The Development of Social Control
Chapter 2 reviews how children become adults and discusses the changing nature of childhood. The chapter also discusses the child-reform movement of the early 20th century, as well as the juvenile court from its inception to the present day.
- All societies socialize their young members into functioning and productive adults.
- The period of children's dependency has increased throughout history, and young people even as recently as 50 years ago became adults sooner than today's children due to longevity, and economic and cultural pressures.
- Children require many years to mature into adults, and societies grant adult status based on history, customs, and economic needs.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONCEPT OF CHILDHOOD
- Two issues that affect the granting of adulthood are patriarchy and discipline. A central question in the development of juvenile justice systems was what to do with a youth who didn't demonstrate self-discipline and defied the parents' rules.
- According to Postman, education is critical to the socialization of children.
- Parents, teachers, court officials, and legislators believe that children must be protected from others, as well as from their own impulsive and immature behaviors.
- In the early American colonies, the General Court of Massachusetts Bay legislated the execution of children who disobeyed their parents. The stubborn child law directed families to control their children for society's sake and sought to limit conflicts and maintain authority.
- Sometimes children must grow up fast and assume roles for which they have not been prepared.
- Western society's response to the nature of childhood has changed over the centuries. According to Neil Postman, John Dewey and Sigmund Freud contributed much to modern thinking about childhood and children.
THE CHILD REFORM MOVEMENT
- During the 19th century, juvenile authorities attempted to ease the burdens of impoverished youth by "placing out" children on orphan trains. Others were placed in state and local houses of refuge where they could be educated and trained to work. The legal authority for placing them in such an institution came from the parens patriae principle.
- Anthony Platt credits the child savers with establishing the modern juvenile justice system. Although the child savers had good intentions, those intentions stemmed from their own value systems. The child savers sought to ensure that the juveniles acted in accordance with the values of the dominant society.
- The early juvenile justice system formalized the practices of treating children differently and brought a wide range of behaviors that were not considered crimes under the state's control (status offenses).
- The first juvenile court was established in Chicago, Illinois, in 1899, with the philosophy of helping children instead of punishing them. Some of the court's problematic issues included probation officers, minority children, and girls. The early court disregarded juveniles' due-process rights.
- According to C. Wright Mills, many early sociologists considered the process of urbanization to be evil and disorganized, a philosophy that helped to lead to the creation of the juvenile court.
THE JUVENILE COURT
- The juvenile court established formal civil control over youthsand to a limited extent their parentsby designing laws that pertained especially to them.
- The first juvenile court was established in Chicago, Illinois, in 1899.
- The modern U.S. juvenile justice system is separate from the adult criminal justice system, with a different philosophy, personnel, terminology, and organizational structure. Each state has its own system. A youth need not have committed a crime to enter the system.
- The juvenile court was just one aspect of the larger social reform movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- According to Sanborn and Salerno juvenile rights were deemed unnecessary, inappropriate, harmful, undeserved, and inapplicable.
- There has always been a double standard in how males and females are accorded rights, responsibilities, and protections. The early juvenile justice system applied this same double standard to the rehabilitation and protection of youths.
- However, despite advances in equal treatment under the law, males and females, as well as boys and girls, are still treated differently by the justice system, which is often necessary as males break the law more often than females.
- The juvenile justice system is even more fragmented than the criminal justice system because the level of variation among the states' juvenile justice systems is so great that there is no "typical system."
- The modern juvenile justice system uses a different vocabulary to label legal actions related to delinquency, and a separate legal process is initiated for suspects once it's determined that they are youths.
THE CHANGING NATURE OF CHILDHOOD
- Throughout early history, learning and knowledge were controlled by a child's parents, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, by the child's extended family and community. This changed in the 20th century with the advent of the media.
- The rapid pace of social change has made parents' experience of childhood, puberty, and adolescence much different from that of their children.
- In the past, social expectations of individuals' actions and appearances were far more regimented than they are today. Paradoxically, youths have more personal freedom today, but also must make more difficult personal decisions, some of which involve whether or not to break the law.