In the justice system, juvenile crime defines any illegal act committed by a person over the age of 7 and less than 16 years of age. While the laws are the same for juveniles as they are for adults, the penalties are often less severe.
Violence affects the quality of life of young people who experience, witness, or feel threatened by it. In addition to the direct physical harm suffered by young victims of serious violence, such violence can adversely affect victims' mental health and development and increase the likelihood that they themselves will commit acts of serious violence. Youth ages 12-17 were more than twice as likely as adults to be victims of serious violent crimes. Among researchers and policymakers in juvenile justice, considerable thought has been given to understanding the short- and long-term affects of adolescent victimization, particularly in the areas of re-victimization, substance use and abuse, and mental health problems. In a research project supported by the Office for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Menard (2002) has analyzed data from the National Youth Survey to further understand the relationship between victimization of adolescents and the likelihood of certain negative outcomes in adulthood. Also included in the study is information about adolescent victims who are or become perpetrators. The research examined the multiple effects of victimization by asking adolescent victims of violent crime as adults, when compared to nonvictims, are 50 percent more likely to be victims of violent crime and domestic violence, perpetrators of domestic violence, and problem drug users; twice as likely to experience PTSD; 2.5 times more likely to be property offenders; and three times more likely to be serious violent offenders.
Given the considerable risk factors for illegal behavior, problem drug use, revictimization, and mental health problems, it should come as no surprise that predictors of success for many adolescents who are victims of violent and property crime have the odds for success in life stacked against them. With early detection and appropriate treatment, society can prevent some victimized children from becoming adult perpetrators.
More information about juvenile crime can be found in the Annual Reports of the Dutchess County Office of Probation and Community Correction.
Who to call:
Where to get help:
Helping Our Families - A Guide for Dutchess County Parents - 2007 edition (.pdf)
Victim Advocates and Counseling are available at Family Services, Inc. - (845) 452-1110
View the Crime Victim Service Agencies webpage for more information.