Despite intensive focus on the historical study of youth violence, criminologists still find difficulty in applying the varying explanations of its causes. The first section of this paper provides a brief introduction of its identified causes. Subsequent portion provides brief explanation why despite these causes were pre-identified, criminologist still find youth violence problem confusing to handle.The Identified Causes of Youth ViolenceThese are the common causes contributing the development of youth violence: Economic status, exposure of children to violence, abuse, and neglect, dysfunctional home, poorly implemented law initiatives, drugs and alcoholic addiction, gangs, etc. Poverty has sent children at streets, depriving them with educational opportunities, and had taught them to rob, steal or even kill.
Violence either directly or indirectly experienced by children might turn them vigilant (Katzmann, 2002; Hussain, 2005; Finley 2007). Study shows that it has long lasting emotional effect on children like, post traumatic stress disorder, and many other related problems. Drugs and alcohol addiction at early age, gangsters and other related trend are two of the many causes of juvenile criminal offenses (Hussain, 2005; Katzmann, 2002; Finley, 2007).Although these causes are largely identified, criminologists’ interpretations of youth violence data are mislead by these factors: Contradicting trends in youth violence, varying explanations for the fluctuations of youth violence, and the complexity of violent crime problem.Contradicting Trends in Youth Violence Defied Easy AnalysisOver the past years, criminologists and other entities concerned with youth violence have observed contradictory trends defying the easy analysis of the fluctuations of the rate of youth violence. For instance, in the past decades youth violence is associated with different causes: adult and juvenile gangs, economic depression, dysfunctional family, exposure to violence, abuse and neglect, more children are working for the family, influence of the television and popular media, etc. (Katzmann, 2002; Katzmann, 2002; Finley, 2007). In the recent years, statistical data showed that juvenile violence has fallen in the year 1993 despite the increase in figure of both juvenile population and predictions on the rise of youth violence.
Perhaps others may criticize that despite of the presence of determinant factors, criminologists have still failed to make concrete predictions, how come?If we are to consider the availability of the previous years’ data particularly that of 1983, which was marked by a dramatic increase in lethal violence, this fact together with the application of theoretical background must have become the basis of youth violence forecast. But the result still remained unclear. In fact, even during the period of youth violence decline, news of gun shootings by young students at schools echoed to the public. Prior to these incidents, many experts believe that schools are safer for students compared to other places, but not until these gun-related problems was heard (Katzmann, 2002; Hussain, 2005). How come this problem was not prevented? I think it’s because the probability of the incident might have been poorly established, or is unidentified earlier, and if we are going to consider the April 20, 1999 in Colorado, the investigator said that the “truths are horrifying than the myths” (Hussain, 2005). Who would have taught that at young ages, these people have the guts on committing crimes.
Varying Explanations for the Fluctuations of Youth ViolenceEffective and reliable approaches for combating the spread of youth violence are based on explanations of many factors contributing to the fast development of the problem (Katzmann, 2002; Hussain, 2005; Finley, 2007). But the problem is, like any other studies, results have varied causing varying theoretical explanations to these factors. Because of these varying theories, concerned entities debated in finding the best solution for the problem (Katzmann, 2002; Hussain, 2005; Finley, 2007). Some argued between law enforcement measures and prevention programs, others argued between criminal justice mechanisms and public health or social services responses. As a result, there was an increased focus on the impact of outside institutions and programs, and of the development of the legal system for this particular problem. Recently, partnerships among the public, private and non-profit sectors have gained much attention (Katzmann, 2002).
If we are to consider these outcomes, we can conclude that youth violence is a very complex problem. There are too many dimensions requiring intensive focus making the effort for providing the best solution a complex task.Theoretical developments and outcomes of many arguments were of significant value in controlling the youth violence problems. Today, we have promulgated the Juvenile Justice System, Criminal Justice System, and Child Protection and Welfare System (Katzmann, 2002; Hussain, 2005; Finley, 2007).
Perhaps other people may say that despite of its variations of implementation, these systems have become the foundation of many institutions and organizations ranging from government agencies, law enforcement agencies, service sectors, private and non-private organizations, schools, religious, welfare, and other related organizations – helping together to handle youth violence problems. But still, the varying explanations have brought differences in implementing these foundational systems. For instance, the juvenile systems vary in different states on the basis of age criteria (Katzmann, 2002; Finley, 2007).
It also resulted to the evolution of the rule of the juvenile court, the criminal court, the defense attorneys, prosecutors, and many other entities involved in handling youth violence cases across different states. The question, will there be a time where we’ll be able to stabilize these variations? Or can we achieve standardized theoretical basis, or standardized legal systems which can be implemented worldwide?Complexity of Violent Crime ProblemThe combination of the contradicting trends, varying theoretical basis of analysis, and different approaches of solving problems all contributed to the complexity of the categorization of the causes of youth violence cases (Katzmann, 2002; Finley, 2007). Some has mistakenly made quick conclusions and subtle analysis after poor categorization of its many causes. Many criminologists have poorly recognized the complex and multi-dimensional aspect of the “violent crime problem”. The crime problem is complex, and is composed of many problems, not one (Katzmann, 2002).
At its worst effect, it has lead to poor selection of approaches and theoretical basis to be applied in particular situations. Criminologists are experiencing difficulties in identifying which is suitable and which is not.ConclusionThere are indeed largely identified explanations for the causes of youth violence. Some of these causes are the shifting economy, poverty, dysfunctional family, ex posure to violence, abuse, and neglect, poorly implemented law initiatives, drugs and alcohol addiction, etc. But these causes were hard to apply in the shifting trends of youth violence. Criminologists are confused on the explanation of the rise of youth violence mainly because of the following reasons: First, the contradicting trend in youth violence is increasing the complexity of forecasting future trend. Next, the varying explanations for the fluctuations of youth violence are increasing the difficulty of finding suitable solutions for combating the problem. Finally, the complexity of violent crime problem is adding the difficulty of categorizing cases leading to faulty conclusions and analysis.
If these problems can’t be mitigated, youth violence effort will remain less effective. However, I believe this can be solved by standardization of theoretical basis of data collection and interpretation methods to achieve consistent results.References:Husain, A. (2005, May 17). Deadly Youth: The Dramatic Rise in Youth Violence in the US. Retrieved March 27, 2009, from Islamic Online.net: http://www.
islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1158321449009&pagename=Zone-English-Youth%2FYTELayoutFinley, L. (2007). Encyclopedia of Juvenile Violence. United States of America: Greenwood Publishing GroupKatzmann, G. (2002).
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