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Lesson 17

                                    Juvenile Delinquency

                                             Text A
    Jennifer got off the bus from the university and began walking towards the flat she shared with two other students. On her way she had to buy some food and stopped in one of the shops in the street. It was run by an Asian family, and although the prices there were a little higher than in the big supermarket further down the street, she did a lot of her shopping there. The vegetables were fresher and they had various things she couldn't get elsewhere. Mr Patel, the owner of the shop, was checking through a list, but smiled, as he always did, when he saw her come in.


    She picked up a wire basket and walked towards the back of the shop, where the rice was kept: The shop was divided by three long aisles, with rows of shelves crammed with all sorts of things. Except for her and Mr Patel , there were only two other people there. They were two teenage boys, and they were standing at the end of one of the aisles. 

She glanced at them as she passed. They were both wearing long, old-fashioned overcoats and they looked rather ridiculous in them because the coats were too big. But such things were popular with some teenagers at the time. 'Watch out, stupid,' she heard one of them whisper to the other. She walked on to the next aisle and found the rice she was looking for.

 Then she heard something else. It sounded like a tin dropping on the floor. She peered through a gap in the shelf and caught a glimpse of one. of the boys bending down. She saw him pick up a tin of food. But instead of putting it in the shopping basket, he dropped it into the inside pocket of his long overcoat. Jennifer glanced back down the aisle. She could see Mr Patel at the cash till, still checking through his list.

 Then she looked through the gap in the shelf again. The boys still had their backs to her. 'Come on, let's get out of here,' she heard one of them say. At the same time, she saw one of them put another tin in his overcoat pocket. They moved away from her. She could no longer see what they were doing or hear what they were saymg.


    When she got to the till, the two boys were in front of her. She watched them pay for the few things they had in the basket. They had both buttoned their coats and fastened them with their belts. Mr Patel did not seem suspicious at all. He even smiled at them as they were about to leave. Jennifer opened her mouth to say something.

         
                                            Text B

    The only crime I have ever been connected with was unsuccessful. One summer night I went to bed, leaving my bedroom door open because it was very hot. During the night I was woken up by the sound of a match being struck. For a moment I thought it must be the friend I lived with, but then I remembered he was away. 

I felt certain there was someone in the room. I saw the outline of a man standing near the door. I was almost certain the man was a burglar. Without thinking what I was doing, I shouted loudly and. jumped out of bed to catch the man. As I ran across the garden, I suddenly realized I was doing something very foolish. The burglar I was chasing might be carrying a knife. I went straight back into the house and locked all the doors to protect myself.


    This was a very small crime which did not succeed, but crime is a serious problem in Britain. One sort of crime which particularly worries people is juvenile delinquency-that is, crimes committed by young people. For some years, juvenile delinquency has been increasing. There are two main sorts of juvenile crime : stealing and violence. Most people do not understand why young people commit these crimes. There are , I think, a large number of different reasons.


    These crimes are not usually committed by people who are poor or in needl. Young people often dislike and resent the adult world. They will do things to show that they are rebels. Also in Britain today it is easier far young people to commit crimes because they have more freedom to go where they like and more money to do what they like.


    There are two other possible causes which are worth mentioning. More and more people in Britain live in large towns. In a large town no one knows who anyone else is or where they live. But in the village I come from crimes are rare because everybody knows everyone else.


    Although it is diffcult to explain, I think the last cause is very important. Perhaps there is something wrong with our society which encourages violence and crime. It is a fact that all the time children are exposed to films and reports about crime and violence. Many people do nat agree that this influences young people, but I think that young people are very much influenced
by the society they grow up in. I feel that the fault may be as tnuch with our whole society as with these young people.

                               Additional Information

    It's just before school starts, when they check the pupils for guns. By now, the 1,600 students at Chester High School in Philadelphia have got used to it.
    One by one, they go through a metal detector gate, like the ones at an airport, at the main entrance to their school. The beeper alarm is constantly going off, indicating some metal object in the pupil's pockets. Mostly, it is a key, or coins.


    Such searches-in some schools a regular routine , in others , a spotcheck- are part of the attempt of school authorities in the United States to keep students from bringing into the classroom their knives, revolvers and machine-guns.
    The metal detector checks have already become commonplace in schools in Philadelphia, Detroit, and New York. A school in Fairfax, on the outskirts of Washington, D. C. , will soon begin them.


    School administrators decided that something finally had to be done after the various shootouts and discoveries of weapons in schools around the country had made headlines for weeks running.
    On January 26, at Woodrow Wilson School in Washington, a teenager shot and wounded four others in a fight over a place to sit in the school cafeteria.


    On February 9, teachers confiscated a semi-automatic pistol from two 13-year-olds at a school in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring after they had threatened other students with the weapon. Six days later, a student at Kramer High School in Washington threatened a schoolmate with a sawedoff shotgun. Asked why he did it, the youngster said the other had "stared so stupidly" at him.
    The list of such incidents goes on and,on, and in some cases, they are fatall.


    According to the California-based " National School Safety Centre " (NSSC) in a recent report, there were 360,000 violent incidents in American schools in 1986, the last year for which statistics are available. The incidents ranged from fistfights to shootouts, and 70,000 weapons were confiscated, including 1 , 700 pistols and rifles.
    Since then , says Ronald Stephens , the director of NSSC , the number of incidents involving guns in schools has risen considerably.Teachers and security experts have a hard time explaining why teenagers want to bring lethal weapons with them to school.


    "Some want to impress their schoolmates," believes Stephens."They feel that a gun is a symbol of power and control.Others have a feeling that they need weapons to protectthemselves."
    School authorities see the rise in weapons and violence above all as being connected to drugs in American high schools. Armed youth gangs divide up the drug trade turf among themselves. According to the NSSC , the older gang members use the younger newcomers as "weapons depots".


    Lyn Siper of the National Crime Prevention Council in Washington believes that youths during their puberty lean towards fighting out their conflicts instead of talking about them. Such drugs as cocaine and crack add to their emotional disturbance.
    Siper and Stephens agree that the general level of violence on the streets of big American cities, and the unimpeded access to guns, play a role. America's citizens possess a total of 120 million firearms. Many of the revolvers and rifles which authorities confiscated in the schools had been legally acquired and registered by the students' parents.