In general, juvenile crimes are committed by individuals under an agreed upon age of legal responsibility. In areas like the United States, there are variances in such designations that make definitive comparisons using juvenile crime statistics imperfect. For example, some states try 16- or 17-year-olds based on the offense, which can lead to situations in which persons under 18 are tried as adults (Puzzanchera, Adams & Hockenberry, 2012). Though not a perfect predictor, it generally can be assessed that the more serious (violent) the crime is, the greater the chance that a state will try a 16- or 17-year-old as an adult.
In Japan, the juvenile delinquency problem is as rampant as in the United States. “In Japan, the crime situation was very good and stable during almost all the postwar Showa Era (1945-1988), while the United States was suffering from crimes. In the late 1980’s, however, crimes in Japan started to increase rapidly, while those in the United States dropped dramatically” (Ogino, 2005). First time offenders are repeating their crimes as early as the same year as the first offense.
Therefore, the increase in crime rates includes a high recidivism rate because the new average includes new offenders and repeat offenders, rather than just the new. It can also be argued that a decrease in juvenile crime must be partially accredited to a lower rate of recidivism. Previous offenders are not reverting back to crime; therefore lowering the rate. The reasons for the influx of crimes, including the severity, repetitiveness, and randomness, are the basis of many psychological and sociological studies. Potential causes that are addressed in this study are environment, family income level, culture, educational level, and religious beliefs.
Environment is perhaps the greatest influence on adolescent behavior. This includes family setting, peers, societal pressures through media, and even the internet. In the United States, children are overwhelmed by advertisements for video games, movies and media gadgets that promote and even glorify crime. Many of the video games by Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox award points for murder and theft while promoting sex. Sony PlayStation’s Grand Theft Auto is based upon strategies to steal cars. Part of successful research is comprised of looking in the right places.
The factors that contribute to juvenile crime change over time along with economic conditions, trends, and people. These changes must be taken into consideration over time, as opposed to continuously looking in the same basket.
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