Studies have shown that for adolescents to do develop into law abiding productive adults, their psychological well being is crucial. This is especially so for those who commit violent crimes in their youth. In their study, countries such as USA have a significant number of young adults being sentences to serve jail terms in adult correctional facilities. Their crimes are perceived to be too serious to be handled through the juvenile correctional facilities. This is sending the wrong message to the society on the capabilities of the juvenile correctional centers which are already in doubts. The essence of evaluating young offenders then becomes remarkably clear. It is helpful to the young offenders whose psychological issues if found would be addressed. It also can provide the juvenile justices system with a yard stick to measure their effectiveness. Thus, it is possible to evaluate the improvements that a young offender acquires within the system, when his psychological state prior to entering the system is known.
The risk factors that have been indentified to contribute to Adolescent Violence include; upbringing dysfunctional family setting. This is whereby children are brought up in broken down families that are incapable of providing them with proper structured lives. In such settings, adolescents are likely to be exposed to violence, prostitution, drugs and other criminal activities from a young age .They, in turn, grow up perceiving such vices to be part of life, and are, therefore, likely to get involved in criminal activities.
In order to turn around such adolescents, an appropriate, structured life setting is required. The question that arises is on the capability of juvenile correction facility having the capability of addressing such need. This is where psychological evaluations can help the court system administer appropriate sentences. This can be done either through allocation to appropriate agencies to provide the right guidance or removing such adolescents from inappropriate home settings. Family setting thus has been identified as one of the risk factors that can determine violent and antisocial behavior among the adolescent. Adults who persistently commit crimes can have the root of their offending behaviors traced to their childhood. Most being committing offences in their adolescence and this behavior persist and often escalate in their adulthood. With such proven facts, it is possible to prevent such individuals from commuting future crimes if the root causes are addressed in their adolescence (Barlow, 2008). This can only happen if they are properly diagnosed and curative measures put in motion.
Other factors that have been recognized as having the capability of turning children into violent and antisocial individuals include cognitive defects, attention problems and hyperactivity. Cognitive deficits in childhood stages can lead to violent offences in adolescent stages (Hong, Robert, Narriman, & Mina, 2010). This is because such children grow up without the benefits of realizing that their behaviors are not appropriate in the society. Hyperactivity in childhood, as well as attention problems in childhood, is also exposed to violence, and antisocial behavior causative risky factors. Such issues if not addressed can lead to violent and antisocial behaviors in young adults. Perhaps one of the most influential risky factors is peer pressure. Youths join gangs and commit antisocial acts, “to be cool”.
In their struggle to be accepted by their peers adolescent are known to commit violent acts to impress their peers (Hong, Robert, Narriman, & Mina, 2010). Most of gang activities are normally crimes against the society they range from vandalism, drug running, murder, stealing to rape. All these activities are punishable by law whether committed by the youth or adults. Peer pressure is also one of the influential factors that lead the youth into substance abuse. Since drugs are expensive the only way of feeding their habits once they get addicted is by stealing, prostitution, drug trafficking or even murder (Naar-King & Suarez, 2011). A number of violent acts among the youth result in the process of committing other crimes.
Environmental influences can also put the young at risk of becoming antisocial and violent human beings. Violent neighborhoods where gang activity is a norm are known to influence youths into joining criminal activities. Regions where there are wars can also turn youths into violent individuals. This is because adolescent youths can be forced into joining fighting armies and militia. Institutions can be sources of antisocial behaviors. Juvenile correctional facilities, foster homes and schools, are among the social institutions where teens are likely to be exposed to violence and abuses. Children at risks of such exposures can turn into violent and antisocial youths (Benedek, Ash, & Scott, 2010). Abuses and violence such as hazing or harassment can, therefore, be determining factors of violent and antisocial behaviors.
Among the controversial factors that arise where behavior is concerned, in adults or youths is the biological factors. There are those who believe that behavior is predetermined an individual’s genetic makeup or nurture. Others believe that nature is responsible for an individual’s behavior. It is a proven fact that an up bring setting can heavily influence their behavior patterns. As earlier noted, the environmental influences can also put the young at risk of becoming antisocial and violent human beings (Hong, Robert, Harriman, & Mina, 2010). From violent neighborhoods to regions where there are wars, the youths are often at risk of either being on the receiving end of violence or being the ones committing the violent acts. Such environments are recipes for individuals turning to young offenders. No one was born into a gang it is when individuals grow up that the make such choices and end up committing crimes. However, what cannot be denied is that people have no choices in circumstances that surround their birth or up bring.
There is gender disparity in committing crimes as well as the roles that psychological disorders play to influence crime as earlier noted. Females, according to one study, commit fewer crimes and female offenders have less psychological issues. In regards to this issue, research is limited. Therefore, further studies should be undertaken to clarify the issue.
It is clear that psychological factors are influential factors in determining youthful behavior. It should, therefore, be a requirement for young offenders to undergo psychological evaluation. This can be useful in the justices system since it can help in assigning the proper collective rehabilitation measures. If disorders are diagnosed, the juvenile court system should recommend psychological treatment for the juvenile offenders.