Risk Factors for Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile crimes are rising throughout Colorado since the pandemic, and experts argue that managing children’s anger could be the key to reducing juvenile crime rates. Many believe that the COVID-19 pandemic robbed these kids of their essential outlets, such as school, sports, extracurriculars, and social interaction altogether.
As such, courts in Colorado are seeing a rise in violent crimes such as aggravated assault, domestic violence, robbery, and gang activity, causing authorities to explore ways to help reduce these criminal instances and put juveniles on a path to a crime-free life.
NCTI of Colorado
Most low-level, first-time juvenile offenders in municipal courts are sent to NCTI of Colorado, the leading provider of cognitive behavior classes throughout the state. It provides a sentencing alternative to many state residents and courts, offering programs such as anger management, substance abuse, domestic conflict management, and other preventative programs for misdemeanors.
Cognitive behavioral education is thought to be the prime source of rehabilitating criminal offenders because it helps reduce recidivism, or repeat offenses, in both juveniles and adults. Its mission is to teach participants how to communicate better, avoid conflict, make better decisions, and understand the consequences of their bad choices and poor judgment.
“‘If I punch this kid, what’s going to happen?’” NCTI president Mark Whitney said. “Getting them to think about the consequences of this particular action … What am I doing to cope with my stress? What types of activities can I do to help control my stress level, which can drive my anger. Accepting responsibility for our past behavior is important, but also accepting responsibility for our future behavior is also important.”
Whitney believes the classes benefit some youth, especially first-time offenders. However, these classes have limits. The main limitation is that these classes are 4 hours long, meaning juveniles go straight back to their normal environments and are thus exposed to the factors contributing to their crimes.
“We also recognize that we have them for four hours and they’re going to go right back into the environment they came from, whether it’s a school environment, whether it’s a family environment and there are all of those forces at play when it comes to a juvenile case.”
The Conflict Center
Based in Denver’s Sunnyside neighborhood, The Conflict Center provides practical skills and training to address everyday conflict through relationship-building to promote nonviolence in families, schools, workplaces, and communities. Unlike the NCTI of Colorado, The Conflict Center breaks up the classes over the course of a few weeks to help create long-term, practical behavioral changes in participants. The classes touch on the following concepts:
- Recognizing personal anger triggers
- Identifying emotions that may happen before the anger like loneliness, fear, and confusion
- Discovering realistic alternatives to arguing and fighting
The Center’s Rachel Protentis said one of the group’s goals is getting kids to think, “‘Now I’m able to more effectively handle these situations or deal with conflict when it arises.’”
Although anger management classes tend to help first-time juvenile offenders, experts say that efforts should be placed on treating anger earlier in life. Research suggests the cognitive behavioral approach often produces the best outcomes in lowering recidivism in juvenile offenders, therefore, the sooner a juvenile is treated for anger, the better their chances are of avoiding criminal activity when they’re older.
However, a variety of issues can affect juvenile behavior, such as their family, community, peers, substance use, mental health, and trauma. Factors that are out of their control can influence a juvenile’s judgment and decisions later on in life. This is why parents are always encouraged to try to identify “warning signs” during toddlerhood so they can get their child the treatment they need sooner rather than later.
Treating a 17 or 18-year-old juvenile offender is much more ineffective than treating a child. But most times, parents cannot control their child’s environment outside of the home, as it’s nearly impossible and arguably unreasonable.
That being said, young people are well-known for making mistakes, however, those mistakes can result in criminal charges.
Helping Your Child Achieve a Positive Resolution
If your child got in trouble with the law, know that they have resources. The courts do not want to punish them as you may think. With juvenile offenders in Colorado, courts value treatment over punishment. As such, our lawyers will look at your child’s situation and determine the best course of action for their particular needs. Our mission is to help your child move forward from their situation with the least impact on their records as possible.
Contact our firm online or at (303) 732-5048 to get started!