You can hardly turn on your TV without seeing a story on the news about a robbery or break-in happening by youth under the age of 18. Because youth crimes are increasing every day at an alarming rate, there has been a lot of discussion about how to prevent youth crime. Well, that’s the thing… there’s been lots of discussion about it but very little has been done to actually help youth stay out of trouble.
So why do you think little has been done? It’s not because people don’t want to help… it’s more so because people don’t know why youth are turning to criminal acts. According to childstats.gov, there are signs and problematic behaviors that young people exhibit to let you know that they’re at risk of turning to a life of crime or committing violent crimes. Youth who are at risk of turning to a life of crime typically have problems in school, use drugs, and display promiscuous sexual behaviors.
Until you can get to the bottom of why teens are turning to this life of crime, you can’t be a driving force in the prevention of these crimes. Take a look at the underlying reasons why youth typically turn to a life of crime.
Why Youth Turn to Crime
Peer Pressure From “Friends”
You’ve heard the phrase “birds of a feather flock together”… Well, in the matter of youth crimes, this statement couldn’t be any truer. Studies have shown that youth who have friends that commit criminal acts are more likely to commit those crimes just like their friends, at some point. That’s why it’s so important as parents to not only keep an eye on your children but to also keep an eye on who they’re hanging out with.
Their Family Doesn’t Pay Them Any Attention or Show Affection
From the time your child is born, they need your attention and love, and they especially need it in their teenage years, being that it’s the teenage years when most youth crimes are committed. When you don’t show your children affection or your attention during these years, they’ll either commit crimes just to grab your attention or simply because they feel like “why not?” They feel like their parents already don’t love or care about them so why not take a walk on the “wild side?”
Family Financial Issues
Sometimes youth crimes come from a “good place” if you can believe it or not. Do you know how many youths in America live in poverty? One out of every five children lives in poverty in America. The thing about poverty is that kids aren’t oblivious to it; they can see that they live in bad conditions and they know that there’s not enough food in their home to feed their family. So what do they do? They steal. And the majority of the time, the kids who steal, know that it’s wrong and generally don’t want to do it because they know it’s wrong but they feel like they don’t have any other choice. In their minds, it’s stolen for food and clothing for their family or go another night without… they typically choose to steal.
Being Bullied at School
How many times have you seen on the news about school shootings or youth suicides being the result of kids being bullied by other kids at their school? It happens more often than it should. When kids are bullied or are the bully, it gives way to abusive patterns into adulthood. For kids who are the bully, they have witnessed abusive behaviors at home or have so much anger built up inside of them that they take it out on others; insecurities and jealousy also play a major role with bullies.
Kids who are the victims of being bullied typically exhibit disruptive behaviors due to feeling like they have to do that in order to protect themselves or they do it because they feel like the world owes them something. The reasons can go on and on but as a parent, talk to your kids and see what’s going on with them at school. There’s nothing wrong with getting “nosey.”
Ways to Prevent Youth Crimes
Above, you’ve read the root causes of why youth turn to crime. Now that you know those root causes, what can you do to prevent it even further? Well, for one, you can start with your own children by showing them the love and affection they long for (even though they may not admit it). If you have a teenager, start saving up for a family vacation. There are actually certain vacation destinations that are great for teenagers.
Another great way to prevent youth crimes is to get your children involved in extracurricular activities. Maybe you notice that your child is fascinated by guitars; consider getting them enrolled in beginner guitar lessons. This would be a great way to not only keep them away from risky activity but learning how to play the guitar also opens their minds to a new way of learning that will help them in their academics.
Another great extracurricular activity for youth is to get them involved in organized sports. By playing sports, your child will learn the meaning of teamwork, they’ll learn how to manage their time, and they’ll learn how to problem-solve. With most sports, there’s practice and games during the week and on weekends so this will not only keep your kids physically active but between school and their sport, they won’t have the time to get involved in anything potentially risky that will lead them to a life of crime.