Juvenile Offenders with Mental Health Issues

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By lkjmail
Words 2056
Pages 9
Juvenile Offenders with Mental Health Issues Adolescence is a critical time of development. During this period there are significant changes in brain development, emotions, cognition, behavior, and personal relationships. It is during this time that most major mental health disorders appear, many of which carry over into adulthood. Behavior patterns such as substance abuse also often develop during this time and may continue throughout adulthood. Many adolescents struggling with mental health issues begin to exhibit symptoms such as acting out at home or in school, showing a decreased interest in activities that they previously enjoyed, or bringing home poor grades. Others ultimately are charged with offenses ranging from status offenses for things such as skipping school, to misdemeanor offenses such as burglary or possession of a controlled substance, or even more serious charges. In Iowa, adolescents exhibiting behavioral issues become involved in the Juvenile Court system, which seems overwhelmed with the volume of cases to be heard, and does little to address the mental health needs of its clients. This paper will discuss the federal legislation developed to protect youth in the juvenile and criminal justice system and address delinquent behavior, the volume and types of offenders, the limitations of the current Juvenile Justice System, and proposed modifications to the organizational structure of the system. Status offenders are juveniles charged with an offense that is only illegal because they have not yet reached the age of majority. The most common status offenses are “truancy, running away from home, incorrigibility (disobeying parents), truancy, curfew violations, and alcohol possession by minors.” (Steinhart, 1996) Additionally, according to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, published in the JJDPA Fact Book, it is…...

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