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Juvenile Justice - Before and After the Onset of Delinquency

NCJ Number
Date Published
37 pages
Prepared for the Sixth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, this working paper summarizes juvenile justice issues from three perspectives: the social environment of children; special efforts to help young persons who are predelinquent, abused, or neglected; and correctional programs for young offenders.
The discussion of current trends in juvenile justice covers the paternalistic intervention approach and the concept of juvenile justice as a social service. It notes that developing countries have relied on informal social controls to resolve domestic problems, but move toward state interventionist policies when urbanization and industrialization disrupt traditional social structures. Representatives who attended preparatory meetings for the congress agreed that social justice for all children was a priority goal which had a direct relationship to the prevention of delinquency. In this context, the roles of the family, the educational system, the community, and the state are reviewed. Guidelines for planning programs for young people are presented, with particular attention to early identification of potential delinquents and intervention services to prevent deviant behavior. The second part of the working paper focuses on programs that can be effective and humane in handling juveniles following the onset of delinquency. Various legal structures for protecting and adjudicating juveniles throughout the world are described. Controversial issues which are likely to arise at the congress are identified, including differing perceptions of delinquent behavior by different cultures, diversion programs, and the rights of minors. Legal definitions of delinquency, juvenile juridical structures, and procedural aspects of juvenile court cases are also examined as probable discussion topics. The paper's final sections consider legal and nonlegal alternatives to the juvenile court, as well as community treatment programs instead of institutional placement for adjudicated youths. A total of 34 footnotes are provided.