In recent years,juvenile delinquency has become a major source of worry in the United States. According to statistics from theOffice of Juvenile Justice(2014), annually more than 1.1 million adolescents are detained for crimes that range in gravity from murder to loitering.While most offenses by juveniles are usually minor violations, some juvenile violators are extremely violent and dangerous. Numerous high-visibility crimes committed by young offenders have shifted the attention of the public, the justice system, policymakers and the media on the pervasivenessof juvenile delinquency. While statistics on youth violence allude to juvenile arrest rates being at their lowest levels since the 1980s, there are still a considerable number of young offenders who come into contact with the criminal justice system.The Kings Cross shooting incident presented another avenue through which juveniles came into contact with the justice system, attracting media attention and awareness by the public, policy-makers, and the justice systemabout the gravity of juvenile delinquency.This paper presents an analysis of the Kings Cross shooting. The paper first presents brief theory of why the juveniles engaged in delinquency. Thereafter, the paper presents the most suitablecrime prevention strategythat would have helped prevent the occurrence of the incidence and concludes with a brief summary of the major points.
In order to come up with strategies meant to prevent and address the problem of juvenile delinquency, there is a need to examine its root causes.It requires an understanding of the nature, extent, and cause of juvenilecrime and subsequently the approach to be employed for control of such delinquent behavior. To achieve this, it requires a study of social and environmental issues related to delinquency, including child abuse and neglect, drug abuse, and peer relations. An understanding of the causes of juvenile delinquency would inform the most suitable crime prevention approach to employ.
Causes of Juvenile Delinquency
There are two major theories that attempt to explain juvenile delinquency: the Classical School and the Positive School (Miller, Hess, & Orthman, 2010). The classical school posits that juvenilesmake a rational decision to engage in delinquent behavior; the Positive School theorizes that juvenile delinquency is a product of internal and, or external influences.
Inconsideration of the facts of theKings Cross shooting case, the theory that best explains the juvenile delinquency behavior is the positivist school.The school posits that delinquent behavior is formed and influenced by internal and external factors.The school theorizes that adolescents do not make a choice to engage in delinquency, but his decision is controlledby other underlying influence that may be beyond the juvenile’s control(Bartollas & Miller, 2014). The school focuses on the individual’s conditioning processes. Specifically, the Social Structures Theories that falls under the positivist school posits that juvenile delinquency is a product of disorganization in social structures, anomie, and strain. It, therefore,holds that delinquency is an upshot of failure of social institutions to apply social control,thereby allowing youths the freedom to engage in delinquent behavior.The theory also theorizes that juvenile delinquency is an upshot of the inability of social institutions to influence juvenileconduct, the justice system,and community being the agencies of social control (Crawford, 2013). Being that all the five passengers were indigenous, and residents of Redfern and the driver had been known by the policefor many years, the delinquent behavior exhibited by the juveniles can be explained by a lack of social control and social structure disorganization. As such, any crime prevention strategies that would have worked in preventing the Kings Cross shooting would have to be based on community-based programs. These programswould involve various stakeholders in the community including parents, the police, and the community. Therefore, the most suitable crime prevention strategy would be a social prevention method, in particular, community crime preventionprograms.
Community Crime Prevention Programs
Community involvement in prevention of crime has become a key element in crime prevention.The establishment of community crime prevention programs in the 1970sindicated that local institutions and community organization had an important role in crime prevention efforts. The goal was for the police and community organizations to provide the impetus for neighborhood crime prevention efforts.According to Palmiotto & Unnithan (2010), community crime prevention are programsimplemented with the goal of changing the social conditions that allow for the commission of crime in suburban communities.Bartollas & Miller (2014)add that the community crime prevention programs aim at preventing crime with a focus on local social institutions such as the family, churches, youth clubs and associations being the mediums the programs are undertaken to tackle misbehavior and delinquency.
There are various characterizations of community crime prevention programs that make them the most appropriate programs that would have prevented the occurrence of theKings Cross shooting incident.
First, the focus of community crime prevention programs on strengthening community social ties would have encouraged social ethics adherence among the juveniles. This feature, coupled with the programs’ awareness of the role that competition between social groups plays in promoting crime makes it the best approach.The strategy recognizes that it is in the community where crime arises and as such, it is the means by which crime can be fought.This would have assisted in identifying at-risk juveniles at a young age, and take steps to minimize the influence of these risks. This would have involved initiating mitigation steps throughFamily-based intervention efforts such as supporting parents recognize warning signs of adolescent delinquency,and training guardians on how toapproach behavioral problems that may occur. It may also involve theinitiation of family-supportive intervention efforts such as providing needed social support services. Other steps would be School-based approaches or Community-based approaches that increase community organization such as the Police Athletic League and the Boys’ Club. Involvement in community activities has been proved to be an effective protective factor in juvenile delinquency. These features of community crime prevention programs make it the most suitable program that would have prevented the occurrence of the Kings Cross shootings.
Secondly, the focus of community crime prevention programs being local institutions with the goal of changing social institutions such as the family, churches, youth clubs and associations, this makes the approach the most suitable in preventing the Kings Cross Shooting. Most of the juveniles involved being young teenagers; they are still under the guardianship of parents and are involved in some form of youth clubs or associations. Through a focus on strengthening local institutions, community crime prevention programs would have assisted in putting in place systems to inculcate positive values to the youth which would have been instilled on the associates. This would have had the result of promoting good behavior on the youth. Therefore, this would have ensured that the juveniles had strong social controls and positive values that would have prevented cases of juvenile delinquencies such as the Kings Cross Shooting incident.Additionally, community crime prevention programs recognize the community’s better position to identify and address the needs of juvenile’s at risk, current gang youths, and their families and have a broader, deeper, and stronger reach in the community than traditional law enforcement agencies. They also have in-depth knowledge of the community and the youth who live there, and thus, have a better understanding of the delinquent culture within the community. Thus the community crime prevention programs would have assisted the community in identifying and rehabilitating the delinquent youths before they engaged in delinquency.
Thirdly, much more than other approaches to preventing crime, community crime prevention is an eclectic concept, one in which different interventions can be found. It adopts differentstrategies that foster community participation in prevention of crime, the underlying idea being to cultivate community resources to prevent crime. As such, instituting community organizations, such as Neighborhood Watch, would assist inpromoting community organization, furthering community cohesion, and encouraging community involvement.This would have promoted a growing environment where the juveniles would have a socially cohesive environment where social controls are present, and a case of juvenile delinquency would have been unheard. The use of Neighborhood Watch has been found to be effective in preventing youth violence(Feld & Bishop, 2012).
Lastly, in the Kings Cross shooting, through community crime prevention, the community would have fostered a social environment where community social organizations and ties are reinforced. Through community crime prevention, community defense is in place, implying an involvement of communities in crime prevention programs, with the goal of improving surveillance and self-protection. This would have assisted in identifying the location of the juveniles and stolen car before they ended up in a crowded area. This would have minimized fatalities or the occurrence of the incident in the first place.
Weakness of Community Crime Prevention Programs
There is onekey shortcoming associated with community crime preventionprograms that weaken the effectiveness of the program as a strategy for crime prevention.Community crime prevention programs at their core are founded on the unity and cooperationbetween community members and,with other security stakeholders such as the police (Shoham, Knepper, & Kett, 2010). However, the interest and importance of community involvement in crime preventionarebecoming apparent at a time when communities are declining in relevance as a source of strong bonds. Increasingly individuals and communities are preferring living secluded and sheltered, often private lives with minimal social contacts. The idea of community crime prevention is weakened by this social element and may subsequently not work in such a disjointed population.
In conclusion, while community crime prevention programs have a major shortcoming, they have many advantages associated with the programs. These programs not only assist in increasing resident involvement in crime prevention activities but also help in the accomplishing of objectives such as increasing citizen satisfaction with the police, reducing residentsfear of crime, and increasing interactions between residents and police. These attributes make community crime prevention programs the best crime prevention strategy that would have prevented the occurrence of the Kings Cross shooting incident.
Bartollas, C., & Miller, S. J. (2014). Juvenile justice in America (7th Edition ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
Crawford, A. (2013). Crime Prevention Policies in Comparative Perspective. New York, NY: Routledge.
Feld, B. C., & Bishop, D. M. (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Miller, L. S., Hess, K. M., & Orthman, C. M. (2010). Community Policing: Partnerships for Problem Solving. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning.
Office of Juvenile Justice. (2014, December 16). Estimated Number of Juvenile Arrests, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2015, from Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention:: http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/qa05101.asp
Palmiotto, M. J., & Unnithan, N. P. (2010). Policing and Society: A Global Approach. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning.
Shoham, S. G., Knepper, P., & Kett, M. (2010). International Handbook of Criminology. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
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