African American & Societys Influence

2064 Words5 Pages

I. Introduction
We can begin to draw comparisons and highlight distinctions about the meaning

attached to youth violence, from the modern era to present day. Based on this meaning,

we are able to understand the myriad of ways delinquent juveniles are affected by certain

policies. Specifically, African Americans are over-represented in the juvenile justice

system of Cook County, Chicago. Thus, they are a vulnerable population that is singled

out by the system, and this further exacerbates and stigmatizes them.

II. Historical Background: Children As Villains In Modern America
Until the late 19th century, children were tried in criminal courts with adults. According to common law, the law regarded children under the age of seven, as still in the infancy stage of moral development, while those over the age of fourteen, were morally developed and thus responsible for criminal offenses.
An early response, to the reasoning of juvenile delinquency, was that the blame was directed at the child. Children faced harsh punishment, such as prison and death. Eventually, reform efforts were established to provide a more acceptable approach. The Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents, viewed delinquents as needing a place to rehabilitate, and punishment was built in (Shepherd). As a penalty, the children worked an 8-hour day at trades and attended school for another 4 hours. Records reveal that many of them had not committed any criminal act, and a number of juvenile delinquents could be categorized as committing status offenders (Shepherd). Juveniles were susceptible to court hearings that were informal, and the ideology was based on the principle that judges will act as a parental guide, and provide an approach to guide children.
In addition, another response to the growing concern of youth delinquency was with the establishment of the first juvenile court system created in Cook County, Chicago. This act was unique, since it attempted to reduce the stigma of juvenile crime and create a new approach for the process of offenders. They philosophized that children were not to be treated as criminals but in need of encouragement.
III. Current View of Juvenile delinquency
Over the decades, the perspective of juvenile delinquency has seemed to intensify,

as it has been regarded as an epidemic. Youth violence has appeared to proliferate in

some ar...

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...are inadequately being taken care of. Consequently, there is the possibility that America’s poor children will grow up in a socially disorganized neighborhood, and ultimately they will be exposed to violence. As they grow up, they will attach meaning to the surroundings and people around them, and depending on the resource in their life they will eventually become molded.


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Collins, J.W. and Hawkes, E.K. (1997) “Pathways to Juvenile Detention Reform:

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Shepherd, R. Jr. “The Juvenile Court at 100 Years Back: A Look Back”. Retrieved

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