Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Juvenile Delinquent

He had an unhappy childhood, being brought up in an orphanage and denied the security of a loving family. He never developed the people skills necessary to play a positive role in the modern world, and, as a result, thinks that society is out to get him. He has read about the exploits of his father, a powerful but cruel man, and idolises him as a role model.

Now he is eighteen and powerfully built; he can overcome all but the strongest in a fight and he doesn't hold back from letting this be known. He likes to get his own way, usually by coercion but occasionally through violence.

He has several younger brothers and sisters. All share his neuroses to some degree. Some fear him and so try to copy his lifestyle and mentality. One or two of the braver ones have, however, rejected both their elder brother and their upbringing and are seeking to integrate themselves in civilised society. They are learning new skills and overcoming their attitude problems.

This has made the elder brother very angry. Last year, his bravest sister attempted to take back some money he had stolen from her. In a fit of violence, he beat her black and blue and tore off her arms (her new boyfriend was out of town and unable to protect her). She hasn't subjected herself to her brother, however, and now he is threatening to beat her again, possibly to death this time.

Society doesn't know what to do with the boy. After the violence last year they gave him a light telling off and hoped he would mend his ways. He didn't. In fact he has been emboldened by the lack of an assertive response to his actions. His potential for destruction continues to grow.

Society needs to respond as is appropriate to a juvenile delinquent. First of all, the boy must be restrained so he can do no more harm. This will take a mammoth effort, however, as the boy is very strong. Secondly society will need to provide extensive counselling to help the boy see the error of his ways and begin to make reparations. Once again, this will represent a huge commitment of resource and it may take many years before the boy is able to take his rightful place in the community.

The alternative, however, is too dreadful to contemplate.

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