The most serious type of crime, Criminal Homicide or Murder, is the “unlawful taking of the life of another” and regarded as the most dangerous type of crime (“HG”, 1995-2016). Two-thirds of the United States have adopted a penal code system that breaks murder down into separate degrees (“HG”, 1995-2016). Murder is the most serious type of criminal homicide and includes varying degrees: First Degree (Premeditated), Second Degree (Intentional, not premeditated), Manslaughter (death is due to unintentional actions), Justifiable Homicide (self- protection), and other homicide (“HG”, 1995-2016). Other homicide includes felony murder in which the murder was a direct result of involvement in a crime that led to the death (“HG”, 1995-2016). Within these categories lies juvenile homicide.
According to the “Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)” Statistical Briefing Book, juvenile homicide peaked in the 1980’s and had drastically declined throughout the 1990’s and currently (“Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention”, 2015). However, juvenile homicide is a phenomenon we often hear in our communities. According to the OJJDP, Juvenile homicide is committed most often by males between the ages of fifteen and seventeen and of American Indian decent (“Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention”, 2015). Although juvenile homicide rates are on the decline, it remains a serious problem within communities. Post-incarceration studies implicate the necessity of prevention and intervention strategies.
Development and Origins
Juvenile homicide offenders murder for various reasons: Psychological disorders, neurological impairments, history of family violence, substance abuse, early onset of aggressive and antisocial behaviors, or learning disabilities (Khachatryan, 2015). Motivations of offenders include orientations of conflict, crime, parricide, psychotic episode, and sexually driven (Khachatryan, 2015). Understanding the motivation and triggers of the offender gives more incite critical for proper intervention and prevention of juvenile homicide.
Research indicates the majority of juvenile homicide occurs by males between the age of fifteen and seventeen, but several were committed as early as ten years old (“Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention”, 2015). Statistics dictate an urgency in the intervention of children who possess risk factors associated with potential violence in the future. Targeting youth exposed to certain risk factors such as poverty, familial abuse patterns, issues with peers, and other social, familial, peer, and educational risk factors will help deter behavior potentiating homicidal ideations and tendencies before they take effect in the youth (Catalano, Ph. D., Loeber, Ph. D., & McKinney, Ph. D., 1999).
Preventing homicidal behavior begins with recognizing the risk factors associated with the development of the behavior. The risk factors discussed above are alarms that indicate a child in need of intervention. Familial risk factors should be recognized as the foundation of the children begins in the home and creates the acceptable behaviors the child exhibits in society (Bartol & Bartol, 2014). Familial risk factors include faulty or inadequate parenting, sibling influences, and child maltreatment or abuse (Bartol & Bartol, 2014). According to the U. S. Department of Justice, family structure (parenting skills, size, home discord, treatment of children, and antisocial parents) is linked with juvenile offending (Shader). A study indicated predictors of violent offending including harsh discipline, lack of supervision from parents, and parental conflict and aggression within the home (Shader).
School-based interventions for at-risk youth including competence training for children and training for educators and parents to encourage proper socialization and interaction with peers proved effective in reducing aggressive behavior, substance abuse, and sexual activity in addition to increasing academic performance for the Seattle Social Development Project (Catalano, Ph. D., Loeber, Ph. D., & McKinney, Ph. D., 1999). In addition to in-school interventions, after school programs deter self-alienation and promote socialization while introducing self-protective factors through the promotion of prosocial and leisure activities such as sports and studying (Catalano, Ph. D., Loeber, Ph. D., & McKinney, Ph. D., 1999).
Mentoring programs in which adults act as role models providing a positive and supportive atmosphere for youth raised in a single parent home (Catalano, Ph. D., Loeber, Ph. D., & McKinney, Ph. D., 1999). Although these programs have not proven highly beneficial as a simple big brother / big sister opportunity, it was found when the mentor incorporates cognitive behavioral techniques in the time spent with the child, academic success increased, truancy reduced, and behavior became more confident when rewards were offered (Catalano, Ph. D., Loeber, Ph. D., & McKinney, Ph. D., 1999). Mentoring programs also prove beneficial in increasing the child’s perception of self-ability and self-esteem (Catalano, Ph. D., Loeber, Ph. D., & McKinney, Ph. D., 1999) which promotes a positive outlook on personal potential.
Media intervention techniques may also prove beneficial. Running campaigns that promote acceptable positive behavior as an attempt to change the societal attitude and educate the community (Catalano, Ph. D., Loeber, Ph. D., & McKinney, Ph. D., 1999). Rather than ads and movies that promote and glorify the “thug” life, ads that deter their behavior may cause a child not to desire the life of the streets. Promoting individuals who have defeated the odds and didn’t fall to a statistic by not following those negative behaviors may allow a child to have hope and begin dreaming of a better future. Additionally, allowing reformed offenders to advocate youth their experience may lead to behavior modification because the youth may develop a fear of the consequence or a desire to be upstanding to avoid the harsh reality of the road they are currently at risk to endure.
Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2014). Criminal behavior: A psychological approach (10th ed.). Retrieved from https://digitalbookshelf.argosy.edu/#/books/9781323121146
Catalano, Ph. D., R. F., Loeber, Ph. D., R., & McKinney, Ph. D., K. C. (1999, October). School and community interventions to prevent serious and violent offending. Juvenile Justice Bulletin, (), 1-12. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/177624.pdf
- (1995-2016). Retrieved from https://www.hg.org/murder.html
Khachatryan, Norair, “Thirty Year Follow-Up of Juvenile Homicide Offenders” (2015). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Retrieved from http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/etd/5822
Office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/JAR_Display.asp?ID=qa05262
Shader, M. U. S. Department of Justice. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/frd030127.pdf