Research Paper (postgraduate), 2011
26 Pages, Grade: A+
- Executive Summary
- Synopsis of School System in Trinidad and Tobago
- Conceptual Framework
- Theoretical Explanations of Juvenile Delinquency
- Costs of Juvenile Delinquency
- Intervention Strategies within the School Setting
This paper seeks to highlight juvenile delinquency in Trinidad and Tobago particularly within the school system which has become at the centre of attention recently. It explores some of the theories that can be used to explain delinquency in the school system. The author places much attention on the programmes that can be used to alleviate if not eliminate juvenile delinquency in schools throughout Trinidad and Tobago. The challenges and recommendations of these programmes were also highlighted in order to maximize its success.
Juvenile Delinquency has become a rapidly growing phenomenon in Trinidad and Tobago. Many view juvenile delinquency as a key facilitating factor when examining the criminal elements that plague society. It is at this point where the problematic issue of juvenile delinquency becomes a real issue that is brought to the fore to be rectified.
In a recent article published by one to the nation’s leading newspaper, Minister of National Security Brigadier Sandy expresses that there was an escalation in the number youth crimes. For the period 2009 to 2010, Sandy quoting some statistics from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service stated that persons under the age of 18 years committed a total of 933 serious crimes. He further put blame on the growth in criminal gangs in urban areas, the high availability of firearms, the drug trade and juvenile delinquency in the school system at the height of this upsurge. The focus of this paper will however be on juvenile delinquency in the school system.
Since corporal punishment was abolished in Trinidad and Tobago in 1999, statistics have shown a critical rise in juvenile delinquency within the education system. Some of the key issues encountered by teachers in the school system on a daily basis include disruptive behaviour in and out of the classroom, disrespectful attitudes towards authority and peers, fighting, use of obscenities, drugs and tobacco use, prohibited items on person and property such as blades, defacing school property, theft and the more recently highlighted bullying.
The education system was derived from the class oriented British society during colonialism. It was systematically operated to ensure that the vast percentage of the population remained only functionally literate or in many cases illiterate. The illiterate were inevitably from the poor and underprivileged in society (Chuck...). Today however, one may argue that this system of inequality still exists (if not entirely, partially) while others may differ by stating the system is now based on meritocratic principles.
The education system in Trinidad and Tobago is distinctly divided into three categories: the pre-school level; primary school level and secondary school level. Under these institutions, children usually start school at the age of three (3) years and typically end at the age of seventeen or eighteen. At this point, it is important to note that this research paper will only examine the lower level education system and not tertiary level education systems.
The education system in Trinidad and Tobago is divided into private schools, government- assisted schools or strictly government schools. The private schools caters to the needs of those families that are willing to pay sometimes exorbitant fees to have their children attend “the best” schools. Such schools subsequently attract a large percentage of the upper and middle classes. The government assisted schools however originate from various denominations and are more or less considered religious board schools. These schools even though they are managed by the differing religious boards, they are partially assisted by the government. Lastly, the government schools are those fully funded and operated by the government. Studies have shown that the latter two schools tend to attract a vast majority of students from the lower level stratas in society even though some researchers may beg to differ. It is important to note at this point that this research paper will only make reference to the latter two schools.
For the purpose of this research paper, it is necessary that the author identify and define the key concepts that will be used throughout.
According to the ‘Beijing Rules’ implemented by the United Nations in 1985 and which was adopted by most member states including Trinidad and Tobago, the following definitions are of relevance in the context of this proposal.
- A Juvenile is a child or young person who, under the respective legal systems, may be dealt with for an offence in a manner which is different from an adult.
- An offence is any behaviour (act or omission) that is punishable by law under the respective legal systems.
- A juvenile offender is a child or young person who is alleged to have committed an offence.
According to the above definition, the term juvenile is somewhat used interchangeably with child. In Trinidad and Tobago, a child is considered to be any individual under the age of eighteen years.
The Juvenile Delinquent
In keeping with the above definition, once an offence is committed by the juvenile, he or she is supposed to be treated in a different manner than an adult would be. In addition, there are some offences that are considered delinquent once committed by persons under the age of eighteen but not considered a crime when an adult commits the same offence. According to Seigel in his book Juvenile Delinquency: The Core, a young offender does not become a delinquent unless his actions are perpetual and continuous and is subsequently caught by law.
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