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ERIC Number: ED150208
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977
Pages: 19
Abstractor: N/A
Branded for Life: The Case of Detained Black Youth.
Swan, L. Alex
The concept represented by the term juvenile delinquency covers a wide range of activities and a complex set of juvenile offenses. Moreover, the concept is vague and its definition is often left to the discretion of law enforcement agencies and the courts. A problem for black youth is that their acts are assessed by outsiders who have the power to identify, treat, and label their behavior as delinquent. Where the juvenile is identified, treated, and labeled as delinquent, there is further contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Although the juvenile justice system was an improvement over the earlier handling of juveniles (where they were treated similarly to adults), for black youth the system, especially in its use of official statistics creates the myth that delinquency is somehow associated with blackness and the urban community. The disproportionate numbers of black youth detained by the juvenile justice system is explained by the presence of racism at every level of the system. The system of racism which black people have been subject to over the years operates and manifests itself in the administration of justice. For example, middle and upper class white youth who commit delinquent acts are defined by police and court officials in psychiatric and psychological terms, while the same acts when committed by blacks are defined and handled in criminal and delinquent terms. One of the serious side effects of this racism is that when youth are labeled as delinquents they are forced to play the role they have been given. Once a youth is stamped delinquent, the resources of the police, the court services, the schools, and other official agencies respond to him on the basis of that label, in a manner different from those without the label. In changing the system, the responsibility of the community to black youth is to provide protection from racism and oppression and to provide services that will enhance interpretations and judgements as black youth plan and proceed with action. (Author/AM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Conference on Black Families A Source of National Strength (Chicago, Illinois, November 2-5, 1977)