It is normal for concerned citizens to expect the police and criminal justice system to reduce the crimes committed in their community.
Yet much of the violence that occurs does not take place in a criminal setting; it occurs between companions involved in arguments, some-times over trivial matters. This is the reason it seems logical to teach students conflict resolution management and strategies to avoid arguments and fights, preventing them from becoming either the criminal or the victim.
When conflict resolution management is practiced, it can help deter violence but only if youths learn to replace their anger and hostility with nonviolent behaviors. Encouraging them to change from old to new behaviors requires time and repeated use of peacemaking skills. Acquisition of such skills remains an individual effort, within a home and community environment supportive of peacemaking. Also critical to peacemaking is the student's attitude, as the person must want to modify his or her conduct.
Schools and communities should be concerned about youths who need special assistance to help modify high-risk behaviors, especially those who have a predisposition to become involved in violence and criminal activities later in life. They are the youngsters, 10 years old or less, who have been victimized through abuse, neglect, or exploitation (NCIPC, 1993). By age 13, they may be committing serious property crimes in addition to experiencing difficulties in school.
Juvenile crimes peak between the ages of 16 and 17, yet most career criminals are not identified until approximately age 22. This information reported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (1993) shows that youths with habitual crime records continue their violence against people. They have become the "invisible delinquents" attending school with other students. When incidents committed by juvenile offenders (assaults, burglaries, petty theft or shoplifting, or attempted suicide) are not reported to school officials, teachers and principals have no knowledge of the students' record.
Violent youths are officially invisible to the community at large until they commit an extremely serious crime. School personnel, howÂ¬ever, can watch for signs of troubled youth by maintaining records of student misconduct, suspensions, and expulsions. A detailed roster on behavioral problems will help reveal the nature of juvenile acÂ¬tivities. This kind of record keeping is a way for social services to assist students who show early patterns of chronic behavior that may lead to habitual crime.
Profiles containing information relevant to a juvenile's offending behavior, including criminal and traffic arrest history, case summaries, descriptive data, modus operandi, police information, drug or alcohol involvement, social behavior, and school history, are recommended by the SHOCAP Program (Serious Habitual Offender ComprehenÂ¬sive Action Program, 1994). It is a profile system that encourages the school system, police department, juvenile probation department, youth services, and agencies in the juvenile justice system to share information in order to make informed decisions about youth and crime.
In some communities, school detectives have responsibility for the management of juvenile crime information and analysis. Their duties may also include teaching subjects related to law and violence, counseling students, policing school grounds, providing law enforcement, or school-police public relations. They help to improve school safety as well as provide supervision, security, and delinquency prevention.