Children have often been labelled as at-risk with a variety of many pointers ranging from having experienced abuse or mistreatment, having disabilities or illness or having exhibited one form of behavioral problems or the other.

Nonetheless, we can define an at-risk child as a child that has a slight probability of positive transition into adulthood. Positive transition could be the ability to be independent and be a positive member of the society avoiding the negative vices such as a life of crime or delinquency.

There are several factors that makes a child being identified as at-risk and these factors influences negatively successful transition into adulthood. For instance, children who come from poverty stricken families often tend to be stigmatized by peers and this in turn spurs some kind of negative responses from them leading to engage in delinquent behaviors and are less likely to have a smooth transition into adulthood.

Research has shown that there is an increased rate of crime, unwanted pregnancies and drop out among the low income families and all these tendencies identifies the children that find themselves in this category at-risk.

Also, we have socio-cultural factors which includes single parenthood, family breakdown, divorce, remarriage and ethnic bias. Children of parents that are divorced, separated or remarried have been place in a state of dejection and neglect which may lead to psychological problems and this in turn encourage them to start displaying bad traits as result of their predicament. As a result, their effective transition into an adult becomes shattered. Many a times, these children are lured into delinquent acts.

Similarly, another reason why children are labelled as at-risk is a result of abuse and violence. Children are often times exposed to physical and sexual abuse which may include torture, rape or even slavery. As a result of conditions such as improper care and support by their parents probably due to breakdown or divorce, the children suffer abuse of different kinds. This prompts negative behavioral responses in the child.

Furthermore, children who suffer from one form of disability or illness or the other are considered at-risk because they tend to have a low self-esteem and disregard of their present state. These children with disabilities are sometimes exposed to maltreatment, bullying and abuse from peers or older ones and this in turn leads to depression and neglect.



An alarming number of young people are currently under-going severe cases of psychological and emotional problems ranging from dejection, depression, addictions which even involves substance abuse which may result from maltreatment, abuse, bad parenting and this may end up putting the lives of the youths at risk or in danger.

There are a number of interventions that could go a long way in ameliorating this situation which involves programs or means designed to help these young ones in trouble. For example, there are counselling programs which are provided on an individual or group basis. The at-risk youth could go through a mentoring process where there is someone to be accountable to.

Also there are several outreach services for the at-risk youth which gives therapy to youths that have undergone abuse or some sought of depression in one way the other. One of these services include: anger and behavior management classes which helps to curb any form of negative reactions from the troubled youths. Most of the at-risk youths already have a battered identity resulting from the horrible experiences they have gone through, therefore counselling can provide a way of developing their self-esteem.

Similarly, there are chemical health assessments which provides a form of evaluation on the health safety of the at-risk youth probably engaging in drug abuse or any other substance abuse, and this is in turn helps them to be aware of the dangers and effect of taking such substances.

Also, there are programs or intervention services that offer and provide life-skills training to at-risk youths which helps them enhance a proper self-image, character and encourage an attitude to become productive members of the society because too often these youths feel disconnected and rejected from their society and common responses are to act out (anti-social behaviors) or withdraw (chemical abuse leading to mental health issues). Some of the training includes self-esteem, character development, substance abuse prevention, effective communication amongst others.

In addition, in order to change the orientation of these youths at risk and help they see themselves as agent of change in the society is by teaching them to take responsibilities. This can be done by engaging them in social works. Involving the at-risk youth in social works such as taking up volunteer jobs to offer services in public programs can help them channel their energies towards positive options and alternatives.



In order to prevent youthful perpetrators of crime from experiencing the capital punishment given out by a court of law, and also to encourage rehabilitation of young offenders of the law instead of condemning them to a degree of penalty for their offence, hence a juvenile justice system is set up.

The juvenile justice system focuses on helping the young and adolescent by acting in the best interest of the child. It does not take into consideration the crime that brought the young offender into reprimand, but actually provides a platform to assist and train them to deter from such criminal acts.

Juveniles are not charged with crime, seen as guilty and sent to prison as seen in a normal court process, but are rather found delinquent or sent to a training or reform school in order to reorient them. Juveniles are not punished for a crime, but helped to dissuade from the act of delinquency. The main goal of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation rather than punishment.


The steps taking in a juvenile court are rather informal when compared to a regular court process. If a juvenile is found guilty of a criminal offence after evidence attests to this act, the juvenile is detained and placed under hearing known as adjudication by only a juvenile judge which is closed to the public, and remained confidential so as not to affect the juvenile’s ability to be reintegrated into the society and protecting them from stigma when their records are publicly available.

This is opposed to a regular criminal court in which juries and the public are present to hear the case. The juvenile judge decides the penalty for the juvenile after going through the various evidences brought before the court. The penalties may include a juvenile detention center, community service, mandatory counselling under close supervision, paying of fines as the case demands or may be put under probation depending on the intensity of the crime committed.

Although, they may be confined to juvenile correction facilities that sometimes seem like an adult prison or jail and imposing correctional facilities, the juveniles are entitled to educational training while incarcerated. Juvenile court judges pick from a variety of legal options to meet the safety requirements of the public and also the treatment needs of the juvenile offender.


During the process of transition from childhood to adulthood, children may make choices that might endanger their lives or put their lives at risk. Therefore, these choices constitutes some high risk behaviors which has the tendency and ability to form adult behavior and they have repercussions which are costly to the society and to the children themselves.

There are some common risk behaviors exhibited by children and adolescents which includes engaging in sexual activity, illegal substance abuse, and illegal activities like vandalism or robbery, playing truancy in school, violence and even causing harm to themselves. For instance when children become sexually active, their response and behaviors towards sex if negative, may result in a high rate of unwanted pregnancy or even sexually transmitted infections.

Many a times, a lot of these children and even their parents are unaware of the dangers or risks that are involved in engaging in sexual activity and also the infections that come along with it. They perform activities without taking careful precautions, hence leading into unwanted pregnancy and an adverse effect may end up in abortion.

Also, there is an increasing rate of the abuse of substance such as cigarette, drugs etc. Children take risk with the misusage of medications prescribed by a medical personnel. Drinking excessively which is a risk behavior to the use of alcohol, is also common among young ones. The misuse or abuse of these substances tend to have an adverse effect on them. Sometimes, it alters the thinking capacity and harm decision making abilities, causing harmful psychological behaviors and could result to mental illness.

Likewise, children and adolescents are sometimes exposed to violence and abuse, and as a result brings them to a state of depression and melancholy. In response to this, they release emotional pain when they are traumatized by probably thinking of inflicting injuries on themselves or even committing suicide. They are forced to have a negative orientation about the society and hence they take up undesirable behaviors.

In addition, children who finds themselves in low-income families do not have the opportunity to receive adequate and substantial formal education, and so there is a high affinity not to do well academically or even have the cause to drop out and obtain a high risk behavior. Similarly, some children play truancy in school as a result of a lackadaisical attitude towards education leading to negative inclinations.



Half-way houses for juveniles is a transitional facility provided in a bid to further reintegrate young criminal offenders who have served their terms, and are about returning back into the society. This facility provides a platform to continue offering supports after the juveniles have undergone some kind of reorientation and positive psychological change in perspective as regards crime. This facility is meant to strengthen the effect of what detention and the services provided in the correctional facilities, imparted to the juveniles.

The settings of the half-way house are that of an organized and systematic home which consists of a number of rules that guides the day to day activities and events that are carried out by the juveniles. Counselling continues to hold in the half-way house, skills and training on some vocational trade continues to be learnt. The structures such as security and confinement are not as rigid in the half-way houses as it is in the correctional detention centers the juveniles come from.


The effect of the half-way house on juveniles amongst many others is that, it establishes a reasonably stable pattern of life, developing their capacity to cope with daily living. It helps develop and train the juveniles in life skills such as social and communication skills to enable them integrate themselves into the society at large. Half-way houses also provides assistance such as counselling that are necessary for the inmates to live and survive beyond juvenile correction centers.

It is important to note that besides the education and training provided to the juvenile offenders by the correctional facilities, it is necessary to prepare them for their return into the society, hence half-way houses are saddled with the responsibility of giving the juveniles a general idea of what a normal society should look like: one where there are rules to be adhered to, limits to be obeyed and supports to be enjoyed.

In addition, half-way houses can effectively serve the purpose of protecting the community from receiving ex-juvenile offenders that still carry traits of committing crime, and have not totally being rehabilitated of their criminal acts, but they will achieve these goals only with the full backing of the society and awareness of their cost-effectiveness and the need for such programs in the society.