Essay on Adolescent Positive and Negative Behavior: The Trouble with Evan

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Carnegie Mellon University
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Positive and negative behaviors in young adults are mostly the outcomes of their childhood experiences and can be traced back to their toddlerhood. Children who have been raised in stable families tend to have better behaviors in their adulthood as compared to those raised up in violent homes. "The Trouble with Evan" is an eye-opening documentary that was shot in the year 1994 and the plot is about Evan, an eleven-year-old boy who was suffering emotional abuse in silence. His parents agreed to have secret cameras installed in their home and only three months; the cameras recorded his weird behaviors that were later linked to emotional abuse (Papeghin, 2012). According to Evan, nothing is great to him, and everything sucks except doing evil things.


Evan engages in negative behaviors that attract trouble, and these acts create feelings of fear among the people in his environment. His mother does not understand him, his father cannot control him, and his teachers are afraid of him. Hence, he is left to struggle with the emotional tortures that torment him since no one understands nor is courageous enough to tame his bad behaviors. He lights up the fire just to see how it burns; in this case, we see the destructive side of him because fire is a sign of danger and if not supervised, it might result in massive destruction of both life and property . Furthermore; he attacked a young boy nearly choking him to death, he tries to cash out his father's cheque without his knowledge, he pours paint in his teacher's office and also flees from school after he is busted smoking. Surprisingly, the film's title is entirely the opposite of the real situation since Evan is not the one with the problem, but his parents Mike and Karin are the roots to their son's problem (Papeghin, 2012). Besides recording Evan's weird behaviors, the secret cameras often recorded Mike and Karin arguing and shouting at each other and directing their feelings of anger to Evan who is their firstborn and only son.

Factors that Lead to Juvenile Offenses

The contributing factors to juvenile crime may include poor education performances, poor upbringing, substance abuse, disadvantaged socioeconomic status, low school attendance, and depression. Various teams of behavioral researchers have linked poor education performances to delinquency since early aggressive characters often result in difficulties in the classroom (Hlavaty, 2011). Such behaviors are common with children who demand freedom at early ages, and if denied, they often flee to the streets to escape parental supervision. For instance, a young boy who just wants to remain at home and skip school can become rebellious if his parents force him to attend classes. Often, such kids do not attend classes because only their bodies are physically present in class, but their minds are absent. In a situation whereby a particular child holds the bottom positions in a sequence, he or she fails to see the importance of attending class. In the quest to draw attention, he or she will often engage in inappropriate behaviors, and if not monitored, these acts escalate to real adulthood problems. Poor upbringing is also a major contributing factor as the saying Spare the Rod Spoil the Child implies. Parental supervision is fundamental to bend a child's behaviors morally. Parents should instill discipline in their children at early childhood stages to nurture their behaviors as they transition from childhood to adulthood (Hlavaty, 2011). A child is like a new computer, the programs installed in it determine how it functions.

Substance abuse not only affects adults but also negatively impacts vulnerable minors; probably, the children of drug abusers. Like in Evan's case, he was busted smoking at school, and the teachers linked his bad characters to drugs while in the real sense, Evan tried to find solace from the drug. According to numerous researches on the issue of drug abuse, the majority of users have confessed that these drugs give them inner peace and drain away their sorrows, at least, for a short while (Hlavaty, 2011). In as much as one may seek solace from various substances, they become enslaved to their habits and get addicted to drugs. About the short video, it is clear that Evan is raised in a disadvantaged socioeconomic background; his father Mike is a welder while Karin, his mother is a receptionist. Their careers are not that lucrative, and this points to the financial instability at his home; furthermore, he is not the only child as he has a baby sister, Kimberly. His family's social status is weak as witnessed in the recordings in the film; his parents often engage in unhealthy confrontations regardless of their childrens presence, and these acts exposers them to mental and psychological tortures. Besides, Mike confesses to administer corporal punishment on Evan in countless occasions and often causing physical harm to his body. Corporal punishment can only be utilized as a last resort to instilling discipline on a child; if misused, the child becomes immune and rebellious to physical pain which causes them to worsen their bad characters (Hlavaty, 2011). Lastly, depression can be dangerous if not tamed at its early stages; for instance, Evan often spent time alone and became antisocial. The problem later escalated and began to manifest in his behaviors that, in turn, were perceived to be mischief while they were just attention seeking traits.

Differences and Similarities between Juvenile and Criminal Justice Systems

It is important to note that the cases involving minors are handled with special approaches as compared to adult criminal cases. Children's cases are given maximum privacy, and only authorized persons can attend the hearing to prevent stigmatization while criminal cases are set on the public domain, and anyone can attend the trial. The juvenile justice system operates on psychological approach tracing the history of the offender to determine his or her specific needs (Bartol, & Bartol, 2017). In the case of an adult criminal case, the offender is fully put on trial and is sued on legal facts; however, the defendant can be put on psychological tests in cases whereby he or she proofs to be mentally disturbed and unfit to stand trial. In the juvenile justice system, the offender is judged delinquent as compared to the adult criminal case where the defendant is either found innocent or guilty of the filed charges (Papeghin, 2012). In juvenile, parole care is focused on re-integrating the child back into the society while in a criminal case; it is mainly aimed at identifying unlawful acts to determine whether the offender has reformed.

In both justice systems, the defendant whether a minor or an adult has the right to question the witnesses testifying against him or her and the accusers must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the respective offense. The defendant has a right to an attorney, and he or she is perceived as innocent until proven guilty of the filed charges. In specified cases, a minor can be presented in an adult court to face trial if he or she committed high voltage offenses such as arson or murder. Conclusively, it is important to prevent the occurrences of criminal behaviors in early childhood stages rather than healing the outcomes of reluctance. Parents should tame their childrens behaviors and bend them to observe the moral standards in the society as this will go a long way in curbing the rise of minor and adult criminals.



Hlavaty, K. (2011). Adolescent Positive and Negative Behavior and the Impact on the Transition to Adulthood. 1-32.

Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2017). Criminal behavior: A psychological approach.

Papeghin, M. (2012). The Trouble With Evan [Video file]. Retrieved from


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