On Juvenile Delinquency

“No one is being born as a criminal, but every one under the appropriate conditions and the necessary factors in place is capable to commit offending and unlawful actions (…) Sometimes juvenile delinquency is a desperate scream seeking attention for help and support, and by treating juveniles as criminals is like stigmatising them and telling that, this is what they are and what they deserve”
-Constantinos Constantinides-

Juvenile delinquency reveals not only a problem of those young people who acted not in line with the law, but also a problem of the whole society. Due to the age, level of maturity and usually very complicated personal background, juvenile offenders fall within a very special category in comparison with other offenders. The legal basis with regard to juvenile offenders is also based on such approach, suggesting that young criminals deserve an exceptional treatment. Accordingly, the official approach of developed states follows the idea that not the punishment itself is a principal way of dealing with juvenile delinquency, but also reintegration and resocialization measures, which would help young (ex)offenders find their role in the society and prevent them from reoffending. 

There are no doubts that the issue of juvenile offending is an important topic nowadays. For example, 2018 World Congress on Justice for Children at the UNESCO House in Paris-France organized in May 2018 emphasized the need for identifying adequate measures for reducing juvenile crime and re-offending worldwide, as well as creation of tools which would prevent youth at risk from offending. Studies have distinguished the profile of juvenile offender who is released from the detention facility. In essence, this is a person who has received little or no education or training before, has low level of literacy, is in need of special education, experiences some kind of mental difficulty, is in housing need and coming from chaotic background. Indeed, a person who leaves the correctional facility and carries most of these or similar qualities, is in an extremely challenging situation and has substantial difficulties to integrate back in the society. 

Agreeing to the statement that “custodial measures should be much more than mere detention: they should be part of rehabilitation programmes that integrate interventions during both periods of custody and freedom in a complementary way, so as to foster an optimal development of the child and ensure his or her integration (or re-integration) in the family and the community”, it becomes crucial to find ways through which it would be possible to assist young offenders in the development of their skills and abilities. 

When considering the methods how to ensure a faster and more efficient integration of the young offenders, youth sector is apparently one of the areas which can be impactful. Youth work plays an impactful role of integrating various less advantaged groups into the society. Given that social inclusion has been one of the key points of the EU policy, some activities under Erasmus+ Programme are focusing on integration of young offenders. Thus, “Second chance” partner organisations from Lithuania, Vietnam, South Africa and Peru exercised the research on juvenile delinquency. 

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