Mental Health Disorders And Juvenile Delinquency Essay Sample

Mental Health Disorders And Juvenile Delinquency Essay Sample


            Crime and delinquency have become a growing concern in view of its impact to long-term prevalence of crime, increasing cost of correction and rehabilitation and rising recidivism. One of the major consequence has been the realization that of the need for early intervention of many juvenile offenders for mental health conditions.

This has been in response to two key results of research: the positive response of juvenile offender to mental health therapy or intervention and the link of mental health to criminal behavior. The implication is that when correction or rehabilitation programs are able to address mental health issues of juvenile offenders, the rate of success of the programs are increased and will in turn reduce recidivism or prevent escalation of offenses.

Supporting Research

            According to Baron (2003), the development of criminal behavior has been associated with social learning particularly self-control, values formation and the perception of consequence. He further points out that for young offenders, mental development is greatly vulnerable to external influences because of the need for acceptance, identity and self-expression. Because of this sensitivity, this creates significant stress which impacts mental health and development. Similarly, Flint and Nixon (2006) have indicated a direct correlation with anti-social behavior among young offenders and mental health concerns as well.

Previously considered to be based on social or behavioral issues associated with adolescence, there is now evidence indicating that they are a consequence of the pubescent physical and mental development. From the other end of criminal management perspective, evaluation of correction and rehabilitation have indicated that in programs were mental health was addressed, participating offenders had better prognosis for correction and were able to better have the competencies to prevent relapse or recidivism (Parks, 2007; Gavin, 2005). This has also become apparent in the reforms that have been undertaken in penal reform for juvenile offenders requiring mental health evaluation and intervention as well as trends in judicial rulings (Faulkner, 2007; Adams, 2003; Stone, 2005).


            These current perspectives recognizing the role of mental health dynamics in corrections and recidivism are challenging current methods in therapy and intervention. In response to the research and its own studies, there has been an emphasis on the on the resolution of issues impacting mental health. It should be noted however that mental health is considered closely with psychological (Coatsworth et. al, 2001).

Considering the concern that has been afforded juvenile delinquency and recidivism, there has been significant effort in the allocation of resources to support mental health and related programs. However there is also a realization that these require long-term commitment in corrections and rehabilitation. As pointed out by Hutchinson (2006), though programs have been made available, there is still a need to develop standards for performance and greater sensitivity to clients.

            In Flint and Nixon’s (2006) research, they also indicated that the emphasis on mental health issues as a consequent of criminal behaviors can also be interpreted as an effort to rationalize criminal behavior. In a similar manner, both Faulkner (2007) and Adams (2003) pointed out that the development of mental health programs, implying the recognition of mental health dynamics in criminal behavior development, is part of the response to the call for the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders versus the emphasis on incarceration.

Considering that juvenile offenders are either released when they reach majority or are transferred automatically to adult correctional facilities, it is believed that the development of mental health competencies will develop with them the means for reformation or rehabilitation better.


            There is no doubt that mental health dynamics impacts the development of an individual. In the case of juveniles who are vulnerable to social stress due to their stage of development, it is therefore crucial that such a concern be a priority for corrections and rehabilitation.

Mental health issues have been linked to the development of both actual and the tendencies for criminal behavior and though there is still a need for further research on the issue, there is already significant evidence that support the need for mental health programs in the correction and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. In conclusion, as evidenced by current programs and the success among juvenile offenders, the link of mental health dynamic to criminal behavior and subsequent correction and rehabilitation provides opportunities for crime management and recidivism.


Adams, Kenneth (2003). The Effectiveness of Juvenile Curfews at Crime Prevention. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Volume 587 Number 1. pp. 136-159.

Baron, Stephen W. (2003). Self-Control, Social Consequences, and Criminal Behavior: Street Youth and the General Theory of Crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 11 (40): 403 – 425.

Coatsworth J. et. al, (2001) Brief Strategic Family Therapy versus Community Control: Engagement, Retention, and an Exploration of the Moderating Role of Adolescent Symptom Severity. Family Process 40:3, 313-332

Faulkner, David (2007). Prospects for progress in penal reform. JCriminology and Criminal Justice, 5(7): 135 – 152.

Flint, John and Nixon, Judy (2006). Governing Neighbours: Anti-social Behaviour Orders and New Forms of Regulating Conduct in the UK. Urban Studies, 5 (43): 939 – 955.

Gavin, Helen (2005). The Social Construction of the Child Sex Offender Explored by Narrative. The Qualitative Report Volume 10 Number 3. pp 395-415

Guevara, Lori, Herz, Denise and Spohn, Cassia (2008). Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 1 (6): 83 – 104. Race, Gender, and Legal Counsel: Differential Outcomes in Two Juvenile Courts

Hutchinson, Steven (2006). Countering catastrophic criminology: Reform, punishment and the modern liberal compromise. Punishment Society, 8: pp 443 – 467.

Parks, George A. (2007). New approaches to using relapse prevention therapy in the criminal justice system. Corrections Today 69(6) December: 46(4)

Stone, Nigel (2005). Legal Commentary: Developments in Sentencing Young Sexual Offenders. Youth Justice, Vol. 5: pp. 123 – 130.