Children have been getting into mischief pretty much since the dawn of time (or at least we can assume) but there’s a difference between normal mischief and actual criminal activity. Unfortunately, children are now getting involved in more and more criminal activity as well. What’s even more unfortunate is that the children who are doing these things seem to only get younger and younger every year, leading us to wonder, just what is happening to our youth?
The Consequences for Juveniles
Part of the problem of young offenders is the consequences for their actions. While many want to give children more than one chance and want to let them off with warnings, it’s turning into an epidemic. The problem isn’t giving children second chances or accepting that ‘kids will be kids.’ The problem is the type of crimes that these youth are committing and still being told that it’s not a big deal. With famous cases popping up with children who are let off with warnings or probation for serious crimes, youth are coming to the understanding that they can do whatever they want and get away with it.
The consequences for bad activity begin in the home and they start with the small things. A child who is never punished when they get into trouble (even minor mischief) will start to believe that they can do no wrong. A line has to be drawn where the child knows that what they are doing is bad and will not be allowed by the parents. This makes it easier for the child to understand laws as they become older and to recognize things that are right from wrong. If they don’t learn with small things when they’re younger, they definitely won’t learn later.
The Age Change
So why do juvenile offenders keep getting younger? Well one reason is that children seem to growing up faster. Younger and younger children are being left to their own devices at home or even in malls and other shopping centers. They wander around town on their own and they’re trusted to follow the rules and the laws without supervision. These youth are then doing what young children do, getting into mischief. But that mischief is turning into something even more serious because of the lack of supervision.
Where traditionally a child of 8 or 10 would be watched by a parent or guardian and corrected immediately, they are now being left to their own devices in an environment where their own guidance is their own thoughts and ideas and those of their friends who are the same age. In the end, these children tend to come up with ideas that they may consider harmless or fun, but that can actually result in serious injury or criminal activity. Where it may seem funny to take that bike out of someone’s yard, it’s actually a serious crime. Where a fight between youth may seem all in good fun, someone could easily get hurt.
By providing better supervision and careful instruction on rules, youth are much better prepared for their later years, rather than creating bad habits that can turn into something far more serious. Something minor today, at the age of 8 or 9, could turn into a very serious problem by the age of 15 or 16. It’s up to parents to make sure that they are doing all they can to guide their children the right way and keep them from developing the type of habits that can easily lead them down a path that they don’t even understand at the time.