Juvenile delinquency Essay: A Brief History
Children were viewed as non-persons until the 1700’s. They did not receive special treatment or recognition. Discipline then is what we now call abuse. There were some major assumptions about life before the 1700’s.
The first assumption is that life was hard, and you had to be hard to survive.
The people of that time in history did not have the conveniences that we take for granted. For example, the medical practices of that day were primitive in comparison to present-day medicine. Marriages were more for convenience, rather than for child-bearing or romance.
The second assuption was that infant and child mortality were high. It did not make sense to the parents in those days to create an emotional bond with children. there was a strong chance that the children would not survive until adulthood.
At the end of the 18th century, “The Enlightenment” appeared as a new cultural transition. This period of history is sometimes known as the beginning of reason and humanism. People began to see children as flowers, who needed nurturing in order to bloom. It was the invention of childhood, love and nurturing instead of beatings to stay in line. Children had finally begun to emerge as a distinct group. It started with the upper-class, who were allowed to attend colleges and universities.
Throughout all time there has been delinquency. It may not have had the delinquency label, but it still existed. In ancient Britain, children at the age of seven were tried, convicted, and punished as adults. There was no special treatment for them, a hanging was a hanging. Juvenile crime is mentioned as far back as ancient Sumeria and Hammurabi, where laws concerning juvenile offenders first appear in written form.
The Modernization of Juvenile Delinquency
Industrialization set into motion the processes needed for modern juvenile delinquency.
The country had gone from agriculture to machine-based labor-intensive production. Subsistence farming quickly turned into profit making. People who were displaced from their farm work because of machinery were migrating to the city to find work. This led to urbanization in such places as Chicago, which in turn caused the cities to burst at the seams.
There was a huge increase in the amount of movable goods that were produced. These movable goods were easy to steal.
The stealing of these goods made property crime rise tremendously in these urban centers. The wealth of the upper-class increased, and stealing became a way of living.
These large urban centers also created another problem. The work place was now seperated from the home. During the hard times both parents took jobs. There was also very little for the youths to do, especially when school was not in session.
It was then that youths were becoming increasingly unsupervised. These youths were largely unemployed. Without supervision, and with movable goods easily available, stealing became a way of life.
The huge influx of people to these urban areas overwhelmed society. The factories could not keep up, and unemployment became a factor. Poverty became widespread.
Poorhouses were created to keep youthful offenders away from trouble. The idea behind them was to take the children of the “dangerous” classes out of their “dangerous environment.” Kids were thought to be salvageable needed to be saved. The majority of these children were rounded up for the crime of being poor, not because they committed a crime. These houses, sometimes refered as reform schools, were very harsh. This was contradictory to the ides the they needed nurturing and love.
In New York, houses of refuge were created to do the same. The houses eventually became overfilled, and children were sent out West as indentured servants. As many as 50,00 children were shipped out. Some of them never were allowed to have contact with their parents again.
Indusrtialization and urbanization played a tremendous role in the modern era of Juvenile Delinquency. A lot of these factors are true today.
Many more farms are going bankrupt. Unemployment is still a factor with the youth of today. We are a culture that values material wealth over and above all. Youth who have no money to live the way they want will often turn to crime as a way to .