What Are Some of the Ways to Help Prevent Juvenile Delinquency?

Some of the ways that juvenile delinquency can be prevented or minimized are though advocacy and mentoring programs, alcohol and drug use prevention programs and behavioral therapy. Although many of the existing programs are aimed at preventing repeat offenses, they can be helpful in preventing at-risk juveniles from being drawn into criminal behavior by gangs, peer pressure or irrational choices. Community organizations and programs that are able to effectively replace or supplement dysfunctional traditional structures can also help to steer a juvenile away from antisocial or criminal behavior.

There are several theories for the existence and prevalence of juvenile delinquency. Some of these theories, such as labeling and differential association, place the cause within a societal context rather than focusing on the individual. Rational choice theory is the classic criminology approach, and it places the cause of juvenile delinquency on the individual's motivation towards self-interest, even when at the expense of others. The role of education is considered a primary factor in the prevention of juvenile delinquency because it helps to increase the economic potential of the individual while also encouraging the pursuit of self-interest through positive means.

Cognitive behavior therapy reduces the possibility of recidivism in juvenile offenders by up to 15 percent according to ongoing research conducted by Sara Heller, Jonathan Guryan and Jens Ludwig at the University of Chicago titled "Reducing Juvenile Delinquency by Reducing Automatic Behavior: Experimental Evidence from Juvenile Detention." This represents a goal-oriented approach that focuses on the individual learning to recognize and change thought patterns that can have a negative or destructive outcome.

According to a report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, parents can help prevent juvenile delinquency, by having dinner with their kids 5 to 7 nights a week. The report further states that parents should provide emotional support and boundaries and they should also monitor their child's activities.

A child whose parents do not monitor their activities is more likely to become a bully, and 60 percent of those male bullies between the age of 12 and 15 have a criminal conviction by the age of 24. Children need boundaries, and a clearly defined set of rules and consequences. Consistency is important, when setting boundaries. Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest that negative behaviors correlate with poor diets. Parents should consider having their child checked for food allergies and reduce the amount of sugar he or she consumes.