Honors Program

Honors in Criminal Justice and Criminology

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Jennifer Pealer

Thesis Professor Department

Criminal Justice and Criminology

Thesis Reader(s)

Jennifer Pealer, Courtney Crittenden, Colin Glennon


At the end of the nineteenth century, individuals identified as child savers pioneered an unprecedented movement to save America’s children from physical and moral harm. The establishment of the juvenile justice system came as a result of the actions of the child savers. Researchers have focused extensively on many aspects of the juvenile justice system including studies on the effectiveness of the system to tracking the changes the system has undergone since its establishment. Numerous other studies examined opinions of the juvenile justice system. However, the research has focused solely on the general public, juvenile probation officers and juvenile correctional staff.

The current study examined the actual participants within the juvenile justice system - the juvenile offenders - to gauge their perceptions of the system that was created to protect and turn them into law-abiding individuals. A survey was conducted with juvenile offenders housed within two conservative, Midwestern juvenile correctional facilities. The juveniles believed that rehabilitation should be an integral goal of the juvenile justice system and they endorsed community-based interventions as a means to change behavior. The results indicate that the juvenile offenders are in tune with the general public as seeing the juvenile justice system as a child saving institution rather than as a punitive endeavor.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Criminology Commons