Juvenile Delinquency Program Outline

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Juvenile Delinquency Program Outline

Juvenile Delinquency Program Outline


To identify a theory related to juvenile delinquency and make a program related to that theory for youth crime prevention.

Juvenile Delinquency Theory-Lebeling Theory

The labeling theory of juvenile delinquency deals with the effects of labels, or stigmas, on juvenile behavior. Labeling theory holds that society, by placing labels on juvenile delinquents, stigmatizes them, leading to a negative label for a youth to develop into a negative self-image. A court of law, some other agency, a youth's family and supervisors, and/or the youth's peers give a name - or a "label" - to the youth, often in "degradation ceremonies". These ceremonies may be a suspension hearing with the principal or dean of a school, a court trial, or a home punishment, among others.

Youths who are labeled as "criminals" or "delinquents" may hold these as self-fulfilling prophecies - believing the labels that others assign to them, thereby acting as the labels. A youth who succumbs to a label may then proceed to act as a "criminal" or act as a "delinquent," abandoning social norms because he or she believes that he or she is a bad person and that this is what bad people are supposed to do. Frank Tannenbaum called this social labeling the "dramatization of evil." He argues that this "transforms the offender's identity from a doer of evil to an evil person." Labels can be applied formally, by social institutions (courts, schools, etc.) or informally, by a youth's acquaintances, peers, and families. These labels can be positive, or negative, and even socializing, but stigma that hold negative connotations and may negatively effect the juvenile are the main concern of labeling theory.

Overall, labeling theory appears to be a shaky and marginally supported theory at best. There are some studies that hold that stigmatizing labels generally feed a self-fulfilling prophecy to juveniles, supporting social labeling theory. On the other hand, there are a number of studies and research evidence that says that stigmatizing labels have no effect on juveniles' behavior; some, although very few, even hold that stigmatizing labels actually reduce delinquent acts. It is a "right and wrong" theory. Social labeling theory really deals with how "society reacts to individuals" and how "individuals react to society." There lies the problemit is too broad of a concept. Some juveniles are stigmatized by their teachers, or stigmatized by law enforcement (formal labels), but are positively reinforced by their parents and family. Others are stigmatized by their parents and/or their family (informal labels), yet are positively reinforced by their teachers or other official institutions (1). If proponents of social labeling theory can devise a way to account for individual distinctiveness, they can give the theory more respectability and make it more acceptable. As of now, social labeling theory is an unstable and unsound theory, with little credibility.

Program Outline

To prevent and reduce the incidence of juvenile delinquency, crime, and other problem behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, teen pregnancy, truancy, and dropping out of school) in at-risk youth 14 ...
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