Should status offenders be treated differently than juveniles?

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auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is an interesting question, for the difference between a juvenile delinquent and a status offender is clearly defined by law; however, psychologically, they are as similar as they are different.  In the article I've attached below from the Psychiatric Quarterly, it's clear that the actual difference between these two classes of young people is minimal.  Their behaviors are similar, though the causes may be different.  A juvenile delinquent breaks the law and becomes a menace (or at least a nuisance) to himself and society; a status offender is a juvenile who commits acts which would not be considered crimes if adults had committed them, such as truancy.  Should one who commits a non-crime be treated the same as one who commits an actual crime?  While status offenders must be dealt with (and might even benefit from the same resources available to juvenile offenders), if they don't commit a crime they should not be punished as if they did.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The noun Juvenile means any young person. Such a person may or may not be involved in behavior contrary to law.

Perhaps the question is confusing between the terms juvenile and juvenile delinquent. The term Juvenile delinquent is used for young people, who are considered not being fully responsible for their behavior, and therefor deserving of the more severe adjective of law breakers of criminals.

The term juvenile delinquency is used for any behaviour against the standards of society, irrespective of whether such action is illegal or legal.

The question can be re-framed as whether different legal action or laws should apply to juveniles (young people) and grown ups. My belief is, yes. The young people should be treated more with a view to reform and correct their behavior, rather than for punishing them. As a matter of fact there is growing awareness that there is considerable scope for reducing levels of crimes in society by using the reformation approach more widely for the adults also.

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