Essay: The best way to reduce juvenile crime is to counsel the offender’s parents. Do you agree?

General Paper (GP) Tuition & O level English Tuition specialists

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While less popular these days, Crime and Punishment is still taught as a GP topic in some schools and touched upon in secondary schools. One area of discussion is the effectiveness of punishments and the means to address deviant behaviour. In this case, we will examine an essay question that requires the students to evaluate a specific strategy and be alert to the conditional keyword, ‘best’.

(Sample GP Tuition and O level English tuition points)

Analysis and pointers for the sample question:

Firstly, the key word “best” implies that the question requires some form of comparison and justification with other methods. Why? Failure to do so and merely writing a pros / cons essay or the benefits of counseling the offender’s parents do not justify if such a method is indeed the best.
For example, asking whether your CCA is the best is not the same as me asking you about the strengths and flaws of your CCA. Therefore, the points raised by the student need to consider how this method does deliver results (or not) and more importantly, whether it is more effective than other methods.

Possible Approaches:

What causes juvenile crime? How does counseling the offender’s parents address these issues?

Sometimes students like to quote stats. In this case, we can come up with a relevant but not the strongest of points such as:
There is no strong statistical evidence, either provided by MOE or counselors, that proves beyond a doubt (remember! need to show it is the best), that counselling an offender’s parents leads to less repeat offenders. (further elaboration needed in the actual essay)

Questioning the assumption:
The effectiveness of counselling an offender’s parents is based on the assumption that the parents are willing to aid in the reformation of their child. Studies have shown that a noticeable percentage of juvenile delinquents and offenders come from homes that are broken, or have parents who are offenders themselves. (clearer sources need to be shown in an actual essay).

Further evaluation: This could either a) lead to parents being more aware of the consequences of his/her actions and will subsequently prevent the child from committing the same error or  b) have questionable effectiveness since the family situation is part of the root cause of the issue and without close monitoring and follow-up, counselling will not work with negligent parents.

Supporting arguments: (please see tuition notes)

Examination of the key term:

Use of the word “best”. To obtain the higher band marks, students must engage the key terms in the question. Justifying that something is “best” requires some form of comparison with other methods and not simply writing the pros and cons of counselling the offender’s parents. Students should therefore brainstorm what other methods are there to reduce juvenile crime and weight its effectiveness against the main method suggested in the question.

For example, students could consider the most direct means such as a strong deterrence or very harsh punishment. Is that more effective than counselling the offender’s parents? If yes, why?

GP Tuition and O-level English tuition classes will also cover other aspects that will help develop this into a full fledge essay such as organisation of content and strategic use of counter-arguments/rebuttals. Students will also be briefed on how to avoid pitfalls such as Hijacking the Question and Elaborating with Analysis.


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