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The strategy of delinquency control : a critical survey of recent developments and a proposal for some local applications. Liquornik, Israel

Abstract

Although there are immense philosophical and technical difficulties in assessing the dimensions and severity of a social problem, there can be little doubt that juvenile delinquency is a proper subject of deep public concern. At the present time, however, few of the methods commonly employed in dealing with it appear to have more than a marginal effect on its ever-increasing prevalence. Part of this problem seems to be attributable to the heterogeneous and often contradictory character of the available etiologies of juvenile delinquency. But part also would appear to derive from the stereotyped reliance on a "case" approach to the phenomenon; an approach which, though legitimate and. even indispensable when some form of psychiatric abnormality is involved in the genesis of delinquent behavior, is manifestly inept when the problem has reached epidemic proportions. The aim of this study, therefore, is to examine a number of recent attempts - of both scientific and a practical nature-to formulate alternative arid demonstrably more effective techniques of solving or mitigating the problem of juvenile delinquency. In fact, many of the programs reviewed do give promise of an altogether higher level of usefulness than can be assigned to the methods which are currently favoured. The position is taken that juvenile delinquency can only be dealt with competently if the decisions underlying the employment of particular programs are based upon essentially strategic considerations of (a) the type of delinquency at Issue, (b) the nature of the causal factors predominating in its occurrence, and (c) the consequent differences in the aptness of the several alternative responses to the problem. The composition and condition of local correctional services are reviewed and evaluated in the light of this critical principle and are found to be alarmingly inadequate to its demands. It is argued that a region, such as British Columbia, which is in the convulsions of rapid social change, is under a particular necessity to anticipate and plan for its social problems with strategic breadth and intelligence.

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