Preventing Juvenile Crime

Is tougher punishment or prevention the answer?


A dramatic rise in violent youth crimes prompted Congress to include tougher penalties in the 1994 crime bill, as well as funds for intervention programs. States and cities, too, have reacted to violent youth crime with a mixture of get-tough and prevention measures, such as curfews, school uniforms and laws making parents responsible for their children's misbehavior. Now, an expected increase in the under-18 population threatens to produce another rise in youth crime. Prevention advocates insist that the most cost-effective way to defuse the coming “crime bomb” is early intervention programs for at-risk kids and their parents. But Congress has withheld funding for the intervention programs, a move endorsed by those who say tough punishments are the answer.

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