There are tens of millions of children in the United States that exist hungry and unsupervised; something that every member of the criminal justice system knows. See new research below on the subject from the US Department of Justice.
We’ve previously reported that the number of traumatized children was 70 percent but regardless of the percentage, many if not most children entering the criminal justice system grow up unloved and ignored or beaten or sexually assaulted (especially females). See http://crimeinamerica.net/category/child-abuse/. Trauma also applies to exposure to family or outside violence.
Most of the crime problem in America is due to child abuse and neglect (we suspect the same holds true for school failures and endless other social ills). Possibly the most potent anti-crime program in America is sending social workers and nurses into the homes of young, at risk children and teaching parents (OK, mothers—the fathers aren’t there) how to raise a child. The results are impressive and exceed those of most anti-crime efforts.
To do this throughout the country we would have to institute an entirely new structure in government and quite simply, the money’s not there. But the political will and the concern of the public are not there either. The truth is that few care about hungry, beaten and neglected kids feeding and raising themselves. We could condemn the parents in the harshest way possible, but that’s unthinkable, too many would accuse us of beating up on the previous class of vulnerable people.
If we ever decide to take action we could cut the crime problem in half in a generation of two. The behavioral problems offered by many criminal offenders are almost overwhelming (based on the data below). The principal saving grace is that most offenders age out of crime; age buys wisdom and perspective lacking in younger years.
Crime in America.Net
Research shows that while up to 34 percent of children in the United States have experienced at least one traumatic event, between 75 and 93 percent of youth entering the juvenile justice system annually in this country are estimated to have experienced some degree of trauma.
Youth who have experienced trauma may be more likely to be involved in illegal behavior for a variety of reasons, including the neurological, psychological and social effects of trauma. A growing body of research in developmental neuroscience has begun to uncover the pervasive detrimental effects of traumatic stress on the developing brain.
People who have experienced trauma often have abnormal blood levels of stress hormones, and the parts of the brain responsible for managing stress may not function as well as in people who have not been exposed to trauma.
Based on national surveys of youth in the United States:
14-34 percent of children have experienced at least one traumatic event;
Children are twice as likely as adults to be victims of serious violent crime and three times as likely to experience simple assault;
13.4 percent of female adolescents report having been sexually assaulted;
35-46 percent of adolescents report witnessing violence;
Youth of color are more likely to experience violence than their white counterparts (42.1 per 1,000 in the population versus 46.1, respectively).
Studies from a number of psychological journals report that between 75-93 percent of youth entering the juvenile justice system annually are estimated to have experienced some degree of traumatic victimization:
A study of children held in a Chicago detention center found that over half of them had experienced more than six traumatic events prior to their detainment;
Two studies reviewing the link between childhood maltreatment and juvenile justice involvement found that among males who experienced maltreatment prior to 12 years of age, 50-79 percent became involved in serious juvenile delinquency;
A study published in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse found that among young boys engaged in sexual offenses, 95 percent reported some type of trauma exposure, 77.5 percent reported more than one type of trauma and nearly half had experienced both physical and sexual abuse;
A study of mental disorders in incarcerated women found that when compared to women in community samples, incarcerated women were more likely to report a history of childhood sexual or physical abuse;
A study in the Clinical Child and Family Psychological Review found that most pre-teen and adolescent youth who participated in a homicide offense have histories of severe childhood maltreatment.