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Reaction Paper Juvenile Delinquency

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A defining feature of life in America’s schools today is the increasing incidence of violence. Nearly 3 million crimes take place in or near schools annually. These increases are occurring nationwide. Eighty-two percent of school districts surveyed by the National School Boards Association reported increasing violence within their schools during the past 5 years. More than 60 percent of school districts have reported weapon violations among their students. One policy measure to ensure a safe school environment has been to require removal of disruptive and dangerous students. Typically this is accomplished through expulsions and long-term suspensions. For example, the Federal Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 requires a minimum 1-year expulsion for any student found to have carried a firearm on school grounds School districts across the country report experiencing significant increases in both the number of students expelled and the length of time they are excluded from their schools.

The consensus among educators and others concerned with at-risk youth is that it is vital for expelled students to receive educational counseling or other services to help modify their behavior and possibly other support services while they are away from their regular school. Without these services, students generally return to school no better disciplined and no better able to manage their anger or peaceably resolve disputes. They will also have fallen behind in their education, and any underlying causes of their violent behavior may be unresolved. School systems across the country are turning to alternative education programs to deliver educational and other services to expelled students. Some school systems are modifying existing programs to accommodate the larger numbers of students expelled for disruptive behaviors, while others are creating new programs, often in collaboration with social agencies or nonprofit service organizations.

These programs differ from the expelled students’ regular schools in many ways: the ratio of students to teachers, the way academic subject matter is presented, the setting of the program, the linkage of the school to the community or workplaces, the emphasis on behavior modification, the emphasis on counseling for conflict resolution and anger management, and the availability of comprehensive support services. Programs have been created for students as young as elementary age. Some seek to prepare students to return to their regular schools, and others prepare students to graduate from high school and enter the workforce or postsecondary education directly from the alternative program. All of these programs play a huge role in these childrens life, and without them, there is no telling what path these kids will take.

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