Just as birds of a feather flock together, dropping out of school is in most cases linked to delinquency. With the start of school drop out a youth only increases chances to engage in juvenile delinquency. Signs of a child or youth dropping out of school begin with truancy; which is the unexplained absence from school by the school going children. According to the Youth out of School (2002 p.5), 80% of dropouts were chronically truant in the previous year. Other signs include suspensions due to indiscipline, low grades, and poor communication with parents, expulsions, and lack of interest in studies.
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This paper states the signs and causes of dropping out and the social implication of the decision. It also links dropping out to juvenile delinquency and criminology. The theories explaining the links are discussed and the solutions to the situation are prescribed.
Causes of dropping out and social effects
As cited in Why Students Drop out of School (n.d. para.9), drop outs have several reasons to move out of school including; boring atmosphere in school, lack of connection to the school, and personal situation. Many children claim that school is uninteresting, or the student may spend time with people not interested in school (peer pressure). Many think that dropping out of school is cool and makes them tough. Ladies often drop out due to unwanted pregnancies and others due to finances. Whichever the reasons, the impacts remains almost outlined for any dropout. Drop outs face a dim future, and are most likely to be unemployed, be poor, be incarcerated, unhealthy, be divorcees or divorcers, and be single parents (Why Children Drop out of School, para.5).
Juvenile delinquency is generally high in dropout students. Linking delinquency to discipline is not being judgmental, but the facts do speak for themselves. If unemployed, then the youth will begin indulging in criminal activities to make ends meet. The results of dropping out are lower life time earnings, adult criminology, low life and much suffering for the dropout’s children, and family dysfunctions. According to Harlow (2003, cited in Sweeten, Bushway, & Paternoster, 2009, p.49), 68% of state prison inmates, 50% of federal inmates, and 60% of jail inmates were dropouts and never attained the regular high school degree. It further states that the dropouts committed 70% of the offenses.
Dropouts get into gangs which drive them to various forms of delinquency, drugs use and drugs trading. Sweeten et al (2009) says dropouts tend to come from poor families or backgrounds, have poorly educated parents, are poor leaders, and can be summarized by academic failures and chronic truants. Though dropouts may be categorized as failures, robbers, thieves, or drug users, there are the few who make a positive change in life. These may be those who drop out due to unwanted pregnancies, and those who have financial difficulties. These people may be forced by circumstances to be out of the school system making them more unwilling to become hooligans bust strive against the odds to make life better (Gasper, J 2006 p.7).
Theories linking dropout to delinquency
Criminology theories have been put forward to link dropping out to delinquency. They include; the strain and the social control theory (Sweeten, et. al. 2009 p.53). Strain explains this by equating delinquency acts to a feeling of dissatisfaction, displeasure and blocking of one’s goals, hence can only react in two ways; either to stay in school and reduce the pressure on the strain, or remove oneself from the strain and dropout of school. If one leaves school then he has a lot of frustrations which tend to drive him/her to delinquency. Strains come from the failure of one to achieve his goals; this lowers the morale hence the positive stimulus is removed, leading to exposing the negative side.
The social control theory deals with the natural effects of one to commit crime or evil. It explains that there is a strong bond between conventional people and social institutions. Conventional people in society are the role models e.g. the teachers in the social institution (school) may influence a youth against dropping out of school thus reducing the chances for delinquency.
Crime is caused by low self control, which is the inability to resist short-term pleasures, easy-to-obtain pleasures and the ability to resist actions that need a lifetime or longtime dedication, commitment and suffering (e.g. jail term) (Sweeten, et. al. 2009 p.60). Most of the dropouts have low esteem and low self control which makes them leave the school system and indulge in the delinquent activities. Once a youth is out of school, he/she has to find a social identity; some of these social people are fellow dropouts or social failures who see nothing good in life. These are the groups that influence the youth to crime. Drugs are a characteristic of the dropout who wants to forget their frustrations in life. They became addicts and even upgrade to the use of stronger drugs which may be illegal e.g. cocaine, and heroine.
Given these facts, it is close to impossible to de-link dropout and juvenile delinquency. And with the high rates of dropout the more our society is becoming prone to insecurity; there will be increased cases of crime e.g. mugging, robbery, raping, and all kinds of social crime as the dropouts try to relieve their frustrations. Such cases can be avoided through the intervention of the parents of such children. In fact, every parent has a duty and role to play when it comes to shaping the children. They are the future generations and they must be handled with care to maintain a social and safe future. Dropping out of school should be the last option for a child, whatever the reasons (Regoli, Hewitt, & DeLisi, 2009 p.242).
Teachers have the greatest role in encouraging the students and keeping track of their progress, and should report any kind of unsocial behavior. Dropouts should also be counseled in matters of drugs, anger management, character education, and community service, to enhance a crime free generation. With the signs of dropping out emerging, then the parents have a duty to give the required guidance and counseling, so as to avoid the detrimental signs of a child dropping out and destroying his/her future. The government should also fund the needy and deserving students to avoid the dropping out; special programs and policies should be laid down to reduce the rates of dropouts. For those who have already dropped out then, a rehabilitation program is best for them. They should not be seen as social misfits but as the products of wrong decision which anyone can make. By reducing dropping out of school it will definitely reduce the juvenile delinquency.
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