Many would argue that child neglect will lead to juvenile delinquency in the future. There have been many studies that have attempted to prove that there is a strong connection with child abuse and or neglect with juvenile delinquency. However, there is no strong evidence to prove this to be true. Just because there are many common factors with all three, they tend to believe that they are all entwined one way or another.
Some of these factors are poverty, violence in the home, poor mental health, single parent or not having both parents present in the household, one being the disciplinary and the other the weaker of the two therefore no consistency in discipline and supervision, lack of attention, distant from other family members and friends. These kids will build a wall and feel that no one can be trusted and cocoon themselves from society. This will lead to them becoming rebellious and become hostile around people, even when these people are trying to lend a helping hand.
In today’s world, people tend to categorize child neglect and abuse as being the same, but these are two separate types of abuse or crime. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act also known as CAPTA, (42 U. S. C. A. §5106g), as amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum: Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
Most Federal and State child protection laws primarily refer to cases of harm to a child caused by parents or other caregiver; they generally do not include harm caused by other people, such as acquaintances or strangers (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2008). Neglect is results of abandonment of a child while under their parents care, for example not enough food, proper housing, medical care and love. Signs of child neglect are very hard to see unless the child speaks out and lets someone knows what is happening.
Where abuse is more apparent and easier to see, it includes sexual, physical and emotional abuse towards a child which also at times include many of the above mentioned traits of neglect. Several early reviews of studies examining the relationship between child maltreatment and delinquency concluded that knowledge about this relationship was limited because of methodological problems inherent in prior studies, including reliance on retrospective designs and lack of control or comparison groups of non-abused and non-neglected children.
In addition, early findings on the relationship between child maltreatment and violent criminal behavior were sometimes contradictory (Cathy Spatz Widom, 2002).
According to a raw study conducted by C. W. Wisdom in 2002, she conducted four studies in four different regions of the United States. The Midwest research included subjects that were arrested before they were 18 years of age and at the time of the research they were at least 18 and it does not include status offenses arrests.
Now this was just on one of the four studies she conducted during her research. Out of the 908 subjects the following percentages were abused and neglected juveniles, 21. 6% were arrested for numerous crimes; 14. 6% for property arrests; 7. 9% for order and 5.5% for violence offenses. Now this was just on one of the four studies she conducted during her research.
Now according to her research these subjects were abused and neglected, most of these juveniles were approximately 17 years of age at the time of the study. The onset age for some were around 18 years of age at the time they were arrested, the average number of arrests were about 6 to 7, the recidivism percentage was 2-4 arrests and the chronic offenders had a 5 plus arrests. Now these are sad numbers to see when these subjects have yet to have lived long enough to see any better.
Working in the legal field for nearly 19 years, one can’t help but to agree that there is some kind of association between child neglect and juvenile delinquency. Nonetheless, there may be others that have walked the same roads that I have and will disagree with this statement. Being raised in what back then was considered a perfect home environment for many, when listening to many of the kids in the neighborhood talk about their upbringing, what went on behind closed doors that no one saw, and what they have grown up to be, will allow anyone to believe that child abuse, neglect and delinquency have something to do with one another.
There are multiple remedies that will possibly lessen the outcome to juvenile delinquency. For starters all members of the family should involve themselves in improving the overall home environment these kids are being raised in. Become more involved in their upbringing, schooling and providing equal parental responsibility. In the community more resources and programs to keep these kids occupied and out of the streets. A bored mind is a wandering mind and will always look for a challenge and ways to entertain themselves even if it means getting into trouble.
Offer community outreach programs and activities where they don’t have to be in the streets, selling drugs, hanging around gangs. Have authorities get involved before they become criminals and again just like the family and the community, police and departments like Department of Children and Families can actively all work together to assure that kids that are being abused and neglected get removed from the cause and at least offered a way to live a normal and better life before it is too late for them.
In conclusion, although sad as it may be some of these abused and neglected kids fall to the cracks and become juvenile delinquents not because they chose to but it’s because the way they were raised and they definitely were not taught any better. Society for many have turned their backs on them, and unless we do something to help them before it is too late the numbers that were provided in the case study referenced in this paper are going to unfortunately get higher and higher. One helping hand can make a difference and at the end others will surely follow because one person cared to help.
- Cathy Spatz Widom, P.(2002). Understanding Child Maltreatment and Juvenile Delinquency: The Research. Retrieved July 31, 2011, from www. cwlaa. org
- Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2008). US Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Children and Families. Retrieved July 31, 2011, from US Department of Health and Human Services: www. hhs. gov
- Lundman, R. J. (1993). Prevention and Control of Juvenile Delinquency, 2nd Edition. New York: Oxford Press.
- Trickett, P. K. (2011). Child Maltreatment and Adolescent Development. Retrieved July 31, 2011, from Journal of Research on Adolescence (Blackwell Publishing Limited), 21(1), 3-20.