Criminological Theories Of The Youth Justice System

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The youth justice system’s functions are to not only regulate the laws and ramifications of crime in the youth population, but to rehabilitate and reintroduce these juveniles into society. Of the three criminological explanations that can shape a juvenile justice system; individual, situational and social structural, social structural implications is by far the most effective ideology in shaping a modern youth justice system. Shaw and McKay (1942) emphasize in their studies that youth deviance is strongly linked to the social structure they belong to. In support of this theory, Cunneen and White (2011) state that crime is a social phenomenon that can not be directly connected to a person’s individual or personal biology. With that being said, there are a number of theories that can be best used to construct a youth justice system from a social structural angle, including; social strain or social disorganization, social bonds and differential association theories. Each of these theories, from their own theoretical angle, can provide framework and ideologies on how to better the youth justice system in a number of facets in order to target modern youths’ social structural and delinquency struggles. Social strains or sources of tension are said to be generated by society and do not reside in the individual themselves (Cunneen & White, 2011), crime is seen as being located in social structures or values that are in a way unfair or pathological. As an umbrella theory, social strains in society is a great starting point in the attempt to build a justice system’s framework. Under this broad theory contains Shaw and McKay’s (1942) powerful theory of community and social disorganization. Social disorganization is based around the notion th... ... middle of paper ... goals whether it is in relation to education, career prospects or the polar opposite, but relevant, criminal aspirations. Thirdly there is the involvement facet of Hirschi’s social bonds theory. Cunneen and White (2011) explain involvement as ‘the patterns of living that shape the immediate and long-term opportunities’ and exemplify it as keeping youth busy with conventional things to reduce exposure to illegal ways. Lastly is belief, which is seen as the way youth view legal rules, which is strongly shaped by society’s views. With Travis Hirschi’s theory being elaborated, it is evident that social bonds are present in youth and is a strong factor in what shapes the paths taken. To improve upon the poor upbringing and social bonds in youth, there are many simple and some more extreme ways to help steer these young people in the direction society expects of them.

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