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7.7D: Juvenile Crime

Juvenile delinquency is participation in illegal behaviors by minors. A juvenile delinquent is typically under the age of 18.

 

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

 

Describe the factors that influence the development of delinquency in youth and the ways the legal system deals with this delinquency

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

 

  • A juvenile delinquent is a person who is typically under the age of 18 and commits an act that otherwise would have been charged as a crime had they been an adult.
  • There are three categories of juvenile delinquency: delinquency, criminal behavior, and status offenses. Delinquency includes crimes committed by minors which are dealt with by the juvenile courts and justice system.
  • Criminal behavior are crimes dealt with by the criminal justice system.
  • Status offenses are offenses which are only classified as such because the person is a minor; they also dealt with by the juvenile courts.
  • Poverty is a large predictor of low parental monitoring, harsh parenting, and association with deviant peer groups, all of which are in turn associated with juvenile offending. Family factors also have an influence on delinquency.
  • Delinquency prevention is the broad term for all efforts aimed at preventing youth from becoming involved in criminal or other antisocial activity.
  • Poverty is a large predictor of low parental monitoring, harsh parenting, and association with deviant peer groups, all of which are in turn associated with juvenile offending.
  • Family factors which may have an influence on offending include: the level of parental supervision, the way parents discipline a child, particularly harsh punishment, parental conflict or separation, criminal parents or siblings, parental abuse or neglect, and the quality of the parent-child relationship
  • Delinquency prevention is the broad term for all efforts aimed at preventing youth from becoming involved in criminal, or other antisocial, activity.

 

Key Terms

 

  • Delinquency Prevention: Delinquency prevention is the broad term for all efforts aimed at preventing youth from becoming involved in criminal or other antisocial activity. Prevention services may include activities such as substance abuse education and treatment, family counseling, youth mentoring, parenting education, educational support, and youth sheltering. Increasing availability and use of family planning services, including education and contraceptives helps to reduce unintended pregnancy and unwanted births, which are risk factors for delinquency.
  • Status Offenses: A status offense is an action that is prohibited only to a certain class of people, and most often applied to offenses only committed by minors.
  • juvenile delinquency: Participation in illegal behaviour by minors.

 

Juvenile Delinquency

 

Juvenile delinquency is participation in illegal behavior by minors. Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers and courts. A juvenile delinquent is a person who is typically under the age of 18 and commits an act that would have otherwise been charged as a crime if the minor was an adult. Depending on the type and severity of the offense committed, it is possible for persons under 18 to be charged and tried as adults.

Juvenile delinquency can be separated into three categories:

  1. Delinquency: crimes committed by minors that are dealt with by the juvenile courts and justice system;
  2. Criminal behavior: crimes dealt with by the criminal justice system;
  3. Status offenses: offenses which are only classified as such because one is a minor, such as truancy, also dealt with by the juvenile courts.

Young men disproportionately commit juvenile delinquency. Feminist theorists and others have examined why this is the case. One suggestion is that ideas of masculinity may make young men more likely to offend. Being tough, powerful, aggressive, daring, and competitive becomes a way for young men to assert and express their masculinity. Alternatively, young men may actually be naturally more aggressive, daring, and prone to risk-taking. 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 appeared 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).

There is also a significant skew in the racial statistics for juvenile offenders. When considering these statistics, which state that Black and Latino teens are more likely to commit juvenile offenses, it is important to keep the following in mind: poverty is a large predictor of low parental monitoring, harsh parenting, and association with deviant peer groups, all of which are in turn associated with juvenile offending. The majority of adolescents who live in poverty are racial minorities.

Family factors that may have an influence on offending include:

  • the level of parental supervision,
  • the way parents discipline a child,
  • particularly harsh punishment,
  • parental conflict or separation,
  • criminal parents or siblings,
  • parental abuse or neglect,
  • the quality of the parent-child relationship.

Delinquency prevention is the broad term for all efforts aimed at preventing youth from becoming involved in criminal or other antisocial activity. Because the development of delinquency in youth is influenced by numerous factors, prevention efforts need to be comprehensive in scope. Prevention services may include activities like substance abuse education and treatment, family counseling, youth mentoring, parenting education, educational support, and youth sheltering. Increasing availability and use of family planning services, including education and contraceptives, helps to reduce unintended pregnancy and unwanted births—which are risk factors for delinquency.

Juvenile Delinquency: Juvenile delinquency refers to antisocial or illegal behavior by children or adolescents, 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.

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Cure Juvenile Delinquency by Planned Housing: Poster promoting planned housing as a method to deter juvenile delinquency, showing silhouettes of a child stealing a piece of fruit and as an older minor involved in armed robbery.