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Child criminality is one of the most crucial problems in the modern society. Over the years it was more than sufficient to apprehend and incarcerate the juveniles in order to deter them from committing crime. The given paper will focus on two juvenile diversion programs that are operating in the state of Nevada and have contributed to low levels of juvenile crimes in the state. The paper will also look into the programs’ major goals, core beliefs and objectives while discussing the key participants and the types of services that the juveniles are provided with.
In the state of Nevada, there is a plenty of juvenile programs devoted to delinquency prevention and intervention. Statistics indicate that there is a general decrease in crimes committed by the juveniles in the state, and this is done with the help of the diversion and prevention programs. The two common diversion programs are discussed below.
The GREAT and DARE Programs
The programs of delinquency diversion, intervention, or prevention are aimed at making the juveniles not only resist temptations but also public pressure and bad influence. The main goal of such programs is to teach the young offenders on how not to become offenders. This can be done by teaching them how to live a productive as well as a crime free life. In Nevada, there are two commonly used diversion and prevention programs: the GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training) and DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). These two programs are created in order to help reduce the number of crimes committed by young people. This is achieved by teaching the youngsters the required techniques that can assist them to reject unnecessary peer pressure or learn how to cope with individual or family problems. According to the culture of delinquency, subculture of juvenile delinquency is as a result of peer group pressure. Champion (2010) defines this delinquency subculture as “a culture within a culture where the use of violence in certain social situations is commonplace and normative… in which the theme of violence is pervasive and dominant” (p. 90).
Many of the juvenile delinquents fall under the explanation of the above theory. This means that the juveniles are raised in the neighborhoods, where crime and violence are considered a normal daily occurrence. The young people, who live in such communities, grow thinking that crime is an acceptable part of growing up, especially if nobody disproves it. Neighborhoods like this make young people grow predisposed to crime and criminal activities. Therefore, the majority of young people are left in the unfavorable conditions. They may lack life skills of dealing with difficult personal situations. In such cases, diversion, prevention and intervention programs are used to teach the juveniles and their family members on how to deal with bad influence and develop skills to appropriately deal with undesired peer pressure.
Since its inception in 1991, more than 8,000 law enforcement officers have been certified as GREAT instructors with a population of more than 4 million students having graduated from the program (Bureau of Justice Assistance, n.d.). The main goals of GREAT are:
1. To help the juveniles understand the necessity of setting realistic goals.
2. To help the juveniles resolve the conflicts.
3. To provide the youngsters with the necessary skills to resist peer group pressure.
4. To help the juveniles resolve conflicts easily and in a peaceful way.
As for the DARE program, its main goal is to provide the juveniles with good decision making skills and make them lead safe and happy lives (Drug Abuse Resistance Education, 2012). Before inception of DARE in 1983, statistics indicated that more than two thirds of youngsters used illicit drugs before leaving high school. Two and half decades later, in 2008, the DARE program showed positive results as only 47% of students were indicated to have used drugs According to statistics, the youngsters who receive earlier prevention and diversion education are less likely to use drugs or abuse alcohol. Moreover, they are also less likely to involve in gang activities (Drug Abuse Resistance Education, 2012).
The DARE and GREAT programs operate in order to help the juveniles resist the temptations of peer group pressure and keep away from violence by giving them the right tools to cope with situations that may lead them to committing crimes. Statistics from the Bureau of Justice Assistance indicate that the programs have reduced the level of crime in many neighborhoods. In addition, these programs provide the youths with necessary skills to help them attain a positive outlook on their future instead of engaging in crime and violence actions.
The main participants of the DARE and GREAT programs vary from preschool children to high schoolers. The course curriculum targets specific age groups and the programs are led by the law enforcement officers. The programs are also designed to teach the juveniles on how they can develop coping skills that will help them avoid drug and substance abuse as well as be able to deal with bad peer group pressure. The juveniles also learn how to lead a productive life and be able to cope and solve different problems they may face.
Services Provided by DARE and GREAT
The main services provided by DARE and GREAT are community based services including Internet safety, prevention from cyber-bullying, prevention from bullying, gang involvement prevention, and prevention form abuse of over the counter drugs (Drug Resistance Abuse and Education, 2012). Different schools within the state or county are involved in such programs at virtually no cost. This means that the course is available to almost every youth in the community, where the program is implying that a large percentage of youth are reached.
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Reducing Juvenile Crime with the Help of DARE and GREAT
While comparing the efficiency of DARE and GREAT, GREAT is credited to reducing juvenile crime more than DARE. Statistics indicate that juveniles who participate in GREAT activities are high risk youths. They are susceptible to gang affiliation and are at a risk of participating in violence. It is widely accepted that affiliation to gangs contributes to overall crimes activities like rape, abuse of drugs, selling of drugs, robbery, burglary, and even murder. The youths who are taught to avoid temptations of a gang life are able to easily identify troublesome situations and be able to easily handle the situations in the most appropriate ways.
In the state of Nevada, diversion and intervention programs are used to help prevent and reduce juvenile delinquency. In order to help prevent any crime, it is important to first identify its cause. Two prevention and diversion programs, DARE and GREAT, are mainly used to teach the juveniles on prevention techniques as well as address the root of problems of juvenile delinquency and look into ways of reducing it. The juveniles who are at risk are identified and incorporated into the program, where they are taught on how to avoid involving themselves in criminal activities and be able to solve their problems. The DARE and GREAT programs are credited to have reduced juvenile delinquency in Nevada by directly approaching the subject of crime and youths involved.