Previous Page An Issue 59.
Juvenile crime is a serious social problem and businesses must become more involved in helping to prevent it. Question
Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion expressed above. Support your point of view with reasons and / or examples from your own experience, observations or reading. Analysis
Juvenile delinquency is clearly a serious social problem. Whether businesses must become more involved in helping to prevent the problem depends, however, on the specific business-whether it is culpable in creating the problem and whether its owners' collective conscience calls for such involvement.
Although parents and schools have the most direct influence on children, businesses nonetheless exert a strong and often negative influence on juveniles by way of their advertisements and of the goods they choose to produce. For example, cigarette advertisements aimed at young people, music and clothing that legitimize gang sub-culture and toys depicting violence all sanction juvenile delinquency. In such cases perhaps the business should be obligated to mitigate its own harmful actions-for example by sponsoring community youth organizations or by producing public-interest ads.
In other cases, however, imposing on a business a duty to help solve juvenile delinquency or any other social problem seems impractical and unfair. Some would argue that because business success depends on community support. Businesses have an ethical duty to give back to the community by donating money, facilities or services to social programs. Many successful businesses such as Mrs. Field's, Ben & Jerry's and Timberland have embraced this philosophy. But how far should such a duty extend and is it fair to impose a special duty on businesses to help prevent one specific problem such as juvenile delinquency? Moreover, businesses already serve their communities by enhancing the local tax base and by providing jobs, goods and services.
In the final analysis, while businesses are clearly in a position to influence young people, whether they should help solve juvenile delinquency is perhaps a decision best left to the collective conscience of each business.