Posted: July 7th, 2022
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The paper must include the concepts of juvenile delinquency and demonstrate an
understanding of the content and internal logic of the theories and premises applied to juvenile
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Juvenile delinquency has become a major concern in the field of criminology. Adolescents have developed violent practices that hamper the social values and norms of the society. The deviant practices have led to social distress and decimation of virtues thus leading to an alarming rate of crimes. For example, juvenile involvement in gangs has been a problem in the United States for many years. The juvenile systems have also been unable to deal with this problem as it has continued increasing rampantly. Prison officers also believe that incarceration is a driving force for juveniles to become members of a particular gang. For instance, about two percent of the general population in the United States are active members of the juveniles that have been incarcerated (Bates, & Swan, 2019). It is believed that the youth join the gang for many reasons, which most are tied back to not having a place to belong. Thus, juveniles with little control of their lives often find the power that gangs hold in the community very appealing. Therefore, the main aim of this paper will be to examine the concepts of juvenile delinquency, its theory, and the premises applied in juvenile delinquency.
Definition of juvenile delinquency
Delinquency originates from the Latin word “delinquere” to mean abandon or leave. It was used to refer to the parents that abandoned their children. In the modern world, it is applied to those children who engage in crimes and other illegal practices. Juvenile is also viewed as a kid who has violated certain laws of a country, thus declaring his or her act as an offense. Therefore, juvenile delinquency is the involvement of a minor between the ages of 10 and 17 in any illegal practices (Bates, & Swan, 2019). It also refers to children who show persistent behavior of disobedience and are out of parental control, subsequently getting subjected to legal action in a court of law.
Concepts of juvenile delinquency
There are two types of juvenile offenders who have committed a crime: repeat wrongdoers and age specific perpetrators. The repeat wrongdoers give solitary indications at an early age. They frequently keep on taking part in wrongdoing or give indications of animosity even into their adulthood. On the other hand, age specific perpetrators start during pre-adulthood stage. The practices and indications of hostility closes before the delinquent turns into an adult. They often have more mental problems, abuse drugs, and have financial problems after they become adults. There are risk factors that may indicate that the child could end up engaging in crimes: violation of rules, serous aggression behaviors towards other students, and slow development of speech (Bates, & Swan, 2019). The juvenile offenders range from those who do not obey their parents to those who engage in serious crimes such as murder.
From a legal perspective, almost all minors could be considered delinquents since most youths engage in at least one crime at some point in their teenage years. For instance, research conducted shows that approximately 80% of high school seniors reported being abusing alcohol, while 45% were using marijuana while in school (Bates, & Swan, 2019). The percentage of teenagers who disobeyed their parents and are incarcerated is even higher. The legal definition does not also make the difference between who was caught engaging in crime or who engage in crime. It does not also mean that those who caught up engaging in illegal behaviors end up being incarcerated. However, labeling a child a juvenile delinquent would cause the individual to see themselves as thieves or troublemakers, thus leading to rejections and restrictions to some opportunities, thus increasing the likelihood of involving themselves in gangs or illegal activities.
Major factors contributing to juvenile delinquencies
Peer pressure is the impact that a social gathering applies on someone in particular. It turns into a troubling social issue as most youngsters take peer groups as their role model. How a child behaves is dependent on groups that he or she is associating with. For example, peer pressure is the main reason why most adolescents join various gang groups. There is also the need to feel like they belong to a particular group. Gang affiliation is something that parents and officers ought to take into consideration. For instance, nine out of ten juvenile detention facilities have reported having active juvenile gangs (Aizer, A., & Currie, 2019). This issue does not only affect the juvenile faculties but the community at large. The peer pressure for direct acquaintance can influence the juvenile to indulge in criminal activities. For instance, if all their friends are active members of a certain gang, the child may be influenced to join that particular group so that they are not left out. This happens because adolescents spend more time with their peers as compared to adults.
Thus, peers become delinquent by associating themselves with people who are carriers of criminal behaviors. Thus, studies indicate that criminal behaviors in teenagers are a result of social influence. Non-conformity to the norms and laws of society leads to the individuals getting arrested for their criminal behaviors. This is because society highly values conformity and expects them to be upheld and accepted by society’s members.
Substance abuse at an early age is the cause of juvenile delinquency. Children exposed to drugs frequently require basics needed to survive hence the main reason they often engage in crimes. Abuse of drugs such as alcohol and marijuana are considered as harmful. For instance, underage drinking is considered delinquent behavior. Young people who drink before they are of the right age often find themselves at a greater risk. They often place themselves at a greater risk of sexual assault or being involved in crimes. Once an adolescent engages himself or herself abusing drugs, it becomes hard for them to move beyond that life (Walker & Cesar, 2020). Drugs are said to cause irreversible damage to the prefrontal cortex responsible for judgment, decision making, and emotional control.
For this reason, drug abuse among adolescents has a long-term consequence. Substance abuse is often alienated from stigmatized by their peers. Abusing drugs causes adolescents to stop going to school and engage in violent behaviors.
Theories of juvenile delinquencies
Subculture theory, differential opportunity theory, and strain theory are the three common theories of juvenile delinquencies. The theories contain the social explanation of the cause of deviant behaviors among the juveniles.
Robert Merton initially developed the hypothesis in the 1940s. Merton claims that adolescent misconduct happens on the grounds that the young people do not have alternative means to fulfill their desires. Thus, they often find some goals unattainable, hence the main reason they commit crimes to achieve the goals. A good example is a youth with desires to buy a car (Featherstone & Deflem, 2015). Since the juvenile cannot find a job, he or she participates in illegal activities of either stealing a car or selling drugs. He also states that for the individual to cope with pressure, the individual adopts behavioral patterns such as conformity, innovation, ritualism, rebellion, or retreatism.
According to Merton, individuals with low social status often resort to criminal activities as they have fewer opportunities (Featherstone, & Deflem, 2015). His theory is practical. He states that people engage in criminal activities as they lack alternatives. This theory explains why criminality is only within the lower social class as it assumed that the upper class has other means of survival. Lack of education and job opportunities among the youth creates a strain towards anomies thus leading to deviance. He also stated that criminal subcultures tend to develop among the lower-class adolescents who live in neighborhoods with open illegitimate opportunities. For example, the successful criminal populates the neighborhood, serving as a role model for the growing children in society (Featherstone, & Deflem, 2015). Therefore, young people aspiring to be like the role models undergo a learning process to be like them. They acquire norms and skills to take advantage of the illegal business in the community.
Albert Cohen developed the subculture hypothesis in 1955. He claims that the mentalities and values that the youngsters learn are attained through the culture that they are raised in. For instance, youngsters from middle class families figure out how to go after status while kids from working class families figure out how to be nice and lack discipline. Fighting is more common in children from working-class families than in middle-class families. For this reason, the situation reaches a crisis in school as the children join various gangs. Cohen also states that the juveniles who do not meet the social standards seek validation from a subculture (Blackman, 2014). The subculture groups are also made of other juveniles who try not to fulfill the social guidelines.
Along these lines, the gatherings act in a way that they are not acknowledged in the community thus prompting resistance. As per Cohen, adolescent misconduct is the primary result of a delinquency (Blackman, 2014). Therefore, the young people perpetrate wrongdoings such as stealing not on the grounds that it is a social norm but since they do not fit in the general public. He additionally claims that the hypothesis of delinquent subculture developed as a reaction to working-class children’s issues and the loss of status that happened when they neglected to fulfill the standards of middle class.
Differential opportunity theory
This theory opposed Cohen’s approach that adolescents become delinquent when the young do not satisfy the cultural values. The hypothesis created by Lloyd Ohlin and Richard Cloward states that opportunity plays a crucial job in adolescent wrongdoing. The hypothesis expresses that if adolescents have more chances to succeed, then the probability of turning to subculture groups for validation would be minimal (Cloward & Ohlin, 2015). The theory also states that there can be other social factors that add to adolescent misconduct. For instance, a juvenile might be successful in class but fail to get employed (Cloward & Ohlin, 2015). Failure to get employed could lead the adolescent to be an offender. The hypothesis varies from the subculture hypothesis as it clarifies that there are reasons apart from social factors that can prompt an adolescent becoming a wrong doer.
In conclusion, regardless of gear, soil origins, or country, youths are subject to individual risks in the modern world. Youths often engage in illegal activities such as abusing drugs, using violence against their peers and committing various serious crimes. Adolescents are said to be the major victims of delinquent acts. They are victims as they want to join various subculture groups to seek validation and belong to a certain group. Therefore, parents and society can adopt various strategies to prevent criminal behaviors among adolescents through education and intervention. The goal of these programs is to educate them on the dangers of engaging in risky behaviors and drug abuse. Therefore, it is the role of the parent to educate the kids on the moral and ethical values of the society. They have the task of teaching the variations between the right and wrong behavior. If the juvenile is not trained at an early age, then more young people will be incarcerated thus leading to overcrowding in these facilities.
Aizer, A., & Currie, J. (2019). Lead and juvenile delinquency: new evidence from linked birth, school, and juvenile detention records. Review of Economics and Statistics, 101(4), 575-587.
Bates, K. A., & Swan, R. S. (2019). Juvenile delinquency in a diverse society. SAGE Publications, Incorporated.
Blackman, S. (2014). Subculture theory: An historical and contemporary assessment of the concept for understanding deviance. Deviant behavior, 35(6), 496-512.
Cloward, R. A., & Ohlin, L. (2015). Differential opportunity and delinquent subcultures. Deviance: A Symbolic Interactionist Approach, 52-60.
Featherstone, R., & Deflem, M. (2015). Anomie and strain: Context and consequences of Merton’s two theories. Sociological Inquiry, 73(4), 471-489.
Walker, D. A., & Cesar, G. T. (2020). Examining the “Gang Penalty” in the Juvenile Justice System: A Focal Concerns Perspective. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 1541204020916238
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