International Public Survey 4 (Great Britain)
Name: Tim Grant
Country of residence: Great Britain
What comes to mind when you think about juvenile offenders?
A rough start in life or simply not being able to fit in with what society expects, hence the need to escape even if by unlawful means. Sometimes it's down to simply being misguided at a bad time.
Should juvenile offenders be treated and punished the same as adults?
It really depends on the crime and situation. It's a fine balance between preventing any further offences and them seeking an unlawful life. You have to see the whole picture, but to a point, you have to make them accountable, and they need to know it isn't a good path to choose.
Have you ever been the victim of a juvenile offender?
No. crime is pretty low here, but it's a small town. It does happen but not on a scale you may find in bigger towns and cities.
What kind of things can a court do to change the behaviour of a juvenile offender?
One of the biggest things is getting them out of the rut of offending. Here in the UK, they have special set-ups where they take youngsters on camping trips, etc. They aren't easy, but sometimes it gives them a chance to find a different path. The courts need to punish the crime but then find a way to prevent any further crimes. Just locking them up won't always help. It really depends on the situation and individual.
Do you think girls offend in the same way and for the same reason as boys?
Not always. For boys, it can be simply down to bragging rites or peer pressure but not always. I think girls are a little more thoughtful, but sometimes, again, peer pressure comes into play. Sometimes there's a much darker reason, and that can be expressed by crime.
Do you believe juvenile detention is a good option for bad kids?
It's the old balance thing again. Yes, juvenile detention is good as a warning before ending up in an adult jail, but it shouldn't be as bad or an easy thing, either.
What is your impression of juvenile detention?
I think the powers that be are beginning to realise that you have to take each case as an individual case. You can't tar everyone with the same brush, so by that token, you can't prevent further problems by the same means. In some cases, it gives the kids a new path and better way of life, but you will always find those who re-offend. You then have to look into why this is the case.
How can the community help address the issues of a juvenile offender?
Community work. There will always be a difference in communities as we can be very quick to judge. If you can get a project which benefits the offender and the community by getting them to work together, they will both begin to understand each other better. Break down preconception, and both sides can achieve better things.
What age do you think children should be charged and why?
Twelve to thirteen. Sounds mad, but by that age, they should be aware of actions and accountability. Leave it longer, and they may become rather dismissive. The punishment doesn't have to be as severe but should make them think, “Hang on, is this really a good path to follow?”
What do you think are the causes of juvenile offending?
Peer pressure, misguidance, trouble at home or school or simply being in the wrong place. It depends on the individual. Poorer communities tend to be more wayward but not always.