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Youthful crimes have become more evident and common in the modern society. Alike adults, kids can also run afoul of the law. Cases such as burglary, heist, and even murder, are now reportedly committed by individuals of younger and younger ages. Upon violating the constitution, an involved child then enters the criminal justice system, enlisting his/her act called as the Juvenile Delinquency.
It may seem unfamiliar but this term is not anymore new to the present-day vocabulary. As what the Collins Dictionary defines the word Juvenile Delinquency, it is the destruction of property and another criminal behaviour that is committed by young people who are not old enough to be legally considered as adults. Breaking it down into two different words, which are Juvenile and Delinquency; Juvenile which pertains to the children or younger people and Delinquency as “the behavior against the criminal code committed by an individual” (Bartol, 1989, p. 8). Although, the word Delinquency itself is a continuously altering concept in the study of literature; moreover, varying from distinctive manners. Oftentimes, we disregard the power of its meaning especially if it is being defined word for word but once combined as one, manifests our slowly developing mind to the ever-evolving words in the language today. By means of evolving, it puts us back to the idea that most definitions are somehow imperfect and presents flaws as well. Thus, defining what Juvenile Delinquency, then, is most likely complicated.
Throughout the years, we are living in a world wherein laws identify our community’s sense of discipline. An example of such is the establishment of our Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act or better known as the Republic Act no, 9344. It has been a continuous process of observing the law with respect to its given limitations. Being applicable to the law’s qualifications, I am quite troubled with my own rights and freedom. Not just about my safety, but similar to those of my fellow “juveniles” as well. Laws are created to maintain order but true enough that one cannot avoid abusing the power we contain as “juveniles”.
As stated in the Republic Act no. 9344, our Juvenile Justice and Welfare System is a system dealing with children at risk or those vulnerable in committing criminal offenses; it provides those involved with child-appropriate proceedings including programs and services for prevention, diversion, rehabilitation, reintegration and aftercare as assurance for their normal growth and development. This Act is applicable to a ‘child’ under the age of eighteen, caused by his/her personal, family and even social circumstances. Upon the inauguration of the law, many citizens were relieved, in the hope that it would cause a huge impact towards the power of the youth in achieving a brighter future ahead. As a matter of fact, in the year 2006, the proclamation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act or otherwise called the Republic Act no. 9344, was a great stepping stone towards achieving a much more corrective and child-oriented system of the minor’s integrity as individuals.
All laws apply efficiently once the community fully partakes to the limitations of the law. Abusing such opportunities will then lead to a serious downfall for every individual especially those being covered by the law. Just like these past few years wherein news reports are heard everywhere particularly recognized as a case of Juvenile Delinquency. What has happened to the purpose of the law? Why does its efficiency seem to have faded away? What could have been wrong? It is for certain that not all laws are perfectly established. Laws are made for our comfort but we, ourselves, should also not take for granted these kinds of matter. With all of these in mind, it can be claimed how Juvenile Delinquency worsens in our country because of the insufficient coverage of the established laws which still leaves room for young offenders to commit violence without having to be punished by the law.
Juvenile Delinquency is not only a prevalent issue but a serious concern of the government since the late 1980s that until today, not all cases are given immediate action thus worsening the situation of the problem. Numerous documents were filed regarding the issue and one of which speaks about a 10-year-old boy named Marlon. Yna Soriano, a reporter, indicates that Marlon was guilty of molesting and worst, raping his younger sister for several times in their Guinayangan residence in the Southern Quezon. Though Marlon refuses to accept this, saying he does not know what the word ‘molest’ or ‘rape’ means. Being a part of the history of Juvenile Delinquency, Marlon was known to be the youngest ward in the National Training School for Boys in Tanay, Rizal, in facing the consequences for his misbehavior with his fellow ‘juvenile offenders’. The issue was further noticed as he mentioned the main reason for such action; he only followed what his father had been doing to his sister. Not long after, his father also met the aftermath of his actions.
Old records show that there are more than 10,094 Filipino children who have been involved in committing various crimes and Marlon is only one of them. How many more is there to the increase in a number of the youth being blamed, especially nowadays wherein violence and abuse are seen everywhere? Looking back, we have come to the realization that every action has a reason. For instance, it was indicated that Marlon committed a crime because of an incident he mistakenly witnessed. And so, does report of Juvenile Delinquency root from the influences of the elderly?
Not all cases are same as the intention of Marlon. Indeed, Juvenile Delinquency is a broad and complicated subject in the human affairs. To begin with, several reasons or causes why offenses and the like are created varies with how the person behaves. Parenting is one of the many factors that contribute to this. A child’s growth requires guidance and support from the parents and elderly. However, being one with the continuously developing technology of today’s world, most cases of the said issue reflects irresponsible parents that caused the child in doing such acts or offenses. Hence, some cases of Juvenile Delinquency are due to the bad monitoring or supervision of the youth with the proper usage of electronics.
“Even age is not a simple issue,” (Bartol, 1989, p. 8). Growing up means to utilize our acquired competence before we come in contact with the absence of restrictions. In fact, as young as we are, we are granted the ability to perform tasks that we desire to do, as long as we adhere to the rules and responsibilities established for us. This, therefore, indicates the sense of freedom that the youth cherishes while living.
Taking everything into consideration, it is crucial to identify what could possibly be the foundation of such knowledge. Looking back to the case of Marlon, his poor origin is a major determinant of his misdemeanor. Records show that most of the young offenders in our country have come from poor families specifically those suffering in poverty. Due to the terrible discomfort that they feel, they don’t have the power to fully satisfy their needs and wants in life, this forces them to do things in their own manner. Thus, the crimes that they reportedly commit are recognized to be against the law; showing how injustice towards the social status of people is greatly frequent, in not just a certain community but throughout the whole nation.
Due to the increasing cases of the said issue, new viewpoints were soon suggested specifically from the different sides of the government. Several meetings have been held reporting about the law being faulty. In fact, the government, too, has shown several complaints towards how the law is performed and/or performing. These occurrences can be seen everywhere, such as in the news wherein recordings of their gathering took place. In a news report published in the website of the CNN Philippines, Fiona Nicolas reports that, “Lawmakers are getting more alarmed as juvenile delinquents get younger and younger,” “In response to this, the House of Representatives is looking into a House Bill that was filed by Davao del Sur Rep. Mercedes Cagas”, she added.
Nonetheless, not only does it affect those in the government but it also pertains to everyone regardless of their gender, age, and social standing. Many have addressed their views and beliefs towards the said issue. Some were of good terms with the current condition of the law but the others insist on reconsidering the restrictions it includes. From the prior report of Fiona Nicolas with several lawmakers, an unspecified representative asserts that she, as a mother, is also disturbed to the fact that the youth nowadays is given easier access to the modern communications technology hence influencing them in many vague circumstances. Indeed, every individual has their own perspectives and viewpoints needed to be expressed; either beneficial or unfavorable, it must be given a response. However, up to this date, numerous complaints are still not given acknowledgment.
For the past few years, the total amount of youth offenders is gradually yet deliberately increasing; it has not anymore reduced its value. Along with the many juveniles involved in the issue, provided provisions of the established law is constantly changing throughout the years. Juvenile Delinquency is not simply affecting minors but also to those manipulating the performance of the law/act established. It is yet one of the timely issues in the news of the modern society. It was and is still challenging the abilities of every person in encountering abuse and trouble of power; which is one of the many reasons for how terrifying today’s generation is becoming.
Even though most cases of the said issue are is still being processed as of today, there have also been accounts of provisions discussed and given consideration for the law’s development. Dating back to the year 2013, a law was approved by the former President Noynoy Aquino concerning to look after the misconduct of the youth. Although, the newly established law didn’t modify the given minimum age of criminal responsibility, remaining at the age of 15. Over the course of time, various amendments were attended to by the Congress. But the Department of Social Welfare and Development presumed otherwise, saying that some involved children in conflict with the law are often victims of the issue. Abigail Valte, a deputy presidential spokesperson, implies that “There are enough provisions in the existing law that would balance the concerns of some who are in favor of lowering the age of liability,” (Romero, 2013).
Juvenile Delinquency is truly an alarming issue regarding the overall performance of today’s generation. It is a developing yet worsening case of how established laws are not fully supported with enough provisions, therefore, contributing to the problems that society is facing nowadays. Indeed, there are a great number of young offenders reportedly admitted to being abusing their given rights and responsibilities in the community rather than those being victimized; through the law, it can be of help in disciplining us, juveniles, in properly handling the power we obtain, with respect to the integrity of others.
With this issue, it is clearly seen how it is terrifying to live in the society today. With the influence of technology surrounding us, we are oftentimes blinded by its convenience and practicality. Due to this, it takes us to risky situations. Risky enough that we fail to take into consideration the consequences it carries. It manipulates our thoughts and actions as well, which often lead to performing acts or offenses and misconduct against the law. It is, indeed, a creation of man that is destroying the mankind, itself, slowly.
However, it is not too late to put an end to this issue. All of us are encouraged to take part in the community through small deeds such as simply complying with the rules and regulations implemented to keep order. Everyone is given the rights and freedom to perform tasks which we desire to do with regards to the restrictions provided. Most importantly, we should never take for granted the abilities we acquire as individuals.
Change starts among us. Every single day we are given the chance to be a better self. It is up to us to use that opportunity. There is no time to lose. To start as early as now is the best way to accomplish something. Abdul Kalam once said, “Small aim is a crime, have great aim.”
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