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Juvenile Violent Offenders - Prevalence Of Juvenile Violence, The Growth In Juvenile Violence In The Early 1990s, The Concept Of The Juvenile Super Predator

behaviors juveniles crime age

Most juveniles have committed a violent act, probably by the age of two. An objective observer spending a few minutes in a pre-school daycare center would likely see many incidents of physical assault and robbery. However, to classify an act as a crime (i.e., a behavior warranting severe sanctions by the justice system) is not as simple. Modern societies do not legally respond to the behaviors of young children as crimes because persons below the age of seven are generally considered unable to understand the implications of the actions. In fact, in most modern societies, it is common to assume that persons between the ages of seven and seventeen have a lesser degree of criminal responsibility for their actions than do adults.

Another complication in assessing the prevalence of juvenile violence is the varying definitions of what behaviors are violent. Most would include behaviors such as murder, forcible rape, assault with the intent to do serious bodily harm, and armed robbery. However, other behaviors are not as universally accepted as violent, behaviors such as the taking of a bicycle from another student on a school playground, fighting with a sibling, weapons possession in school, cruelty to animals, or drug selling. To some these behaviors are violent and justify strong sanctions for the perpetrators; to others the behaviors, while deserving attention, do not rise to the level of violent crime. In all, behaviors may or may not be classified as a violent crime depending on the age of the perpetrator and societal norms. Consequently, any attempt to assess the proportion of juveniles who commit violent crimes must acknowledge that the response is dependent on many assumptions.

HOWARD N. SNYDER

Juvenile and Youth Gangs - History, Scope Of Gang Problems, Correlates Of Gang Proliferation, Gangs And Crime, Drugs And Gangs [next] [back] Juvenile Status Offenders - Historical Antecedents, The Breadth Of Proscribed Behaviors, Separation Of Noncriminal Conduct From Delinquent Conduct, Constraints On Judicial Powers

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