The Socioeconomic Triggers of Juvenile Delinquency: Analysis of “The Outsiders”
Today, the social structure and class turns highly fragmented based on the socioeconomic background of people. For instance, people who live in high-end suburbs in America cities are found upper-classes and those who live in cities with crumbling infrastructure and low-achieving schools could be classified as lower-classes. Such social divisions have been a source of great experience and tragedy. Case in point is juvenile delinquency, a severe crime fostered through the failure of society to address the issues of poverty, marginalization, failure of social systems such as foster care, and the general lack of empathy among people which ultimately has contributed to the dwindling of morality. In essence, S.E. Hinton in The Outsiders depicts the story of the dysfunction of society based on socioeconomic inequality that has caused sub-divisions among young boys who should normally be living free of the burden of social pressure. Despite the immoral behavior displayed by the juveniles in the story, social relations could be ameliorated when the relevant governmental agencies and concerned stakeholders address socioeconomic challenges faced by juveniles before they mutate into crime.
Social subdivisions should not be treated rashly nor can they be adequately addressed on the short-term; alternatively, stringent mechanisms must be put in place to deal with the shortfalls of the socioeconomic fabric of society. Ponyboy narrates how “mom and dad were killed in an auto wreck” (Hinton 4). The death of their parents has varying ramifications such as their ability to provide for themselves. Most ramifications of the conflict could be children beggars who resort to begging or else others who go to the extreme and steal for a living. The manifestation of the social divisions, in this case, usually occur when teenagers group themselves according to their perception of who embodies the same situation and become rivalries with those who they consider being their opposites. Even in prosaic places such as school, these social divisions trigger as people from underprivileged backgrounds tend to stick together as well as those from wealthy families. In a fight with the other gang members, Ponyboy’s gang was highly cohesive, as they greatly lavished in helping each other. In perspective, “our gang had chased the Socs to their car and heaved rocks at them” (Hinton 9). The statement testifies the deep subdivisions of society that often materialize to children at a young age and if not addressed, they are bound to cause even more problems in the future.
The Outsiders displays the theme that the governmental agencies and concerned stakeholders have the primary role of car-giving orphans or juvenile delinquents. For instance, an act of juvenile delinquency was committed by Johnny, a member of Ponyboy’s gang, who says, “I killed him … I killed that boy (Bob from the rival gang)” (Hinton 49). The tragedy with most juvenile criminals is that they are not thought through in that, the participants like the gangs in the story have no thinking threshold that their actions could be disastrous to their well-being and others. The basis of intervention for the relevant agencies and authorities is to ensure that socioeconomic differences result in needless fighting and loss of life simply because of disagreements resulting from allegiances to gangs. The entities concerned must forestall any kind of negativity that arises out of socioeconomic differences through creating and developing of measures that can help in deconstructing such differences. An ideal example would be to encourage every child to treat each other with respect regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds.
People, disregarding external features or backgrounds, possess the potential in making important, life-changing differences no matter how little they may seem. Even in incidents taken to the extreme, there are always opportunities to ameliorate countless drawbacks in life and take the path to self-fulfillment by engaging in beneficial or positive activities. As for Ponyboy, he decided to tell the world his story by writing “about something that was important to me” (Hinton 153). As a result, it is acceptable to complain about the misfortunes brought about by the state of life we are born into, but we should always have in mind that we have the capacity to change our life to the better.
Socioeconomic differences have caused a large gap in society and if not addressed, often could be translated into conflict. Individuals from each socioeconomic status must be dawned that social backgrounds are superficial differences that can change over time and alternatively work towards creating or developing a society that addresses such inequality for the overall development or betterment of people’s lives.
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