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The American juvenile justice system was designed over 100 years ago to reform kids found guilty of minor crimes minor crimes such as petty theft and truancy Today the system is becoming overwhelmed by crimes of violence Stealing and skipping school have been replaced by rape robbery and murder The juvenile justice system was never meant to deal with these problems Juvenile delinquency describes the antisocial behavior of many different types of youth who are in trouble or who are on the brink of trouble with the law In general terms juvenile delinquency means different things to different people By law a juvenile delinquent is a minor under seventeen who commits a criminal act determined by law and found guilty in court Juvenile courts see a juvenile delinquent as a youth who goes against a state or local law Children are not just born delinquents they are products of circumstances and chance and culture and environment A youth named a delinquent by circumstance and chance is just a youth who has been in the wrong place at the wrong time Usually the juvenile who commits a delinquent act by chance is a part of a gang that takes part in unlawful behavior temporarily Most juveniles become delinquents because of the culture and environment that surrounds them Juveniles who are in an area of violence and crime learn to go against authority and engage in crime because it is the acceptable thing to do The juvenile justice system originated about 1819 and on July 1 1899 the first juvenile court in the United States was set up in Cook County Illinois It represented a dramatic change in the way the criminal justice system and all of the American society viewed criminally involved youth The new court was founded on the principle of parens patriae the idea that children should not be treated as criminals but as wards of the state Parents patrae tried to
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