As social problems increase among Malaysian youths, youth crimes have risen especially since the late 1990s. Sad to say, youth crimes are becoming more violent and alarming. Young people are responsible for 40% of crimes committed today! Examples of such crimes are theft, burglary, robbery, and fighting.
Youth crimes are caused by various factors. They can be poor attainment at school, truancy and school exclusion, deprivation such as poor housing or homelessness, and peer group pressure. Family factors include troubled home life, poor parental supervision, criminal parents or siblings, parental abuse or neglect, and the quality of the parent-child relationship.
Parents usually do not accept that they are to be blamed when something goes wrong with their child. Instead, they are quick to blame the system and others when their child commits crimes. They refuse to accept that due to lack of parental attention, the teenagers turn to the wrong company and get influenced to commit crimes. These youth criminals do this either to fit into the group or to listen to the group leader.
Tackling youth crimes is a priority for the government today. One move taken is to introduce major changes to the youth justice system, which together with preventive measures, are aimed to reduce offending by young people. The prevention efforts implemented are comprehensive in scope. They include activities such as substance abuse education and treatment, family counseling, youth mentoring, parenting education, educational support, and youth sheltering. All these come under the delinquency prevention program. The aim of the program is to prevent youth from becoming involved in criminal or other anti-social activities.
Increasingly, governments are recognizing the importance of allocating resources for the prevention of delinquency. As it is often difficult for states to provide the financial resources necessary for good prevention, organizations, communities, and governments are working more in collaboration with each other to prevent juvenile delinquency.
Schools play a big role in this. A school-based program has been initiated to provide support and advice to young people aimed at improving behavior and reducing truancy. When students show greater interest in their studies, they are less likely to be influenced by bad companies. Some youth centers impose a requirement for parents to attend counseling and guidance sessions where they receive help in dealing with their children.
Youth offending teams are an important part of our strategy to deal with youth crime. They include representatives from the police, social services, health, education, and housing. Their job is to identify the needs of each young offender as well as their problems and then measuring the risk they pose to others. This enables them to identify suitable programs to address the needs of the young person so they can be rehabilitated.
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