Juvenile delinquency Research Essay

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Juvenile delinquency is when a kid between the ages of 10 and 11 engages in illegal, disobedient, or out of control behaviors that put them in the legal system's crosshairs. adolescent offending is another term for adolescent delinquency. Legal processes for dealing with adult offenders differ from those used in the criminal prosecution of juvenile offenders. These behaviors by minors are viewed as delinquent behaviors rather than crimes. However, if a minor committed a severe crime, the justice system may charge them as an adult.(Meyer 14)

Children between the ages of 6 and 12 are frequently assigned the designation of juvenile delinquent. At their preteen ages, most of the juvenile behaviors’ are considered normal since the children are stretching their boundaries and are going through a journey of self-discovery. However, signs of these behaviors’ are pointers that the child is heading towards the wrong direction. Such predictors of juvenile delinquents may include slow development of basic skills like language, aggressive behavior and a chronic violation of rules.

Juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention efforts basically encompasses identification of the risk factors that eventually leads to delinquency, dealing with those factors promptly and early and by finally building a safe environment to offset the risks. (Shoemaker 77)Research on development of delinquent behavior suggest that individual, social and community conditions and their interactions with the child are the main factors that lead to delinquent behavior or lack of it. Behavior, which includes delinquent and antisocial behavior, is a complex mix of genetic factors, individual factors and environmental factors tracing right from fetal development. This complex mix is what shapes how a child behaves as he grows to maturity.

Interestingly, many children grow to maturity without in the face of several risks without getting involved in any serious delinquent behavior. .(Meyer 56) This serves to show that risk factors are only helpful in helping to identify the children in most need for preventive intervention rather than pinpoint exactly which children are likely to become chronic or repeat offenders. It has also been observed that most adult criminals were involved in delinquent behavior in their formative years; most delinquent children, however, do not turn out to be adult criminals.

In addition, it has been noted that the most chronically delinquent children experience several risk factors at different levels, but most children in an exposed and risky environment do not turn out to become chronic delinquent juveniles (Siegel, 84). it’s also worth noting that any individual factor only plays a small part in increasing the risk. It also goes without saying that the more risk factors a child is exposed to the higher their risk for delinquent behavior. I will analyze the risk factors from the individual level (biological, cognitive and behavioral), social (family and peers) and finally from the community level (school and neighborhood). Each level is discussed separately for clarity.

Individual factors

Individual factors include age, gender, impulsivity, aggressiveness, substance use and complications during pregnancy or birth. These factors play their tales in different stages of the life of the child where the child is struggling with the particular factor in play.

Studies on criminal activity indicate that there is an increase offences in early adolescence, peaks during late adolescence and reduce through youth. Early delinquent (before adolescence) are more likely to be serious offenders than later delinquents. Adolescents desist from delinquent behavior as they enter adulthood due to an attachment to school, incarceration, jobs and adult attachments marriage. (Meyer 43)Furthermore, boys are more twice more likely to be involved in delinquent behavior than girls. Additionally adolescents who engage in substance abuse engage in more serious delinquent behaiiour and are more likely to get punished. More than 70% of arrested juvenile delinquents tested positive of drug and alcohol abuse showing that substance abuse increase. Additionally, family characteristics like poverty, parental alcoholism and supervision increase likelihood of childhood delinquency. Aggressive children and those who throw tantrums are also to more likely to engage in delinquent behavior.

Mental health disorders like ADHD also put children at risk for future delinquent behavior. General conduct disorders like lying and bullying point at a troublesome child and not necessarily illegal behavior. In girls, misconduct is interpreted as frustration, low self-esteem and a show of hopelessness which is manifested by antisocial behavior ending up as depression.(shoemaker 33)

Social factors

Interactions between children with their peers and families influence their behavioral development and delinquency. Family interactions are most important during early childhood while peer interactions supersede family during adolescents. Western cultures place the responsibility of raising children to follow societal norms and rules for acceptable behavior. Families with a history of separation or divorce are more likely to have children engaging in juvenile delinquency (Siegel 66). Children born and raised by single parents are also associated with a higher risk of delinquency and antisocial behavior. This is caused by difficulties in socio economic conditions, disciplinary styles and monitoring children by single parents. Children born to teenage mothers are also more likely to not only be delinquent but also chronic juvenile offenders. This is accounted for by poverty, lack of education and poor parenthood by teenage mothers. (Meyer 29)

Large families also record more cases of child delinquency. A study by Farringdon concluded that children raised in families of four or more children are at an increased risk of delinquency. This is because larger families are associated with inadequate discipline and supervision. The influence neighborhoods have on children should also be considered given that children draw their perception of what is acceptable behavior from their neighborhoods. Communities that tolerate gang activities give the children in the surrounding areas the perception that criminal behavior is acceptable and justifiable. The values of good and bad from the community and neighborhood shape a child’s perception of the societal norms of right and wrong.

During adolescence peers spend a lot of time together and the value and regard that they have on each other therefore increases. At age 18, the opinions of peers no longer bears the weight it initially and this is consistent with the fact that after age 18, there is remarkable decrease in delinquency. moreover, its acknowledged that adolescents become involved with delinquent age mates before they personally experiment on delinquency themselves.it has been noted, furthermore that with consistent discipline, affection and supervision from parents the effect peer groups hold over adolescents can be minimized(Siegel 47).

Where a family resides also plays a crucial role in determining whether a child will be delinquent or not. The social setting dictates the types of opportunities available for the children. Some communities provide their kids with the opportunities for education and career while other communities provide the children with back alleys where they can obtain drugs or even mug someone for the next day’s meal. In addition, neighborhoods influence children by setting the value of what’s right and wrong, the societal norms of acceptable behavior. Parents however can play a key role in ensuring their kids stay in line through constant supervision and maintaining high standards of discipline. Children raised by parents who neglect them are more susceptible to influence by the community (Shoemaker 68).

The time adolescents spend with each other increases during adolescence and drastically drops as they approach 18. This phenomenon goes hand in hand with the fact that rates of child delinquency drops as the children approach age 18. Peers also play a remarkably important role in delinquency of juveniles given that adolescents become involved with groups of delinquent peers before they become delinquent themselves (Meyer 74).

Residential neighborhoods have also been proven by existing research to be a contributing factor for delinquency among juveniles. Adverse neighborhoods trigger the children living within to venture into criminal activity. Children living in areas stricken by poverty and high crime rates have higher risks of involvement in crime and delinquent behavior.

Effects of juvenile delinquency.

The victims of the young offenders are those who have the most to lose. Whichever type of delinquency be it theft, vandalism or looting, the victim suffers physical and psychological pain. The property of the victims may also be destroyed by the delinquents. The juvenile who commits the crime also suffers unforeseeable repercussions (Siegel 36). The consequences may vary from loss of freedom due to incarceration or probation to future consequences on the college and career choices on the table. In some cases, repeat offenders aged over 14 years may be tried as adults.

The families whose members are delinquents experience trauma, instability and go through a lot of trouble for their delinquent children. The family has to be there emotionally for the troubled member in addition to paying hefty legal fees. The family also has to ethically be responsible for the victims of the child’s crime.

The community suffers the consequences of juvenile delinquency since juvenile delinquency, alcohol and substance abuse, gang involvement and indecent sexual behavior are all ills that are correlated. All these societal ills prove to be a challenge on the community unsafe neighborhoods whose members are on drugs are less productive. Moreover, lesser opportunities to develop individual skills and talents exist in gang controlled neighborhoods. These ills also contribute to teenage pregnancy, addiction and depression that in its worst form leads to death (Shoemaker 62).

Anomie theory

This theory was created by Merton in 1957 and stresses the relationship between goals and legitimate means of attaining them. Merton urges that delinquents get involved in delinquent behavior since they have goals but lack the socially acceptable means to achieve them. He further urges that people in society share similar goals and ambitions but however do not share the means of attaining them. (Siegel 90)This theory further explains why members of the lower class express more delinquent behavior than their privileged counterparts by stating that this class substitutes the legitimate means of attaining their goals with illegitimate means such as theft

Subcultural theory

Cohen developed the subculture theory in 1955. When children fail to meet the standards and expectations of their culture, they get involved with a delinquent subculture. The subculture provides children with a redemption from the frustration of not belonging to a group or class. The subculture will naturally express contempt for the norms and is the complete opposite of societal norms and values (Meyer 65).

Differential opportunity.

Cloward and Ohlin argue that in order to understand delinquent behavior you have to first consider the illegitimate opportunities available for those seeking a way out of the lower class. Often three responses, each leading to its own subculture; criminal, retreats and conflict. The criminal subculture id the most promising opportunity though is illegal. Conflict disrupts both legitimate and illegitimate businesses (Shoemaker 43). Retreatist subculture includes the adolescents who have failed in the legitimate and illegitimate opportunities and resort to drug abuse and other forms of escape.

Works cited

Shoemaker, Donald J. Juvenile Delinquency. , 2013. Print.

SIEGEL, LARRY J. Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law. Place of publication not identified: WADSWORTH, 2017. Print.

Meyer, Jon'a, Joseph G. Weis, and Weis-Crutchfield-Bridges. Juvenile Delinquency: Readings. Boston [u.a.: Pine Forge Press, 2001. Print.

July 15, 2023
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Crime Law

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Law Enforcement

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