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Juvenile Delinquency and the Second World War

Juvenile Delinquency and the Second World War

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On the outbreak of the Second World War launched plans for the evacuation of all children from Britain's large cities. Sir John Anderson, who was placed in charge of the scheme, decided to divide the country into three areas: evacuation (people living in urban districts where heavy bombing raids could be expected); neutral (areas that would neither send nor take evacuees) and reception (rural areas where evacuees would be sent).

As all the children and their teachers living in urban districts were expected to move to the rural areas, most schools in the towns were closed down. Of these, around two-thirds were requisitioned by the government and were handed over to the Civil Defence Services.

However, only around 50 per cent of the children living in the towns became evacuees. This meant that around a million children were now without schools. There were soon reports of increased acts of hooliganism. Public air raid shelters were often the target of their attacks and in many areas the authorities were forced to keep them locked.

Some people became concerned about the young people in public shelters during air raids. Watkin Boyce, a probation officer for Southwark Juvenile Court, claimed that is some shelters in London: "There are few boys and girls of 17 and 18 living huddled together in public shelters for whose chastity I would care to vouch. I have seen youngsters in their teens, of mixed sexes, making up their beds together on the floors of public shelters, even under their parents' eyes."

Teenage blackout gangs became a common problem during the early stages of the war. In once incident, seventeen-year-old James Harvey, was beaten to death by a rival gang near the Elephant and Castle underground station. There was a public outcry when the court accepted the defendants claim that they had not intended to murder Harvey. Convicted of manslaughter, the three convicted gang members were only sentenced to three years, eighteen months and twelve months respectively.

Young people were blamed for the high rate of crimes in crowded tube shelters. As soon as the chosen victim had gone to sleep the thief would quietly carry off their bags. Teenage pickpockets were also kept busy in public air raid shelters. Others concentrated on burgling the houses of those who had gone to public shelters. One fifteen-year-old was told by a magistrate that it was "a crime almost as serious, if not as serious, as looting."

By February 1941 the government announced that all the country's remand homes were full. Soon afterwards two boys of 14 and 15 escaped from Wallington remand home and then broke into the Home Guard store at Upper Norwood. Luckily they were arrested before they could do too much damage with their tommy-gun and 400 rounds of ammunition.

There was much discussion about the growth in criminal behaviour in young people during the Second World War. The headmaster of Ashurst Wood Council School claimed: "There were many explanations for the growth of juvenile delinquency such as poverty, bad housing, absence of facilities for recreation, insufficient clubs, greater temptations which beset the modern child, decay in the standards of conduct and of parental control, a weakening of religious influence, a lack of opportunity for amusement, new housing estates and the cinema... The desire for adventure and war stories of deeds at sea, the field, and in the air, led to stealing and destructive behaviour. Gangster films and the 'tough' gangster idea also had their influence... A lack of discipline applied to boys owing to the father's absence in the forces was another factor."

Raids on Home Guard armaments stores became a common problem during the war. In February 1943 seven teenage boys stole 2,000 rounds of sten-gun ammunition. The following month three seventeen-year-olds held up the cashier at the Ambassador cinema in Hayes with three loaded sten-guns that had been stolen from the local Home Guard store. After they were arrested they admitted that they had taken part in 43 other raids in London.

There are few boys and girls of 17 and 18 living huddled together in public shelters for whose chastity I would care to vouch. I have seen youngsters in their teens, of mixed sexes, making up their beds together on the floors of public shelters, even under their parents' eyes.

A crime almost as serious, if not as serious, as looting is going round to houses of evacuated people or people who are taking shelter and stealing. It is becoming more and more common. It is just playing dirty in wartime.

There was a record attendance at a meeting of the East Grinstead Literary and Scientific Institute on the 2nd January. Mr. Wray, headmaster of Ashurst Wood Council School, gave a talk on juvenile delinquency.

Mr. Wray expressed the opinion that the war had resulted in an increase of juvenile delinquency throughout Sussex. Wray told the meeting that: "Records show a big increase in the number of children prosecuted and a surprising increase in the number of young people who went unpunished. People in East Grinstead know the amount of undetected crime by vandals and juvenile delinquents. Housebreaking, shopbreaking and all forms of stealing showed a disturbing increase."

"There were many explanations for the growth of juvenile delinquency such as poverty, bad housing, absence of facilities for recreation, insufficient clubs, greater temptations which beset the modern child, decay in the standards of conduct and of parental control, a weakening of religious influence, a lack of opportunity for amusement, new housing estates and the cinema."

"Many cases brought before the Juvenile Courts arrive from broken homes. A lack of discipline in such homes was responsible for many of these crimes. Gangster films and the 'tough' gangster idea also had their influence."

"The effect of the decline of religious training is another concern. Sunday School attendance has declined in the last twenty years and this was a factor in the growth of juvenile delinquency." Mr. Wray, who favoured birching, said: "A lack of discipline applied to boys owing to the father's absence in the forces was another factor." Miss Monica Perkins, a probation officer, said that juvenile delinquency had increased since the start of the war and from her experience there were three causes - evacuation, insecurity and broken homes. Miss Perkins said that she believed mentally deficient people should be prevented from having children. G. Moon claimed that children were petted and spoilt beyond all reason by their parents. As a result, the children grow up to expect everything they wanted. That was not real love for a child.

SOCHUM II: Juvenile Delinquency Around the World

Juvenile Delinquent - young people, usually defined as being between the ages of 10 and 18, who have committed some act that violates the law. These acts aren't called “crimes” as they would be for adults rather, crimes committed by minors are called “delinquent acts”

Parole - the release of a prisoner temporarily (for a special purpose) or permanently before the completion of a sentence, on the promise of good behavior

Minors - any child under the age of 18

Juvenile justice encompasses the safety, treatment, and respectable care of juveniles who have committed delinquent acts. Across the world, the juvenile age ranges from 10 to 20 years old, and despite the existence of juvenile delinquency in every nation, there does not yet exist a universal standard for juvenile care. Despite attempts by the United Nations to unify juvenile justice practices, nations continue to mistreat and unjustly incarcerate children. SOCHUM delegates will create a comprehensive solution to reduce juvenile delinquency around the world as well as set standards for appropriate punishment and care of delinquents who have been detained.

The modern idea of juvenile justice - trying children in an official court and sentencing them to a facility or treatment center - is a relatively new concept. The first official juvenile justice systems were created in the 19th century, and now every developed nation has a system in place to handle minors who have committed delinquents.

United States

In the United States, the Society for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency founded the New York House of Refuge in 1825, the first juvenile center in North America. The program expanded to major cities and the first official juvenile court case took place in 1899. For many years, there was little legal guidelines about how juveniles were to be tried, so courts and judges were not required to strictly follow normal court proceedings. Exceptions were made, rules were broken, and juvenile punishments took a more flexible and non-adversarial approach. However, transformative cases like Kent v. United States forced American courts to be more strict about legal proceedings with young criminals. Current legal dialogue in America is now focused on what rights and methods from criminal proceedings should be transferred to juvenile courts (for example, juveniles are denied a trial by a jury). Juvenile centers in America continue to face criticism for not offering enough educational resources to their delinquents and for the high rate of repeated offenses by minors. Once a child in America commits a crime, they are more likely to commit a second crime after completing their sentence within the justice system.


In India, juvenile justice did not develop similar to the American system. Beginning in 1850, specific laws were passed India that protected young criminals that instead focused on an apprenticeship program. If a minor committed a non-violent and non-serious crime, than that child was placed into an apprenticeship with a professional (like a tailor, blacksmith, farmer, etc.) and was taught a professional skill to use once they completed their rehabilitation. The Indian government believed that apprenticeship was superior to direct punishment or confinement because it would deter future offenses and give young criminals the ability to find jobs after they had finished with their apprenticeships. However, data shows that after the law took effect, juvenile delinquency rose drastically. To account for this rise in young criminals, India passed The Whipping Act of 1864.

At the time, India was under British control, and Great Britain instead decided to replace physical punishment like whipping with a jail system more like the American process. In doing so, each region of India, over the course of many years, developed different and conflicting legal proceedings for young criminals. In 1960, India passed The Children Act, which created a uniform process for juvenile courts to follow. Finally, in 2000, India redesigned their court system with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. This law, which was later amended in 2006, re-introduced the idea of vocational programs and apprenticeships that were more adapted to the modern world. Since 2006, volunteer organizations have been allowed to work with young criminals to provide them with work opportunities, job experience, and education. In 2015, the law was again amended to allow for 16-18 year-old to be tried as adults if accused of serious crime like murder or armed robbery.

The United States and India have been used as examples to show that many nations have developed different juvenile court systems, each with varying degrees of success. Throughout history, most countries have used a combination of vocational training, education, detention centers, physical punishment, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, mandatory community service, and other methods of punishment for young criminals.


- The United States often placed juveniles in detention housing like regular prisons, but India has used a combination of detention centers and vocational programs to give juveniles work experience.

- Many nations don’t agree on the correct way to house juveniles, and often have conflicting juvenile justice systems.

Previous UN Action

Since the creation of the United Nations in 1948, the organization has been concerned with the rights, safety, and dignity of children around the world. For many years, the UN’s mission to protect children primarily involved children living in war-torn countries, suffering from malnourishment and poverty, or victims of tragic human rights violations. Only in the last part of the 20th century did the United Nations begin focusing energy on protecting children who were in contact or conflict with the law.

The United Nations first passed the General Assembly Resolution 40/33 of November 29th, 1983, that led to the adoption of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice. It was later recognized that this document was not specific or direct enough in protecting juvenile delinquents, and so an expansion to the resolution, the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, was passed in 1990. In these new guidelines, referred to as the Riyadh Guidelines (pronounced ree-yawd), the United Nation declares:

“In the implementation of the present Guidelines, in accordance with national legal systems, the well-being of young persons from their early childhood should be the focus of any preventive programme. The need for and importance of progressive delinquency prevention policies and the systematic study and the elaboration of measures should be recognized. These should avoid criminalizing and penalizing a child for behaviour that does not cause serious damage to the development of the child or harm to others.”

This transition from focusing on punishment to allowing juvenile justice to become a comprehensive program that emphasizes the development of the child was transformative in the protection of juveniles. From 1990 onwards, efforts from the United Nations to provide support to juvenile delinquents has followed these guidelines, including the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, released in December of that year. This document, again added further detail about juveniles under arrest or awaiting trial, the management of juvenile facilities, education, vocational training, and work.

In 2006, the United Nations released the Manual for the Measurement of Juvenile Justice Indicators in coordination with UNICEF to spread awareness about the prevention of juvenile delinquency. This document (please do not try to read the whole report!) lists important qualifications that facilities should use when assessing the success of their juvenile justice programs. The inclusion of aftercare, separation from parents and other adults, child deaths, and prevention mechanisms reinforced the need for comprehensive care around the world.

A report from the Human Rights Watch revealed that the United Nations will be completing a study in 2017 that again focuses on juvenile delinquency after multiple reports of human rights violations in juvenile centers around the world. This is expected to result in, “systematic monitoring of abusive practices, increased compliance with international standards, and a dramatic reduction in the number of children deprived of their liberty.”


- The United Nations has passed multiple resolutions and reports that identify the need to protect juvenile delinquents and ensure that they have a safe and productive environment.

- Recent amendments to these resolutions stress the need for comprehensive care and shows the need for more prevention programs.

- In response to nations that continue illegal and inhuman practices against juveniles (as will be discussed in the Current Situation), the UN plans to continue research into improvement for the juvenile justice system.

The American Family in World War II

With war comes devastation, depression, deprivation and death. World War II was uppermost in U.S. history with costs exceeding $350 billion and more than 292,000 American servicemen killed in action. The families on the home front were profoundly affected. An immediate political, psychological and economic shift took place following the Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941, because the United States found itself unprepared. The onset of war necessitated numerous adjustments while American forces were fighting overseas or training in U.S. military camps, families also were fully engaged in the war effort. The American home front geared up for an all-out effort to rush into war production, and American society experienced dramatic changes. The first major impact was felt with labor shortages when the men went off to war. More and more women now entered the work force. Once reserved for men, women now took up jobs in industry, and Rosie the Riveter became a popular icon in America. Widening their horizons, many women were now working full time and yet were still trying to maintain their home life. Attracted by waiting jobs, the number of high school dropouts increased significantly, resulting in the teenage work force swelling from one million to three million youngsters. In the meantime, federal inspectors ignored laws that regulated the employment of children. Although the war had opened up new opportunities, it also brought much sadness and a far more serious reality regarding life in its normal state. Separation from fathers or sons left devastating effects, and in a sense, many felt robbed of their childhood. With the family shifting roles, each member was initially shocked and filled with mixed emotions. With added stresses it was an emotional time, to say the least — the American family would undoubtedly be changed forever. While adjusting to sacrifices, there was an added excitement about the war and uncertain fear of the consequences as well. The war brought vast changes: While there was an increase in marriages, job opportunities, and patriotism there was also a definite decline in morale among some Americans. Despite the increase in rising wages, poverty increased and some families were forced to move in search of work. Some 20 million people existed on the border of starvation as families faced a severe shortage of housing, lack of schools, hospitals and child-care facilities. Those factors contributed to an upsurge in divorce, resulting in severe problems among the young. There were five million "war widows" trying to care for their children alone. Women employed outside the home left tens of thousands of "latchkey" children who were unsupervised much of the day. The rates of juvenile delinquency, venereal disease and truancy rose dramatically. The impact on the family was evident, attended by much anxiety about the breakdown of social values. The war also aggravated systemic racism. On the West Coast there was actual hysteria when the war broke out. Thousands of Americans of Japanese descent were relocated and interned in camps. As for African Americans, they were usually "the last to be hired and the first to be fired." Low wages were the rule and even though they were accepted into the armed forces, they were assigned menial jobs. Discrimination continued its divisive role in society during that era. With 25 percent of the American workers earning less than 64 cents per hour while skilled workers earned an average of $7 per hour, there was a definite division of rich versus poor citizens. Poverty increased as the federal deficit escalated. By 1945, longer working days were implemented, which inflicted more hardships on families — with women comprising 36 percent of the nation's work force. The federal government encouraged Americans to conserve and recycle numerous items, so that factories could use them for wartime production materials. Getting their first taste of recycling, Americans were encouraged to salvage their tin cans, bottles, rubber items, paper, scrap metal, and even fats left over from cooking. The government conducted "salvage drives" throughout the country to aid the war effort. Food rationing was the rallying cry on the American home front. The Office of Price Administration (OPA) was set up to determine rationing regulations. With the military as top priority, American families began to feel the pinch. There were now such substitute foods as dried powdered eggs and liquid paraffin instead of cooking oil. For those who violated the rationing rules, the punishment was strict. "Victory Gardens" were started as the government encouraged Americans to grow their own food. Statewide competitions were conducted and winning recipes published to optimize use of home-grown vegetables. That endeavor was successful, and at one point during the war, 50 percent of the the nation's vegetables were grown in victory gardens. Although the nation’s farm population declined 17 percent during the war, modern farm machinery, good weather, and improved fertilizers actually increased agricultural production. The sale of war bonds and war stamps also helped the United States to stage a rapid economic recovery. Unfortunately, only about one third of the American people could afford to contribute to the cause. Changes were felt all the way to the top. As the federal government continued to cut funding for many social programs, many idealists left their government positions. War necessities directly influenced American fashion. The War Production Board (WPB) became the nation’s premier clothing consultant in the spring of 1942. They influenced the appearance of civilian apparel by dictating the conservation of cloth and metal, changing the very style — especially women’s garments. Dependence on fewer materials led to the two-piece bathing suit. Nieman Marcus called them "patriotic chic." Taxes skyrocketed. It was not possible to purchase a car because none were being produced. To obtain a telephone, one had to be in a critical occupation of the war effort — and yet the U.S. standard of living actually rose during those years! The country had pulled out of an awesome economic depression thanks to greatly expanded war production. The end of the war revealed pent-up demand. Prices skyrocketed with the removal of Price Controls, but women stayed on the job to buy items needed for the family. The American Dream now became a reality as families found it possible to buy a home, a car, a washing machine, and to give their children everything they had been deprived of for so long. As a result of the war, the nation had become more urbanized because 1.5 million Americans had moved from rural areas into the cities. Women’s labor force participation continued to increase after the war and has been rising ever since. The vast changes in wartime society and domestic adjustments are evident even today. The Americans who survived the devastating effects of World War II hold deeply embedded memories. Fortunately, they were willing to share them.

While experimental television broadcasts were first transmitted in the 1920s, mass production of television sets did not occur until after World War II. By 1960 the number of sets in the U.S. had surpassed the number of homes. With this relatively swift introduction of television into domestic American life, concern was voiced over the harmful influence that watching television might have on the nation’s children. Earlier in the century, anxieties by both Progressives and traditionalists about harmful effects of movies on youth had led to Congressional hearings regarding Federal censorship. Reformers, however, lacked convincing evidence to support their claims and the motion picture industry developed an effective self-censoring mechanism to maintain control over screen content. Similarly, after Congress held its first hearing in 1952 on the effect of television on children, they chose not to take any action to interfere with the industry, in part because that year the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters adopted a code to regulate broadcast content. A Senate report issued after hearings in 1954 and 1955 on the possible influence of television on juvenile delinquency summarized studies to determine the quantity of criminal and violent acts on television shows accessible for children to view. The report also presented a range of views on whether a “cumulative effect of crime-and-horror television programs” could be harmful to children. Excerpts from the report are followed by additional opinions submitted by the National Association for Better Radio and Television, an advocacy group organized in 1949.


Results of certain studies of programs for children and programs aimed at adults but shown during children’s viewing hours

During the course of its investigation, the subcommittee deemed it appropriate to explore the content of television programs that might receive attention from young people of all ages. The staff surveyed the results of studies previously made with that thought in mind. The staff conducted some surveys of its own for comparison. The results were found to be substantially in agreement. It was found that a large amount of the time during children’s viewing hours is devoted to the subject matter of crime and violence. In several studies of program content, the hours from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from sign-on to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays are referred to as children’s hours. However, it has been recognized that many juveniles do not limit their television viewing to those hours and there are many who view television after 7 o’clock in the evening through the week.

National Association of Educational Broadcasters

The National Association of Educational Broadcasters conducted four monitor studies of programs in New York City, New Haven, Los Angeles, and Chicago during the years 1951󈞡. One of the conclusions of the Chicago study is that—

the general picture is that of a relatively uniform program structure, which shows much less variation that one might expect from city to city or season to season.

The following may be cited as affording some indication of the large volume of acts of crime and violence presented in so-called drama for children.

Study of 85 percent of the total program time of the 7 television stations in New York for the week of January 4󈝶, 1953, and for a similar week in January 1952 revealed that the number of acts and threats of violence was manifold and had increased substantially between 1952 and 1953. In the 1953 study week a total of 3,421 acts and threats were observed—an increase of 15 percent over 1952. This meant an average of 5.8 acts and threats of violence per hour in 1952, of 6.2 acts and threats of violence per hour in 1953. These figures are, of course, cumulative for the seven stations and obviously no child could be individually exposed to all programs. It was also noted that during the week of January 4󈝶, 1953, children’s television hours in New York City were twice as saturated with violence as other hours. . . .


Concern expressed for cumulative effect of crime and horror

The cumulative effect of crime-and-horror television programs on the personality development of American children has become a source of mounting concern to parents. Several generalizations can be made concerning many of the programs shown during children’s viewing hours. It was found that life is cheap death, suffering, sadism, and brutality are subjects of callous indifference and that judges, lawyers, and law-enforcement officers are too often dishonest, incompetent, and stupid. The manner and frequency with which crime through this medium is brought before the eyes and ears of American children indicates inadequate regard for psychological and social consequences. What the subcommittee tried to determine was: Are these presentations a contributing factor in juvenile delinquency?

The subcommittee is aware that no comprehensive, conclusive study has been made of the effects of television on children. On October 1, 1954, a 2-year study of the effects of television on adolescents and young people was initiated by the Nuffield Foundation, Nuffield Lodge, Regents Park, London, N.W. 1. Research teams are being selected of scientists, educators, statisticians, and psychologists. The British Broadcasting Corp. has expressed approval of the study and has also announced that its Audience Research Department is to study the effects of television on adults.

There is reason to believe that television crime programs are potentially much more injurious to children and young people than motion pictures, radio, or comic books. Attending a movie requires money and the physical effort of leaving the home, so an average child’s exposure to films in the theater tends to be limited to a few hours a week. Comic books demand strong imaginary projections. Also, they must be sought out and purchased. But television, available at a flick of a knob and combining visual and audible aspects into a “live” story, has a greater impact upon its child audience.

Views of representatives of the television industry

Several spokesmen for the television industry during the initial hearings testified to the effect that there is nothing wrong with television programs today and all children may view them without harmful effects.

During the hearings on television, Merle S. Jones, vice president in charge of Columbia Broadcasting System-owned stations and general services, cited Doctors Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck’s study, “Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency,” as revealing a major finding:

That the basic causes of delinquency behavior appear to be in faulty child-parent relationships during the first 6 or 8 years of the child’s life. * * * The authors of this monumental study find it unnecessary to discuss the role of mass media as a possible cause of juvenile delinquency.

It should be pointed out, however, that the Gluecks were not concerned with the mass media in their study of delinquency simply because this wasn’t within the focus of their study. When they appeared before the subcommittee in December 1953, Senator Hennings questioned them as to whether they had considered the effects of television directly in connection with their studies. Professor Glueck replied:

Not in the kind of detail * * * that one would like to. The question you raised * * * is a very fundamental one, because you are dealing there with influences that permeate our whole culture.

* * * we may say that a consistent hammering away influence of an exiting or a salacious kind, day in and day out, day in and day out, must have an erosive effect on the mind of the youth * * *.

Professor Glueck did point out that these influences are always selective, which is in accord with the subcommittee’s belief that these presentations are sought out by those children who are least able to tolerate this kind of material. . . .

James L. Caddigan, director of programming and production, Du Mont Television Network, Allen B. Du Mont Laboratories, Inc., said:

The broadcaster’s responsibility toward children cannot be discharged by the scheduling of a special group of children’s programs. Every moment of every program telecast must be tailored to the highest standards of respect for the family and the home.

Statements of the above nature were prevalent during the hearings. However, the program content as monitored not only by the subcommittee staff but by other research groups reveals the fact that the chasm between what the television people feel is good programming and what is actually telecast is indeed a wide one.

Mrs. Grace M. Johnson, director of continuity acceptance, American Broadcasting Company Television Network said in referring to criticism of radio programs in 1942:

At that time management stated that if it could be proven that these programs were harmful to children, they would be eliminated.

Mrs. Johnson referred to the early movies she attended as a child:

Which included stereotypes of racial and religious groups, and the standard cliff-hanging scenes to be continued the next time. We attended these make-believe shows—excited and exhilarated to fever pitch and then we went home to a cold glass of milk or hot cup of cocoa, depending on the season. Were we to examine these pictures today and compare them with the present well-planned and executed TV programs we would find that the present fare is far superior to the past.

In regard to Mrs. Johnson’s first statement, the subcommittee believes that the proof that the programs are not harmful should be obtained before the programs are shown, not afterward. Parents would never feed their children food which contained possible harmful ingredients. The food must be tested before it is put on the market for public consumption. As to Mrs. Johnson’s second observation, the subcommittee would like to point out that many of the shows viewed by its staff actually were the same serials and westerns she referred to. What is different is the fact that this material is shown not once a week or once a day, but 22 to 28 hours (taking the total for several stations) per day, every day, creating an entertainment diet containing violence in volume unknown to any previous generation of children. . . .

Views of certain other observers as summarized in hearings

Conclusive research is lacking, but there are available opinions on the effects of crime and violence presentations upon children based on opportunities for observation by qualified persons. Such opinions are not in unanimous agreement. The opinions of those expressing fears regarding the effects of such presentations upon children might be summarized in the following terms: First, they point out that violence materials are anxiety and tension producing. The well-adjusted child may well be able to tolerate added tension that would be acquired through viewing television, but the emotionally crippled or damaged youngster may have very little tolerance for this added tension that has been introduced into his life through the television set in the front room. Although it is likely that no well-adjusted child will be badly warped by make-believe violence, on the other hand, it isn’t easy to tell which children are insecure or maladjusted.

The second possible detrimental effect, they point out, is that materials presented, scenes of crime and violence, may well teach techniques of crime. . . .

The third contention was that acts of crime and violence may provide both suggestions and a kind of support for the hostile child, leading him to imitate these acts in expression of his own aggression.

Fourth, it was also feared by some that repeated exposures to scenes of crime and violence may well blunt and callous human sensitivity to, and sympathy for, human suffering and distress—that is, what the effects may be, on a child seeing 5, 6 or 7 people killed each afternoon, in terms of making callous his normal sensitivity to that kind of human destruction, is an unknown quantity. . . .


(Published by National Association for Better Radio and Television, Los Angeles, Calif.)

Television will have an effect on your lives even if you never own a TV set and never see or hear a broadcast. The fatal weakness of all efforts to control the excesses and correct the errors of television in the United States is the attitude of people who think themselves untouched because they themselves never look at inferior programs or never see television at all. But there is no immunity—there is no place to hide. So with the parents whose children are never permitted to watch the sadism and horror of the 150 murders which infest our television screens each week. They imagine themselves safe. But you cannot buy immunity by turning away from what you do not like. The fact is, the 1 child who does not see horror programs lives and will live in the world created by the 50 who do. GILBERT SELDES

Bennett L. Williams, former newspaper reporter (police beat): The crime programs on radio-TV, and the so-called comic strips in our newspapers are creating crime and criminals every day. The police are doing a good job, and then some but such programs are promoting crime faster than we can increase our police force.

The radio-TV crime programs hold the police up to public ridicule. The police are depicted as a bunch of stumble bums. Naturally our children grow into a contemptuous regard for the police. Those radio and TV poisoned children get the notion that they too are above the law, just like the “private eyes” are, and that they too can shove policemen around. . . .

Walter Lippmann (Los Angeles Times) (The Rise of Teenage Crime): There can be no real doubt, it seems to me, that the movies and television and the comic books are purveying violence and lust to a vicious and intolerable degree.

There can be no real doubt that public exhibitions of sadism tend to excite sadistic desires and to teach the audience how to gratify sadistic desires. Nor can there be any real doubt that there is a close connection between the suddenness of the increase in sadistic crimes and the new vogue of sadism among the mass media of entertainment.

Censorship is no doubt a clumsy and usually a stupid and self-defeating remedy for such evils. But a continual exposure of a generation to the commercial exploitation of the enjoyment of violence and cruelty is one way to corrode the foundations of a civilized society.

For my part, believing as I do in freedom of speech and thought, I see no objection in principle to censorship of the mass entertainment of the young.

Until some more refined way is worked out of controlling this evil thing, the risks to our liberties are, I believe, decidedly less than the risks of unmanageable violence.

Source: Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, Television and Juvenile Delinquency, interim report, 1955, Committee Print.

The Battle for Children : World War II, Youth Crime, and Juvenile Justice in Twentieth-century France

The Battle for Children links two major areas of historical inquiry: crime and delinquency with war and social change. In a study based on impressive archival research, Sarah Fishman reveals the impact of the Vichy regime on one of history's most silent groups--children--and offers enlightening new information about the Vichy administration.

Fishman examines how French children experienced the events of war and the German occupation, demonstrating that economic deprivation, not family dislocation, sharply drove up juvenile crime rates. Wartime circumstances led authorities to view delinquent minors as victims, and provided the opportunity for reformers in psychiatry, social work, and law to fundamentally transform France's punitive juvenile justice system into a profoundly therapeutic one. Vichy-era legislation thus formed the foundation of the modern juvenile justice system in France, which rarely incarcerates delinquent youth.

In her examination of the critical but unexpected role the war and the authoritarian Vichy regime played in the transformation of France's juvenile courts and institutions, Fishman has enriched our knowledge of daily life in France during World War II, refined our understanding of Vichy's place in the historical development of France, and provided valuable insights into contemporary debates on juvenile justice.

Crime and Gender

Self-Report Research on Gender and Juvenile Delinquency

Most research based on self-report surveys focuses on juvenile delinquency , especially common and less serious forms of delinquency. Much of the research in this tradition has focused on the application of and extension of existing criminological theory to explain sex differences in juvenile delinquency (for a review, see De Coster et al., 2012 ). The emphasis in this line of work typically is on understanding the sociopsychological mechanisms that contribute to the gender gap in delinquency. Recent research on these mechanisms suggests that the gender gap reflects both gender differences in exposure to factors that make law violation more likely as well as gender differences in the impact of these factors.

The sociopsychological mechanisms that have received the most attention in research on gender and delinquency occur within the family. Specifically, some research shows that part of the gender gap in delinquency is explained by the greater exposure of girls than boys both to direct parental controls, such as supervision and monitoring, and to indirect controls, such as emotional bonding (e.g., Jensen and Eve, 1979 Hagan et al., 1985, 1987 Chapple et al., 2010 ). Other research shows that the gender gap is not the simple outcome of girls being subject to higher levels of familial controls but also reflects the differential impact of these controls on girls versus boys. For instance, even though girls are more closely supervised, boys' delinquency appears to be influenced more strongly by supervision and monitoring in contrast, girls' delinquency is influenced more strongly by emotional bonds to their families ( Heimer and De Coster, 1999 Hagan, 1989 Chapple et al., 2005 alternatively see Kruttschnitt, 1996 ). In short, it may be that parents control girls' misbehavior through subtle, covert control mechanisms (e.g., emotional bonding), whereas controlling boys' misbehavior requires more direct, overt strategies (e.g., supervision).

Another individual-level factor that has received attention is gender roles. The argument, related to the liberation thesis discussed before, is that feminine roles restrain delinquency more than masculine roles do (e.g., Shover and Norland, 1979 ). Many studies of gender roles and delinquency appeared in the late 1970s. However, the empirical research was inconsistent, perhaps because gender roles were operationalized in diverse ways across studies, often including traits, attitudes, and familial controls as well as behavioral expectations or roles.

The more recent trend has been to focus on cultural definitions of gender or hegemonic gender definitions, which are widely accepted beliefs and attitudes that support the subordination of females to males under patriarchy. Hegemonic gender definitions depict a feminine ideal that includes a high capacity for nurturance, passivity, connectedness to others, and physical weakness in contrast, the masculine ideal emphasizes competitiveness, aggressiveness, independence, and strength. Definitions of femininity thus are more inconsistent than definitions of masculinity with victimizing others physically or taking their property. Some empirical research shows that acceptance of these gender definitions is an important contributor to the gender gap in law violation ( Simpson and Elis, 1995 Heimer and De Coster, 1999 McCarthy et al., 1999 ). Other research suggests that boys who have internalized hegemonic definitions of masculinity are more likely to engage in crime and violence ( Messerschmidt, 1993, 2000 Simpson and Elis, 1995 Heimer, 1996 Miller, 2001 Mullins et al., 2004 alternatively, see Morash and Chesney-Lind, 1991 ).

A third individual-level factor that has received attention in the literature on gender and delinquency is attitudes toward risk taking. The hypothesis here is that youths who develop a taste for risk will be more likely than others to engage in thrill-seeking behavior, including delinquency. The power-control theory of gender and delinquency, discussed following, proposes that one reason males are more likely than females to be delinquent is that males are socialized to prefer risk taking ( Hagan 1989 McCarthy et al., 1999 Blackwell et al., 2002 Hagan et al., 2004 ).

The Battle for Children : World War II, Youth Crime, and Juvenile Justice in Twentieth-century France

The Battle for Children links two major areas of historical inquiry: crime and delinquency with war and social change. In a study based on impressive archival research, Sarah Fishman reveals the impact of the Vichy regime on one of history's most silent groups--children--and offers enlightening new information about the Vichy administration.

Fishman examines how French children experienced the events of war and the German occupation, demonstrating that economic deprivation, not family dislocation, sharply drove up juvenile crime rates. Wartime circumstances led authorities to view delinquent minors as victims, and provided the opportunity for reformers in psychiatry, social work, and law to fundamentally transform France's punitive juvenile justice system into a profoundly therapeutic one. Vichy-era legislation thus formed the foundation of the modern juvenile justice system in France, which rarely incarcerates delinquent youth.

In her examination of the critical but unexpected role the war and the authoritarian Vichy regime played in the transformation of France's juvenile courts and institutions, Fishman has enriched our knowledge of daily life in France during World War II, refined our understanding of Vichy's place in the historical development of France, and provided valuable insights into contemporary debates on juvenile justice.

The History of the Division of Juvenile Justice

California became a state. At this time, there were no correctional facilities for juveniles. Some consideration was given to the need for a reform school at that time, but none was authorized. Serious cases, about 300 boys under the age of 20, were sent to the state prisons at San Quentin (Marin County) and Folsom (Sacramento County) between 1850 and 1860. They included 12, 13, and 14-year-old boys.

The San Francisco Industrial School was founded on May 5, 1859 by an act of the California State Legislature. The school opened with a total of 48 boys and girls, ranging from 3-18 years of age and included a staff of six. It was run by a private board. Management could accept children from parents and police, as well as from the courts. The program consisted of six hours per day of school (classroom) and four hours per day work. Trade training was added later. Releases were obtained by (1) discharge, (2) indenture, and (3) leave of absence—a system very similar to present-day probation and/or parole.

The State Reform School for boys in Marysville was authorized and opened in 1861. Ages ranged from 8-18 years.

The State Reform School for Boys at Marysville closed due to lack of commitments. Twenty-eight boys were transferred to the San Francisco Industrial School. The State donated $10,000 to the San Francisco Industrial School and agreed to pay $15 in gold coin per month for each child at the school. During this year, girls in the Industrial School were transferred to the Magdalen Asylum in San Francisco.

The Legislature permitted commitments to the San Francisco Industrial School from the counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Alameda.

The first “Probation Law” was enacted (Section 1203 of the California Penal Code).

The training ship Jamestown was transferred from the U.S. Navy to the City of San Francisco to supplement the San Francisco Industrial School. The ship was to provide training in seamanship and navigation for boys of eligible age. After six months, an examination was given and successful trainees were eligible for employment as seamen on regular merchant ships.

The training ship was returned to the Navy due to mismanagement and a hue and cry that the Jamestown was a training ship for criminals.

The Legislature enacted a law establishing two State reform schools. Both were part of the Division of Institutions, and both had trade training and academic classes. Commitments were made from Police Courts, Justice Courts, and Courts of Session for a specialized period of time or minority. These schools were: (1) Whittier State Reformatory (now Fred C. Nelles School in Whittier) and (2) the Preston School of Industry in Ione (Amador County).

The Whittier State Reformatory for Boys and Girls opened with an enrollment of 300 youths.

The San Francisco Industrial School closed and the Preston School of Industry opened.

The Legislature enacted law establishing juvenile courts.

All youths under the age of 18 were transferred out of San Quentin by legislative decree.

County juvenile halls were established.

The Ventura School for Girls was established and girls were transferred from the Whittier State Reformatory to Ventura.

The first acts of statewide supervision began: a Probation Office was created under the State Department of Social Welfare.

The Legislature authorized County Boards of Supervisors to establish forestry camps for delinquent youths.

The Youth Corrections Authority Act was adopted by the California Legislature. The law:

  1. Created a three-person commission appointed by the Governor and
    confirmed by the Senate
  2. Mandated acceptance of all commitments under 23 years of age,
    including those from juvenile court
  3. Added a section on delinquency prevention
  4. Authorized no authority over existing state institutions
  5. Appropriated $100,000 to run the Authority for two years

The Whittier School for Boys was renamed the Fred C. Nelles School in honor of the man who served as the facility’s superintendent from 1912 to 1927.

The Preston School of Industry, the Ventura School for Girls, and the Fred C. Nelles School for Boys were separated from the Division of Institutions and became part of the California Youth Authority (CYA).

The first youth committed under the Youth Corrections Authority Act—YA No. 00001—arrived at the new Youth Authority Unit, a diagnostic facility. The youth was transferred from San Quentin Prison, where he had been sent at age 14 after being convicted for second-degree murder. A “lifer,” he had shot an uncle during a quarrel over ranch chores.

The Youth Authority moved toward establishing camps, and a unit—Delinquency Prevention Services—was established.

Karl Holton was named the first director of the California Youth Corrections Authority.

The Governor transferred management of State reformatories—Preston, Nelles, and Ventura—to the Youth Corrections Authority. 1,080 youths were in institutions, 1,625 youths were on parole, and staff numbered near 517.

The State Probation Office turned over responsibility for delinquency prevention to the Youth Corrections Authority. The word “corrections” was dropped from title hence, California Youth Authority (CYA).

Fifty boys transferred from county jails to the Calaveras Big Trees Park where they built a 100-bed capacity camp. The Youth Authority acquired property and buildings formerly used by the Knights of Pythias Old Peoples’ Home. Boys from Preston and the Calaveras Camp cleaned and renovated the grounds and buildings, and the Los Guillicos School for Girls was established in Sonoma County.

The CYA entered into a contract with the United States military for the establishment of two camps—one at Benicia Arsenal and the other at the Stockton Ordnance Depot—each with a population of 150 boys.

The first boys arrived at Fricot Ranch School in Calaveras County. By fall of 1945, 100 boys and a full complement of staff were at the school. The 1,090-acre estate was leased with an option to purchase for $60,000 and that option was exercised in 1946.

Many youthful offenders in detention homes, jail, and two army camps were awaiting commitment to the Youth Authority. Army camps were closed after the war and the growing need for facilities became a crisis.

The Division of Parole was created and the parole staff were consolidated.

The need was apparent for an institution for older boys, and the Legislature authorized the California Vocational Institution at Lancaster (an old Army/Air Force Base).

A State subsidy was given to counties for establishment of juvenile homes, ranches, and camps for juvenile court youths. The subsidy was administered by the CYA. Pine Grove Camp was established in Amador County.

Camp Ben Lomond opened in Santa Cruz County.

The first youths arrived at El Paso de Robles School for Boys (located in San Luis Obispo County) on September 30. The school was a former Army/Air Base comprising 200 acres and 40 barrack buildings, which was purchased for $8,000.

Governor Earl Warren called the first Statewide Youth Conference in Sacramento in January. An estimated 2,200 people attended, including 200 high school and college youths.

Heman G. Stark was named Director and served until 1968. His tenure remains the longest of any CYA director.

The CYA was given departmental status.

Northern and Southern Reception Centers opened, in Sacramento and Norwalk, respectively.

Mt. Bullion Camp opened in Mariposa County.

The Youth Training School opened in San Bernardino County.

The CYA was placed under the newly formed Youth and Adult Corrections Agency.

Washington Ridge Camp opened in Nevada County.

The Ventura School for Girls moved from its Ventura location to Camarillo.

The State’s Juvenile Court Law was modified.

A reception center and clinic was established at the Ventura School for Girls, and the girls at the Southern Reception Center and Clinic in Norwalk were transferred to Ventura.

The Northern California Youth Center (NCYC) opened near Stockton (in San Joaquin County).

The O. H. Close School for Boys opened at NCYC.

Allen Breed was named Director.

The Karl Holton School for Boys opened at NCYC.

An administrative reorganization plan was implemented, establishing Northern and Southern Divisions.

Facilities were constructed at the Pine Grove and Ben Lomond Camps.

The CYA, along with the Department of Corrections, was placed within the Human Relations Agency (which became the Health and Welfare Agency).

A change in the law meant fewer female commitments, so the Ventura School for Girls became co-educational.

The DeWitt Nelson School opened at NCYC.

Los Guillicos became co-educational with boys from Fricot Ranch.

Fricot Ranch was closed due to its declining youth population.

Oak Glen Camp opened in San Bernardino County.

El Paso de Robles School closed due to declining commitments.

El Paso de Robles School reopened, as commitments began to rise again.

Pearl West was named Director. She was the first woman to hold the position.

Fenner Canyon Camp opened in Los Angeles County.

The CYA became part of the newly formed Youth and Adult Correctional Agency.

The Legislature removed the state’s young offender paroling authority, the Youth Authority Board, from the CYA and renamed it the Youthful Offender Parole Board (YOPB). The director had also served as chairman of the board. Antonio C. Amador was selected to chair the “new” YOPB.

Antonio C. Amador, former Los Angeles Police Protective League President, was named Director. He was the first Hispanic person to hold the position.

James Rowland, the Chief Probation Officer of Fresno County, was named Director and introduced the concept of involving crime victims in youth correctional programs.

The “Impact of Crime on Victims” curriculum was implemented and introduced in each institution and camp in the CYA. This was a pioneering effort that has since been shared with other states and localities across the country.

The department adopted a policy defining employment readiness as a major goal for youths and began reorganizing its Vocational Educational Program to make training more relevant with available jobs.

Free Venture, a program involving public/private partnerships for youth employment, began. The CYA agreed to provide space to private sector businesses that met certain criteria. In turn, the businesses began to hire and train youths who earn prevailing wages for real jobs. Youths who earn these jobs then become taxpayers. Also, percentages of their earnings are directed towards victim restitution, room and board, a trust fund, and a savings account. Trans World Airlines became the first Free Venture partner, instituting a project at Ventura School.

El Centro Training Center opened as a short-term Institutions and Camps (I&C) Branch facility in Imperial County.

C. A. Terhune, a 30-year veteran of the CYA, was named Director.

El Centro Drug Program for Girls opened.

Ventura School opened a camp program and instituted the department’s first female firefighting crew.

Oak Glen Camp was closed due to budget concerns.

Fenner Canyon Camp was transferred to Department of Corrections.

El Centro closed as an I&C facility and reopened as the Southern California Drug Treatment Center, operated by the Parole Services Branch.

B. T. Collins, a Vietnam War hero who lost an arm and a leg in that conflict, was appointed Director in March. He resigned in August when he was asked to run for the State Assembly by the Governor.

William B. Kolender, a former San Diego Police Chief, was appointed Director.

N. A. Chaderjian School opened. The 600-bed institution at NCYC increased the number of training schools at that site to four. Chaderjian was secretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency at the time of his untimely death in 1988.

Fred C. Nelles School celebrated its Centennial.

The CYA’s first boot camp program (30 beds) opened at Preston School. It was named LEAD (Leadership, Esteem, Ability and Discipline) and served as a model for other juvenile boot camps in the country.

Preston School of Industry celebrated its Centennial.

The second LEAD (Boot Camp) Program (30 beds) opened at Fred C. Nelles School.

The First Superintendent of Education position was created, and the department began a reorganization of the Education Program.

The Youth Authority Training Center opened at the NCYC complex.

Karl Holton School was converted to the Karl Holton Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Center (DAATC), (now known as Karl Holton Youth Correctional Drug and Alcohol Treatment Facility), devoted entirely to programming youths with substance use and abuse problems. The CYA thus became the first youthful offender agency in the country to devote an entire major institution towards that purpose.

Craig L. Brown, Undersecretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, was named Director.

Francisco J. Alarcon, Chief Deputy Director, was appointed Director.

CYA Institutions and Camps were changed to include “Youth Correctional.”

Gregorio S. Zermeno, Superintendent at the De Witt Nelson Correctional Facility, was appointed Director in March.

Jerry L. Harper, a former Undersheriff of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, was appointed Director in March.

The Karl Holton Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Center in Stockton closed in September. The facility first opened in 1968.

Walter Allen III was appointed Director by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mr. Allen was the Assistant Chief for the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.

In February, the Northern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic in Sacramento closed. The reception center-clinic first opened in 1956.

Additionally, in February, the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo returned to a females-only facility. Male youths are housed at the S. Carraway Public Service and Fire Center.

In June, the CYA closed the Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility in Whittier. This was CYA’s oldest facility, spanning more than 100 years. The last youth left the facility on May 27, 2004.

Moreover, in June, the CYA ended its operation of the Mt. Bullion Youth Conservation Camp in Mariposa County.

In November, Farrell v. Allen Consent Decree filed with the court. This action was brought by a taxpayer, Margaret Farrell, against Walter Allen III, the Director of the California Youth Authority at that time.

In a reorganization of the California corrections agencies, the CYA became the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) within the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

in March, the Education Services Remedial Plan was filed with the court.

In May, the Sexual Behavior Treatment Program Remedial Plan was filed with the court.

In June, Bernard Warner was appointed as Chief Deputy Secretary for the DJJ.

In June, the Health Care Services Remedial Plan was filed with the court.

In July, at the outset of FY 2006/2007, funding to implement remedial plans was provided for the first time.

In July, the Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan was filed with the court.

In August, the Mental Health Remedial Plan was filed with the court.

In June, the Health Care Services Remedial Plan was filed with the court.

Legislation (SB 81 and AB 191) required most youthful offenders to be committed to county facilities, reserving those convicted of the most serious felonies and having the most severe treatment needs for DJJ. Previously adopted financial incentives for counties and these legislative changes reduced DJJ’s population from a peak of approximately 10,000 (a decade earlier) to approximately 1,700.

On July 31, El Paso de Robles and De Witt Nelson Youth Correctional Facilities closed.

In October, David Murphy, a 20 year veteran school administrator, is named DJJ’s Superintendent of Education, fulfilling a significant requirement of the Farrell reform plan for Education.

In February, the Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility in Chino—originally known as the Youth Training School and subsequently named for the agency’s longest serving director—was closed after 50 years as a juvenile facility and began transforming into an adult prison. DJJ continues to operate five facilities and two fire camps.

In March, DJJ adopted a new staffing model that adapted to a smaller population but also provided uniform treatment for all DJJ youth to administer reforms required by the Farrell plans. The consolidation of staff and facilities results in staff reductions of approximately 400 positions and estimated savings of $30-40 million.

In February, DJJ reported to the Alameda Superior Court that it had complied with 82 percent of more than 8,000 policy and program changes required by the Farrell reform plans.

Rachel Rios was named Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Justice (Acting).

In February, counties began to assume parole supervision of juvenile offenders, under the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2010. The Juvenile Parole Board continued to determine when a youth is sufficiently rehabilitated to warrant release, but county courts and probation officials established and enforced conditions of supervision.

The Preston Youth Correctional Facility in Ione closed in June. Opened as the Preston School of Industry in 1894, it was the state’s second facility built specifically to house juvenile offenders.

The Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic in Norwalk (Los Angeles County) closed in December.

Due to a declining number of youth eligible for firefighting duty, DJJ consolidates its juvenile fire crews to Pine Grove, vacating the S. Carraway Public Service and Fire Protection Center in Camarillo (Ventura County).

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Juvenile Delinquency

The ways that juvenile delinquency has been defined, perceived, and responded to have changed over time and generally reflect the social conditions of the particular era. During the colonial era of the United States, for example, the conceptualization of juvenile delinquency was heavily influenced by religion. At this time, juvenile delinquency was viewed as not only a legal violation, but also a moral violation. Delinquent acts were viewed as affronts to God and God’s law, and as such, wrongdoers were treated in very punitive and vengeful ways.

American colonial society was similarly harsh toward children and the control of children’s behavior. Throughout society, there was a general notion that children were particularly susceptible to vice and moral violations. For instance, in 1641, the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the Stubborn Child Law, which stated that children who disobeyed their parents would be put to death. The language and the spirit of the law were drawn from the biblical Book of Deuteronomy. The Stubborn Child Law descended from the Puritans’ belief that unacknowledged social evils would bring the wrath of God down upon the entire colony. The Puritans believed they had no choice but to react to juvenile misbehavior in a severe and calculated manner. However, not all colonies adopted the Stubborn Child Law. Outside Massachusetts, children found guilty of a serious crime frequently were punished via corporal punishment, which is the infliction of physical pain such as whipping, mutilating, caning, and other methods.

What would today be considered normal and routine adolescent behavior, such as “hanging out with friends,” was in early eras considered serious delinquent behavior, such as sloth and idleness. Today, the use of a death penalty or beatings for minor types of delinquency seems shocking however, there are similarities between colonial juvenile justice and contemporary juvenile justice. In both eras, adult society held ambivalent views about children. On one hand, children and adolescents were seen as innocents that were not fully developed and required compassion, patience, and understanding. From this perspective, the response to juvenile delinquents should be tempered, tolerant, and used to teach or discipline. On the other hand, children and adolescents were viewed as disrespectful, annoying, and simply different from adults. It was believed that children were born in sin and should submit to adult authority.

Over time, the puritanical approach to defining, correcting, and punishing juvenile delinquency came under attack. Not only had these severe forms of juvenile justice failed to control juvenile delinquency, but also they were portrayed as primitive and brutal. In 1825, a progressive social movement known as the Child Savers changed the course of the response to juvenile delinquency and made corrections a primary part of it. Rather than framing juvenile delinquency as an issue of sin and morality, the Child Savers attributed it to environmental factors, such as poverty, immigration, poor parenting, and urban environments. Based on the doctrine of parens patriae, which means the state is the ultimate guardian of children, the Child Savers sought to remove children from the adverse environments that they felt contributed to children’s delinquency.

The Child Savers actively pursued the passage of legislation that would permit placing children in reformatories, especially juvenile paupers. The goal of removing children from extreme poverty was admirable, but resulted in transforming children into persons without legal rights. Children were placed into factories, poorhouses, and orphanages where they were generally treated poorly and where almost no attention was given to their individual needs. The first and most infamous of these facilities was the New York House of Refuge, which opened in 1825 and served to incarcerate thousands of children and adolescents viewed as threats to public safety and social order.

Another curious response to juvenile delinquency during this era was the use of transport. For example, between the 1850s and the Great Depression, approximately 250,000 abandoned children from New York were placed on orphan trains and relocated to locations in the West where they were adopted by Christian farm families. The process of finding new homes for the children was haphazard. At town meetings across the country, farming families took their pick of the orphan train riders. Children who were not selected got back on board the train and continued to the next town. The children who were selected and those who adopted them had one year to decide whether they would stay together. If either decided against it, the child would be returned, boarded on the next train out of town, and offered to another family.

Progressive reformers continued looking for new solutions to the growing problem of juvenile delinquency. Their most significant remedy was the creation of the juvenile court in Cook County, Illinois, in July 1899 via the passage of the Chicago Juvenile Court Act. The juvenile court attempted to closely supervise problem children, but unlike the houses of refuge, this new form of supervision was to more often occur within the child’s own home and community, not in institutions. In the juvenile court, procedures were civil as opposed to criminal, perhaps because social workers spearheaded the court movement. They thought that children had to be treated, not punished, and the judge was to be a sort of wise and kind parent. The new court segregated juvenile from adult offenders at all procedural stages.

The juvenile court reaffirmed and extended the doctrine of parens patriae. This paternalistic philosophy meant that reformers gave more attention to the “needs” of children than to their rights. In their campaign to meet the needs of children, the Child Savers enlarged the role of the state to include the handling of children in the judicial system. Because of its innovative approach, the juvenile court movement spread quickly, and by 1945, all states had specialized juvenile courts to respond to juvenile delinquency.

As juvenile courts across the United States continued in operation, two concerns emerged that would later motivate additional reforms. First, the informality of juvenile proceedings was seen as good in that justice could be tailored to the needs of individual youth. However, the informality also invited disparate treatment of offenders. The second and related point was that the juvenile court needed to become more formalized to ensure due process rights of delinquents that were comparable to the due process rights of adults in the criminal courts. These rights were established in a series of landmark cases during the 1960s and early 1970s.

An important milestone in the history of juvenile delinquency occurred in 1974 with the passage of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. This act was the most sweeping change in juvenile justice since the founding of the juvenile court. There were five major points of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. First, it mandated the decriminalization of status offenders so that they were not considered delinquent. Second, it mandated the deinstitutionalization of juvenile corrections so that only the most severe juvenile delinquents would be eligible for confinement. In addition, the act mandated that status offenders should not be institutionalized and that juveniles in adult jails and prisons should be separated by sight and sound from adults. Third, it broadened use of diversion as an alternative to formal processing in juvenile court. Fourth, it continued application of due process constitutional rights to juveniles. Fifth, it created the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), which funded research to evaluate juvenile justice programs and disseminated research findings on the juvenile justice system.

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was modified in 1977, 1980, 1984, 1988, and as recently as 2002. For instance, in 1980 the act specified the jail and lockup removal requirement, which meant that juveniles could not be detained or confined in adult jails or lockups. Adult facilities had a 6-hour grace period to ascertain the age of the offender or transport the youth to a juvenile facility. (Rural jails had up to 48 hours.) In 1988, the act specified the disproportionate minority confinement requirement, which required juvenile corrections to gather data on the racial composition of their population compared to the racial composition of the state. In 2002, this was changed to disproportionate minority contact, whereby racial data were mandated for all aspects of the juvenile justice system. Correctional systems must comply with OJJDP guidelines to remain eligible for federal allocations from the Formula Grants Program.

Beginning in the 1960s and continuing until the early to mid-1990s, the United States experienced dramatic increases in the most serious forms of juvenile delinquency, such as murder, and an increasingly visible juvenile gang problem in major American cities. As a result, states enacted more legislation that targeted youths involved in the most serious types of juvenile delinquency. During the 1990s, 45 states made it easier to transfer juvenile offenders to adult criminal courts. Thirty-one states expanded the sentencing options to include blended sentencing, which allows juvenile courts to combine juvenile and adult punishment that is tailored to the needs of the individual offender. For instance, juvenile courts can combine a juvenile disposition with a criminal sentence that is suspended. If the delinquent complies with the juvenile disposition, the criminal sentence is never imposed. If not, the youth is eligible to receive the adult sentence.

In 34 states, there are “once an adult, always an adult” provisions that specify that once a youth has been tried as an adult, any subsequent offenses must also be waived to criminal court. Laws have been modified to reduce or remove traditional juvenile court confidentiality provisions and make juvenile records more open in 47 states. In 22 states, laws have increased the role of victims of juvenile crimes by allowing them more voice in the juvenile justice process.

Nationwide, adolescents account for about 1% of new court commitments to adult state prisons. This means that more than 4,000 adolescents are in adult prisons because they have been convicted of the most serious forms of delinquency, which includes offenses such as armed robbery, assault, burglary, murder, and sexual assault. More punitive measures such as waivers are justified based on the serious violence and chronic delinquencies of the most serious offenders however, some of these provisions carry unintended consequences. For example, research suggests that youths who are waived to criminal court and receive adult punishments ultimately have higher recidivism levels than youths that receive juvenile court dispositions.

Over the past 20 years, American society has also struggled to understand the place of capital punishment as a way to punish the most violent juvenile delinquents. In 1988, in Thompson v. Oklahoma, the Supreme Court held that imposing the death penalty on a person who was 15 years at the time of his or her crime violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. One year later, in Stanford v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court held that no consensus exists that forbids the sentencing to death of a person that commits capital murder at age 16 or 17. That changed in 2005 with the landmark case Roper v. Simmons, which rendered capital punishment unconstitutional as applied to persons under age 18. The Roper decision invalidated the death penalty for juveniles, which is a far different approach from earlier eras. According to the Supreme Court, several factors contributed to a changing consensus about applying the death penalty to juveniles, including the fact that several states had abolished the juvenile death penalty in the intervening years since Stanford most states that retained the juvenile death penalty basically never used it the juvenile death penalty was not used in most parts of the Western world and there was greater appreciation for the developmental differences between adolescent and adults in terms of decision making, emotional and behavioral control, and other neurocognitive factors that influence criminal decision making.

It is conventional wisdom within criminology to lament the increasing toughness or punitive stance that society takes toward juvenile delinquents, primarily through the process of transfer to criminal court. But it should be noted that the last 40 years of juvenile justice reflect a profound commitment to due process and the legal rights of adolescents, the abolishment of the juvenile death penalty, and a general hands-off policy stance toward status and low-level delinquents. Indeed, the juvenile justice system and particularly juvenile corrections have noted the diversity of the juvenile delinquent population and have focused resources disproportionately toward the most serious youths.

Watch the video: Ο Δεύτερος Παγκόσμιος Πόλεμος (May 2022).