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Juvenile offenders

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Juvenile delinquency refers to the unlawful acts that are committed by young persons aged below eighteen years. Such persons are referred to as juvenile delinquents, and their actions which are often beyond the control of their parents or guardians normally call for legal action against them. According to an undated United Nations report, the challenge facing the young people today is the lack of traditional ways that guided relationships and transitioning between family, school and work lives. The report further indicates that currently, the labor market is different from what it used to be, there is an increased dependence period for youths on their parents, and that there are limited opportunities for living independently amongst the youths. In the developing countries, however, the issue is mainly affected by the rapid increase in population, lack of adequate housing and other basic amenities, poverty, unemployment, congestion in urban areas, ineffective education systems, broken marriages, insecurity, among many others. 

The interaction between the media, the public and the government in relation to how juvenile cases are portrayed in the media sparks a lot of debates. The commercial media content that is available for public consumption is reshaping public view due to the way they portray crime and violence committed by juveniles. Nowadays, the contemporary news is not a direct reflection of the events that affect the society, but just a gimmick which results from financial and profit motive. This contradicts the journalism principles of yesteryears which were guided by the newsworthiness of a news item. The modern news is guided by perceptions in viewership demands and advertisements while enticing the masses strategically with a taste for violence. In this paper, it will be argued how the commercialization of mass media has fueled the issue of juvenile delinquency.

Literature Review

History of Media and Violence

According to Ferguson (2013), the earliest form of mass media was the existing literature which was later on followed by the depiction of the literature in the form of plays that were broadcast in theaters. Ferguson argues that the only difference with the modern day media is the technology yet the content has relatively remained unchanged. In this regard, the writer states that there have been malicious attempts to paint the modern media as being awash with violent episodes. However, the contemporary media were known for their use of vulgar language, sexual themes, and violence (Ferguson, 2013). As an illustration, the writer gives examples of plays such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad, and Odyssey that had taboo subjects like rape, violence, and sex in their storyline. For example, there is a time when the great philosopher, Plato, recommended a ban on some of the plays that were being broadcast. He argued that the plays could easily corrupt the minds of young people since it would be hard for them to distinguish between reality and fiction.

In later years, the emergence of the printing press led to mass production of literary works most of which had violence and horror in their themes. After that, there emerged motion pictures towards the end of the nineteenth century which further fueled the depiction of violence by the media. The films were particularly more influential in that they visually depicted violent acts. For instance, filmmakers had the advantage of using tricks and effects which were not present in the theatrical plays. For the most of the early twentieth century, the film industry was highly unregulated with regards to violent scenes and nudity. Some pictures would show a victim’s head being chopped off or even the villain shooting directly at the camera. Just like in the case of the plays, there emerged a lot of concerns about the impacts of the violence depicted in movies on the adolescents’ minds. One movie that was accused of propagating juvenile delinquency is the Rebel Without a Cause. 

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