Juveniles are just as capable of
committing deviant crimes as adults are. Like adult offenders, there are
frequently warning signs in the backgrounds of these individuals that can be an
indication of future behavior. Often times, juveniles commit crimes that are
considered "nuisance offenses" by law enforcement and are rarely treated with
the attention they deserve.
Relying on my trusty thesaurus, a nuisance is something that describes
irritation, annoyance, troubling, a worry, a bother, aggravation, displeasure,
frustration, stress or pestering. However, none of these words means serious.
Serious implies something that is important, crucial, critical, significant,
vital or even dangerous. This takes on significance because there are many
examples of violent crimes committed by adult offenders, that upon closer
inspection were prefaced by earlier crimes that would be labeled as nuisance
Roy Hazelwood warns of this during his lectures, stating there are many times
when an offender will begin acting out or practicing his offenses with lesser
offenses that will be labeled as nuisance offenses. Hazelwood goes on to say
that just because these offenses are not violent, does not mean they should be
taken as less than serious.
Many of the nuisance offenses committed by juveniles can be viewed as trials at
enacting deviant fantasies. Such offenses may include exhibitionism or telephone
scatology (obscene phone calls). Of critical importance when investigating these
crimes is determining what the offender said or did during the offense. These
two items are important because everything the offender says or does during the
commission of a crime provides investigators with information about his or her
fantasies and motivations. When an offender is verbalizing his fantasies in the manner, it is very
important to take note of the content. If the offender is verbalizing content
that is violent, this should be taken seriously because he or she may escalate
to bring the fantasy to reality. There may also be cases where sketches,
journals, or videotapes can be used as a medium for documenting fantasies. Although this documentation may continue into adulthood, the foundation of these
actions began while the offender was a juvenile.
When juveniles come to the attention of authorities by committing nuisance
offenses, this is an opportunity to disrupt possible violent crimes of the
future. Yet, this can only occur if these lesser offenses are taken seriously.