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Social problem have been part of every society since the beginning of modern human

society. There have always been a group people whom we can describe as
dis-functional member of society that are unable to get along with the rest of society
or stray away from normal way of life due to many circumstances. As mentioned in
the sentence previously, the second group of people outnumber the first group. This is
because, most people with social problems begin their life as normal people.
Somewhere along the way, these people end up activities that leads to social problems.
One of the worst cases of social problems is Juvenile crimes and juvenile criminals. [1]
Social problems can be described as a situation where someone or some group people
posses behaviour and conduct activities that can be harmful to the society. For
example, gang violence is a social problem a certain group of people who resort to
intimidation and violence as means of settling dispute that affects a community.

[2] Juvenile crime is basically any unlawful and illegal actions carried out by a
Juvenile Delinquents. Juvenile delinquents are minors who belong to the age group
between ten to eighteen. In some countries that numbers can last to twenty one years
of age. The crime can be of any sort and any severity. They can range from petty
crimes like theft and brawl to major crimes like drug trafficking, extortion, rape,
armed robbery, murder and rioting. The age factor makes this form of social problem
to be considered to be the number of one social problem in many countries as the
crimes are being committed by people who are not yet fully grown or at least matured.
The situation becomes worst when it comes to gang violence as the teenagers tend to
be more violent and act less rationally during a violent confrontation. This is due to
the age factor again where they go through major hormonal changes in their bodies.

Juvenile crime in Malaysia has also been a serious social issue for many decades
especially in urban areas like Klang Valley, Penang, Ipoh an Johor Bahru. It has
grown to become a cancerous problem that drives our youth commit more crime and
repeat them when situation persists. Despite many of the government and
non-government organization’s dire efforts and millions of Ringgits spent in order
curb this problem, the results fall short on expectation. [3] As per stated in the report
of press release from Department of Statistics Malaysia on children statistics the
number of juvenile crime have declined from the year 2014 to the year 2015.
However, closer observation and breakdown of data proves that the total decline in
anumbers is due to the number of first time offenders that are less in 2015 compared
to 2014. The number of repeated juvenile offenders however have increased from 371
cases to 417 cases. This statistic clearly shows that we need to do more in order to
curb this problem. If actions are not taken before the situation reaches out of hand, it
can lead the juvenile criminals to become full fledged criminals who are capable of
committing unimaginable acts of crime.

[4] Back in September of 2017 the nation was in shock as the news of twenty one
teenage students and two wardens that were burned alive made headlines. Initial
investigations speculated that the fire might have started due to common reasons such
as faulty wiring, gas leak or just an accident. After the authorities suspected foul play
a more strict investigation was carried out. The investigation later revealed a much
shocking and devastating cause of the fire. The fire was caused by five teenagers.
These teenagers did this heinous act of crime as a way to get their revenge on a few
students of the religious school whom they had a confrontation prior to the gruesome
incident. The suspects were supposed to steal some belongings of the students but
when that attempt failed the set fire to the school building. They placed cooking gas
cylinders in front of the student dormitory and drenched those cylinders with diesel.
Then, they set the whole setup ablaze. The building code violation of the building also
made the situation worse by making it impossible for the students to escape through
fire escape and windows. The trapped students were burnt alive. When the suspects
were arrested, they were also tested positive for being under the influence of narcotic
substance. This incident is a reminder for us on how bad our juvenile crime problem
is. They mere fact that these teenagers who are not in any form of employment are
able to acquire drugs and the length that they are willing go just to take revenge for
petty reason is worrying.

There are several reasons why juvenile crime is still happening among our teenagers
especially minors. [5] Poverty has been a major contributing factor when it comes to
all sorts of criminal activity especially gang violence. Poverty pushes poor people to
commit crime as they have limited means of making an honest living and in crime a
large sum of profit can be made in a very short time and very little investment is
required. When the process of making money like this is readily available and is
within a hand’s reach, many teenagers chose to commit crime to make quick money.
Thus, a vicious cycle begins where the teenagers change their lifestyle when they
realize how much money they could make and they repeat their offence so that they
can sustain their lifestyle. This is why the number of repeated offenders have risen
even though the total numbers have declined.

[5] Moreover, poverty also renders teenagers to be unable to get quality education as
their parents are unable to sent them to colleges or other higher education institutions
and placements in government institutions are limited. Even though the government
has put in efforts by providing education for low income families like polytechnics,
community colleges, technical trainings, the problems still persist. The severity of the
situation is amplified if the students drop out of school at early age like fourteen or
fiveteen years of age. School provides the important social skills required to interact
with people and acquire knowledge. When, children drop out of school they tend
indulge in criminal activities as they have nowhere else to go and nothing else to do.
As mentioned earlier, committing crime requires less knowledge and experience. It
also requires minimal trainings. There are many reason for teenagers to drop out of
school. The main reason is the lack of attention and care from parents. When parent’s
negligence happens in a family the child would seek out for attention and affection
from others. In some cases, the lack of care and attention from parents is compensated
by other family members like siblings, uncles or aunts. Unfortunately in many cases
the care and attention comes from friends who themselves are troubled people.
Indulging with people from troubled background leads a teenager to pick up similar
behaviour and bring it back home. Teenagers also drop out of school due to lack in
interest in studies. When educators fail to stimulate interest in teenagers for studies or
sports the teenagers shall end up looking for something that might interest them. The
nature of crime that is adrenaline pumping tends to be choice for teenagers.
[5] Apart from lack of education, peer pressure from element fro surrounding
elements can also lead teenagers into life of crime. A teenagers usually undergoes
severe hormonal changes physically and it affects them mentally. Teenagers generally
are unable to control their emotions due to this changes. It is imperative that parents
handle their teenage children with care in this delicate time period of their life. If right
path is not shown to them, the chances of them picking up the wrong one is very high.
In many Malaysian households however, children and teenagers are subjected to high
expectation in their studies and sports. Teenagers who are not capable of meeting their
parents expectation are usually subjected scrutiny. They are constantly told that they
are not good enough and pressured to do more than what they are capable of. Those
teenagers who cannot cope with the pressure that they subjected to often chose to
make decision that can self destructive. In most cases, teenagers chose to run away
from home, some chose to end their life and some start to rebel. The action of being a
rebel often takes a violent turn towards juvenile crime.

[6] Usage of narcotics is also has been a major contributing factor in the rise of the
juvenile crime related cases. The government has always been dealing with drug
related cases with heavy hand. Severe capital punishment which in most cases is
non-negotiable can be a prime example of the governments seriousness and
commitment in dealing with drug traffickers. Despite government’s and many private
organization’s effort to curb drug related problems and crime, drugs are still widely
available in our streets. Even more worrying is the cheap price tag the drugs come
with. Most of us have the idea that drugs are always trafficked into Malaysia from
foreign countries and are sold at a very high price. We cannot be more far from the
truth. There are many forms of drugs that are produced locally and can be bought with
ease of price and availability. This makes our Malaysian teenagers to be vulnerable to
drug abuse and drug related crime. Many teenagers who have been arrested in drug
related cases are found to be both abusing and selling the drug at the same time. Since
teenagers are known to be emotionally unstable, taking drugs can be a way escape
reality and live in their own imaginative world. They also abuse drugs as a way to
relieve themselves of the pressure that they are subjected to from their surrounding
[7] Family situations can also be an important factor for teenagers to be caught in the
web of juvenile crime. Dysfunctional family are unable to provide the environment
needed for a teenager to grow and mature. Dysfunctional family does not necessarily
means poor family. There are many families with low and average household income
that are capable of raising teenagers who are well educated, well mannered and
overall functioning member of society. Dysfunctional families can be classified as
families with poor structure and leadership. Every member of the family especially
the parents have to do their role. Alcoholic parents, abusive parents, being
materialistic or troubled siblings can be a sign of dysfunctional family. Families like
these are unable to provide the environment for a teenager to learn and grow. This
situation makes them open to outside influence.

There are many methods and ways we can use to curb the problem of juvenile crime.
The solution lies in the problem itself. As discussed earlier poverty is one of the
reason for teenagers to commit crime. The government can draw up plans that can
boost an overall household income. This can be achieved by bringing in more foreign
investments and make it easy for foreign and domestic companies to do business. This
would in return create many job opportunities that poverty stricken families need and
elevate them poverty. Another way is to help to set up small businesses or also known
as ‘Small and Light Industry’. This method can also can help to provide job
opportunities. A healthy economic growth also can promote part time jobs that are
suitable for teenagers that are over sixteen years of age. This allows teenagers who
wish to work and make money to have an honest living instead of involving
themselves in criminal activities.

Since lack of education is also a cause for juvenile crime, a lot effort need to be put in
that subject too. The government and a lot private non profit organizations are already
putting a lot of effort in providing good quality education for children and teenagers.
For example, the government provide technical courses and certificate courses at a
very cheap price. Private organizations on the other hand help to provide funding like
scholarship and student loans for needy teenagers. However, more needs to be done as
the statistics show that the juvenile crime rate does not show any sign of reducing.
Using education as a mean to curb juvenile crime must start from childhood. Parents
and teachers must identify a child’s strength and weaknesses and work them to the
child’s advantage. Education method also must be made to be more interesting and
interactive so that teenagers do not loose interest in studies. Same can be applied for
sports activities. Teenagers who have time occupied by quality education and sports
activity would not even have time to indulge in criminal activities thus keeping them
from harms way.

One more method that we can use to curb juvenile crime is to provide counselling for
teenagers who are suffering from peer pressure and depression. As discussed above
peer pressure is also a reason for teenagers to be involved in crime. As teenagers are
unable to obtain the support they need, they tend to look for it somewhere else. When
we reach out to such teenagers before people with sinister intentions do, we can curb
juvenile crime even before it takes root. This can be done in schools and in private
organizations. For example, a school’s disciplinary board can keep track of student
behaviour and disciplinary record. When a student is found to be troubled they can
help the student to overcome his or her issues by talking to them and providing them
with emotional and moral support instead of blindly punishing them. In many cases,
students with bad disciplinary record are usually teenagers with family problems and
psychological problems. They are not necessarily bad people.

Since usage of narcotics are also contributing to juvenile crimes, more actions need to
be taken to combat the drug related problems and crime. The government has already
put in place strict measures against drug trafficking and drug usage such as capital
punishment. It has also campaigned multiple times with many non government
movements to create awareness against usage of drugs and the bad outcomes it can
bring upon a person, family and a community as a whole. Yet, juvenile crime that are
related to drug abuse are still happening around us. One method to handle this
situation is to decriminalize drug usage. This is not be confused with decriminalizing
drug trafficking. Many teenagers try drugs due to external influence and just mere
curiosity. In many situations these teenagers would like to get help to rehabilitate
themselves. Since drug usage is also criminalized many hesitate to get help and
continue to feed their addiction. This leads them to commit crime to acquire more
money to buy drugs or commit horrendous acts of crime under influence of drugs. So,
when drug usage alone is decriminalized and much needed rehabilitation programs
are offered, many teenagers would reach out to cure themselves. This would greatly
reduce juvenile crime that are related to drug abuse.

In a nutshell, juvenile crime is a preventable crime if they are addressed in the right
time before it becomes too late. Juvenile crime has destroyed many livelihood of
countless families. It has created a situation where many talented and gifted
individuals to be a criminal and waste their life in correctional facilities and prisons.
These teenagers would have grown to become a functioning member of society like
teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers and so on. All of us are responsible to provide a
healthy and quality environment for children to grow up in. Like discussed earlier,
preventing juvenile crime does not start when a child becomes a teenager instead it
starts when a child is born.

[1] University of Minnesota. (2012). Social Problems: Continuity and Change.

Retrieved [23 October 2017] from

[2] Thomson Reuters. (2017). Juvenile Delinquents. Retrieved [23 October 2017]
[3] The Office of Chief Statistician Malaysia. (15 December 2016). Children Statistics,
Malaysia 2016. Retrieved [24 October 2017] from

[4] Raggie Jessy. (16 September 2017). Kronologi Kes Kebakaran di Pusat Tahfiz
Darul Quran Ittifaqiah Dato Keramat, KL. Retrieved [24 October 2017] from

[5] Regis University. (2017). Contributing Factors to Juvinile Crime. Retrieved [24
October 2017] from

[6] Tanya Dickinson and Ann Crowe. (December 1997). Juvenile Delinquency and
Substance Abuse. Retrieved [25 October 2017] from

[7] (15 March 2013). Causes and Solution of Juvenile

Delinquency. Retrieved [25 October 2017] from