Juvenile Courts in the United States

By Herbert H. Lou | Go to book overview

Chapter IX
THE JUVENILE COURT AND THE COMMUNITY

1. JUPENILE DELINQUENCY AS A COMMUNITY PROBLEM

JUVENILE delinquency is not a problem of the courts only but, in its causes, its consequences, and its treatment, is also a problem of the community. It is largely the community which provides for its youth their attitude, their philosophy of life, their example, their contacts, and their incentives. Juvenile delinquency, in its last analysis, is nothing but the result of the maladjustment of the child to the community standards and the failure on the part of the community to provide for his wholesome development. The community, therefore, must take upon itself the responsibility for the child's social maladjustments in the community, whether they arise in home, in school, in industry, in recreation, or elsewhere. The community must also detect and treat early symptoms of maladjustments and other difficulties in the child's physical, mental, or moral development. This conception of community responsibility in regard to juvenile delinquency is comparatively recent. The adequate fulfilment of this responsibility will result in the prevention of a considerable amount of juvenile delinquency and in the subsequent reduction of the number of children who come before the courts. It can be accomplished only by creating an informed public opinion, an individual responsibility, and an intelligent community action.

The community responsibility naturally corresponds to the fundamental rights of childhood, which are generally taken to include normal home life, opportunities for education, vocational preparation, and moral, religious, and physical development in harmony with high ideals of life. The fulfilment of this responsibility requires that the community must provide for its youth clean civic conditions, proper housing, adequate policing, good school facilities, and industrial or other training that is necessary to meet modern life. It also requires that means must be provided for supplementing family resources and preventing family breakdown,

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