How to Love a Juvenile Delinquent

The Behaviors and Saddening Backgrounds of Some Juvenile Delinquents


Remembering back to my own childhood, I remember my own thoughts towards or against other children who were classified as juvenile delinquents. For starters, these were definately not the type of children my parents would allow me to hang around with. In general, these are not the type of children I would have wanted to be friends with. A juvenile delinquent, to me, was a bad child who committed crimes and were basically nothing but trouble. Looking back, I can now say, that in many cases a juvenile delinquent is usually someone who is placed in a troubled situation. Is there a difference? In my opinion nothing but trouble means that there are no good qualities involved in a child's characteristics, and troubled situations mean that they consequently are placed in situations by choice, but for various reasons.
Out of college, I interned at the juvenile justice hall and found my beliefs fading, quickly. Although many of the clients, or delinquents, I would work with often tried to "play" the counselor, it became apparent that many of these children were once traumatized or trying to fit in with society. Although many may disagree with my personal observations, I feel that many of these children have great potential for great achievements.
So how did a child end up in the court system, in the first place? I have seen children placed in "juvey hall" for several reasons. Some include minor acts such as egging houses or pumpkin bashing (repeated offenses), or some include major acts such as theft, violence, or other major classified crimes. It is hard to determine why many children choose the paths they choose, however, there are usually underlying reasons to why they travel down the criminal road.
n speaking with many of the children who have committed various crimes, I noticed that quite a few came from abusive households. Some of the horrifying and unsatisfactory behaviors they displayed were actually learned from their mentors or parents. Many of these victims (as I like to call them in some cases) are acting out on abusive behaviors they learned in the household. Some of these children think it is normal to commit acts of violence and deceit because they watched it go on in their own household. It is the same as children in a "so-called" normal household. They may treat people kindly and display only acts of kindness because that is what they grew up knowing and visualizing. So are the juvenile deliquents to blame, or the parents/mentors in the type of situation? Unfortunately, the children are blamed. True, I feel everyone should have consequences for their own actions, but consequences should not include writing people off because of poor choices. Instead of going against these children, as adults, we need to help quide them to a different future.
In some instances, as mentioned above, children act out because of learned behaviors in the household, however this is not always the case. I have also viewed many instances where children committed crimes becuase of acceptance issues and peer pressure. Any parent looking into the past can identify with the fact that being a teenager is not always as easy as it looks. I do not know about you, but I wouldn't go back to my teenage years if given the option. Sure, there is no work and less responsibility, but mentally the peer pressure and constant reminder that you have to prove yourself to your peers can be frustrating and create a bit of anxiety. Many delinquents commit crimes to prove to their peers that they are so-called "cool" or they commit the crimes to instill fear in there peers for acceptance matters. When I actually sat down and had normal conversations with many of the delinquents, I learned they they can be caring individuals and that they want to change, but lack the guidance. They also have many good qualities and talents that they are ashamed to show in fear of rejection.
Now the question is to love or hate the "juvenile delinquent". Some children cannot and will never change, but some children are begging for a change through their mischievious actions rather than words. Many of us, as children, have done horrible things but were fortunate enough not to get caught. We also have had many un-satisfactory actions go un-noticed because of our popularity rankings in society. Many of these children in the court system are just that...children. Many have been searching for acceptance. To love these children will only help them grow. To hate these children will prove their own theories, about themselves and societ, to be true. It is easy to remember the good times, but so often we tend to block the bad times of being a teenager out of our head. We forget that "we" were children once and choose to forget about those children who were sometimes less fortunate than us...in all aspects of life.

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