Many people argue teenagers today enjoy way too many privileges and have little discipline to guide them into adulthood. However, as parents often discover, even the best behaved teens can easily be tempted to act out if they are not given enough attention or succumb to a variety of outside influences.
Unlike generations before them, today’s teenagers face unprecedented risks to their safety and futures if they are allowed to persist in their bad behavior. Rather than allow these young members of society to engage in antics that could doom their adulthood, parents, teachers, and other leaders can use these strategies to teach and guide teens to better futures.
Identifying Teen Behaviors and Crimes
While in the past, teenagers perhaps refrained from certain activities and temptations, it can be argued that some teens today know little fear when it comes to engaging in criminal activities. Indeed, parents and teachers report that these young individuals run the gamut of crossing the line from acceptable behavior into deviancy. Along with antics that are commonly associated with adolescents in this age group, such as truancy or smoking cigarettes, authorities also report that an increasing number of teenage suspects now engage in crimes such as:
• Shoplifting or stealing
• Vandalism and auto theft
• Dealing drugs
• Assault, rape, and murder
These crimes were once commonly associated with adults and hardened criminals. It alarms many people in society today that teenagers often fearlessly participate in such activities that could land them in prison for the rest of their lives.
Answering Why Teens Break the Law
Along with naming the crimes in which young offenders engage, teachers, parents, and civic leaders also strive to identify the underlying reasons for why teenagers feel that they have little recourse but to throw away their futures by taking part in such activities. Of course, each teen offender can give unique answers for his or her behavior. However, some of the more common reasons provided for juvenile offenses include:
• Lack of parental supervision and involvement
• Peer pressure from friends and classmates
• Material envy and desiring things that teens cannot normally afford
• Thrill seeking
• Anger issues and inability to form good judgments
• Drug and alcohol use
With some of these causes properly recognized, it may become obvious for parents and other adults in these children’s lives to look back and see warning signs that perhaps should have been interpreted as a cry for help and attention. Even so, being able to understand why these young members of society felt the desire to engage in crimes can help civic leaders, parents, and teachers come up with viable solutions for helping young offenders change their futures.
Helping Teenagers Resist Criminal Behavior
While teenagers that are serving time perhaps face more of a challenge in forging successful adult lives after their release from jail, it is not too late for adults to help teens who may be contemplating a life of crime. People can dissuade young individuals from engaging in deviant behavior and breaking the law by:
• Establishing mentorship programs in the community
• Encouraging parental involvement and offering affordable family counseling sessions
• Funding youth-centered civic programs like sports groups and acting clubs
• Learning the warning signs that a teen needs adult intervention and help
It can be easy for people to dismiss teenagers as naïve and impulsive and deserving of punishment when they commit crimes. However, with the proper attention and care from caring adults, young members of society can learn how to resist deviant behaviors and stay away from bad influences in their lives.