Even children run afoul of the law at times. Once this occurs, and a child is entered into the juvenile system, they may be deemed a “juvenile delinquent.” This is a title that rarely leaves them. A juvenile delinquent is a minor – aged 10 to 18 – who has violated the law. These acts are not classified as “crimes” as they would be for adults. Rather, the law considers such actions to be “delinquent acts.” In lieu of a trial, the juvenile undergoes an “adjudication,” after which sentencing will take place.
Typically, delinquent acts fall into two categories. The first type includes acts that would be considered a crime had an adult committed them. For serious crimes, some jurisdictions throughout the country may try a child as an adult. When tried as a juvenile, however, parents are usually required to pay for court costs.
The second type of delinquent act is one that would not normally be committed by an adult. These are known as “age-related” or “status” crimes. The most common example is a child who stays out past curfew or “truancy,” which is the failure to attend school. Yes, the police will be alerted to a child who misses class too often.
Detection and Intervention
Juvenile delinquency is more than just mischief, such as tossing water balloons at a passerby or playing “ding-dong-ditch.” Some offenses are serious. Some include drug-related crimes or property crimes. Prevention and intervention are entirely possible, as children are often malleable.
There are non-profit organizations, such as Big Brother, Big Sisters, that provide mentoring and role models for at-risk youths. If your son or daughter has had a run-in with the law, such organizations are considered useful.