Forum 4 Week 6

I’m studying for my Law class and don’t understand how to answer this. Can you help me study?

Respond to each students discussion post with 175 words each, 2 additional references each, and a biblical reference:

ORIGINAL DISCUSSION QUESTION: The juvenile justice system covers a number of categories of children: delinquent, undisciplined, dependent, neglected, abused, and status offender. As a result, the law has sought to adapt the rights, institutions, and treatment options available to an increasingly diverse juvenile population – gangs, substance abuse, mental health concerns, sexual orientation, cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying, sexual-oriented texting, and school violence.

Beginning with the material conveyed in the assigned reading and presentation, select 2 scholarly articles from the university criminal justice databases, and integrate those resources to discuss the challenges facing the juvenile justice system as it seeks to respond to a perceived need to pursue the “adultification” of juvenile criminal behavior. Finally, integrate within your discussion the impact of a Judeo-Christian viewpoint for treating juvenile criminals as adults.


1) To begin, I have always had a soft spot juvenile justice. There has also always been a lot of controversy surrounding this area. Mainly when it comes to treating them as adults in courts. The ultimate goal in the juvenile justice system is to prevent juvenile offenders from transitioning into the adult system. Schmalleger (2019) mentions that there isn’t much distinction between criminality and delinquency (Schmalleger 2019, pg. 516). Delinquency refers to “juvenile behavior in violation of the law, juvenile status offenses, and other juvenile misbehavior” (Schmalleger 2019, pg. 648). The course text outlines the different categories of children in the juvenile justice system. The existence of the different categories has led to laws being adapted for treatment alternatives outside of regular detention to accommodate the diverse population of juvenile intakes. As result of the diverse population, the juvenile justice system had to evolve rapidly overtime. In some cases, and for some crimes, juvenile offenders have been treated and sentenced as adults. These categories include status offenders, delinquent, undisciplined, dependent, neglected and abused children. These different categories are self-explanatory (minus status offender) and psychologists would explain how these categories play a role in why these children turn to delinquency or the type of delinquency and criminality they participate in. Status offenses “include behavior such as truancy, vagrancy, running away from home and incorrigibility” (Schmalleger 2019, pg. 519).

There are many challenges that the juvenile justice system faces. Some of the challenges the Juvenile justice system face includes improving condition of confinement, air treatment for children of color, health care, security, children with mental health issues and reducing overcrowding. One of the main issues that have been prevalent over the years is the treatment of juveniles, as adults. There are arguments about brain development in youth in comparison to adults, which should be a reason they should not be treated as adults. “Unlike adults, youth are still in the midst of adolescent growth, brain maturation, and personality development. Recent studies on the adolescent brain have demonstrated that it continues to develop until a person reaches their mid-twenties” (Arnett 2018, pg. 408).

Children already go through adultification in their homes and when they come in contact with the criminal justice system, they face critics that believe they should be treated as adults. So, it is as if they’re expected to be adults everywhere they go. Burton (2007) highlights that “economically pressed families can be prime contexts for children to develop adultified behaviors” (Burton 2007, pg. 331). Childhood adultification is a process by which children or adolescents take on adult-like family roles. “At young ages, many children accept advanced responsibilities of provision and care for their family members, including mothers, siblings, cousins, and grandparents. Such adultification involves acquiring precocious knowledge as well as acting as peer, spouse, or even parent for one’s own parents” (Roy, Messina, Smith, & Waters 2014).

God speaks about the importance of children. We should treat them with the same importance. The criminal justice system should also take heed to God’s love for children. While the criminal justice system seeks to treat children like adults, the bible urges people to become more like children. Matthew 18:1-5 says “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 19:13-14 says “let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”


Arnett, C. (2018). Virtual Shackles: Electronic Surveillance And The Adultification Of Juvenile Courts. The journal of criminal law & criminology,108(3), 399-456.

Burton, L. (2007). Childhood Adultification in Economically Disadvantaged Families: A Conceptual Model. Family Relations,56(4), 329-345.

Roy, K., Messina, L., Smith, J., & Waters, D. (2014). Growing Up as “Man of the House”: Adultification and Transition Into Adulthood for Young Men in Economically Disadvantaged Families. New Directions for Child and AdolescentDevelopment,2014(143), 55-72.

Schmalleger, F. (2019). Criminal justice today: An introductory text for the twenty-first century.NY, NY: Pearson.

2) Mental health is a big issue when it comes to juvenile justice. According to Wakefield et al, “The rate of diagnoses seems to increase with increasing involvement in the juvenile justice system. Youth processed in adult courts have higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders than incarcerated adults” (2019, p. 328). The more contact a juvenile has with the criminal justice system, unfortunately, the higher the probability they will have some form of mental health issue. Mental health issues can lead to depression and substance abuse, so it is imperative that the criminal justice system be able to recognize these and provide treatment. Juveniles are not likely to seek help on their own so the criminal justice system should make treatment mandatory in all instances of mental health issues in juveniles. If they are able to get the help and treatment they need, the chances of them continuing on their path lessens and can lower recidivism.

Trauma from physical and sexual abuse can also lead to PTSD symptoms, including substance abuse. According to Sanders et al, “Children receiving mental health services in the community are more likely to become justice-involved if their living situations are disrupted” (2018, p. 329). Even when juveniles are getting help, the smallest change in their life can have an impact and result in them coming in contact with the criminal justice system. Treatment counselors should stress the imperative to the parents to maintain living arrangements to provide stability for their kids.

Another area that can lead to mental health issues is sexting. According to Lee & Crofts, “There is a concern about the emotional and reputational damage that sexting can have and the capacity for abuse when used as a form of cyberbullying” (2015, p. 455). The abuse they receive from sexting can potentially lead to depression and substance abuse also.

Children and young adults have not fully matured mentally so the focus on them should be more toward receiving help than incarceration, with some exceptions based on the crime. According to Schmalleger, “A number of states are now encouraging collaboration with the mental health community and child-serving organizations, and have increased resources to help divert young offenders with mental health needs from the system” (2019, p. 533). I think this perfectly sums up providing treatment to juveniles and trying to keep them out of the criminal justice system that would continue into adulthood.

Proverbs 13:24 says “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them”. It is important to discipline our children to keep them on the right path, we just need to make sure that that discipline does not stray into abuse, which can lead to issues later on. This can cause a lot of debate, but I wonder if some of those people that participate in the riots across the country were not disciplined when they were younger and were allowed to do whatever they wanted growing up?

Lee, Murray & Crofts, Thomas. (2015). Gender, pressure, coercion and pleasure: Untangling motivations for sexting between young people. British Journal of Criminology, 55(3), 454-473.

New International Version Bible. (2020). New International Version Bible Online. (Original work published 1978)

Sanders, J., Hershberger, A. R., Kolp, H. M., Um, M., Aalsma, M., & Cyders, M. A. (2018). PTSD symptoms mediate the relationship between sexual abuse and substance use risk in juvenile justice–involved youth. Child Maltreatment, 23(3), 226–233.

Schmalleger, F. (2019). Criminal justice today: An introductory text for the 21st century (15th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. ISBN: 9780134749754

Wakefield, Sarah M., Baronia, Regina., & Brennan, Stephanie. (2019). Depression in justice-involved youth. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 28(3), 327-336.