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Juvenile delinquency from the perspective of socialization and social control, tingting zhang.
1 Guangdong University of Petrochemical Technology, Maoming 525000, Guangdong, China
2 Faculty of Law, Macao University of Science and Technology, Aomen, China
This article does not cover data research. No data were used to support this study.
In recent years, the crime rate of minors in our country has risen steadily, laying a hidden danger for the harmonious and orderly development of the country and society. The healthy growth of teenagers is not only related to the harmony of a family and the future of a nation but also to the destiny of a country. Therefore, in order to ensure the healthy growth of young people and prevent juvenile delinquency, we should start with the causes of juvenile delinquency, identifying the core issues, so as to better study juvenile delinquency. In schools and families, strengthen the education of minors and guide them to develop positively. In terms of law, strengthen the supervision of minors to prevent them from breaking the law.
The phenomenon of juvenile delinquency can be defined from multiple angles. In criminology, juvenile delinquency generally refers to the phenomenon in which people under 14 and under 25 are punished for breaking the law. Sociology focuses on the study of juvenile delinquency.
2. Youth Cybercrime
Compared with ordinary juvenile delinquency, the age structure of juvenile cybercrime groups tends to be younger. For one thing, this is due to the different ways of committing crime. The tool for juvenile cybercrime is the computer network, which greatly reduces the age limit in terms of physical strength and access to tools. For another thing, ordinary computer operation does not have high requirements from people, and the average elementary school students are fluent and skilled enough to operate it [ 1 ]. Young people lack self-control and cognition of their behavior; therefore, the scale of juvenile cybercrime has expanded rapidly. With the continuous development of the age of science and technology, computer applications are becoming more and more popular, and the scope of juvenile cybercrime has rapidly spread from the city to the countryside. In China, there are a large number of left-behind children in rural areas, and the intensity of education management is much lower than that in cities. As more and more rural left-behind youths come into contact with the Internet world, their lives are monotonous and lonely, which have changed dramatically [ 2 ]. Young children are more likely to be “abetted” by criminals when they make calls on the Internet and contact unsafe and unhealthy information, which leads to the continuous expansion of the scale of juvenile cybercrime.
3. The Causes of Youth Cybercrime
3.1. weak will and a lack of the ability to identify right from wrong.
As shown in Figure 1 , when a person is in adolescence, he will be impulsive and self-willed because he lacks responsibility. In addition, their understanding of the law is far from normal. Teenagers have relatively weak willpower and are more prone to incitement by illegal information on the Internet [ 3 ]. Many criminals at home and abroad have pointed to immature young people, and the online platforms that young people often use are the worst-hit areas for bad information. However, due to their wrong understanding of new things, it is more likely to cause many serious consequences [ 4 ].
Causes of juvenile cybercrime.
3.2. Insufficient Supervision of Families and Schools, Not Paying Attention to the Cultivation of Legal Awareness
A good family environment and strong school supervision are often the basis for avoiding youth cybercrime. However, in this regard, schools and society lack real supervision and supervision. In particular, there is still a considerable gap between the current requirements for school legal education and the new requirements for school legal education in the Internet age [ 5 ]. The school lacks legal educators who are proficient in both business and network technology, which means they cannot help young people understand the network in a timely manner, abandon uncivilized and unhealthy online activities, and stop online criminal activities in a timely manner. The lack of discipline and legal awareness will lead children to make illegal activities on the network.
3.3. The Uneven Network Environment and a Lack of a Strong Supervision System
The supervision system is a system formed by a series of legal provisions and various provisions promulgated by the state to supervise the state organs and their staff's compliance with laws and disciplines in state management activities [ 6 ]. The supervision system includes a wide range of content, including not only the legislative, administrative, and judicial supervision of state organs but also the supervision of political parties, the masses, and public opinion. Today's Internet is full of vulgar, bloody, and violent content, including reactionary and inciting speech that has penetrated from abroad. Due to a lack of self-control and the ability to distinguish right from wrong, our teenagers have become the most easily accepted objects of such bad information on the Internet [ 7 ]. Today, we have to think deeply about issues such as school violence, youth violent crimes, and youth online reactionary comments.
4. Prevention and Treatment of Youth Cybercrime
With the frequent occurrence of juvenile cybercrime, how to prevent and control juvenile cybercrime has become a major issue of concern to all walks of life [ 8 ]. The author analyzes the characteristics and causes of juvenile cybercrime and puts forward the following prevention and control measures, as shown in Figure 2 .
Prevention and control of juvenile cybercrime.
4.1. Strengthening the Guidance Education for Young People and Cultivating Legal Awareness
For young people in a period of vague consciousness, their world outlook, values, and life views have not been fully established. Therefore, they need active and correct guidance and education from all walks of life [ 9 ]. Schools should develop specialized legal education to cultivate young people's good legal awareness and psychological quality and to eliminate the hidden dangers of crime. At the same time, young people should be educated in cybersecurity to increase their awareness and immunity against harmful information and cultivate their network behaviors and good network psychology [ 10 ].
4.2. Strengthening the Construction of Internet Culture and Creating a Good Network Environment for the Young People
Relevant departments should carry out “green network” activities for the whole society and prohibit users from posting vulgar, pornographic, violent, bloody, and other bad information on the network platform [ 11 ]. If any problems are found, the government will seize the illegal website and punish the relevant personnel. When departments are establishing a sound age classification system to prevent imperfect youths, they should also avoid premature contacting with inappropriate articles. Reasonable measures should be taken to prevent young people with improper concepts of right and wrong from being exposed to bad online information and provide them with a relatively good online environment [ 12 ].
4.3. Formulating Relevant Laws and Regulations to Combat Youth Cybercrime
The author believes that computer cybercrime, especially juvenile cybercrime, can be incorporated into the legislative focus in recent years. For one thing, a more comprehensive and scientific computer network legal system will be promulgated to form a set of reasonable and effective management systems to strengthen the management of cybercrime. For another thing, it is necessary to increase the crackdown on cybercrime against minors [ 13 ]. At present, laws and regulations are not enough to properly punish minors for cybercrime. Therefore, the author recommends that in order to prevent and control minors' cybercrime, the state should promulgate reasonable and perfect relevant network laws and regulations to increase the intensity of attacks on minors' cybercrime and maintain social stability.
5. Characteristics of the Times for Juvenile Delinquency
President Su of “ World Education Information ” pointed out the characteristics of the era of juvenile delinquency in our country during the interview.
5.1. Su Chunjing: The Current Situation of Juvenile Delinquency Is Mainly Manifested in the Following Six Points
First, the number of crimes has increased, and the environment is harsh. Juvenile delinquency almost involves the entire criminal field, among which theft, robbery, and provocations are the most common, especially new types of crimes such as online fraud and involvement in triad crimes. Secondly, the causes of crime are simple, which are sudden and blind. Due to lack of social experience and strong rebellious psychology, young people have poor self-control abilities and are prone to impulses [ 14 ]. Third, the crime committed is obviously younger. Since the 1990s, juvenile delinquency in my country has become significantly younger. The fourth is the occurrence of criminal methods towards high-tech crime. With the development and popularization of science and technology, the phenomenon of young people using high-tech or technological products to commit crimes is increasing [ 15 ]. Fifth, gang crime has increased, and the trend of grouping is obvious. Sixth, juvenile offenders are mostly children from divorced and poor families. In judicial practice, juvenile offenders have more children from divorced and poor families, who are generally low in education and weak in legal awareness [ 16 ].
5.2. Four Stages of Juvenile Delinquents' Growth Trajectory
The first is bad behavior. Juvenile delinquency often starts with low-level bad behaviors, including smoking, alcoholism, skipping classes, addiction to the Internet, participating in gambling, watching pornographic violence or reading materials, running away from home for no reason at night, running away from home, and so on. The second is illegal. Due to weak supervision or disobedience of the teacher's teaching, the seriousness of minor crimes has gradually increased, and there have been illegal acts such as fights, robberies, and theft. The third is crime. If a minor commits a crime, which cannot be corrected in time, he will constitute making mistakes [ 17 ]. The fourth is a serious crime. Criminology considers intentional killing, intentional injury to cause serious injury or death, rape, robbery, drug trafficking, arson, explosions, and poisoning as serious crimes. If minors do not repent after committing multiple crimes, they will most likely commit serious crimes in the end [ 18 ].
6. Research Situation of Youth Social Education at Home and Abroad
6.1. development of social education of young people abroad.
Before the 16th century, when society helped vulnerable groups, whether it was economic or material, the week would be divided into youth groups and adult groups. After the 16th century, people must not only serve the disadvantaged groups but also gradually extend the service to all children and adolescents [ 19 ]. Due to the early development and rich experience of Germany and the United States, the level of social education development is relatively high. For example, Germany clearly stipulates in the “ Juvenile Protection Law ” that children aged 4–18 must be systematically and comprehensively educated in health. The clear provisions of this law prompt German governments at all levels to attach importance to health education [ 20 ]. There are state institutions and many professional organizations in society.
Social education in Asia started late, and Japanese social education occupies an important position in their education system, which is closely related to the importance of the government. In the middle and late last century, the concept of lifelong education began to spread in the Japanese education community [ 21 ]. Therefore, more and more people of insight in Japan realize that social education and school education are inseparable for personal development.
6.2. Youth Social Education Development in Our Country
Compared with other countries in Asia, our country's social education is better, but compared with the old developed countries, there is still much room for improvement. From the perspective of historical and cultural processes, as early as China's primitive society, there has been a relevant social education [ 22 ]. The ancient Chinese peasant economy paid attention to learning and researching practical technologies, such as firewood and fire, Shennong farming education, and so on, which are social education of social education. In current society, the development of social education in Hong Kong, Shandong province, and other places is relatively prominent. For example, Hong Kong advocates a new social education model, with theory first. Therefore, in the study of social education theory, Hong Kong has strengthened its research on western successful models and regarded social workers as the main advocates of social education [ 23 ]. It opposes multiple educational models that use NGOs and social media as a means of publicity and education.
7. The Necessity of Social Work Intervention
7.1. theoretical aspects.
From the perspective of China, its society is in a critical period of transformation. Social change conflicts with the individual's original three views, the formed way of thinking, and habitual behavior, which makes the socialization of adolescents endlessly difficult. Based on this background, more and more scholars regard youth social education as the main research object. Since reform and opening up, the current status of social education has improved significantly. The purpose of youth social education is to help them better integrate into social life. This requires that in the education of young people, it is necessary to ensure the improvement of adolescents' practical ability and the integrity of their socialization. At the same time, this kind of education should be combined with school classrooms and parent family education.
Judging from the time effect of the existing social work intervention in the social education for adolescents, social work can largely standardize works and promote the formation of the social education system.
As early as the second half of the last century, scholars in developed Western countries believed that social education was equivalent to social work. They consider that social education is “the science of social work.” Therefore, the essence of social education is that the target of social work is the youth group. The purpose is to let young people understand social work through social work methods. The goal and content of social work are to understand the true value of social work so that after learning social work, adolescents can use corresponding methods to analyze social behavior so as to achieve the purpose of learning about society, understanding society, and integrating into society. Therefore, social work and education are inseparable, and social work is of great significance in the practice of education.
According to Figure 3 , it can be found that the crime rate of junior high school students is the highest, as high as 72%; the crime rate of high school students is the lowest, which is at 2%. When students receive education, it is not only the acquisition of knowledge but also the improvement and development of all aspects. They begin to learn and understand society and thus understand the inadmissibility of criminal behavior.
7.3. Current Situation and Problems of Youth Social Education
7.3.1. overall status of social education in our country.
Judging from the current status of social education development in various provinces and cities in our country, there are regional gaps in the development of youth social education. The cities with relatively developed economic infrastructure in the eastern coastal regions and the central region have carried out better social education for adolescents, while the western mountainous regions and the economically underdeveloped cities in the central region are less developed. The economic base determines the superstructure, and the relative underdevelopment of the economy results in the shortage of basic resources and teachers, which leads to the relative backwardness of social education.
7.4. Problems in Social Education
On the whole, youth education in our country is still in a superficial state, and the application of social work in education is relatively scattered, resulting in incomplete and unconcentrated social education. Through relevant data and analysis, the problems in social work can be summarized as shown in Figure 4 .
Problems in social work.
7.4.1. A Lack of Professional Talents and Not High Professional Quality
China's social work industry is in a positive stage of construction, and the industry's foundation is not enough. Therefore, only a part of the social education team has social worker qualification certificates. In this part of professional social workers, a considerable number of people lack social work experience and cannot effectively combine theory with practice, which has also led to the administration of social education for young people.
7.4.2. The Not High Social Understanding of Social Work
The social work major is a subject newly added by universities in our country in a short time. In 1988, Peking University first opened the social work major, which only experienced short 30 years of construction in major universities. Therefore, when referring to the social work major, many people express that they do not understand the role of the subject or mistakenly understand the social work major as a profession engaged in community work in the future. These issues directly affect the social education of our youth. Social work is a sociology major. This major cultivates the professional values of “people-oriented, self-help, fairness, and justice,” that has a solid theoretical foundation, skilled social work methods, and other aspects of knowledge and ability and that can be used in party and government organs, enterprises, institutions and social organizations, and other departments and organizations. Compound application-oriented professionals are engaged in social work services and social welfare management in the field.
7.4.3. The Not Perfect Relevant Laws and Regulations
Judging from the existing social education policies, the lack of relevant laws and regulations as support for social work intervention in social education has exacerbated the difficulty of combining social work with social education for youth.
From Figure 5 , it can be seen that from 2008 to 2015, the number of documents with minors as keywords has gradually increased, reaching a maximum of 772 in 2015. In recent years, with the improvement of laws and regulations, the number of documents with minors as the key word has gradually decreased.
Statistics on the number of documents with “minor” as the key word in 2008–2019.
8. Strategies for Social Work Intervention
The essence of social work intervention in youth social education is to allow social workers to participate in social education activities, so the work can be divided into the following intervention areas, as shown in Figure 6 .
Fields of social work involvement.
8.1. Youth Field
The youth field means that according to the understanding of adolescents' physical and psychological characteristics, social workers combine with corresponding professional theoretical knowledge to promote the participation of young people in social education activities, such as summer camps, agricultural bases, agricultural bases, research activities, volunteer activities, and so on. Through these activities, youth groups can sum up the experience through their own experiences and gradually develop good habits so as to achieve the goal of comprehensive development of young people. The wide dissemination of social work among youth groups also promotes its development.
8.2. Family Field
The family plays an important role in the growth of teenagers. It can be said that the family is an individual enlightenment teacher. The participation of social workers in the family field refers to a way of living with young people to establish positive and harmonious family relationships, thereby realizing the support role of the family. According to the existing social work research and analysis of youth problems, it can be found that most of the youth problems are caused by negative family relationships. Therefore, promoting the construction of active family support is conducive to promoting the development of social education for young people.
8.3. School Field
School is the place with most adolescents, who spend most of their time on campus. Therefore, school work interventions have a positive effect on youth social education. For social work in schools, the principle of respect for students must be observed. Individuals are in the stage of thinking construction during adolescence, and immature thinking does not mean that teenagers have no standards for judging behavior. Therefore, in social work, people should regard adolescents as children or adults and maintain the principles of understanding and respect. At the same time, teachers should also pay attention to the help and interaction between students. In the classroom, teachers should pay attention to each student and actively exchange questions. After class, the teacher is the friend of the students and should pay attention to the emotional psychology of the students.
Youth is the hope of our country's future. The bad roots must be traced from the source, and the germ of juvenile crime must be eradicated from the source. A family is the assistant of society, the first that educates children. Parents are the enlightenment teachers, whose actions, words, and deeds have a subtle effect on the children. Intimate and harmonious family relationships and normal and good family education are crucial conditions for the healthy growth of every child. Every parent must have a full understanding of this and consciously assume a responsibility to society, which is also an essential part of reducing juvenile delinquency in society.
This work was supported by (1) the General Project of Philosophy and Social Sciences of Guangdong Province in 2020 (project number: GD20CFX09).(2) 2018 young innovative talents project of Guangdong Education Department (project number: 2018WQNCX108).(3) 2017 young innovative talents project of Guangdong Education Department (project number: 2017WQNCX106).(4) Maoming Philosophy and Social Sciences Project 2020( project number: 2020YB06).
Conflicts of interest.
The author declares that there are no conflicts of interest.
Contemporary Masters in Criminology pp 215–230 Cite as
Causes and Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency
- Travis Hirschi
Part of the The Plenum Series in Crime and Justice book series (PSIC)
Explanations of juvenile delinquency require consideration of two sets of elements. These are, on the one hand, the driving forces, the reasons or motives behind the act and, on the other, the obstacles that stand in its way, the restraints that inhibit its occurrence. In principle, it is possible to construct an explanation of delinquency that gives each set of elements, if not equal weight, at least some role in the outcome. In practice, equal treatment of motives and restraints turns out to be difficult. Once the theorist tends in one direction or the other, logic quickly takes him to an extreme position. As a result, theories of delinquency usually focus on one set and ignore or exclude the other. Theorists favoring motives of course find support for their position in human nature, the logic of science, and in the brute facts of experience. Those favoring restraints find, in the same places, equal support for their views. The choice between these extremes then takes on the character of an all-or-none political or ideological decision, with the student asked to choose between causation and deterrence, between social science and law, between the liberal and conservative approaches to public policy.
- Control Theory
- Delinquent Behavior
- Motivational Theory
- Moral Belief
- Sociological Theory
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Hirschi, T. (1995). Causes and Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency. In: McCord, J., Laub, J.H. (eds) Contemporary Masters in Criminology. The Plenum Series in Crime and Justice. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4757-9829-6_13
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Juvenile Delinquency Research Paper
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Juveniles placed in institutions, creation of the juvenile court, influence of positivism, the emergence of sociological theory, peers and gangs, the use of drugs and its relationship to delinquent behavior, biological explanations of delinquent behavior, psychological explanations of delinquent behavior, sociological explanations of delinquent behavior, is delinquent behavior rational, developmental paths of delinquency, human agency and delinquency across the life course, gender and delinquent behavior, delinquency prevention.
Juvenile delinquency—crimes committed by young people—constitute, by recent estimates, nearly one fifth of the crimes against people and one-third of the property crimes in the United States. The high incidence of juvenile crime makes the study of juvenile delinquency vital to an understanding of American society. The Uniform Crime Reports, juvenile court statistics, cohort studies, self-report studies, and victimization surveys are the major sources of data used to measure the extent and nature of delinquent behavior. These forms of examination have generally agreed on the following findings:
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- Juvenile delinquency is widespread in the United States.
- The majority of youths have committed some form of delinquency during their adolescent years.
- Three out of four juvenile arrests are arrests of males.
- Lower-class youths tend to commit more frequent and serious offenses than do higher-class youths.
- Minority youths, especially African American, tend to commit more serious delinquent acts than do white youths.
The number of juvenile homicides has been going down since the mid-1990s. Philip J. Cook and John Laub (1998) found that a changing context, as well as a more limited availability of guns, helped explain the reduced rate of juvenile homicides. Cook and Laub predicted that this changing context would continue to decrease youth homicides in the immediate future. Cook and Jens Ludwig (2004) and Anthony A. Braga (2003) also identified the high correlation between gun ownership and juvenile homicides.
The study of juvenile delinquency is full of conflicting positions. There are those who believe that this area of study should be limited to the theories of why juveniles become involved with crime. Others contend that the study of delinquency also ought to include the environmental influences on juvenile crime, such as the family, school, peer and gang participation, and drug involvements. Still others conclude that the study of delinquency should include the social control of juvenile crime, as well as causation theories and environmental influences.
The study of delinquency has clearly changed over the years. Throughout the twentieth century, delinquency studies became more interdisciplinary, more concerned about the integration with other theories, more methodologically sophisticated, and more focused on long-term follow-up of juveniles, sometimes for several decades. The importance of human agency and delinquency across the life course, both of which rose in theoretical importance during the 1990s, are generating considerable excitement in the early years of the twenty-first century.
The main concerns of this research paper are the origins of the study of delinquency; the emergence of sociological theory; the environmental influences on delinquency; the biological, psychological, and sociological theories that have influenced the field of delinquency; the interdisciplinary theories that are affecting the study of juvenile delinquency; and the prospects for future developments.
Origins of the Study of Juvenile Delinquency
What to do with wayward juveniles has long been a concern of American society. Before the end of the eighteenth century, the family was believed to be the source of cause of deviancy, and therefore, the idea emerged that perhaps the well-adjusted family could provide the model for a correctional institution for children. The house of refuge, the first juvenile institution, reflected the family model wholeheartedly; it was designed to bring the order, discipline, and care of the family into institutional life. The institution was to become the home, the peers, the siblings, the staff, and the parents (Rothman 1971).
The New York House of Refuge, which opened on January 1, 1825, with six girls and three boys, is generally acknowledged as the first house of refuge. Over the next decade, Bangor, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Mobile, Philadelphia, and Richmond followed suit in establishing houses of refuge. Twenty-three schools were chartered in the 1830s and another 30 in the 1840s. Some houses of refuge were established by private agencies, some by state governments or legislatures, and some jointly by public authorities and private organizations (Rothman 1971).
One of the changes in juvenile institutions throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century was the development of the cottage system. Eventually called “training schools” or “industrial schools,” these institutions would house smaller groups of youths in separate buildings, usually no more than 20–40 youths per cottage. House parents, typically a man and his wife, constituted the staff in these cottages. Early cottages were log cabins; later cottages were constructed from brick or stone.
Barbara M. Brenzel’s (1983) study of the State Industrial School for Girls in Lancaster, Massachusetts, the first state reform school for girls in the United States, revealed the growing disillusionment in the mid- to late nineteenth century regarding training schools. Intended as a model reform effort, Lancaster was the first “familystyle” institution in the United States and embodied new theories about the reformation of youths. However, an “examination of a reform institution during the second half of the nineteenth century reveals the evolution from reformist visions and optimistic goals at mid-century to pessimism and ‘scientific’ determinism at the century’s close” (p. 1). Brenzel added that “the mid-century ideal of rehabilitative care changed to the principle of rigid training and custodial care by the 1880s and remained so into the early twentieth century” (pp. 4–5).
During the final decades of the nineteenth century, the Progressive Reformers viewed childhood as a period of dependency and exclusion from the adult world. To institutionalize childhood, they enacted a number of “child saving” laws, including child labor and compulsory school attendance laws. The juvenile court was viewed as another means to achieve unparalleled age segregation of children (Feld 1999). The following are a number of contextual factors that influenced the creation of this court.
The juvenile court was founded in Cook County (Chicago), Illinois, in 1899, when the Illinois legislature passed the Juvenile Court Act, and later that year was established in Denver, Colorado. The parens patriae doctrine provided a legal catalyst for the creation of the juvenile court, furnishing a rationale for use of informal procedures for dealing with juveniles and for expanding state power over the lives of children.
In the Child Savers, Anthony Platt (1977) developed the political context of the origin of the juvenile court. He stated that the juvenile court was established in Chicago and later elsewhere because it satisfied several middleclass interest groups. He saw the juvenile court as an expression of middle-class values and of the philosophy of conservative political groups. In denying that the juvenile court was revolutionary, Platt charged that
the child-saving movement was not so much a break with the past as an affirmation of faith in traditional institutions. . . . What seemingly began as a movement to humanize the lives of adolescents soon developed into a program of moral absolutism through which youths were to be saved from movies, pornography, cigarettes, alcohol, and anything else which might possibly rob them of their innocence. (Pp. 98–99)
Platt (1977) argued that the behaviors that the child savers selected to be penalized—such as roaming the streets, drinking, fighting, engaging in sex, frequenting dance halls, and staying out late at night—were found primarily among lower-class children. Accordingly, juvenile justice from it inception, he contended, reflected class favoritism that resulted in the frequent processing of poor children through the system while middle- and upper-class children were more likely to be excused.
The social conditions that were present during the final decades of the nineteenth century were the catalysts that led to the founding of the juvenile court. One social condition was that citizens became increasingly incensed by the treatment of children, especially the policy of jailing children with adults. Another social condition was that the higher status given middle-class women made them interested in exerting their newfound influence to improve the lives of children (Faust and Brantingham 1974).
These pressures for social change took place in the midst of a wave of optimism that swept through the United States during the Progressive Era, the period from 1899 to 1920. The emerging social sciences assured reformers that their problems with delinquents could be solved through positivism. According to positivism, youths were not responsible for their behavior and required treatment rather than punishment.
The concept of the juvenile court spread rapidly across the United States; by 1928, only two states did not have a juvenile court statute. In Cook County, the amendments that followed the original act brought the neglected, the dependent, and the delinquent together under one roof. The “delinquent” category comprised both status offenders and actual violators of criminal law.
Urban juveniles courts, especially, had clinics that provided psychological services for those youths referred to them by the juvenile court. Those who provided such services in the clinics were psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, or psychiatric social workers. The treatment modality that was frequently used was various versions of Freudian psychoanalysis. Typically, in a one-to-one relationship with a therapist, youths in trouble were encouraged to talk about past conflicts that caused them to express emotional problems through aggressive or antisocial behavior. The insights that youths gained from this psychotherapy were intended to help them resolve the conflicts and unconscious needs that drove them to crime. As a final step of psychotherapy, youths would become responsible for their behaviors.
From the second decade of the twentieth century, the Chicago School of Sociology developed a sociological approach to delinquency that differed greatly from that found in psychological positivism. The intellectual movement of social disorganization theory came out of this Chicago school. To William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki (1927), social disorganization reflected the influence of an urban, industrial setting on the ability of immigrant subcultures, particularly parents, to socialize and effectively control their children. S. P. Breckinridge and Edith Abbott (1970) contributed the idea of plotting “delinquency maps.” Frederick M. Thrasher (1927) viewed the youth gang as a substitute socializing institution whose function was to provide order, or social organization where there was none, or social disorganization.
Clifford R. Shaw and Henry D. McKay extended social disorganization by focusing specifically on the social characteristics of the community as a cause of delinquency. Their pioneering investigations established that delinquency varied in inverse proportion to the distance from the center of the city, that it varied inversely with socioeconomic status, and that delinquency rates in a residential area persisted regardless of changes in racial and ethic composition of the area (Reiss 1976).
Shaw and McKay viewed juvenile delinquency as resulting from the breakdown of social control among the traditional primary groups, such as the family and the neighborhood, because of the social disorganization of the community. Urbanization, rapid industrialization, and immigration processes contributed to the disorganization of the community. Thus, delinquent behavior became an alternative mode of socialization through which youths who grew up in disorganized communities were attracted to deviant lifestyles (Finestone 1976).
Shaw and McKay turned to ecology to show this relationship between social disorganization and delinquency. Shaw (1929) reported that marked variations of school truancy, juvenile delinquency, and adult criminality existed among different areas in Chicago. Shaw found that the nearer a given locality was to the center of the city, the higher its rates of delinquency and crime. Shaw further found that areas of concentrated crime maintained their high rates over a long period, even when the composition of the population changed markedly. Shaw and McKay (1931), in a study performed for the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, reported that this basic ecological finding was also true for a number of other cities.
In their classic work Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas, Shaw and McKay (1942) developed these ecological insights in greater scope and depth. They studied males who were brought into the Cook County juvenile court on delinquency charges in 1900–1906, 1917–1923, and 1927–1933. Over this 33-year period, they discovered that the vast majority of the delinquent boys came from either an area adjacent to the central business and industrial areas or along two forks of the Chicago River. Then, applying Burgess’s concentric zone hypothesis of urban growth, they measured delinquency rates by zone and by areas within the zone. They found that in all three periods, the highest rates of delinquency were in Zone I (the central city), the next highest in Zone II (next to the central city), in progressive steps outward to the lowest in Zone V. Significantly, although the delinquency rates changed from one period to the next, the relationship among the different zones remained constant, even though in some neighborhoods the ethnic compositions of the population changed totally.
Shaw and McKay eventually refocused their analysis from the influence of social disorganization of the community to the importance of economics on high rates of delinquency. They found that the economic and occupational structure of the larger society was more influential in the rise of delinquent behavior than was the social life of the local community. They concluded that the reason members of lower-class groups remained in the inner-city community was less a reflection of their newness of arrival and their lack of acculturation to American institutions than it was a function of their class position in society (Finestone 1976).
Environmental Influences on Juvenile Delinquency
The importance of the Shaw and McKay tradition of the environment and community has long remained in the study of delinquency. An examination of the relationship between the family and delinquency, school performance and delinquency, drug use and delinquency, and participation in gangs and delinquency are generally found in studies of environmental influences on delinquency.
In the midst of conflicting findings about the relationship between delinquency and the family, the following observations have received wide support:
- Family conflict and poor marital adjustment are more likely to lead to delinquency than the structural breakup of the family (Loeber and Stouthamer-Loeber 1986).
- Children who have delinquent siblings or criminal parents seem to be more prone to delinquent behavior than those who do not (Lauritsen 1993).
- Rejected children appear to be more prone to delinquent behavior than those who have not been rejected. Children who have experienced severe rejection are more likely to become involved in delinquent behavior than those who have experienced a lesser degree of rejection (Loeber and Stouthamer-Loeber 1986).
- Consistency of discipline within the family appears to be important in deterring delinquent behavior (McCord, McCord, and Zola 1959).
- The rate of delinquency seems to increase with the number of unfavorable factors in the home. Thus, multiple handicaps within the family are associated with a higher probability of juvenile delinquency than are single handicaps (Loeber and Stouthamer-Loeber 1986).
Studies have found that the school is a critical context, or arena, of learning delinquent behavior. For example, Eugene Maguin and Rolf Loeber’s (1996) meta-analysis found that “children with lower academic performance offended more frequently, committed more serious and violent offenses, and persisted in their offending” (p. 15).
The extent of delinquency in the school, including vandalism, violence, gangs, and the use of drugs, has received considerable examination (Bartollas 2006). The consequences of dropping out of school have also been investigated (Jarjoura 1993). In addition, there have been a number of efforts to improve the quality of the school experience. The development of alternative schools, the process of designing effective school-based violenceprevention programs, and the process of developing more positive school-community relationships have been three of the most promising intervention strategies in the school setting (Bartollas 2006).
Researchers usually agree that most delinquent behavior, particularly more violent forms, takes place in groups, but they disagree on the quality of relationships within delinquent groups and on the influence of groups on delinquent behavior (Breckinridge and Abbott 1970; Piper 1985). There is still debate on several theoretical questions about groups and delinquency: How do delinquent peers influence each other? What causes the initial attraction to delinquent groups? What do delinquents receive from these friendships that result in continuing them?
Youth gangs represent one of the most serious forms of delinquency groups. Frederick Thrasher’s (1927) definition of gangs is still one of the best definitions:
A gang is an interstitial group originally formed spontaneously and then integrated through conflict. It is characterized by the following types of behavior: meeting face to face, milling, movement through space as a unit, conflict and planning. The result of this collective behavior is the development of tradition, unreflective, internal structure, esprit de corps, solidarity, morale, group awareness, and attachment to local territory. (P. 57)
Juveniles are involved in urban street gangs, where they are typically a minority of the membership. However, they make up nearly the total membership of emerging gangs that spread across the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s. What has received considerable documentation is that law-violating behaviors increase with gang activities, that core members are involved in more serious delinquent acts than are fringe members, and that gang activities contribute to a pattern of violent behavior (Wolfgang, Thornberry, and Figlio 1987; Battin-Pearson et al. 1998; Miller 2001; Miller and Decker 2001).
Drug and alcohol use and juvenile delinquency have been identified as the most serious problem behaviors of juveniles. The good news is that substance abuse among adolescents has dropped significantly since the late 1970s. The bad news is that drug use has significantly increased among high-risk youths and is becoming commonly linked to juvenile delinquency (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2004; Johnston et al. 2004). In addition, more adolescents are selling drugs than ever before in the history of this nation. Moreover, the spread of AIDS within populations of drug users and their sex partners promises to make the problem of substance abuse even more difficult to control.
The Biological, Psychological, and Sociological Theories
A number of theoretical answers have been given to the continually raised question: Why do juveniles commit crime? Early in the twentieth century, biological and psychological causes of delinquent behavior received more attention. In the last two-thirds of the twentieth century, sociological explanations to delinquency behavior received greater support with students of delinquency.
The belief in a biological explanation for criminality has a long history. Early approaches attempted to pinpoint the source of criminality in physical anomalities (Lombroso-Ferrero 1972), genealogical deficiencies (Shah and Roth 1974), and theories of human somatotypes or body types (Glueck and Glueck 1956; Cortes 1972). More recently, research has stressed the interaction between the biological factors within an individual and the influence of the particular environment. Supporters of this form of biological positivism claim that what produces delinquent behavior, like other behaviors, is a combination of genetic traits and social conditions. Recent advances in experimental behavior genetics, human population genetics, knowledge of the biochemistry of the nervous system, experimental and clinical endocrinology and neurophysiology, and other related areas have led to more sophisticated knowledge of the way in which the environment and human genetics interact to affect the growth, development, and functioning of the human organism (Shah and Roth 1974; Fishbein 1990).
Psychological factors have long been popular in the positivist approach to the cause of juvenile delinquency because the very nature of parens patriae philosophy requires treatment of youths who are involved in various forms of delinquency. Psychoanalytic (Freudian) theory was first used with delinquents, but more recently other behavioral and humanistic schools of psychology have been applied to the problem of the illegal behaviors of juveniles. For example, some researchers in the 1980s and 1990s addressed the relationship between sensation seeking and crime (White, Labouvie, and Bates 1985; Fishbein 1990). Jack Katz’s (1988) Seductions of Crime conjectures that when individuals commit crime, they become involved in “an emotional process—seductions and compulsions that have special dynamics” (p. 9). It is this “magical” and “transformative” experience that makes crime “sensible,” even “sensually compelling.” James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein’s (1985) Crime and Human Nature is another example of the influence of psychological factors on criminal or delinquent behaviors. They consider potential causes of crime and noncrime within the context of reinforcement theory, that is, the theory that behavior is governed by its consequent rewards and punishments, as reflected in the history of the individual. The rewards of crime, according to Wilson and Herrnstein (1985), are found in the form of material gain, revenge against an enemy, peer approval, and sexual gratification. The consequences of crime include pangs of conscience, disapproval of peers, revenge by the victim, and, most important, the possibility of punishment.
Sociological theories related to delinquency causation have been grouped in a number of ways; the following sections will group them in structural theories of delinquency causation, process theories of delinquency causation, reaction theories of delinquency causation, and integrated theories of delinquency causation.
Structural Theories of Delinquency Causation
The setting for delinquency, as proposed by social structural theories, is the social and cultural environment in which juveniles grow up or the subcultural groups in which they choose to become involved. Using official statistics as their guide, these analysts claim that such forces as social disorganization, cultural deviance, status frustration, and social mobility are so powerful that they induce youths, especially lower-class ones, to become involved in delinquent behavior. Strain theory is a structural theory that has been widely applied to explaining delinquent behavior. Robert K. Merton’s theory of anomie, Albert K. Cohen’s theory of delinquent subcultures, and Richard A. Cloward and Lloyd E. Ohlin’s opportunity theory are the most widely cited strain theories. Merton (1957) examined how deviant behavior is produced by different social structures. His primary aim was to discover how some social structures exerted pressure upon individuals in the society to engage in nonconforming rather than conforming behavior. Cohen’s (1955) thesis in his book Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang was that lower-class youths are actually protesting against the goals of middle-class culture, but they experience status frustration, or strain, because they are unable to attain these goals. Cloward and Ohlin (1960) conceptualized success and status as separate strivings that can operate independently of each other. They portrayed delinquents who seek an increase in status as striving for membership in the middle class, whereas other delinquent youths try to improve their economic post without changing their class position.
Social Process Theories of Delinquency Causation
Social process theories of delinquency causation examine the interactions between individuals and the environment that influence them to become involved in delinquent behaviors. Differential association, drift, and social control theories became popular in the 1960s because they provided a theoretical mechanism for the translation of environmental factors into individual motivation. Edwin H. Sutherland’s (1947) formulation of differential association theory proposes that delinquents learn crime from others. His basic premise was that delinquency, like any other form of behavior, is a product of social interaction. In developing the theory of differential association, Sutherland contended that individuals are constantly being changed as they take on the expectations and points of view of the people with whom they interact in small, intimate groups. The process of becoming a delinquent, David Matza (1964) says, begins when an adolescent neutralizes himself or herself from the moral bounds of the law and drifts into delinquency. Drift, according to Matza, means that “the delinquent transiently exists in limbo between convention and crime, responding in turn to the demands of each, flirting now with one, now the other, but postponing commitment, evading decision. Thus he drifts between criminal and conventional action” (p. 28). Walter C. Reckless’s (1961) control theory is based on the assumption that strong inner containment and reinforcing external containment provide insulation against deviant behavior. Travis Hirschi’s (1967) Causes of Delinquency linked delinquent behavior to the quality of the bond an individual maintains with society, stating that “delinquent acts result when an individual’s bond to society is weak or broken” (p. 16). He argues that humans’ basic impulses motivate them to become involved in crime and delinquency unless there is reason for them to refrain from such behavior.
Social Reaction Theories of Delinquency Causation
Labeling theory, symbolic interactionst theory of delinquency, and conflict theory can be viewed as social reaction theories of delinquency causation because they focus on the role that social and economic groups and institutions have in producing delinquent behavior. The labeling perspective, whose peak of popularity was in the 1960s and 1970s, is based on the premise that society creates deviance by labeling those who are different from other individuals, when in fact they are different merely because they have been tagged with a deviant label part played by social audiences and their responses to the norm violations of juveniles (Tannenbaum 1938; Lemert 1951; Becker 1963; Triplett and Jarjoura 1994). Ross L. Matsueda (1992) and Karen Heimer (1995) have developed a symbolic interactionist theory of delinquency. This interactionist perspective “presupposes that the social order is the product of an ongoing process of social interaction and communication” (Matsueda 1992:1580). What is “of central importance is the process by which shared meanings, behavioral expectations, and reflected appraisals are built up in interaction and applied to behavior” (p. 1580). The conflict perspective views social control as an outcome of the differential distribution of economic and political power in society; thus, laws are seen as creation by the powerful for their own benefit (Shichor 1980). Conflict criminology has a great deal of variation; some theories emphasize the importance of socioeconomic class, some focus primarily on power and authority relationships, and others emphasize group and cultural conflict.
The theoretical development of integrated explanations of delinquency in the 1980s and 1990s has made a significant contribution to the understanding of delinquent behavior. Theory integration usually implies the combination of two or more existing theories on the basis of their perceived commonalities. Three of the better-known integrated theories are Michael R. Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi’s (1990) general theory of crime; Delbert S. Elliot, Suzanne A. Ageton, and Rachelle J. Canter’s (1979) integrated social process theory; and Terence P. Thornberry’s (1987) interactional theory.
In A General Theory of Crime, Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) define lack of self-control as the common factor underlying problem behaviors. Thus, self-control is the degree to which an individual is “vulnerable to the temptations of the moment.” The other pivotal construct in this theory of crime is crime opportunity, which is a function of the structural or situational circumstances encountered by the individuals (Grasmick et al. 1993).
Elliott et al. (1979) offer “an explanatory model that expands and synthesizes traditional strain, social control, and social learning perspectives into a single paradigm that accounts for delinquent behavior and drug use” (p. 11). They argue that all three theories are flawed in explaining delinquent behavior. Integrating the strongest features of these theories into a single theoretical model, Elliott and colleagues theorize that there is a high probability of involvement in delinquent behavior when bonding to delinquent groups is combined with weak bonding to conventional groups. In Thornberry’s interaction theory of delinquency, the initial impetus toward delinquency comes from a weaning of the person’s bond to conventional society, represented by attachment to parents, commitment to school, and belief in conventional values. Associations with delinquent peers and delinquent values make up the social settling in which delinquency, especially prolonged serious delinquency, is learned and reinforced. These two variables, along with delinquent behavior itself, form a mutually reinforcing casual loop that leads toward increasing delinquency involvement over time (Thornberry 1987, 1989; Thornberry et al. 2003) (Table 1).
In the 1970s and 1980s, a variety of academic areas, including the sociology of deviance, criminology, economics, and cognitive psychology, began to view crime as the outcome of rational choices and decisions. The ecological tradition in criminology and the economic theory of markets, especially, have applied the notion of rational choice to crime.
Rational choice theory, borrowed primarily from the utility model in economics, was one area of intense interest during the 1980s and 1990s, especially within criminology, sociology, political science, and law. Rational choice theory, an extension of the deterrence doctrine of the classical school, includes incentives as well as deterrents and focuses on the calculation of payoffs and costs before delinquent and criminal acts are committed (Cornish and Clarke 1986; Akers 1990).
An analysis of delinquent behavior leads to the conclusion that antisocial behavior often appears rational and purposeful. Some delinquents clearly engage in delinquent behavior because of the low cost or risk of such behavior. The low risk comes from the parens patriae philosophy that is based on the presumption of innocence for the very young, as well as of reduced responsibility for those up to their midadolescence. Thus, in early adolescence, the potential costs of all but the most serious forms of delinquent behavior are relatively slight.
Conclusion and Prospects for the 21st Century
The development of both sociology and juvenile delinquency was influenced by the rise of the Chicago School of Sociology early in the twentieth century. With this common background, it is not surprising that juvenile delinquency has been so closely related to the discipline of sociology. Juvenile delinquency has been taught in the majority of sociology departments, as well as in many criminology or criminal justice programs in university settings and community colleges. The study of juvenile delinquency is further indebted to sociology because so many of the theories of delinquency causation are sociological theories of crime. Even though the study of juvenile delinquency has become interdisciplinary, sociological principles and theories remain critical in understanding the field of delinquency. Indeed, the new trends in delinquency, such as human agency and delinquency across the life course, are adapted from theoretical and empirical contributions largely taken from the field of sociology.
The prospects for the study of delinquency in the twenty-first century are vibrant and exciting.
Some of the emphases that will guide the study of delinquency are the examination of the development paths of delinquent behavior, a continued examination of human agency and delinquency across the life course, an investigation of the ways in which gender affects the study of delinquency, and a renewed search for more effective means of delinquency prevention.
One of the most exciting aspects about the study of juvenile delinquency today is the increasing number of developmental studies that have followed youth cohorts for a few years or even decades. One of the most widely respected of these studies is the research done by Terrie E. Moffitt and colleagues. For example, Moffitt, Donald R. Lynam, and Phil A. Silva’s (1994) examination of the neuropsychological status of several hundred New Zealand males between the ages of 13 and 18 found that poor neuropsychological scores “were associated with early onset of delinquency” but were “unrelated to delinquency that began in adolescence” (p. 277). Moffitt’s (1993) developmental theory views delinquency as proceeding along two developmental paths. On one path, children develop a lifelong path of delinquency and crime as early as age 3. They may begin to bite and hit shoplift and be truant at age 10, sell drugs and steal cars at age 16, rob and rape at age 22, and commit fraud and child abuse at age 30. These “life-course-persistent” (LCP) delinquents, according to Moffitt, continue their illegal acts throughout the conditions and situations they face. During childhood, they may also exhibit such neuropsychological problems as deficit disorders or hyperactivity and learning problems in schools.
On the other path, the majority of delinquents begin offending during the adolescent years and desist from delinquent behaviors around the 18th birthday. Moffitt refers to these youthful offenders as “adolescent-limited” (AL) delinquents. The early and persistent problems found with members of the LCP group are not found with the AL delinquents. Yet the frequency of offending and even the violence of offending during the adolescent years may be as high as the LCP. Moffitt notes that the AL antisocial behavior is learned from peers and sustained through peerbased rewards and reinforcements. AL delinquents continue in delinquent acts as long as such behaviors appear profitable or rewarding to them, but they have the ability to abandon those behaviors when prosocial styles become more rewarding (Moffitt 1993; Moffitt et al. 2001).
This enormous database of these developmental studies has contributed to the examination of such subjects as the importance of human agency in the lives of youths and later when they become adults and to delinquency or crime across the life course. Human agency refers to the importance given to juveniles who are not only acted upon by social influence and structural constraints but who make choices and decisions based on the alternatives that they see before them. Symbolic interactionism and life history studies have long acknowledged the importance of agency and rationality, and rational choice and routine activities research have more recently placed an importance on rationality in delinquent and criminal behavior. However, it has been the increased attention given to the life course in both sociology and delinquency studies that has sparked a dramatic resurgence of interest in agency in contemporary research.
The various perspectives on the life course relate individuals to their broader social context, but within the constraints of their world, individuals make choices among options that are available to them. It is these decisions that are so important in constructing their life course. Delinquency across the life course has been examined extensively by Robert J. Sampson and James H. Laub’s reanalysis of the Gluecks’ data (Sampson and Laub 1993; Laub and Sampson 2003). This perspective of delinquency and crime across the life course has been employed in studies of the effects of youth gangs, faulty family relationships, poor performance in school, drug use, and gender variations in youth offending (Bartollas 2006).
Moreover, this interactive process develops over the person’s life cycle. During early adolescence, the family is the most influential factor in bonding the youngster to conventional society and reducing delinquency. But as the youth matures and moves through middle adolescence, the world of friends, school, and youth culture becomes the dominant influence over behavior. Finally, as the person enters adulthood, commitment to conventional activities, and to family, especially, offers new avenues to reshape the person’s bond to society and involvement with delinquent behavior (Thornberry 1987; Krohn et al. 2001).
The study of delinquency has been traditionally shaped by male experiences and understanding of the social world (Daly and Chesney-Lind 1988). Carol Smart (1976) and Dorie Klein (1995) were two early criminologists to suggest that a feminist criminology should be formulated because of the neglect of the feminist perspective in classical delinquency theory. Feminist criminologists have been quick to agree that adolescent females have different experiences compared with adolescent males. They generally support that females are more controlled than males, enjoy more social support, are less disposed to crime, and have fewer opportunities for certain types of crimes (Mazerolle 1998).
However, feminist criminologists disagree on how the male-oriented approach to delinquency should be handled. One approach focuses on the question of generalizability. In research on samples that include males and females, a routine strategy for those who emphasize cross-gender similarities is to test whether the given theoretical constructs account for the offending of both groups and to pay little attention to how gender itself might intersect with other factors to create different meanings in the lives of males and females. Those who support this gender-neutral position have generally examined such subjects as the family, social bonding, social learning, delinquent peer relationships, and, to a lesser degree, deterrence and strain (Daly 1995).
In contrast, other feminist theorists argue that new theoretical efforts are needed to help us understand female delinquency and women’s involvement in adult crime. Eileen Leonard (1995), for example, questioned whether anomie, differential association, labeling, and Marist theories can be used to explain the crime patterns of women. She concluded that these traditional theories do not work for explaining female offending. Meda ChesneyLind’s (1989, 1995) application of the male-oriented theories to female delinquency has argued that existing delinquency theories are inadequate to explain female delinquency. She suggested that there is a need for a feminist model of delinquency, because a patriarchal context has shaped the explanations and handling of female delinquents and status offenders. What this means is that adolescent females’ sexual and physical victimizations at home and the relationship between these experiences and their crimes have been systematically ignored.
Delinquency prevention has a long but somewhat disappointing history. The best-known models of delinquency prevention have included the Boston’s Mid-city Project, Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study in Massachusetts, Chicago Area Projects, La Playa de Ponce in Puerto Rico, New York City Youth Board, and Walter C. Reckless and Simon Dinitz’s self-concept studies in Columbus, Ohio. A number of studies have examined the effectiveness of these delinquency-prevention programs and have generally found that few studies showed significant results (Lundman, McFarlane, and Scarpitti 1976; Lundman and Scarpitti 1978).
Beginning in the 1980s and continuing to the present, a number of new delinquency-prevention efforts have been established. The Blueprints for Violence Prevention, developed by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado–Boulder and supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, identified 11 model programs, as well as a number of promising violence-prevention and drug abuse programs. The identified model programs were Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; Bully Prevention Program; Functional Family Therapy (FFT); Incredible Years: Parent, Teacher, and Child Training Series; Life Skills Training; Midwestern Prevention Project; Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC); Multisystemic Therapy (MST); Nurse-Family Partnership; Project Towards No Drug Abuse; and Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (Mihalic et al. 2004).
The popularity of delinquency-prevention programs, of course, is found in the realization that the most desirable strategy is to prevent delinquent behavior before it can occur. Even though delinquency-prevention programs have generally fallen short of controlling youth crime, there is every reason to believe that renewed efforts will be continued throughout the twenty-first century.
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Juvenile Delinquency - Essay Examples And Topic Ideas For Free
Juvenile delinquency, representing a range of antisocial behaviors committed by minors, poses significant challenges to families, communities, and legal systems. Essays could explore the sociological, psychological, and economic factors contributing to juvenile delinquency, dissecting the complex interplay of family dynamics, peer influence, and social deprivation. The discourse might extend to the examination of preventive interventions and rehabilitative programs aimed at addressing the root causes of delinquent behavior and promoting social reintegration. Discussions could also focus on the legal frameworks governing juvenile justice, evaluating the balance between punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation. Moreover, the exploration of case studies and longitudinal research shedding light on the long-term outcomes of juvenile delinquents and the effectiveness of various interventions could provide a rich analysis of the multifaceted issues surrounding juvenile delinquency and the ongoing efforts to ameliorate its societal impacts. We’ve gathered an extensive assortment of free essay samples on the topic of Juvenile Delinquency you can find in Papersowl database. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.
Divorce and Juvenile Delinquency
Introduction Crime can be considered to be one of the toughest challenges that society has tried to manage over the year. This increase in crime has raised the concerns of developing new tactics to prevent crime and reduce the likelihood of crime happening. In order for the decrease in crime to happen, it is paramount that individuals understand the many dynamics of crime and why it is on the steady rise. Research has been shown to identify a correlation between […]
Revisiting the Controversy: should Juveniles be Tried as Adults?
How much more does the juvenile delinquency rate has to rise before we realize action is required? The Juvenile Court System was created so young offenders could be dealt with individually and tried more effectively. The system can provide rehabilitation for any juvenile seen to be transgressing too much. Ideally, the youth are taking advantage of the system and committing violent crimes because they believe it will be easier for them to avoid a stricter sentence (Berg, 2020). Losing people […]
Social Control Theory and Juvenile Delinquency
The juvenile justice system handles legal matters involving a juvenile, defined in most states as a person who is younger than 18 years of age. Juvenile Delinquency despite popular misconception is not crime. Delinquencies are acts committed by juveniles that would be crimes if committed by adults. One of the main focuses of the juvenile justice system that separates it from the regular justice system is the focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment. Juveniles are generally seen as easier to […]
On Juvenile Delinquency and Drug Use
The phenomenon of juvenile delinquency comes from a definition where an individual age from seven to eighteen commits or violates a state law. An example of a juvenile delinquency can be something as minor as staying out past curfew, underage smoking or underage of substances uses to something more significant as to robbing a store or murder. In this analytic essay, I will talk about how a delinquent behavior and how a sociological perspective fits into that behavior. Then, I […]
Law Enforcement Systems
Criminal Justice is defined as the system of law enforcement, involving police, lawyers, courts and corrections, used for all stages of criminal proceedings and punishment. Criminal justice professionals are both consumers and producers of research. The consumers of all research findings, such as police officers, are better at understanding how research is being conducted within their department. The producers of research, such as probation officers, try different methods in order to communicate with criminals better to decrease the likely hood […]
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Juvenile Justice System and Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile Delinquency is defined as the committing of criminal acts by a young person who is well below the age of being able to be prosecuted criminally. It is also referred to as juvenile offending. These behaviors are usually beyond the control of their parents or guardians, causing law enforcement to step in. Juveniles can never be convicted and sentenced to death or life in prison unless they are tried as an adult. A status offender is defined as a […]
Juvenile Delinquency Correlation to Adult Crime
The positive correlation between the lack of treatment programs and depression across juvenile delinquency is strongly intact, and improvements in our legal system are much needed. Ng, Shen, Sim, Sarri, Stoffregen, & Shook, (2011) bring to our attention that despite current evidence clearly showing higher rates of depression among incarcerated youth, we have still failed to look at how depression is linked with incarceration. Their findings show that charging youth as adults in our criminal justice system is a highly […]
Juvenile Correctional Counselor
Introduction In the criminal justice system there are numerous available career opportunities one can choose. By definition, criminal justice is “the system of law enforcement, involving police, lawyers, courts, and corrections, used for all stages of criminal proceedings and punishment” (D. 2018). Any career one may choose will follow the three-tiered system found within criminal justice: law enforcement, the court system, or the correctional aspect of criminal justice. For this paper, I have chosen to discuss what entails the career […]
Three Problems of the Criminal Justice System and how to Fix them
The criminal justice system has an important role in society to maintain order and to ensure that law is equal and fair; no matter age, ethnicity, race, sex, or social economical status. Unfortunately, this is not true within the current judicial system. Racial discrimination, youth incarceration, and health related infirmities result from incarceration (Simonson, 2017). Three Problems of the Criminal Justice System and How to Fix Them There are many problems that plague our current criminal justice system. The problems […]
The topic of juvenile offenders being tried and punished as adults is a very touchy subject. Some people support the idea and many are opposed to it. Suppose two young teens age 14 get into an altercation and one decides to stab the other in the heat of the moment. This teen has committed a crime and should get punished for his or her actions. The question is whether the youth should get tried and punished in Juvenile Court or […]
Presenting Juveniles as Adults in the Criminal Justice System
The word most frequently used to describe the growth in the rate of violent crime among children 17 years old and younger is epidemic. The alarming rate at which children are committing crimes has increased the amount of questions on what should be done with these juveniles. The National Center for Juvenile Justice states how “Every state but Hawaii now allows juveniles to be tried as adults for certain crimes,” so why are people struggling with laws allowing young offenders […]
Setencing Juveniles as Adults
There are about 41,095 inmates who are facing life in prison without parole. Among these, 6.2% of those inmates (2,574) committed these crimes as juveniles. (Sentencing Juveniles) A vast majority of inmates are being held behind bars for crimes they committed under the age of 18. They aren’t given another chance to become law abiding citizens for a poor decision they made when they were just young rebellious teens. In fact, the united states is one of the only countries […]
Issues of Violence in Schools
With an increased rate in juvenile delinquency, I chose to discuss the violence in schools; underlining the root of the issue, what policies are currently in place, and what steps are needed to create a more effective policy to resolve the issue. Some of the risk factors of school and youth violence come from prior history of violence, drug, alcohol and tobacco use, association with delinquent peers, poor family function, poor grades in school and poverty in the community. "Data […]
Fair or Foul: Police Authority Limited with Juveniles
Juveniles are the young criminal offenders who have been arrested and convicted because of their delinquency in the society. It is until one turns the age of an adult that is when they are taken to adult prisons otherwise they are kept in juvenile prisons so as to protect them from being harmed by adult prisoners (Shoemaker 2017). The Human Rights protects the younger offender while in prison to ensure that they are not subjected to any harassment or mistreatment […]
Introduction The rate of imprisonment in the United States has tripled between 1980 and 2000, making incarceration a growing area of national concern. At least 1.9 million minors have lost a parent due to incarceration, drawing developmental researchers’ attention to the ramifications of parental incarceration on these minors (Davis and Shlafer, 2016). A 2007 report from the United States Justice Department revealed that at least 50.4% of children ages 10-17 have a parent in a federal prison (Kautz, 2017). Although […]
Juveniles should not be Tried as Adults in the Legal System
Growing up everyone has friends of all social classes and behaviors. Many live wealthy lifestyles, and others not so fortunate. Many children loved going home after school and living the “Leave it to Beaver” home life. Others had a home life that was sad and created angst. They literally had nothing to eat and no safe place to sleep or rest their heads. Having hardworking and devoted parents is essential to create a better society. This makes a big difference […]
The Damage of Divorce on Children
Divorce has been an very prevalent and staggering topic in our current era of being doubly so as a citizen of the United States of America. Before even conducting this study, I was always curious and confused as to the outcome of divorce more specifically the effects on the child. I was always asking family members or those in my secondary group how the experience was and what did you take from what happend or was happening. The majority of […]
Essay about Juvenile Justice
By far the most common form of direct racial bias that Tim will come into contact with, is racial profiling, whereby authorities use stereotypes about a person’s race to single them out for greater scrutiny. Given that Tim’s neighborhood shows clear signs of social disorganization, it can be inferred that there are likely more police patrols in his city, due to the high crime rate. Jones-Brown, Stoudt, Johnston, & Moran (2013) identify “stop, question, and frisk” encounters that Tim is […]
My Opinion about Criminal Law
Question 1 My personal opinion is that parent responsibility laws should be on a case by case basis. Parenting is by no means an unfettered right and, as with many rights, it carries significant responsibilities. I do think that some of these responsibilities should be legal. In some of the most heinous crimes, parents should be criminally liable for the acts of their children. While there is no clear consensus about the causes of juvenile delinquency, I do feel that […]
ADHD Disorder in Juvenile Delinquents
There are many mental disorders that juvenile offenders exhibit. The most common behavioral disorder found in juvenile delinquents is ADHD (Rouse and Goldstein 1999). Like all children that act in the moment and don't think about future consequences, youth with ADHD have little self-control (Rouse and Goldstein 1999). Researchers found that children with attention deficit disorder are at a higher risk for substance abuse such as alcohol, marijuana, tobacco etc. (Sibley et al. 2014) In their study results they found […]
The Tough Guy Image in Black Families
Poverty can lead to the black male adherence to the tough guy image in black families. The tough guy image is the leading cause of death amongst black families. The fear of black on blacks is another cause by the tough guy image. According to the book the overwhelming number of offenses committed by African American are directed towards other African Americans. Interpersonal amongst blacks is the leading cause of death for blacks. Black males are known to make up […]
Juveniles Tried as Adults in Court
Every year, 200,000 adolescents are put under the adult criminal justice system and account for 1,200 of the 2 million individuals housed in prisons in the U.S (theatlantic.com). Youth who commit crimes that could lead them to be dangerous for society, should be tried as adults. No one should receive special treatment in court, jail, or prison because people of all ages commit the same type of crimes every day and should be held accountable. Therefore, both juveniles and adults […]
The Trending Battle Royale Video Game Fortnite
In today's society there is a lot of violence that is broadcast through many forms of media. There are violent video games, movies and even real life violence on the news and internet videos. Due to this over exposure of violence people are being desensitized to it. We tend to normalize things when we are exposed to it on a daily basis. The same thing happens with violence, being over exposed to it can cause people to become numb to […]
Juveniles Charged and Tried as Adults
Children and adults are different, and I think we can all agree on that fact. The United States law routinely recognizes when a juvenile is prohibited from buying a pack of cigarettes, beer, or voting in the U.S Presidential elections. In most states and District of Columbia, individuals under 18 years of age are consider juveniles. In fact, the first juvenile court was established in 1899 in Cook County Chicago, Illinois (Hemmns, Brody, Spohn, 2016, pp 143). Over the last […]
Should Juveniles be Bunished as Adults?
Introduction When it comes to individuals committing serious or harsh crimes, a sentence should match the crime that was committed. However, say this individual is under the age of 18. Should that make a difference in the amount of time they should serve, or should they serve any time at all? Based on age, states or locations, crimes committed and many other factors, we will discuss whether or not juveniles should be tried as adults. There are many arguments back […]
Incarcerated Adolescents Juveniles Confined as Adults for Homicide
Lionel Alexander Tate, who was charged with first degree murder, is America’s youngest citizen to be sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole. In 1998 when he was 12, Tate battered six-year old Tiffany Eunick to death when attempting to duplicate professional wrestling moves that he saw on television. This surprising act is one of many instances that strikes a question: at what age should someone be incarcerated as an adult? There is much controversy over whether […]
Crime and Deviant Behavior: Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Determining causes of crime and deviant behavior is a key goal for law enforcement officers in order for them to effectively implement public policy and better protect civilians. One contemporary theory that seeks to understand the causes of crime and deviance, and conceptualized by Ronald Akers and Robert Burgess, is the social learning theory of crime. According to this theory, crime is a result of learned social behavior. It incorporates Edwin H. Sutherland’s theory of differential association. Sutherland proposed nine […]
Underage Drinking for Americans
Since the Colonial era, consumption of alcoholic beverages has been a piece of American culture, its use by the youth has been acknowledged by adults as a major aspect of progression towards maturity (NIH, n.d.). This research paper will examine if underage drinking decrease or increase due to the age limit law, and also what theories explain why Juvenile participated in this kind of status offense. After gathering information from scholarly articles and reliable organizational sources, I was able to […]
Environmental Pressure of Adolescent Gang Violence in Inter-City’s
Introduction Poverty is the worlds biggest social problem. Within it there are lasting consequences for families forced to dwell in not so family friendly neighboring communities due to lack of income. There’s a stem that leads to every problem, and at the bottom of poverty lies gang affiliation in adolescent teens in poverty that of which are at an all-time high. I trust you have heard the phrase “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time […]
The Main Roles and Responsibilities of the Juvenile Justice System
Originally, the juvenile court was thought of as a social service organization that dealt with protecting and solving the problems of children in trouble. The primary role of the juvenile court was not to establish guilt, but rather to rehabilitate youthful offenders by eliminating the problem causing the juvenile to engage in delinquent behavior. Emphasis was placed on rehabilitation, attention, and education, and these beliefs became the basis of what is known as the juvenile justice system. The juvenile justice […]
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Juvenile Delinquency Research Paper
Introduction, increased juvenile offenders, juvenile delinquency is a disorder, abolition and integration, critics’ and abolitionists’ assumptions, correctional specialization.
Juvenile justice system has great legacy since it has served the society across the century despite its inherent flaws and weaknesses. Abolitionists and critics of juvenile justice system have capitalized on its inherent flaws and weakness to advocate for its abolition.
The defenders of the system on the other hand appreciate the marked role of juvenile justice system in rehabilitating juvenile delinquents and are advocating for the conservation of the system and reforming critical structures that will enable it to carry out its functions effectively.
The raging debate over abolition of juvenile justice system revolves around the efficiency of the system. If a system has flaws and weaknesses, there might be two options, to abolish or reform it.
In this case, the best way to improve efficiency in the juvenile justice system is by reformation. Abolition and integration of juvenile justice system into criminal justice system will not solve the inherent flaws in the two systems.
The integrated system will have deeper complicated flaws due to combination of systemic flaws that will degenerate into another quest for abolition, if that is the trend. In conclusion, the juvenile justice system needs reforms and not abolition.
Juvenile court system is a parallel criminal system provided for juvenile delinquents. Criminal justice system realized that juvenile offenders have special needs as compared to adult criminals in that they are young, and have great future to pursue; therefore, the main objective of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate them.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) asserts that, the objective of the juvenile justice system is to “encourage a process of behavioral change by helping the child or young person to feel accountable for his or her actions and understand their impact on others, and foster integration rather than alienation (2010, p. 4).
The juvenile justice system follows the same philosophy as in criminal justice system but it is more inclined to rehabilitating than punishing juvenile offenders.
Due to different approaches to justice, many critics have perceived juvenile justice system as a lenient approach of convicting juvenile criminals and are advocating for its abolition. This research paper explores the reasons why there should be no abolition of the juvenile justice system.
Critics of the juvenile justice system argue that the system has become ineffective in its objective and mission of protecting the rights of the juvenile offenders and rehabilitating them. The critics base their evidence in the rapid increase of juvenile offenders.
According to Dickens, “there is a general perception, sometimes correct and sometimes unjustified, that juvenile offending rates are increasing constantly and significantly, and that ever more serious and violent crimes are being committed by ever-younger children” (2007, p. 6). Regrettably, critics attribute the rapid increase of juvenile offenders to the weakness of the juvenile justice system.
This perception has greatly backed the critics’ bid in their abolition of juvenile justice system campaign citing that the system has failed in its mandate of punishing and rehabilitating juvenile delinquents. This line of argument is not valid since it does not consider other factors such as social dynamics and economic challenges in contemporary society.
It is not plausible to attribute a complex issue of increased incidences of juvenile delinquency to a single system as juvenile justice for there are many factors that need consideration.
The exponential rate of juvenile offenders in the contemporary society emanates from social and economic intricacies. According to UNICEF views, “…sudden and often extreme economic precariousness … the population quickly found itself when drastic measures were introduced to prepare for the market economy, and to the anomie and rejection of authority that often characterized the initial period of post-Communism” (6).
The rapid increase of juvenile offenders is due to changes in economic system. Transition from communism into capitalism tremendously increased the number of juvenile offenders because the change in economic system affected labor markets which affected families and by extension social and economic aspects of youth.
Therefore, instead of putting the whole blame on juvenile justice system, it is prudent to focus on probable factors that have led to the rapid increase in juvenile delinquencies. The function of the juvenile justice system is to correct juvenile delinquents through appropriate programs and not to prevent occurrence of crimes.
Even if there was an effective criminal justice system but social and economic aspects of the society were very poor, criminal activities will obviously increase. Therefore, abolition of juvenile justice system based on increased juvenile offenders is farfetched.
Juvenile delinquency is an adolescent disorder that affects children between the ages of about 7 and 17 years. Juveniles at this age normally experience adolescent disorder that affects their rational decision making abilities. The rational ability of a juvenile and an adult are not equal hence juveniles need special consideration in punishment and rehabilitation programs.
Scott and Steinberg argue that juveniles who constantly commit crimes, “in contrast to the vast majority of juvenile offenders, their involvement in crime does not only appear to be the product of adolescent immaturity; it has additional roots in the neurological, psychological, familial, and environmental deficits” (2008, p. 225). Based on this argument, juvenile delinquency results from a complex youth disorder that requires rehabilitation rather than punishing them.
Contemporary abolitionists want to merge criminal justice system and juvenile justice system without considering the unique needs of the juvenile offenders. It is imperative to realize and consider the unique psychological conditions of juvenile offenders by assigning them separate justice system that will consider their needs; therefore, juvenile justice system needs no abolition.
Leading abolitionist Barry Feld is advocating for an integrated justice system after he observed that the juvenile justice system failed terribly in its mission and vision of enforcing law. The mission and vision of the juvenile justice system is to provide a lenient justice environment, and separate juvenile offenders from adult criminals to rehabilitate them effectively.
Although Barry Feld agrees with this important goal, he argues that, “…the juvenile justice system was doomed to failure even from the beginning; because it was thrown into the role of providing child welfare at the same time it was instrument of law enforcement” (Sigel & Welsh, 2008, p. 522).
The critics and abolitionists of the juvenile justice system do not care about the welfare of the children because they are focusing more on legal punishment but they are forgetting the fact that juvenile delinquents still have great future to pursue unlike adult criminals. To improve the future wellbeing of the juvenile offenders, there should be no abolition of the juvenile justice system since it cares about children welfare through its rehabilitation program.
Abolitionists further argue that juvenile justice system has limited access to privileges of the criminal justice system. According to Scotts and Steinberg, “modern abolitionists argue that juveniles continue to receive inadequate representation and procedural protection, despite Gault extending to the juveniles many of the procedural protections enjoyed by adults in criminal trials, including right to an attorney” (2008, p. 226).
The primary purpose of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation but the abolitionists are advocating for substitution of this purpose with punishment. The abolitionists view justice from punishment perspective while the defenders of the juvenile justice system view it from welfare perspective.
Incorporation of juvenile justice system into criminal justice system will not help in reducing the incidences of juvenile delinquency but will worsen moral states of the juvenile offenders because there are no effective and specific rehabilitation programs for juvenile delinquents in criminal system.
Rehabilitation of the juvenile offenders is key objective and benefit of juvenile justice system and hence, its abolition will degenerate into poor rehabilitation.
The critics and abolitionists of the juvenile justice system base their arguments on assumptions that are impractical. Barry Feld and other abolitionists assume that it is quite impossible to reform the juvenile justice system due to conflicting roles of child welfare and punishment. He is proposing abolition and integration as the only means of achieving streamlined justice system for all.
He argues that, “the money spent on serving the court and its large staff would be better spent on the child welfare, which would target a larger audience and prevent children’s antisocial acts before they occur in lieu of juvenile court” (Siegel & Welsh, 2008, p. 523). From this argument, abolitionists do not want anything to do with the welfare of the children in the justice system.
They also perceive the juvenile justice system as ineffective in preventing further crimes. It is fair to judge the performance of the juvenile justice system on the number of juvenile delinquents who have undergo successful rehabilitation rather than judging them on crimes they have not prevented.
Barry Feld and other critics further assume that integration of the juvenile justice system will enable juvenile offenders receive complete procedural protection in the criminal justice system, which is practically impossible.
“It is naïve to assume the criminal courts can provide the same or greater substantive and procedural protection as the juvenile court … and may be impossible for juvenile offenders to obtain adequate legal defense in the adult system” (Siegel & Welsh, 2008, p. 522).
In the criminal justice system, many bureaucracies are under discretion of the judges and this will not augur well with the juveniles from minority community who are subject to racism, ethnicity and discrimination. Since the judges in the criminal have prerogatives to take into consideration the age factor and administer sentence, there is likelihood that there will be some bias.
It is preferably better to reform the juvenile justice system than abolish it because it provides unique procedural protection and rehabilitation to the juvenile offenders unlike the criminal justice system.
The basic important feature of the juvenile justice system is that it provides correctional specialization by separating adults and children.
“This basic and long-standing principle has two purposes: to protect children from exploitation, abuse and negative influences by the adults; and to ensure that the detention of children is effectively done in facilities that cater to their special needs” (UNICEF, 2010, p. 13).
Abolition and integration of juvenile justice system into the criminal justice system means that there will be no differential treatment of juveniles and adults.
Juvenile offenders not only receive protection from the influences of adults but they also get protection against unfair trial due to their ages. The juvenile justice system provides both protections; hence, its abolition will severely affect fair trial and rehabilitation as process of justice.
Juvenile offenders are very delicate and sensitive to the influences of adults, and harsh sentences will impair positive behavior change. Therefore, leniency and welfare objectives of the juvenile justice system creates conducive environment for effective rehabilitation.
The juvenile justice system has benefitted the juvenile offenders and the society for the last 100 years, thus it may seem unwise to abolish it rather than reforming it to keep abreast with dynamics of the justice systems.
“Juvenile courts allowed society to intervene early in the lives of troubled youth and they prevented a variety of horrors that occurred whenever young defendants were thrown in with adult criminals” (Butts, 2010, p. 25).
The system has enabled many youths to change their behaviour and pursue their dreams making them great people in the society. The flaws in the juvenile justice system can be mitigated in the long term provided the appropriate measures are put in place.
There are no flawless systems; however, during the course of time the hitherto flawed systems achieve perfection through reforms and not by abolition. Therefore, reformation of the juvenile justice system should strike a balance between public safety and the juveniles’ rights in building a better society for the benefit of everybody.
The critics and abolitionists of specialised justice systems like the juvenile justice system should channel their energies towards reforming rather than abolishing important institutions as the juvenile justice system. The more specialised systems of justice, the better the justice mechanisms in the society.
The juvenile justice system is a system that has stood the test of time amidst great challenges over a century. It is unreasonable to abolish the system that has served the society for a period of 100 years due to its inherent flaws.
Abolishing the system means discrediting its cumulative marked roles and substituting it with the criminal justice system that will not serve unique needs of the juvenile offenders is tantamount to ineptness.
Examining the legacy the juvenile justice system has build for a long period; the best way to reward the system is by carrying out objective reforms geared towards enhancing its legal structures rather than abolishing it.
Since every system has inherent flaws, time and experiences shape them for it is not reasonable to abolish any system in order to avoid flaws. In the light of these revelations, it suffices to say that, juvenile justice system needs reforms and not abolition.
Butts, J. (2010). Can we do without Juvenile Justice? American Bar Association, 4(2), 22-45.
Dickens, C. (2007). A perspective on the Juvenile Justice System. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 3(1), 4-18.
Scott, E., & Steinberg, L. (2008). Rethinking Juvenile Justice . New York: Harvard University Press
Sigel, L., & Welsh, B. (2008). Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law. New York: Cengage Learning.
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, (2010). Juvenile Justice. The Innocenti Digest, 1-24.
- Chicago (A-D)
- Chicago (N-B)
IvyPanda. (2020, January 19). Juvenile Delinquency. https://ivypanda.com/essays/juvenile-delinquency/
"Juvenile Delinquency." IvyPanda , 19 Jan. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/juvenile-delinquency/.
IvyPanda . (2020) 'Juvenile Delinquency'. 19 January.
IvyPanda . 2020. "Juvenile Delinquency." January 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/juvenile-delinquency/.
1. IvyPanda . "Juvenile Delinquency." January 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/juvenile-delinquency/.
IvyPanda . "Juvenile Delinquency." January 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/juvenile-delinquency/.
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