Community Problem

Till recently, the community I live in was primarily a residential,

middle class neighborhood that enjoyed a feeling of peace and security in

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what was seen as a safe district. Today, that same community is

increasingly worried about a growing problem of juvenile delinquency caused

by the commercial and low cost residential developments in next-door areas.

While the community is concerned about juvenile delinquency leading to a

higher crime rate, there is also worry over negative influences impacting

younger members given the inevitable intermingling of children in schools

The signs of juvenile delinquency first manifested itself in the

appearance of graffiti in what was earlier a green, pristinely clean

neighborhood; the seemingly aimless loitering of congregations of youth

(youth gangs) at street corners, in malls and parks; and stray incidents of

reported burglaries. At first, the tendency was to ignore the signs of

change but when the frequency of such incidents began rising, disturbing

the historically safe and peaceful pattern of community life, the community

collectively began to perceive that it was faced with the problem of

juvenile delinquency. In fact, it would be of interest to note that though

there is no official definition, the situation nevertheless meets three out

of the six criteria that are commonly used to identify a community problem:

frequency; duration; scope or range; disruption of personal or community

life; deprivation of legal and moral rights; and problem perception

Having said that, while there was enough tangible evidence to define

loss of safety as a community problem, there was reason to doubt the

veracity of the worry over younger community members getting negatively

impacted by the juvenile delinquents in district schools and surrounding

neighborhoods. However, here too, scholarly literature on the subject

indicated that the grounds for such concerns are unfortunately all too

real: 'aˆone must understand the pre-delinquent, as well as the

delinquentaˆdelinquency is merely one of a wide variety of youthful

maladjustmentsaˆchild's becoming a delinquent is largely determined

byaˆcommunity practice.' (Bloch & Flynn, 16)

To date, any community effort to solve the problem has been in the

area of police complaints, setting up of neighborhood watches and advising

children to stay away from kids not from the immediate vicinity. While, no

doubt, the need to protect the community from crime is of undeniable

importance, the fact of the matter is that neither police nor watch dog

patrols are going to solve the core problem. If anything, such measures are

only likely to cause resentment and a further widening of the gap between

different branches of a growing community. In other words, the first step

to a long-term solution is to accept that the definition of the community

has now changed and has expanded to include the newcomers.

Secondly, any solution needs to take cognizance of the fact that the

social and behavioral sciences have clearly established that community

problems focused on people creating the problems as the root cause only

leads to victim-blaming and less to effective solutions. Advances in the

fields of human and community development have also further revealed that

the only effective approach to achieving commonly shared goals lies in

changing the behavior of entire populations and thereby building a healthy

Leading from the aforesaid, it is evident that part of the solution

lies in recognizing that the new families in the expanded neighborhood

will, without doubt, share some goals common to humanity and society at

large. This, in turn, will lead to a deeper understanding of the problems

of the figurative other group,' from which will emerge 'effective

collaborative partnershipsaˆbringing about community changeaˆdefined as those

that are new or have been modifiedaˆafter school activitiesaˆpoliciesaˆfamily-

friendly policies in businesses; and practicesaˆincreased opportunities for

academic achievementaˆrelate to community determined goals.' (Bremby &

Key to the success of any overall community effort then is an

understanding of the above as well as an understanding of the adolescent

need for social autonomy yet a sense of relatedness to the adult world.

This last was identified as an important factor in the documented success

of the Teen Outreach program in reducing teenage pregnancies, drop out

rates and school failures (Allen et al.).

Naturally, any solution to the problem of juvenile delinquency will

involve multiple approaches and processes, the details of which cannot be

described here owing to limitations of space. However, an overall framework

to the solution i.e. prevention of juvenile delinquency would be: the sum

total of all activities that contribute to healthy personalities in

children; the addressing of particular environmental conditions believed to

contribute to juvenile delinquency; and specific preventive services

provided to individual children or groups of children (Bloch & Flynn, 512).

In summation, the solution to this particular community problem lies in

Bibliography: Allen, Joseph P., et al. 'Programmatic prevention of adolescent problem behaviors: the role of autonomy, relatedness, and volunteer service in the teen outreach program.' American Journal of Community Psychology 22.5 (1994): 617+. Questia. 6 Oct. 2003 . 'Analyzing Community Problems: What is a community problem'' Contributed: Berkowitz, Bill. Ed. Rabinowitz, Phil. Community Tool Box. University of Kansas Web site. 6 Oct. 2003: Bloch, Herbert A., and Frank T. Flynn. Delinquency: The Juvenile Offender in America Today. New York: Random House, 1956. Francisco, Vincent T., and Roderick Bremby. 'Promoting Community Change for Juvenile Justice: Collaborative Change and Community Partnerships.' Corrections Today Dec. 2001: 64+. Questia. 6 Oct. 2003 .

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