Wanda is a 16-year-old African-American influenced by social environment and community. The case of Wanda shows that the development of human character and personality occurs within a certain social environment, which might have either positive or negative impact on the individual, his/her life perception, values, emotions, intentions and behavior. Since the internal state of the individual is the base of such theory, the person’s sensitivity toward the surrounding environment becomes crucial during the formative years of childhood and adolescence when cognitive abilities are developed (Appelbaum and Chambliss 1008). During this period the child increasingly observe the social environment and behavior of other people around them in certain situations, which helps children to form their self-concepts, perception of the world, manners of behavior and attitude to other people. Exactly during this life stage the perception of good and bad is formed. Thus, it is vitally important to ensure that the child grows up in the healthy and ethical environment forming the positive characteristics of his/her personality.
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The main social characteristics that Wanda has in common with other juvenile offenders are low class location, poverty and lack of parental support. Her behavior can be explained by social learning theory, which is vicarious learning being based on the consequences of other people’s behavior. In this case, children and young people like Wanda observe the rewards and punishments as the result of other people’s behavior, which form their perception of what is right and wrong, and which consequences might follow each action. This statement can be proved by the example of a child observing the behavior of his parents. Their improper actions like shouting, hitting, or insulting each other without any punishment, or even worse with some kind of reward, might give a child incorrect perception of relations between people, which he is more likely to repeat by himself (Hennessey and Prenzler 2008).
These social characteristics have a great impact on likelihood of involvement with the juvenile justice system. During childhood and adolescent years Wanda observes the behavior of others to form their own. If a child is exposed to aggressive or antisocial behavior, he is more likely to imitate that behavior and perceive as normal. Since the character and personality of those young people are not developed completely, they are open to any kind of information being unable to interpret it properly, which usually leads to unethical and aggressive behavior. Moreover, during the teenage years young people start to understand that due to their young age the punishment for their incorrect actions might not be so severe or even be omitted. Thus, they do not care about the consequences of their behavior (Samaha, 2005). It is largely believed that criminal actions of juveniles might be influenced by such external forces as parental neglect, inappropriate living conditions or relations inside the family.
Demographic information suggest that while becoming adults, people like Wanda are more willing to accept social norms and values, concern about others in their life, search for serious job or other self-realization. Most of them find their bonds to conventional society strengthening in the form of education, work, personal and professional development. Moreover, early adulthood usually involves a change in peer associations and lifestyle routines that reduce the opportunities for committing the offenses and crimes. In order to analyze which reinforces have the main influence over teenagers and their preferable behaviour, contemporary criminologists conducted various researches and analysis. It is mainly explained by the recent large gap between parents and children in some families when. While crime is caused by differential association, the probability of such differential association is a function of differential social organization. They found out that association with delinquent peers and the learning from them in addition to bonds toward the family, school, and community, are important correlates of delinquency (Samaha, 2005
Some people consider that crime reduction means the reduction of reported incidents of crimes within a certain geographical area, rather than the reduction of the potential for criminality within the society. Statistical data suggests that crime rate and repeat crimes are high in low income communities that in middle class locations. “The juvenile arrest rate for all offenses reached its highest level in the last two decades in 1996, and then declined 30% by 2007” (Juvenile Crimes) 2009. Thus, social implications of crimes are largely underestimated and neglected since many prefer to apply physical and aggressive methods to fight with criminality, including uniformed security guards, physical preventive devices, guns and weapons, rude behavior, etc. In such a way, while prevention programs have numerous positive effects, they also have implications toward the society that experiences the increased concern about individual safety, potential for “ghettoisation”, ill-targeted policing security, psychological and physical trauma of victimization, and others (Samaha, 2005
While the main purpose of the adult criminal justice system is to punish the criminal according to the level of his crime, aim of the juvenile justice system is to apply rehabilitation or mentoring of juvenile offenders like Wanda in order to prevent further crimes and change their delinquent behavior. Criminal behavior of juveniles is influenced by many factors, including social psychology, family situation, surrounding environment, economic situation, and others. Such situation gives red light toward the concerns on the lack of awareness about sexual harassment and victimization among young people. Since juveniles might not being fully developed mentally or physically, they cannot be accountable for their actions in the same way as adults do in the level of responsibility and potential for rehabilitation.
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