Juvenile Delinquency

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)

Text of Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile Delinquency

The Act of antisocial Behavior







INTRODUCTION In today's society, the problem of juvenile delinquency is running more rampant than ever before. Also, the degrees to which it occurs are far more serious than they were, even ten years ago. The problem used to be over-simplified and chalked up to "kids will be kids", but today's "kids" are contributing to much more serious crimes than they used to. One statistic states that youths under the age of 18 years accounted for 15.4% of arrests for violent crimes and 33.5% of arrests for property crimes in 1986.1 This statistic is more than ten years old, and with the increasing popularity of gang culture and substance abuse amongst young people, it would be safe to assume that these statistics have either increased, or at the very least, remained the same. With numbers as high as they are, delinquency amongst youths must be seen as a social problem that has to be dealt with soon, before it becomes even more out of control than it is right now. Before we can begin to try and treat this behavior, we must establish a cause for it. As with a physical illness, a cure cannot be obtained until a cause is determined, therefore we must uncover the underlying factors that cause this behaviour, and then work fro. DEFINITION Delinquency as defined by Friedlander, is a juvenile misconduct that might we dealt with under the law. Cyril Burt defines delinquency as occurring in a child when his anti-social tendencies appear so grave that he becomes or ought to become the subject of official action. William H. Sheldon regards delinquency as behaviour disappointing beyond reasonable expectations. JUVENILE DELINQUENCY Juvenile delinquency refers to criminal acts performed by juveniles. Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers. There are a multitude of different theories on the causes of crime, most if not all of which can be applied to the causes of youth crime. Youth crime is an aspect of crime which receives great attention from the news media and politicians. Crime committed by young people has risen since the mid-twentieth century, as have most types of crime. The level and types of youth crime can be used by commentators as an indicator of the general state of morality and law and order in a country, and consequently youth crime can be the source of moral panics Theories on the causes of youth crime can be viewed as particularly important within criminology. This is firstly because crime is committed disproportionately by those aged between fifteen and twenty-five. Secondly, by definition any theories on the causes of crime will focus on youth crime, as adult criminals will have likely started offending when they were young. A Juvenile Delinquent is one who repeatedly commits crime, however these juvenile delinquents could most likely have mental disorders/behavioral issues such as schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder, conduct disorder or bipolar disorder.

PREVALENCE 20% of all children and youth are at some time officially delinquent.


Poverty Many youth are forced into delinquent activities because of a social disadvantage .RATIONAL CHOICE Classical criminology stresses that causes of crime lie within the individual offender, rather than in their external environment. For classicists, offenders are motivated by rational self-interest, and the importance of free will and personal responsibility is emphasised. Rational choice theory is the clearest example of this approach.

SOCIAL DISORGANIZATION Current positivist approaches generally focus on the Culture, which would produce the breakdown of family relationships and community, competing values, and increasing Individualism. Studies also show only 16 in every 100 kids will do something bad opposed to adult 26 in 100 will do something bad or illegal. STRAIN Strain theory is associated mainly with the work of Robert Merton. He felt that there are institutionalized paths to success in society. Strain theory holds that crime is caused by the difficulty those in poverty have in achieving socially valued goals by legitimate means. [1] As those with, for instance, poor educational attainment have difficulty achieving wealth and status by securing well paid employment, they are more likely to use criminal means to obtain these goals. Merton's suggests five adaptations to this dilemma: 1. Innovation: individuals who accept socially approved goals, but not necessarily the socially approved means. 2. Retreatism: those who reject socially approved goals and the means for acquiring them. 3. Ritualism: those who buy into a system of socially approved means, but lose sight of the goals. Merton believed that drug users are in this category. 4. Conformity: those who conform to the system's means and goals. 5. Rebellion: people who negate socially approved goals and means by creating a new system of acceptable goals and means. A difficulty with strain theory is that it does not explore why children of lowincome families would have poor educational attainment in the first place. More importantly is the fact that much youth crime does not have an economic motivation. Strain theory fails to explain violent crime, the type of youth crime which causes most anxiety to the public. SUBCULTURAL Related to strain theory is subcultural theory. The inability of youths to achieve socially valued status and goals results in groups of young people forming deviant or delinquent subcultures, which have their own values and norms. (Eadie & Morley: 2003 p.552) Within these groups criminal behaviour may actually be valued, and increase a youths status. (Walklate: 2003 p.22) The notion of delinquent 2subcultures is relevant for crimes that are not economically motivated. Male gang members could be argued to have their own values, such as respect for fighting ability and daring. However it is not clear how different this makes them from ordinary non-lawbreaking young men. Furthermore there is no explanation of why people unable to achieve socially valued goals should necessarily choose criminal substitutes. Subcultural theories have been criticised for making too sharp a distinction between what is deviant and what is normal. (Brown: 1998 p.23) There are also doubts about whether young people consciously reject mainstream values. (Brown: 1998 p.23)

DIFFERENTIAL ASSOCIATION The theory of Differential association also deals with young people in a group context, and looks at how peer pressure and the existence of gangs could lead them into crime. It suggests young people are motivated to commit crimes by delinquent peers, and learn criminal skills from them. The diminished influence of peers after men marry has also been cited as a factor in desisting from offending. There is strong evidence that young people with criminal friends are more likely to commit crimes themselves. However it may be the case that offenders prefer to associate with one another, rather than delinquent peers causing someone to start offending. Furthermore there is the question of how the delinquent peer group became delinquent initially.

LABELING Labeling theory states that once young people have been labeled as criminal they are more likely to offend. (Eadie & Morley: 2003 p.552) The idea is that once labelled as deviant a young person may accept that role, and be more likely to associate with others who have been similarly labelled. (Eadie & Morley: 2003 p.552) Labelling theorists say that male children from poor families are more likely to be labelled deviant, and that this may partially explain why there are more lower-class young male offenders. (Walklate: 2003 p. 24)

MALE PHENOMENON Youth crime is disproportionately committed by young men. Feminist theorists and others have examined why this is the case. (Eadie & Morley: 2003 p.553) One suggestion is that ideas of masculinity may make young men more likely to offend. Being tough, powerful, aggressive, daring and competitive may be a way of young men expressing their masculinity. (Brown: 1998 p.109) Acting out these ideals may make young men more likely to engage in antisocial and criminal behaviour. (Walklate: 2003 p. 83) Alternatively, rather than young men acting as they do because of societal pressure to conform to masculine ideals; young men may actually be naturally more aggressive, daring etc. As well as biological or psychological factors, the way young men are treated by their parents may make them more susceptible to offending. (Walklate: 2003 p. 35) According to a study led by Florida State University criminologist Kevin M. Beaver, adolescent males who possess a certain type of variation in a specific gene are more likely to flock to delinquent peers. The study, which appears in the September 2008 issue of the Journal of Genetic Psychology, is the first to establish a statistically significant association between an affinity for antisocial peer groups and a particular variation (called the 10-repeat allele) of the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1).



SUBSTANCE ABUSE Behavior that contribute to health risks


Gangs often engage in illegal monetary activities and are committed to criminal orientations.

Public and Private Vandalism

These are malicious and deliberate defacement or destruction of both public and privat