census paperwork and an employee from the U.S. Census Bureau came to this author's house to hand deliver another form. Researchers who compile such research and take information from juvenile detention facilities and courthouses survey and study the information: male versus female, ethnicity versus ethnicity, and crime versus crime. Throughout the National Criminal Justice Reference Service website, comparisons were made of such to show the trends, increases, and decreases. It is important to follow the juvenile crime rates to see where our future is going, where our children will be leading the future of America tomorrow. In addition, it is important to follow which trends juveniles are following: recreational drugs, alcohol, and school dropouts. Where is the criminal justice weak? What improvements can be made to decrease and deter juvenile from repeat crimes? All of this can be possible through assessing and tracking juvenile arrests to measure the trends and to possibly prevent career criminals. The Uniform Crime Report states 'white juveniles constituted 71 percent of all juvenile arrests compared with 26 percent of black youth.' (p. 2). In addition, 'American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islanders account for 1 and 2 percent.' (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1999). Fifteen percent of those under 18 are African American and 79 percent are white while 5 percent are other races. With that being said, 42 percent of African Americans were arrested for violent crimes. (p. 3). According to Lafree, G., (1995), 'Juvenile involvement in crime by race has been generally consistent over the past several decades.' (p. 3). In addition Lafree, G., also states 'However, the racial gap in rates of homicide widened dramatically between 1986 and 1994. Black youth were responsible for the majority of the in- crease in homicides by juveniles in these years 'and for the majority of the decline thereafter.'' (p. 3). In the next paragraph this author will discuss racial and ethnic differences.

Society has stereotyped the 'ghetto' as any low-income, colored family making trouble and keeping the middle-upper class tax dollars at work by keeping the police busy with arrests. Many White Americans attach African Americans and Hispanics to high crime areas. In addition, in lieu of the recent attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001, many Americans are weary of getting on an airplane with a Middle Easterner or question those from the Middle East. According to Hawkins, D.F., (1995), 'Researchers and criminologists have long been aware of racial and ethnic differences in serious juvenile offending. Interpreting these disparities, however, is another matter; no one theory has adequately addressed the reasons for them.' (p. 4). This author believes that the way children are raised, brought up, and their moral values will determine the outcome of their future. If children come from broken homes, abusive parents and siblings whether mental abuse, physical, and/or sexual, statistics have shown the child/children are more likely to commit crimes. In addition, if children are raised by parents who are criminals themselves, then they do not know any better except what they hear and see from their parents who are also criminals. Lastly, depending on a families moral values, social network, educational upbringing, and community ties, are all important factors for the outcome of a child's life. This author does not believe it matters what race or ethnicity a juvenile is. That has nothing to do with the crimes that are committed. It is the upbringing of the child that will determine it's future; whether it is on a straight and narrow path or one that is destructed by crime. Wilson, J., (2000) also states 'both black and white juvenile violence rates are affected by the same sociostructural factors. According to Snyder, H., (2003), the causes of violence appear to be similarly rooted in structural differences across communities and cities, regardless of race.' (p. 4). From 1992 to 2001, 'arrest of juvenile females generally increased more than male arrests in most offense categories.' (p. 8). There was also an increase in juvenile female arrests for assault. From 1992 to 2001, white males who were arrested for aggravated assault decreased by 9%. (p.8). 'Of all juvenile arrests for violent crimes, 55% involved white youth, 43% involved black youth, 1% involved Asian youth, and 1% involved American Indian youth. For property crime arrests, the proportions were 68% white youth, 28% black youth, 2% Asian youth, and 1% American Indian youth.' (p. 9). Furthermore, this author will next discuss the assessment of tracking juvenile arrests as a method of measuring the amount of and trends in juvenile crimes. In the next paragraph this author will discuss ways to decrease juvenile crimes.

As stated in the previous paragraph, this author has shown that a juveniles communal ties, upbringing, and social network play an important role in his/her future. Therefore, if a child's school plays an active role in his/her life through before and after school programs, sports, and counseling services, this may better help a child get through their juvenile years crime free. In addition, if parents communicate with their children and are active in their lives, this too may reduce juvenile crime. Also, family time plays a major role in juvenile delinquency. Families who eat dinner together on a daily basis, discuss their daily activities and are tuned in to their children's lives will also help decrease juvenile delinquency. Overall, the more ties children have to their schools, neighborhoods, friends, social networks such as church and afterschool programs and sports, the less likely he/she is to commit crimes. In the next paragraph this author will conclude the above paragraphs.

In this essay this author has discussed race and ethnicity of juvenile offenders in the United States' criminal justice system. In addition, this author has summarized that a juveniles communal ties, upbringing, and social network lessen the chance of juvenile delinquency. Moreover, society needs to track juvenile arrests to determine which race and gender are contributing to juvenile delinquency.

References

Hawkins, D.F. 1995. Ethnicity, race, and crime: A review of selected studies. In Ethnicity, Race and Crime: Perspectives Across Time and Place, edited by D.F. Hawkins. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

LaFree, G. 1995. Race and crime trends in the United States, 1946'1990. In Ethnicity,
Race, and Crime: Perspectives Across Time and Place, edited by D.F. Hawkins. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Snyder, H., (2003). Juvenile Arrests 2001. Online article, retrieved July 5, 2010, from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service website, http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/201370.pdf.

Wilson, J., (2000). Race, Ethnicity, and Serious and Violent Juvenile Offending. Online article retrieved October 4, 2010, from: http://people.wku.edu/john.faine/soc332/racedel.pdf. |

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