The juvenile justice system and parents across America struggle on a day-to-day basis with their children and substance abuse. It is stated that four out of every five children arrested within the system are under the influence of a substance (alcohol or drugs) when committing the crimes that forced them to be detained and arrested (Alcoholism. about. com, 2010). It is reported within the textbook that seventy-three percent of high school seniors had used alcohol within the past year, which makes the possibility of teenagers entering the juvenile justice system even higher (Siegel & Welsh, 2009).
It is also believed that we as a society, does not provide the adequate support to those youth that are using controlled substances; which could in turn result in a more positive outcome, versus a decline in their behavior from initial arrest (Alcholism. about. com, 2010). This is a very true statement because in 2009, the SAMSHA reported that 374,000 citizens were treated for substance abuse between the ages of eighteen to twenty-four; that does not include the amount of individuals who did not seek help and those that were even younger.
It also does not tell the story about how many of those individuals started using controlled substances at an earlier age as a juvenile (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, n. d. ). According to Joseph Califano, Jr. , we are writing of the younger Americans by releasing them back into society without attending to their substance abuse needs (Alcholism. about. com, 2010). As an American, it is notable that social status plays a vital role in why juveniles embark into the realm of substance abuse.
When children aren’t accepted by their peers, they tend to lash out and try things to make their peers accept them, or hide in a corner and not seek any help because they want to be left alone (Siegel & Welsh, 2009). Social disorganization plays another vital role in why juveniles resort to substance abuse. Because the United States has so many different juvenile justices systems, it is hard to be held accountable for the different practices taking place, and the fact that non of the practices are helping one hundred percent of the time is unacceptable (Alcoholism. bout. com, 2010). Many juveniles fall into the system, and because there is limited help for them within their state/system, they become long time offenders and turn their adult careers into offending and spend the majority of their lives in adult prison institutions (Alcoholism. about. com, 2010). It is estimated that if provided the proper treatment, juvenile course could save a whopping $14 Billion per year (Alcoholism. about. om, 2010), but it is up to the state and local governments to put the time, efforts and resources into the system to help rehabilitate the youth while they are young, because at some point, the rehabilitation slows or stops completely. It is and always has been difficult to judge whether punishing juveniles was more acceptable than rehabilitating them, but numbers in the state of California has declined to show that rehabilitating is the most viable option to release the strain on our justice system and over crowding in prisons (Mellon, 2008).
At times, the most viable option is not the best, but in this situation, it is believed that if you truly want to help youth and keep them on the path of becoming responsible citizens, it is very much necessary to rehabilitate them and coach them early in their childhoods. If we wait until after they commit a crime and become a reactive society, the numbers will blossom into a flower that does not glorify our country.
Adults who commit violent crimes that are not first time offenders, they generally had a record as a juvenile that was never addressed and rehabilitated (Deitch, Barstow, Lukens, & Reyna, n. d. ). Although rehabilitation is not always the answer, it can definitely help solve the equation. Alcoholism. about. com. , (2010). Most Juvenile Offenders use Drugs, Alcohol. Retrieved February 6, 2012, from http://alcoholism. about. com/od/teens/a/blcasa041007. htm Deitch, M. , Barstow, A. , Lukens, L. Reyna, R. , (n. d. ). From Time Out to Hard Time: Young Children in the Adult Criminal Justice System. Retrieved February 6, 2012 from http://www. utexas. edu/lbj/archive/news/images/file/From%20Time%20Out%20to%20Hard%20Time-revised%20final. pdf Mellen, G. , (2008). A Historic Struggle: Punishment or Rehabilitation. Retrieved February 6, 2012, from http://www. presstelegram. com/justice/ci_9327709 Siegel, L. J, & Welsh, B. C. , (2009). Juvenile Delinquency –Theory, Practice and Law. California.