The Psychological Effects

The Psychological Effects of Juveniles Being Tried as Adults for Violent Crimes Seen as Unfit for Rehabilitation

Shydell Woolfolk

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The psychological impacts on juveniles put on trial as adults in court have been discussed for some time. The risks of charging juveniles as grown-ups are physical abuse and mental health problems concerning the possible actual maltreatment that the child in question would almost certainly look in prison (Sawyer, 2019). Juveniles’ brains are still developing the discipline in adult court influences the brain’s juveniles, thinking capacity is ruined to the extent that they might develop mental illness. The psychological effects cannot be dealt with in rehabilitation because the juveniles’ brains will have developed with the situation.

Children develop fears that they might be prosecuted or even beaten by the jury. Children cry when they fear, urinate for themselves, and the psychological part of it, they feel isolated due to the trial course. Psychosomatic effects can be anything from adolescents losing confidence in the equity framework to encountering injury going through grown-up court and being limited in grown-up prisons (Fled, 2018). That injury can cause different enthusiastic issues. Juveniles in grown-up detainment facilities are regularly denied counseling, education, and dangers of sexual mistreatment. The rehabilitation will act as another isolation and detainment for kids. The article focuses on discussing the psychological effects of children tried as adults in court.

Key Words: Court, prosecutors, incarceration, jury, psychology, rehabilitation, policies, behavior, competence, development, depression, punitive sanctions, and anxiety

Search strategies form a strong concurrence of importance in checking peer-reviewed articles. The techniques include appropriate translation of the research concepts that should match the question. Several literature searches include NCBI, PubMed, National Institute of Health (NIH), BioMedical, Medicaid, WebMed, and ScienceDirect. The study will consider the use of ScienceDirect. It is a prominent systematic database with full text providing journal books and articles of 2,500 and above peer-reviewed journals and 11,000 and above reports. Overall subjects include humanities, social sciences, health science, life sciences, engineering, and physical sciences.

According to Connell(2020), cognitive and psychosocial ability are aggressively constructed in the adolescent stage. Many children show a high deficiency in making proper decisions and integrating activities. Thus, the criminal justice procedure has the probability of influencing the neurological and cognitive proficiency of juveniles(Connell,2020). The condition will be hard to be rehabilitated because the child will grow with it as part of their life. For example, vulnerability to questioning pressure is associated with juvenile differences connected with memory procedures, which can be revealed in the brain development processes in specific cortical regions.

The familiarity of juveniles to stand court trials implies that untruthful confession of children’s misconduct results in mental development complications, such as memory mistrust disorder. Generally, punitive sanctions for children delinquents make them exposed to forceful practices, which leads to higher restrictions of justice, stigmatization, and recidivism, Hence meddling with effective teenage development (Connell 2020). The concept supports the author’s argument that the disciplinary adult system does not consider children as vulnerable. The rehabilitation part will make a child feel confined and will not learn about what is happening. It could be better to be in juvenile court where they get education and counseling.

According to Lane (2018), children’s confinement has harmful effects on their behaviors. It leads to social withdrawal and isolation. Some incarcerated juveniles or those exposed to disciplinary endorsements find vindication in social indiscernibility by acquiring hidden behaviors and develop shyness isolated from other individuals or society surrounding them. Social seclusion indicates that the distressed juvenile sanctuary lacks trust in everybody adjusting their lives in prison.

Furthermore, such children develop depressions ever since disciplinary endorsements bring conviction indifference and restrict children from novitiate their behaviors. Children like playing with others during their development and social growth. Tan et al. (2018) supported Lane’s subject on the harmful effects of court trials on children’s behavior. Utilizing Tan’s research, long-term imprisoned juveniles are more vulnerable to psychological adjustment. Prolonged disciplinary sanctions make kids exhibit a slow response (Tan et., 2018), compared to involuntary and stunted behavior associated with humorlessness and lethargy as primary classifications of social withdrawal and isolation.

According to Fled(2018), disciplinary sanction affects juveniles’ cognitive ability. It generates trauma, stigma, and strain, which negatively affects the sense of academic development. Children will not be able to concentrate on the classwork even after prison release because their minds will still be glued to the oppressions and the nightmares they endured during the confinement. Such practices negatively influence behavioral and attentional capacities, which have a simultaneous relationship with cognitive ability (Fled, 2018). The adolescence stage is characterized by the dynamic structural development of the brain.

For instance, during adolescence, the frontal lobe in the brain, which predominantly engages in the cognitive procedure, such as planning, strategizing, organizing actions or thoughts, is still under development. Therefore, disciplinary sanctions obstruct efficient brain results, limiting juveniles from making accurate decisions when they grow as adults.

According to Rhyner et al., 2018 children may develop depression due to the conviction in court. When children are separated from their family, childhood friends, and social activities, they experience adjustment disorders due to a lack of company. Extreme sadness followed by a state of worthlessness and hopelessness makes the child uncomfortable. During the court proceedings, the prosecutors and the juries may develop harshness, making the child feel blame, anger, and guilt (Rhyner et al., 2018). Adolescents may be irritated and lose interest in everything. Juveniles may develop strange behaviors that cause agitation and psychomotor retardation. Rehabilitation cannot help the brain’s brain’s incapacity to get back to their track; the fears they get occupy their psychology, and all-time the child will live like the disorder from childbirth.

According to Sawyer(2019), juveniles may develop uneasiness, tension, and apprehension from the anticipation of the court proceedings outcome. The court conviction may cause the child to create an imbalance between superego, ego, and id, causing anxiety, affecting the juvenile’s ability to deal with the court ruling proceedings. The youth may develop phobia due to the exposure to the stimulus or trigger of their unexpected situation. The thoughts of managing sentencing in prison and living in a harsh environment lead to anxiety disorder. Sometimes the juveniles may change their feelings and thoughts, which results in influencing behavior change. A child may live in fear of their self-care and failing to have.


The court system should avoid policies that juveniles should put on trial at adult courts. The policies enormously affect child development, and the psychological effect cannot be rehabilitated. Children are young, and when they get subjected to such situations, it forms like permanent illness. The first child will never forget the course of trial and prison. Secondly, the effects will get the better side of child psychology where they will live inactive in social life due to isolation and the stage of playing with the agemates that they were denied. The court should let the children undergo juvenile court because it’s the appropriate place for the juvenile.



Connell, N. (2020). A Defense of Senate Bill 1391: The California Law That Abolished Transferring Juveniles under Sixteen to Criminal Court. Seton Hall L. Rev.51, 875.

Feld, B. C. (2018). Punishing kids in juvenile and criminal courts. Crime and Justice, 47(1), 417- 474.

Lane, J. (2018). Addressing juvenile crime: what have we learned, and how should we proceed?. Criminology & Public Policy17(2), 283-307.

Rhyner, K. J., Uhl, C. A., & Terrance, C. A. (2018). Are teens unfairly punished? Applying the dual systems model of adolescent risk-taking to sexting among adolescents. Youth Justice18(1), 52-66.

Sawyer, W. (2019). Youth confinement: The whole pie 2019.

Shanahan, J., & Mooney, J. (2019). New York City’s captive workforce: Remembering the prisoners who built Rikers Island. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 56, 13-26.

Tan, D., Friedman, S. H., Armstrong, C., Fitzgerald, J. T., & Neumann, C. (2018). New Zealand youth fitness to stand trial: The impact of age, immaturity, and diagnosis on evaluator opinions and court determinations. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law25(3), 374-385.

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