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Juvenile Delinquency

The act of participating in a crime by a minor is considered juvenile delinquency. This criminal act can be punished by an array of means, designed specifically to deal with those who are under the statutory age of majority. However, the rise of street gangs makes many people argue that the severity of the juvenile prosecution system is not high enough to constitute proper punishment. Thus, the perpetrators must be tried under adult laws.

It is hard to argue this position as the crimes committed by gang members, regardless of their age, are often as serious and heinous as the ones committed by adults. If one looks at the problem from one point of view, it is hard to understand why the criminal cannot be punished with the entire severity of the law. As the number of youngsters who get arrested for serious offences increases, it is only natural to believe that the severity of their punishments must be increased as well. This should make the perpetrators understand the real extent of their actions. A person who is duly punished for breaking the law will be wearier of repeating the act. This cannot be said about someone whose punishment is too light when compared to the crime committed.

Is it fair to punish a minor under the laws designed for adults? The issue of morals makes answering this question more difficult, as people are taught that the same rules for adults cannot be applied to children. The differences in their attitudes and psyche are too big to overlook. Minors’ psyche is less stable by default, and they are easily influenced by those with stronger personalities. The leaders of juvenile gangs fall into this category, so it is only logical that they can manipulate those who are struggling to find their place in the world, while suffering under the onslaught of hormones triggered by puberty. This unstable psychological condition is the main reason that explains why minors are perceived as incapable of taking the blame for their actions. However, teenage angst can hardly be seen as an excuse to commit a serious crime. This is not a matter of not seeing the right from wrong. There are laws that must be complied with, and not doing so is wrong by default. One’s existential crisis is not a good enough reason to use as an excuse for breaking the law.

People who support the idea that juvenile delinquency should be perceived as a less serious crime, based solely on the age of the offenders, do not see the whole picture. If the nature of the acts committed by minors is serious enough to be tried under adult laws, this is the course of action that should be taken. Even minors are clearly capable of understanding the law and their obligations to comply with it.

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