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Delinquent Behavior Essays

"Teenage crime" redirects here. For the song, see Teenage Crime (song).

Juvenile delinquency, also known as "juvenile offending", is participation in illegal behavior by minors (juveniles, i.e. individuals younger than the statutoryage of majority).[1] Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers, and courts. A juvenile delinquent in the United States is a person who is typically below 18 (17 in New York, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Texas) years of age and commits an act that otherwise would have been charged as a crime if they were an adult. Depending on the type and severity of the offense committed, it is possible for people under 18 to be charged and treated as adults.

In recent years[vague] a higher proportion of youth have experienced arrests by their early 20s than in the past, although some scholars have concluded this may reflect more aggressive criminal justice and zero-tolerance policies rather than changes in youth behavior.[2] Juvenile crimes can range from status offenses (such as underage smoking), to property crimes and violent crimes. Youth violence rates in the United States have dropped to approximately 12% of peak rates in 1993 according to official US government statistics, suggesting that most juvenile offending is non-violent.[3]

However, juvenile offending can be considered to be normative adolescent behavior.[4] This is because most teens tend to offend by committing non-violent crimes, only once or a few times, and only during adolescence. Repeated and/or violent offending is likely to lead to later and more violent offenses. When this happens, the offender often displayed antisocial behavior even before reaching adolescence.[5]


Juvenile delinquency, or offending, can be separated into three categories:

According to the developmental research of Moffitt (2006),[4] there are two different types of offenders that emerge in adolescence. One is the repeat offender, referred to as the life-course-persistent offender, who begins offending or showing antisocial/aggressive behavior in adolescence (or even in childhood) and continues into adulthood; and the age specific offender, referred to as the adolescence-limited offender, for whom juvenile offending or delinquency begins and ends during their period of adolescence.[5] Because most teenagers tend to show some form of antisocial or delinquent behavior during adolescence, it is important to account for these behaviors in childhood in order to determine whether they will be life-course-persistent offenders or adolescence-limited offenders.[5] Although adolescence-limited offenders tend to drop all criminal activity once they enter adulthood and show less pathology than life-course-persistent offenders, they still show more mental health, substance abuse, and financial problems, both in adolescence and adulthood, than those who were never delinquent.[7]

Gender roles and differences by sex[edit]

Juvenile delinquency occurrences by males are largely disproportionate to the rate of occurrences by females. This great gap between the crimes reinforce the connotations of traditional masculinity to be the center of violence, aggression, and competition. This is largely based on the notion that as males, it is their duty to take what they feel they deserve through these means to define themselves and play the role of provider and independent figure. These societal conditions are infringed by male peers, asserting the notion that the Panoptic that Jeremy Bentham described as an ideal self-regulation prison both literally and figuratively mimics the actions of male delinquents.

However, these delinquencies are not as prevalent in females in that they are expected to be more docile individuals and rely solely more on dependent characters, alleviating them from the need of committing delinquencies. Because aggression is not a desired characteristic, it has caused more commotion when females perform crimes that are often attributed to males. The acts of delinquency begin with the juvenile's expectations of their perceived roles through the direction of adults of both genders. Sandra Lee Bartky expresses these claims thoroughly in her work Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power by examining close observation of diction, action, and decorum. Boys learn to take as much space as possible when sitting, dress appropriately to stand out, and speak more demanding to assert his position and gain respect from fellow male peers. This expectation of leadership rarely enforced through peers largely dictates that delinquencies arise when male feel that they cannot assert or claim such respect through legal and practical means, thus enforcing violence is merely extenuating a desired trait to gain such position. Thus, delinquent behavior is expressed as an outlet especially to those of lower socioeconomic backgrounds that cannot gain precedence through conventional means.

Women face many obstacles living in today's society and some of these problems are even more difficult when young adolescent girls are faced with them. Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation are often found in the backgrounds of female juvenile offenders. Yet, very few resources are available to girls who are faced with these problems. This is why females have higher rates of committing status offences such as truancy, breaking curfew, running away. Female offenders are more likely to commit status offences than violent; and female offenders are less likely than male offenders to be arrested and formally charged for most offences. However, if the female ends up actually being charged, she is more likely than a male offender to be sentenced to secure confinement. Research has always primarily focused on the delinquent male population. Which is why it is extremely important research is being conducted in regards to female development, the nature of female risk and protective factors, and the effectiveness of intervention and prevention programs. Research also indicates an offender's outcome depends heavily upon, attitudes and experiences of professionals who work with girls. Among the research that does exist, it is noted that many individuals who work in the juvenile justice system maintain that girls are more difficult to work with than boys. With that said, it is extremely important that those working in these facilities are gender-specifically trained.

Gender role for females is to become more unnoticeable, a follower that does not need to stand out. Because of their condition to be more docile and dependent, the instinctive need to gain precedence is not as highly valued. Even respect comes in the form of different terms, as it is through how appropriately she conducts herself that seems innocent. This is also influenced by fellow peers such as mothers and other female figures apart from the authoritative male figure. In this instance, there is no need to urge to commit delinquency as the female is expected to rely on the male for his expected role as provider. It is through the act of needing to become dependent that enforces the feminine characteristics to seem as an alternative to delinquency. In fact, it has been largely stated that while masculinity induces such violent behavior, femininity is seen as the antithesis to delinquency.[8] Furthermore, it is assumed that because femininity and masculinity are portrayed to be opposites, they contain a bipolarity in society that forms an explanation to the staggering disproportionate ratio between convicted delinquents. A sociological study conducted and recorded in the article Gender Role Expectations of Juveniles, both a masculine and feminine test was created to be answered by kindergartners until high school, indicating what role expectations were among the sexes. The answers were predominantly that males were to provide through aggressive terms, while females should be the more docile, bolstering the bipolarity assumption. This is because gender-role socialization produces an absolutist stance toward rules and a receptiveness toward generalized moral standards among girls while boys tend to develop a more individualistic and relativistic view of rules.[8] The bipolarity assumption suggests that masculinity and femininity are opposites, and the assumption of unidimensionality implies that gender differences form a single scale.[9]

Interestingly, the impact of feminism has because the formation of a new trend as female delinquency has gone up. Because women are now able to take more the individualistic social stance and become the means of their own provisions, the lack of providing those means has caused a gender convergence of crime. Recent data and observations from the article indicate that gender role change necessarily means females' changing their gender role identification to become more like males', that is, toward masculine identification.[10] Thus, crime now committed by females resemble masculine behavior. This illustrates an alarming trend in which females decide to adopt traditional masculine practices to instigate the need to commit delinquent acts. This results in more violent behavior among females, juveniles and adult women alike, however, the feminist critique indicates that this is primarily women adopting to masculine methods in order to achieve equal respects, thus adopting such practice is not an indication of equality but as a means of resort still relegated under patriarchal constructs.

However, the indication of gender convergence is still seen permeating between the psychological and social causes of the delinquent behaviors among females. These findings even went to cases between androgynous individuals as they were perceived in test findings to become more inclined to delinquent behaviors than females counterparts, mimicking levels with of males. However, this also comes into how the androgynous individual expresses its sexual identity regardless of physiology. Sex differences in crime is prevalent in these terms because of studies indicating that differentiation acknowledgments between the sexes from the traditional masculine and feminine characters to the more androgynous ones also play an important psychological component. This important factor was done through a series of testing, indicating that differentiation is key to the convergence theory of crime that has bolstered the rise in female crime rates. Differentiation, in this case, showed that delinquency caused by androgynous individuals were self-reported and acknowledged more than the traditional counterparts.[10] Furthermore, females who considered themselves undifferentiated were more likely to become aggressors, but the reverse is true for undifferentiated males. This result from testing indicated that undifferentiated males inclined to more law-abiding practices, indicating that traditional masculine behavior supports high self-esteem for undifferentiated males. Because this contrasts to the data for undifferentiated females, this indicates that low self- esteem is primarily prevalent in females.

These qualities, however, are suggestive themes that point towards attitudes toward the police.[10] Data confirms that sex differences in crime relate to attitudes of legal authority as well as developmental stages with parents, prompting the undifferentiated behavior that associates with a risk of promoting delinquent behavior. The studies of gender behavior that makes juveniles amendable at their early developmental stage is a thorough analysis of why juveniles create delinquent behavior. Through feminist analysis, it is important that juvenile behavior be studied through the critique of the traditional masculine and feminine constructs to see how these attitudes shape the nature of the crimes committed between both sexes. From the gender roles expectations to convergence theory and differentiation, these psychological factors shape the risk of delinquency that juveniles may intend to act upon. More importantly, these suggestive studies are still being researched to promote safer behavior for juveniles.

Racial differences[edit]

There is also a significant skew in the racial statistics for juvenile offenders. When considering these statistics, which state that Black and Latino and White teens are more likely to commit juvenile offenses. It is important to keep the following in mind: poverty, or low socio-economic status are large predictors of low parental monitoring, harsh parenting, and association with deviant peer groups, all of which are in turn associated with juvenile offending. The majority of adolescents who live in poverty are racial minorities.[11] Also, minorities who offend, even as adolescents, are more likely to be arrested and punished more harshly by the law if caught.[12] Particularly concerning a non-violent crime and when compared to white adolescents. While poor minorities are more likely to commit violent crimes, one third of affluent teens report committing violent crimes.[4]

Ethnic minority status has been included as a risk factor of psychosocial maladaptation in several studies (e.g., Gutman et al. 2003; Sameroff et al. 1993; Dallaire et al. 2008), and represents a relative social disadvantage placed on these individuals. Though the relation between delinquency and race is complex and may be explained by other contextual risk variables (see, for example, Holmes et al. 2009), the total arrest rate for black juveniles aged 10–17 is more than twice that as of white juveniles (National Center for Juvenile Justice 2008, p. 1474).[13] This does not seem to be the case for the minority group of East Asian background.[citation needed]

According to the OJJDP Statistical Briefing Online Book, in each racial group, the juvenile arrest rate for all offenses combined generally increased from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s and then declined in recent years. Between 1980 and 2012, the total juvenile arrest rate decreased 59% for Asians, 55% for American Indians, 44% for whites, and 21% for black juveniles. In 2012, there were 3,362 arrests of white juveniles for every 100,000 white persons ages 10–17 in the population. In comparison, the Asian juvenile rate was about one-third (30%) the white rate, the American Indian rate was about 10% below the white rate and the black rate was more than double the white rate. The overall arrest rate for black juveniles peaked in 1995. For the other three racial groups, the arrest rates peaked in 1996. Between their peak years and 2011, the juvenile arrest rates declined for each racial group: the decline was 45% for black juveniles, 68% for Asians, 61% for American Indians, and 50% for whites.

Risk factors[edit]

The two largest predictors of juvenile delinquency are

  • parenting style, with the two styles most likely to predict delinquency being
  • "permissive" parenting, characterized by a lack of consequence-based discipline and encompassing two subtypes known as
  • "neglectful" parenting, characterized by a lack of monitoring and thus of knowledge of the child's activities, and
  • "indulgent" parenting, characterized by affirmative enablement of misbehavior
  • "authoritarian" parenting, characterized by harsh discipline and refusal to justify discipline on any basis other than "because I said so";
  • peer group association, particularly with antisocial peer groups, as is more likely when adolescents are left unsupervised.[4]

Other factors that may lead a teenager into juvenile delinquency include poor or low socioeconomic status, poor school readiness/performance and/or failure, peer rejection, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There may also be biological factors, such as high levels of serotonin, giving them a difficult temper and poor self-regulation, and a lower resting heart rate, which may lead to fearlessness. Delinquent activity, particularly the involvement in youth gangs, may also be caused by a desire for protection against violence or financial hardship, as the offenders view delinquent activity as a means of surrounding themselves with resources to protect against these threats. Most of these influences tend to be caused by a mix of both genetic and environmental factors.[4]

Individual risk factors[edit]

Individual psychological or behavioural risk factors that may make offending more likely include low intelligence, impulsiveness or the inability to delay gratification, aggression, lack of empathy, and restlessness.[11] Other risk factors that may be evident during childhood and adolescence include, aggressive or troublesome behavior, language delays or impairments, lack of emotional control (learning to control one's anger), and cruelty to animals.[14]

Children with low intelligence are more likely to do badly in school. This may increase the chances of offending because low educational attainment, a low attachment to school, and low educational aspirations are all risk factors for offending in themselves.[15][16][17] Children who perform poorly at school are also more likely to be truant, and the status offense of truancy is linked to further offending.[11] Impulsiveness is seen by some as the key aspect of a child's personality that predicts offending.[11] However, it is not clear whether these aspects of personality are a result of "deficits in the executive functions of the brain"[11] or a result of parental influences or other social factors.[18] In any event, studies of adolescent development show that teenagers are more prone to risk-taking, which may explain the high disproportionate rate of offending among adolescents.[4]

Family environment and peer influence[edit]

Family factors that may have an influence on offending include: the level of parental supervision, the way parents discipline a child, particularly harsh punishment, parental conflict or separation, criminal parents or siblings, parental abuse or neglect, and the quality of the parent-child relationship.[18] Children who develop behavioral problems early in life are at greater risk for continual life long antisocial behavior, criminal activity and violence.[19] Some have suggested that having a lifelong partner leads to less offending.[citation needed]

Juvenile Delinquency, which basically is the rebellious or unlawful activities by kids in their teens or pre-teens, is caused by four main risk factors namely; personality, background, state of mind and drugs. These factors may lead to the child having low IQ and may increase the rate of illiteracy.[20]

Children brought up by lone parents are more likely to start offending than those who live with two natural parents. It is also more likely that children of single parents may live in poverty, which is strongly associated with juvenile delinquency.[4] However once the attachment a child feels towards their parent(s) and the level of parental supervision are taken into account, children in single parent families are no more likely to offend than others.[18] Conflict between a child's parents is also much more closely linked to offending than being raised by a lone parent.[15]

If a child has low parental supervision they are much more likely to offend.[18] Many studies have found a strong correlation between a lack of supervision and offending, and it appears to be the most important family influence on offending.[11][18] When parents commonly do not know where their children are, what their activities are, or who their friends are, children are more likely to truant from school and have delinquent friends, each of which are linked to offending.[18] A lack of supervision is also connected to poor relationships between children and parents. Children who are often in conflict with their parents may be less willing to discuss their activities with them.[18]

Adolescents with criminal siblings are only more likely to be influenced by their siblings, and also become delinquen;if the sibling is older, of the same sex/gender, and warm.[14] Cases where a younger criminal sibling influences an older one are rare. An aggressive, non-loving/warm sibling is less likely to influence a younger sibling in the direction of delinquency, if anything, the more strained the relationship between the siblings, the less they will want to be like, and/or influence each other.[14]

Peer rejection in childhood is also a large predictor of juvenile delinquency. Although children are rejected by peers for many reasons, it is often the case that they are rejected due to violent or aggressive behavior. This rejections affects the child's ability to be socialized properly, which can reduce their aggressive tendencies, and often leads them to gravitate towards anti-social peer groups.[14] This association often leads to the promotion of violent, aggressive and deviant behavior. "The impact of deviant peer group influences on the crystallization of an antisocial developmental trajectory has been solidly documented."[14] Aggressive adolescents who have been rejected by peers are also more likely to have a "hostile attribution bias", which leads people to interpret the actions of others (whether they be hostile or not) as purposefully hostile and aggressive towards them. This often leads to an impulsive and aggressive reaction.[21] Hostile attribution bias however, can appear at any age during development and often lasts throughout a persons life.

Children resulting from unintended pregnancies are more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior.[22] They also have lower mother-child relationship quality.[23]

Applicable crime theories[edit]

There are a multitude of different theories on the causes of crime; most, if not all, of are applicable to the causes of juvenile delinquency.

Rational choice[edit]

Classical criminology stresses that causes of crime lie within the individual offender, rather than in their external environment. For classicists, offenders are motivated by rationalself-interest, and the importance of free will and personal responsibility is emphasized.[24]Rational choice theory is the clearest example of this idea. Delinquency is one of the major factors motivated by rational choice.

Social disorganization[edit]

Current positivist approaches generally focus on the culture. A type of criminological theory attributing variation in crime and delinquency over time and among territories to the absence or breakdown of communal institutions (e.g. family, school, church and social groups.) and communal relationships that traditionally encouraged cooperative relationships among people.


Strain theory is associated mainly with the work of Robert Merton. He felt that there are institutionalized paths to success in society. Strain theory holds that crime is caused by the difficulty those in poverty have in achieving socially valued goals by legitimate means.[24] As those with, for instance, poor educational attainment have difficulty achieving wealth and status by securing well paid employment, they are more likely to use criminal means to obtain these goals.[25] Merton's suggests five adaptations to this dilemma:

  1. Innovation: individuals who accept socially approved goals, but not necessarily the socially approved means.
  2. Retreatism: those who reject socially approved goals and the means for acquiring them.
  3. Ritualism: those who buy into a system of socially approved means, but lose sight of the goals. Merton believed that drug users are in this category.
  4. Conformity: those who conform to the system's means and goals.
  5. Rebellion: people who negate socially approved goals and means by creating a new system of acceptable goals and means.

A difficulty with strain theory is that it does not explore why children of low-income families would have poor educational attainment in the first place. More importantly is the fact that much youth crime does not have an economic motivation. Strain theory fails to explain violent crime, the type of youth crime that causes most anxiety to the public.

Differential association[edit]

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


Labeling theory is a concept within Criminology that aims to explain deviant behavior from the social context rather than looking at the individual themselves. It is part of Interactionism criminology that states that once young people have been labeled as criminal they are more likely to offend.[24] The idea is that once labelled as deviant a young person may accept that role, and be more likely to associate with others who have been similarly labelled.[24] Labelling theorists say that male children from poor families are more likely to be labelled deviant, and that this may partially explain why there are more working class young male offenders.[15]

Social control[edit]

Social control theory proposes that exploiting the process of socialization and social learning builds self-control and can reduce the inclination to indulge in behavior recognized as antisocial. The four types of control can help prevent juvenile delinquency are:

Direct: by which punishment is threatened or applied for wrongful behavior, and compliance is rewarded by parents, family, and authority figures. Internal: by which a youth refrains from delinquency through the conscience or superego. Indirect: by identification with those who influence behavior, say because his or her delinquent act might cause pain and disappointment to parents and others with whom he or she has close relationships. Control through needs satisfaction, i.e. if all an individual's needs are met, there is no point in criminal activity.

Mental/conduct disorders[edit]

Juvenile delinquents are often diagnosed with different disorders. Around six to sixteen percent of male teens and two to nine percent of female teens have a conduct disorder. These can vary from oppositional-defiant disorder, which is not necessarily aggressive, to antisocial personality disorder, often diagnosed among psychopaths.[26] A conduct disorder can develop during childhood and then manifest itself during adolescence.[27]

Juvenile delinquents who have recurring encounters with the criminal justice system, or in other words those who are life-course-persistent offenders, are sometimes diagnosed with conduct disorders because they show a continuous disregard for their own and others safety and/or property. Once the juvenile continues to exhibit the same behavioral patterns and turns eighteen he is then at risk of being diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and much more prone to become a serious criminal offender.[28] One of the main components used in diagnosing an adult with antisocial personality disorder consists of presenting documented history of conduct disorder before the age of 15. These two personality disorders are analogous in their erratic and aggressive behavior. This is why habitual juvenile offenders diagnosed with conduct disorder are likely to exhibit signs of antisocial personality disorder early in life and then as they mature. Some times these juveniles reach maturation and they develop into career criminals, or life-course-persistent offenders. "Career criminals begin committing antisocial behavior before entering grade school and are versatile in that they engage in an array of destructive behaviors, offend at exceedingly high rates, and are less likely to quit committing crime as they age."[28]

Quantitative research was completed on 9,945 juvenile male offenders between the ages of 10 and 18 in the 1970s.[where?] The longitudinal birth cohort was used to examine a trend among a small percentage of career criminals who accounted for the largest percentage of crime activity.[29] The trend exhibited a new phenomenon among habitual offenders. The phenomenon indicated that only 6% of the youth qualified under their definition of a habitual offender (known today as life-course persistent offenders, or career criminals) and yet were responsible for 52% of the delinquency within the entire study.[29] The same 6% of chronic offenders accounted for 71% of the murders and 69% of the aggravated assaults.[29] This phenomenon was later researched among an adult population in 1977 and resulted in similar findings. S. A. Mednick did a birth cohort of 30,000 males and found that 1% of the males were responsible for more than half of the criminal activity.[30] The habitual crime behavior found among juveniles is similar to that of adults. As stated before most life-course persistent offenders begin exhibiting antisocial, violent, and/or delinquent behavior, prior to adolescence. Therefore, while there is a high rate of juvenile delinquency, it is the small percentage of life-course persistent, career criminals that are responsible for most of the violent crimes.


Delinquency prevention is the broad term for all efforts aimed at preventing youth from becoming involved in criminal, or other antisocial, activity.

Because the development of delinquency in youth is influenced by numerous factors, prevention efforts need to be comprehensive in scope. Prevention services may include activities such as substance abuse education and treatment, family counseling, youth mentoring, parenting education, educational support, and youth sheltering. Increasing availability and use of family planning services, including education and contraceptives helps to reduce unintended pregnancy and unwanted births, which are risk factors for delinquency. Education is the great equalizer, opening doors to lift themselves out of poverty.... Education also promotes economic growth, national productivity and innovation, and values of democracy and social cohesion.[31] Prevention through education aides the young people to interact more effectively in social contexts, therefore diminishing need for delinquency.

It has been noted that often interventions may leave at-risk children worse off then if there had never been an intervention.[32] This is due primarily to the fact that placing large groups of at risk children together only propagates delinquent or violent behavior. "Bad" teens get together to talk about the "bad" things they've done, and it is received by their peers in a positive reinforcing light, promoting the behavior among them.[32] A well-known intervention treatment that has not increased the prevention of juvenile delinquency is the Scared Straight Treatment. “The harmful effects of Scared Straight and boot-camp programs may be attributable to juvenile offenders’ vicarious exposure to criminal role models, to the increased resentment engendered in them by confrontational interactions, or both” [33] This suggests that exposure to criminals could create a sense of idealization and defeat the entire purpose of scared straight treatment. Also, this treatment doesn’t acknowledge the psychological troubles that the teenager may be experiencing. As mentioned before, peer groups, particularly an association with antisocial peer groups, is one of the biggest predictors of delinquency, and of life-course-persistent delinquency. The most efficient interventions are those that not only separate at-risk teens from anti-social peers, and place them instead with pro-social ones, but also simultaneously improve their home environment by training parents with appropriate parenting styles,[32] parenting style being the other large predictor of juvenile delinquency.

Critique of risk factor research[edit]

Two UK academics, Stephen Case and Kevin Haines, among others, criticized risk factor research in their academic papers and a comprehensive polemic text, Understanding Youth Offending: Risk Factor Research, Policy and Practice.

The robustness and validity of much risk factor research is criticized for:

  • Determinism, e.g. characterising young people as passive victims of risk experiences with no ability to construct, negotiate or resist risk;
  • Imputation, e.g. assuming that risk factors and definitions of offending are homogenous across countries and cultures, assuming that statistical correlations between risk factors and offending actually represent causal relationships, assuming that risk factors apply to individuals on the basis of aggregated data.
  • Reductionism, e.g. over-simplfying complex experiences and circumstances by converting them to simple quantities, relying on a psychosocial focus while neglecting potential socio-structural and political influences;

Juvenile sex crimes[edit]

Juveniles who commit sexual crimes refer to individuals adjudicated in a criminal court for a sexual crime.[34] Sex crimes are defined as sexually abusive behavior committed by a person under the age of 18 that is perpetrated "against the victim's will, without consent, and in an aggressive, exploitative, manipulative, and/or threatening manner".[35] It is important to utilize appropriate terminology for juvenile sex offenders. Harsh and inappropriate expressions include terms such as "pedophile, child molester, predator, perpetrator, and mini-perp"[36] These terms have often been associated with this group, regardless of the youth’s age, diagnosis, cognitive abilities, or developmental stage.[36] Using appropriate expressions can facilitate a more accurate depiction of juvenile sex offenders and may decrease the subsequent aversive psychological affects from using such labels.[36] In the Arab Gulf states [sic], homosexual acts are classified as an offense, and constitute one of the primary crimes for which juvenile males are charged.[37]

Prevalence data[edit]

Examining prevalence data and the characteristics of juvenilesex offenders is a fundamental component to obtain a precise understanding of this heterogeneous group. With mandatory reporting laws in place, it became a necessity for providers to report any incidents of disclosed sexual abuse. Longo and Prescott indicate that juveniles commit approximately 30-60% of all child sexual abuse.[36] The Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports indicate that in 2008 youth under the age of 18 accounted for 16.7% of forcible rapes and 20.61% of other sexual offenses.[38] Center for Sex Offender Management indicates that approximately one-fifth of all rapes and one-half of all sexual child molestation can be accounted for by juveniles.[39]

Official record data[edit]

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention indicates that 15% of juvenile arrests occurred for rape in 2006, and 12% were clearance (resolved by an arrest).[40] The total number of juvenile arrests in 2006 for forcible rape was 3,610 with 2% being female and 36% being under the age of 15 years.[40] This trend has declined throughout the years with forcible rape from 1997–2006 being −30% and from 2005 to 2006 being −10%.[40] The OJJDP reports that the juvenile arrest rate for forcible rape increased from the early 1980s through the 1990s and at that time it fell again.[40] All types of crime rates fell in the 1990s.[citation needed] The OJJDP also reported that the total number of juvenile arrests in 2006 for sex offenses (other than forcible rape) was 15,900 with 10% being female and 47% being under the age of 15.[40] There was again a decrease with the trend throughout the years with sex offenses from 1997 to 2006 being −16% and from 2005 to 2006 being −9%.[40]

Males who commit sexual crimes[edit]

Barbaree and Marshall indicate that juvenile males contribute to the majority of sex crimes, with 2–4% of adolescent males having reported committing sexually assaultive behavior, and 20% of all rapes and 30–50% of all child molestation are perpetrated by adolescent males.[34] It is clear that males are over-represented in this population. This is consistent with Ryan and Lane’s research indicating that males account for 91-93% of the reported juvenile sex offenses.[35] Righthand and Welch reported that females account for an estimated 2–11% of incidents of sexual offending.[41] In addition, it reported by The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention that in the juvenile arrests during 2006, African American male youth were disproportionately arrested (34%) for forcible rape. In one case in a foster home a 13-year-old boy raped a 9-year-old boy by having forced anal sex with him, in a court hearing the 9-year-old boy said he has done this multiple times, that the 13-year-old boy was charged for sexual assault.[40]

Juvenile sex crimes internationally[edit]

Sexual crimes committed by juveniles are not just an issue in the United States. Studies from the Netherlands show that out of 3200 sex offenders recorded by police in 2009, 672 of those were juveniles, approximately 21 percent of sexual offenders. The study also points out the male to female ratio of sexual predators.[42]

In 2009, a U.S. congressman proposed legislature that would create an International Sex Offender Registry. The bill was introduced due to the fact that because laws differ in different countries someone who is on the sex offender registry in the U.S. who may be barred from living certain places and doing certain activities has free range in other less developed countries. This can lead to child sex tourism, when a sexual predator will go to less developed countries and prey on young boys and girls. Karne Newburn in his article, The Prospect of an International Sex Offender Registry, pointed out some serious flaws in the proposed bill, such as creating safety issues within the communities for the sex offenders placed on the registry. Newburn suggested instead of creating an International Sex Offender Registry from the U.S. model the U.S. join other countries in a dialogue on creating an effective model. As of now no registry exists. Despite this there is still interest in creating some sort of international registry.[43]

See also[edit]

1936 poster promoting planned housing as a method to deter juvenile delinquency, showing silhouettes of a child stealing a piece of fruit and the older child involved in armed robbery.

In this essay we will discuss about Juvenile Delinquency. After reading this essay you will learn about: 1. Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency 2. Meaning of Juvenile Delinquency 3. Incidence 4. Causes 5. Variables 6.  Treatment.


  1. Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency
  2. Meaning of Juvenile Delinquency
  3. Incidence of Juvenile Delinquency
  4. Causes of Juvenile Delinquency
  5. Variables of Juvenile Delinquency
  6. Treatment of Juvenile Delinquency

Essay # 1. Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency:

Delinquency has always been considered as a social problem over and above the fact that it is a legal problem. It is also a psychological problem. Hence to avoid this social evil one has to tackle the complex problem of delinquency from the social psychological and to familial angles.

Although laws regarding Juvenile delinquencies have been formed long since, they are also being changed from time to time. Currently, in all the progressive and civilized countries of the world the laws with regard to the Juvenile delinquents have been changed.

Special courts are established with specially trained Magistrates for the trial of the delinquents. Today delinquency is being considered as a misbehaviour, a social nuisense than a crime. So, in every state the children’s Act (1944) required custody, control and punishment of young offenders.

It also provides for the establishment of reformatory schools for them. But the revised Bombay children’s Act of 1948 provided not only for custody and control but also for treatment and rehabilitation of young offenders.

Essay # 2. Meaning of Juvenile Delinquency:

Crime committed by children and adolescents under the age of 18 years, is called delinquency. The maximum age limit and also the meaning of delinquency varies from country to country. But it is always below 18 years of age which is the statutory age for delinquency.

In India any person between the age of 7 and 18 years, who violates the provisions of the children’s Acts, the IPC and the CPO will be considered as delinquent. Persons above this age are considered as criminals.

Juvenile delinquency is defined by the Pensylvania Juvenile Court Act as “A delinquent child is one who violated any laws of the common wealth ordinance of the city, a child who by reasons of being way ward or habitually disobedient is uncontrolled by his parents, guardian, custodian or legal representative, a child who is habitually trunt from school or home or child who habitually so deports himself is to injury or endanger the moral or health of himself or others”.

Delinquency in the view of the Coleman (1981) refers to “behaviour of youths under 18 years of age which is not acceptable to society and is generally regarded as calling for some kind of admonishment punishment or corrective actions”.

Delinquency includes all sorts of crimes committed by children. Starting from the business and use of illegal drugs and homicide murder, it may include various types of dangerous criminal offences.

Delinquency undoubtedly is a social evil. It is a socially unacceptable behaviour committed by boys and girls below the age of 18 years. Instead of giving these delinquents punishment, they are kept in Juvenile jail and correction homes where various corrective measures are taken to change their behaviour in the positive direction.

It is observed that crime and delinquency are increasing day by day with the increase in population and complexity of culture. As population increases the small societies become bigger ones and are found in the form of mass society.

In mass societies there is less scope for mutual interaction and face to face contact. The family bonds and community bonds thus become weak to weaker. Now a days no one knows or cares to know who is staying next door. Parents and children do not meet.

While motivation is derived from the Latin word “Movere” which means move, social motivation refers to those social factors and situations which influence the person to behave in a particular style in a society. To eat is a biogenic need, but what to eat and how to eat is influenced by social forces and social interaction.

One feels hungry, it is a biogenic need but how to satisfy these hunger need and where to ask for food is determined by socialization process.

A child who has gone to a neighbour’s house to play, feels hungry, but he has been taught not to ask for food from outsiders. He is taught only to ask for food at his own house. This is a case of biological motive being influenced by socialization process.

Most of our needs and motives, attitudes and aspirations regarding food, dress, style of living are determined by our cultural values and norms of the society. The process of socialization puts a strong stamp mark on the behaviour of an individual in the society.

Essay # 3. Incidence of Juvenile Delinquency:

Coleman’s Study (1981) indicates that the rate of delinquency increased by 100 per cent within seven years i.e., between 1968-1975. Though, mainly boys are involved in delinquency, now a days it is found that girls are also actively engaged in this antisocial work.

During these 20 years delinquency has further increased. One may not believe, but it is true that almost half of the serious crimes in U.S.A. are committed by juveniles.

Common delinquent acts in females are sexual offences, small thefts, drug usage, running away from home etc. Among the males delinquents are more engaged in stealing, drug usage, robbery, aggravated assaults, sexual abuses etc. Particularly, now a days, the incidence of delinquency is increasing alarmingly in large metropolitan cities and this has become a matter of great concern for the public and country.

While evidences from some studies show that children from lower class families and those residing in slum areas are more engaged in delinquency, other studies do not support this view. In an important study, Heary and Gold (1973) found significant relationship between social status and delinquent behaviour.

In another significant study, it was noticed that the rate of delinquency in case of socially disadvantaged youths appears about equal for whites and non-whites.

Like any other country, as reports of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt, of India, shows, there is a steady rise in the percentage of delinquency in India. While it was 16,160 in 1961, it was, 40,666 in 1974. Thus, in 13 years the increase in the incidence of delinquency, as reports show, has the highest percentage of Juvenile crimes (24.8%).

Second place goes to M.P. (20.5%) and third place to Gujarat (10.9%). Kerala has an incidence rate of only 0.2%.

Essay # 4. Causes of Delinquency:

In many under-developed and developing countries including many parts of India, criminal tendency of a person is looked upon as the results of evil deeds in the past life of the parents. This is undoubtedly a misconception and prejudice.

In the other extreme of the case, when a child develops delinquency many believe that it is due to the fault actions, omissions and commissions of his parents during his childhood.

Delinquents lack ethical standards and emotional ties. They are very impulsive and indulge in acts at the spur of the moment. They are socially insensitive and lack guilt feeling. Delinquents, inspite of their socially unacceptable behaviours, created difficulties for the self as well as for others.

Considered as a learned behaviour, delinquency was found to be highly correlated with low life styles with lack of recreational facilities and lack of permanent residence.

Essay # 5. Variables of Juvenile Delinquency:

The variables of delinquency may broadly be divided into:

(A) Personality characteristics of individual factors

(B) General socio-cultural factors indulging family pattern and interaction, delinquent gang and subculture.

(A) Personality Characteristics/ Individual Factors:

No social factors alone-can contribute to the causation of delinquency though social and cultural factors contribute their share to delinquency. Personality characteristics and individual factors also contribute a lot to the causation of delinquency.

(i) Brain Damage:

As per the reports of Caputo and Mandell (1970), Kiestor (1974) in about one per cent of the delinquents brain damage leads to lower inhibitory controls and a tendency to show violent behaviour. The genetic theorists argue the presence of an extra ‘Y’ chromosome in delinquents.

(ii) Psychopathic Personality:

Large number of persistent delinquents have been found to possess the traits and characteristics of antisocial and psychopathic personalities. A number of studies conducted in UK and India using Eysenck’s personality inventory show delinquents to be more extroverts, more neurotic, more psychotic and to have more criminal tendencies than the control group.

They seem to be quite impulsive, callus, and socially insensitive, they do not have the feelings of sorrow, guilt and repentance. They are not able to establish suitable interpersonal relationship and they do not learn anything from experience in a constructive way.

The persistent delinquents also do not seem to have any reality control or inner conscience or morality. So, they indulge in whatever they wish, which give them pleasure and satisfy their ego with assessing its impact upon the society and their final consequence.

For example, they may steal a very little money actually they do not need or they may steal a scooter, a car or snatch a golden chain without any need or necessity.

Just to fulfil their aggressive and sadistic tendency they may drive their car to a small distance, break some parts of the car and leave it there. They just want to satisfy their destructive tendency, which gives them pleasure. Many psychopathic delinquents are found to cut the brand new cushions in theaters and movie halls.

This author has also observed many delinquents of 10-12 years age who are in the habit of breaking the electric bulb in every lamp post on the road without any reason, in the presence of other people in broad day light. They just did not care, use abusive language and again repeat their aggressive behaviour with more vigour.

Actually, the delinquents do not involve themselves in such nuisance for personal gain, but it really reflects their underlying resentment and hostility towards the outer world, the world for which they have no feeling of involvement or belongingness.

There are others who just move around in a gang aimlessly and get pleasure in eve teasing, in passing filthy remarks whenever a member of the fair sex passes by. Such people are really at the mercy of their uncontrolled, uninhibited impulses.

It would be interesting to note that currently the incidence of psychopathic personality in female delinquents has increased quite rapidly as reports suggest. Fine and Fishman (1968) conducted a study on 155 girls in a State Correctional Institution in Kentuky to know their general personality characteristics.

They found rebelliousness, inadequacy, impulsiveness, instability and immature characteristics commonly found in the psychopathic personality.

It was also found by Ganzer and Sarason (1973) that females more frequently come from personally and socially disorganised families than did males. The theories of both sheldon and Eysenck stress genetic aspects along with environmental aspects to explain delinquent behaviour.

(iii) Drug Abuse:

Quite a large number of delinquents particularly those who are engaged in theft, prostitution and physical assault are found to be addicted to drugs, like heroin, secobarbital and alcohol. Drug addicted females are usually engaged in stealing and prostitution.

(iv) Mental Retardation/Mental Deficiency:

Various studies have been conducted to find out the relationship between intelligence and delinquent behaviour to solve the controversy whether delinquency is environmental or genetic. Long ago, an Italian Scientist Lumbroso made certain empirical studies on crime, and held that criminals have defective physical structure and defective intelligence.

Therefore, various steps have been taken to measure the I.Q. of Juvenile delinquents to verify this view. The study conducted by Healy, Burt and others have demonstrated clearly that delinquents are not mental defectives.

But, nevertheless, the average intelligence of the delinquent group is lower than the average intelligence of the normal group. It is also found that compared to the normal children a larger proportion of mental defectives are found in the Juvenile group.

Various investigators have reported different percentage of average I.Q. for the delinquents, compared to the average I.Q. of the normal as 100. Healy and Bronner (1926) found it to be 90, Burt (1925) found it to be 85, Merril (1947) found it to be 92.5.

The above data of different investigators reveal that the average intelligence of delinquents happen to be lower than the average I.Q. of normals. These data also give clear signal that the Juvenile delinquents as a group, at large, are not mentally defective though they are below average.

However, a low intelligence and mental retardation among 5% of the delinquents may be accounted to delinquent behaviour. Such people have no foresight to the consequences and significance of their action.

That is why, they commit various impulsive behaviour, like small aggressive acts, petty stealing and various other sexual offences. Even more intelligent psychopaths and gangs exploit them and include them in their group. In some cases, mental retardation is associated with serious brain damage and leads to a combination of features of both the organic and the mentally retarded delinquents.

The above facts lead one to conclude that Juvenile delinquents differ from normal persons in degree and not in kind so far, as their I.Q. is concerned. Hence, Juvenile delinquents cannot be looked upon as a group of mental defectives.

Some other studies also show that below 70 I.Q. there are only about 3% of the children who are mental defectives in an unselected population of children. But in the delinquent groups there are 12 to 15 per cent mental defectives.

Thus, the number of mentally defective children among the delinquents is about 4-5 times larger than in a normal population says Kupuswamy. Uday Sankar (1958) conducted a study 011 the mental ability of the delinquents and found that the proportions of mentally defective children is very high among the 140 Juvenile delinquents he has studied. 27.4% of them are below 70 I.Q.

Merril made a comparative study of the average intelligence of the delinquents and non-delinquents. It was found that the average intelligence of juvenile delinquents from socially and economically handicapped group is low.

While those coming from higher socio economic groups was higher. The average intelligence of children from the non- delinquent, but lower groups is also low. Merril took a controlled group and an experimental group, each group with 300 boys and girls.

In the experimental group, the 300 boys and girls were delinquents while in the control group they were non-delinquents. The socio-economic status of both the groups were kept constant. Results showed that while the average I.Q. of the 300 delinquents children was 86.7, the average I.Q. of the 300 non-delinquent children was 89.3.

The results, thus, did not show any significant difference between the I.Q. of the controlled and the experimental group though there was some obtained difference. So, Merril held that it is not justified to assume that larger proportion of the delinquents have lower I.Q. However, it is possible that the higher I.Q. delinquents and criminal may utilize the lower I.Q. children for their criminal purpose and gang work.

In case, they are caught by the police, the intelligent juveniles escape while the less intelligent juveniles arc trapped. Such incidents are not rare in our society. The innocent ones are caught easily because of their lack of understanding and lack of capacity to solve the immediate problems facing them.

(v) Neurosis:

About 3 to 5 per cent of delinquent behaviour, seems to be directly associated with psychoneurotic disorders. Here, the delinquent act is mainly tinged with compulsive behaviour, such as stealing things which one actually does not need, or compelled to do.

He will not be stable and remain at peace unless he does these acts. This type of compulsive acts also lead to sexual deviant behaviour because of the sexual restrictions and beliefs that masturbation and other forms of overt sexual behaviour are very much undesirable and a sin.

(vi) Psychosis:

In a limited number of cases, i.e. about 3 to 5%, delinquent, behaviour is associated with psychotic disorders. In Bandurar’s opinion (1973) often this involves prolonged emotional and social withdrawal arising out of long standing frustration.

Then, there is an explosive outburst of violent behaviour like volcanic eruption. Here, the delinquent act is the function of terrible personality, maladjustment and disturbances rather than a consistent antisocial orientation.

(vii) Emotional Problems:

Delinquency as an antisocial personality is the function of certain pathological and ill developed social environment. Wrong handling and faulty upbringing of the child lead to several emotional problems in the child. Various observations, case histories and interviews have indicated that quite a high percentage of the delinquents displayed emotional disturbances.

Heally and Bronner found that 92% of the delinquents showed emotional disturbances. Feeling of inadequacy, inferiority etc. were frequently found in them. In about 50% of the group, they were persistently present.

The feeling of insecurity, rejection of the parents and other members of the family were next important factors causing delinquent behaviour. About 33% of the group experienced strong feeling of being thwarted. Disharmony and problems of discipline were found in one third of the delinquents.

Quite a number of them also expressed sibling rivalry and jealousy. All these data lead to show that various emotional problems like insecurity, inferiority, jealousy, feeling of being neglected and let down were very common among the delinquent children.

The need for recognition and resentment against the sense of insecurity provides enough scope for a person to be delinquent. Rebellious feeling in oneself makes one antisocial and delinquent.

Because of these emotional problems which are created by dehumanised social conditions the person becomes a delinquent and tries to take action, against others. It is a fact that by their antisocial, sadistic and aggressive action they try to get pleasure and mental satisfaction.

Because of their emotional problems, they should be considered as maladjusted personalities and not as peculiar human beings, who differ from other human beings not in degree but in kind. They should not be considered as abnormal human beings.

Their needs and desires are very much normal, but they have become so because of faulty family upbringing. They become hostile and aggressive because they feel threatened and insecured.

According to Friedlander, delinquent character is the result of three factors:

(i) The strength of the unmodified instinctive urges,

(ii) The weaknesses of the ego and

(iii) The lack of independence and strength of the super ego. He is not able to control his impulsive needs. In his case neither realistic considerations, nor moral considerations operate to check his impulsive actions. Stott (1950) holds that delinquent breaks down is an escape from emotional situation which for the particular individual with the various conditioning of his background becomes almost temporarily invariable.

(viii) Faulty Discipline and Child Rearing Practice:

When the parents or one of them use rigid discipline, it increases hostility in the child. Why? Because of rigid discipline all his wishes and desires are suppressed and restrained. This leads to the development of an antisocial, rebellious and hostile personality in the growing child.

By constant suppression of desires the child never feels free and clear. Conflicting views of parents and teachers regarding discipline also contribute.

If the child rearing practices are faulty and are based on rigid, dictatorial principles, if the child is always left to cry and cry, if the child is not handled with due love and affection, if the discipline is harsh, inconsistent and irrational, his suppressed and repressed aggression is vented through anti-social and delinquent behaviour.

Prolonged parental deprivation particularly at the early age of life, between 1-5 years is extremely adverse for the normal personality development of the child. The affectionless and loveless life due to proper parenting and judicious child rearing practices lead to several maladjustments and in some cases juvenile delinquency.

Bowlby (1946) compared 44 children who committed various thefts and hence were kept in the London child Guidance Clinic for treatment with 44 normal children of the same age and Socio-economic status, who came to the clinic for treatment but who did not steal.

Results showed that 17 of the 44 thief’s had suffered from prolonged separation from their mothers. But in the control group only 02 were separated from their mothers.

Of course, the question why the remaining 27 thief’s of the experimental group inspite of being with their mother took recourse to thefts has not been explained by this factor. But there are other factors besides parental deprivation which influence the development of delinquency.

Stott is of opinion that security, affection, love and proper attention from the parents are basically required for the proper growth of personality of the child. Those children who do not get this from their parents become susceptible to delinquency.

By becoming delinquents they try to get attention from their parents. Further they with an attitude of revolt try to teach their parents a lesson. Some also become vindictive and develop antisocial, reactionary, negative behaviour. They get sadistic satisfaction by giving pain to their parents and causing them worry. They get pleasure by seeing them suffering.

Lower socio-economic status parents usually remain absent from home for earning their bread. Both the father and mother work from morning to evening outside. So the child is deprived from parental care and is neglected.

They also cannot provide a baby sister to take care of the baby because of their poverty. Since the parents of low S.E.S. are not properly educated and properly trained, they cannot take proper care of their children. To add to this the school going children do not get scope for going to good school for their educational and social development. All these factors either separately or in combination pave the way for delinquency.

(ix) Broken Homes:

Studies show that children coming from broken homes, where parents are separated or divorced, lead to delinquent behaviour, than those children coining from broken homes where the home is broken by the death of the parents or one of the parents. In Western countries, where separation and divorce of parents are more common, this is a major cause of delinquency.

But in India, though currently separation and divorce cases are increasing day by day, they are not so rampant like their Western counterparts and hence, is not a major cause of delinquency.

In a study of institutionalized delinquents in the State of Colorado, Barker and Adams (1962) found that only about one-third of the boys and girls come from complete home setting, i.e. where they live with both their original parents. British and American Investigations reveal that nearly 50 per cent of the delinquents come from broken homes.

(x) Socio-pathic Parental Models:

Glueck and Glueck (1969), Ulmar (1971) and Bandura (1973) have found high presence of socio- pathic traits in the parents of the delinquents. Socio-pathic traits include alcoholism, brutality, anti­social attitudes, failure to provide unnecessary frequent absences from home, lack of communication with the child etc. All these traits make the father an inadequate and unacceptable model for the child.

According to Scharfman and Clark (1967) the chief variables of the delinquent behaviour of girls were:

(a) Broken homes combined with emotional deprivation,

(b) Irrational, harsh and inconsistent parental discipline,

(c) Patterns of only aggressive and sexual behaviour modelled by psychopathic parents.

(xi) Parental Absenteeism:

In studies on juvenile delinquency, Martin (1961) and others have emphasized the feeling of unrelatedness and detachment from the family and society as a key cause of delinquency. Communication gap with one or both parents leads to the failure to learn appropriate social values. This finally leads to a tendency to act out inner tension in hostile and destructive manner.

The question is why this feeling of unrelatedness or insecurity arises in young people who differ vastly in age I.Q., personality make up and socio-economic standard. A key source of this feeling appears to be parental absenteeism.

When parents are too much absorbed in their own occupations and activities and do not provide the youth optimum attention, necessary support and encouragement during the crisis period of the growing age, they turn to peers and others as models who might be lacking the qualities of ideal models for the child.

(xii) Mother Dominance:

When the father is mostly busy with his own work and commitments or in other works, and if he plays a submissive role in the family, the mother takes over the function of providing affection and discipline of the boy.

In certain cases, it is found that by nature the mother because of her aggressive personality pattern or earning capacity plays a dominant role compared to the father. When the child grows up with a mother dominance atmosphere in the family, he starts identifying with the mother and greatly depends upon him as a role model.

With this type of attitude when he reaches adolscence, it becomes difficult for the boy to develop a masculine self concept. Thus, now he tries to express his masculanity, independence courage and finally the so called male ego in rebellious and proving offences. By being engaged in such anti-social acts, he gets the satisfaction that he is really masculine.

(xiii) Father Rejection:

Andry, on the basis of the findings of his studies, concluded that the delinquent boys felt rejected by their fathers but loved by their mothers. Non-delinquent boys on the other hand felt to be equally loved and cared by both the parents. A child who is rejected by his parents day in and day out, develops, naturally, an inner feeling of hostility towards him.

The gap in communication and lack of understanding between the father and the child paves the way for anti-social behaviour in the form of anguish, aggression and hostility. When he finds that a large part of his world is unable to deal with him properly, he in turn does not like to understand the world either.

This hostility is transformed in the form of anti-social and delinquent behaviour. He, infact, lacks normal inner controls. He does not have the basic values of life. So, he tends to act out his aggressive impulses.

(xiv) Undesirable Peer Relationship:

Delinquency is said to be a gang experience. In support of this view, Haney and Gold (1973) found that about 66 per cent of the delinquent behaviours are committed in association with other persons. Usually it is a homogenious group so far, as sex is concerned. But in selected cases, as found now a days girls and boys also form gangs and delinquent groups.

(B) General Socio-Cultural Factors:

(i) Alienation and Rebellion:

Many ego psychologists view that the modern youth is only a bundle of confusions as far as his values of life is concerned. Most surprisingly, it is common in youths coming from all socio-economic levels. There is a communication gap and a generation gap.

They do not accept the values of their parents or grandparents and they are even confused of their so called own values and sense of identity. There is also identity crisis in many of them. Thus, in short, they are all in a mess.

They do not know what to accept and what to reject. They always experience a feeling of alienation from family as well as society. This lack of identification and development of clear values turn them to the outer world to peers gangs and friends for guidance and approval. They may take drugs and engage in illegal anti­social activities like thefts, pick pockets, violences etc.

There are innumerable instances where many modern youths who run away from home as a sort of reaction to their rebellious feeling, tend to join gangs indulged in delinquent behaviour, prostitution etc. In the same manner, socially disadvantaged youths, such as belonging to lower income groups, lower caste groups and having very little education, having lower status in the society may turn to delinquency also.

(ii) The Social Rejects:

With the increase in urbanization and industrialization, family ties grow weaker. Joint family systems are gradually disintegrating. People prefer to have their own family of husband and wife and children.

With the formation of mass society, influence of technology on society and erosion of values, social disintegration is increasing day by day. Joint family system has now become a dream. Tolerance and sense of sacrifice and feeling of cooperation is decreasing day by day.

Divorce and remarriage are quite common in the Western countries and urban areas. Though some decades back in India the public opinion was very strong against divorce and remarriage, now it has changed to some extent with the increase in industrialization and urbanization.

The effect of social disintegration, erosion of values, lack of sense of social sacrifice and commitment for the society may make many children social rejects. Young boys and girls who lack the motivation to do well in school because of various familial and social factors and become drop outs who are social isolates as soon as they can.

Normally, they do not qualify for any job. Irrespective of class, sex social status and wealth, they generally feel useless and unneeded by the society. This lack of hope, feeling of uselessness and that they are rejected by the society, lead them to show undesirable anti-social behaviour.

Many of them remain unemployed. Those who somehow get some employment are funnily unable to hold the job, and so, they shift from job to job, engage in delinquent behaviour, partly as a result of frustration and partly due to confusion and hopelessness.

(iii) Delinquent Gang Subculture:

This includes the rebellion with the norms of the society. If a person is rejected by the society, his inner tension is often revealed in serious delinquent acts beating and fighting leading to serious physical injury.

As Jenkins has put it, the socialized delinquents represent not a failure of socialization but a limitation of loyalty to a more or less pedatory peer group. The basic capacities for social relationship has been achieved. What is lacking in an effective integration with the larger society as a contributing member.

(iv) Gangs and Companions:

In addition to other important causes of delinquency, those who feel inadequate and rejected by the group and society join gangs, peer groups and companions and indulge in anti-social activities. As a child grows, he mixes with the members of the neighbourhood and always becomes an important member of their play group. The norms set up for the child at home may not be similar to the norms set up by the play groups.

Because of such differences there may be conflict of values, ideas and norms. Even in the school these norms may be different. He has to conform and adjust with one set of norms at home and another set of norms in the play group and another in the school.

Various studies indicate that secondary groups, like neighbourhood, playmates, peers and school, and others in the society which the child comes in contact more often than not all have tremendous effects on the personality of the child. All these agents of socialization play important role in the process of socialization of the growing child.

Overcrowding of cities, lack of space at home, residence at slum areas, location of various shops and business centres in various residential areas of the city, environmental pollution create a lot of social problems. Such problems have an adverse effect on the social development of the child. Children of such areas do not have a park to play, do not have many recreational facilities.

Some of these children of the slum areas invade the industrial belts nearby for some occasional job and are sometimes thrown out because of their inefficiency. Being frustrated and finding no way out, they mix with other children of the similar category and form gangs. Street corner gangs have tremendous contribution to Juvenile delinquency.

Initially, the gang starts as a play group. In the absence of play ground facility, the children start playing in the streets and eventually organise themselves in to gangs. Various groups of the same or nearby area then start fighting.

Very recently one incident occurred in my residential colony. There is one ‘paan’ (bettle) shop in front of my house. Two days before the last Ganesh Puja when I reached home from market, I found that the two boys of the paan shop along with some outside teenagers are constructing a pendal adjacent to the paan shop.

On enquiry, my orderly peon told me that these boys belong to another nearby colony and they are going to celebrate Ganesh Puja here. They decorated the pendal and also started playing film songs using a mike two days before the Puja.

We were very much disturbed by these unnecessary loud sounds. But nobody dared to object with the apprehension of being misbehaved and malhandled by them. On the night prior to the Puja day this gang of 10 to 12 boys prepared a feast near the pendal and ate to their heart’s content.

At about 2 A.M. we heard loud noise of fighting and shouting in front of our house. We got up from sleep and saw that two gangs are fighting with each other. Some of them broke the image of Ganesh and broke the mike.

Consequently one members of a gang fell down on the ground with severe blows and head injury. After this incident immediately the culprits lied from the spot leaving the injured boy there. After ten minutes two persons came and took away the injured boy in a rickshaw.

After 3-4 minutes Police came to the spot and after necessary enquiry booked the culprits. Members of both the gangs were kept under the custody of the Police for the whole day.

Alas! the Puja could not be performed in time. Why the two gangs fought? Gang No. 1 did not want gang No.2 to celebrate a separate Ganesh Puja. Gang No. 1 wanted Gang No. 2 to contribute to their Puja. So there was conflict and quarrel between the two gangs.

Numerous such quarrels, violence’s and conflicts occur every day between the street corner and Zhopodi gangs. Some members of these gangs are involved in petty theft and anti-social behaviour. They are famous for creating social nuisense.

Why a person becomes a member of a gang? Gang membership provides them a sense of status and approval and a sense of belongingness which they did not get from their family and other social agents. In a gang, the responsibility or blame of threat is not shouldered by any individual member, but by the gang as a whole just like in a mob.

Thus, some prefer to steal or booze and do other illegal acts in the name of gang. Studies have indicated that the groups outside the home have a tremendous impact on the personality of the adolescent. The gang starts as a play group.

In the absence of play ground facility, the children start playing in the streets and eventually form a gang and the behaviour of the person is mostly influenced by the gang and so he develops delinquent tendencies.

Though the gang has all the qualities of an in group like cooperation, unity, fellow feeling and belongingness, it is also associated with crimes, like stealing, eveteasing, rioting, homicide, rape, murder, boozing, taking various drugs and abusing them, dacoity, assault and murders etc.

Thus, they form a racket and in an organised way they create terror in the area. Studies have indicated that these children are roughly between 10-16 years age. They also come from poor families with constant friction between parents and family members. Those children who usually become the members of the gang have often little or no parental guidance.

Studies also indicate that delinquency is committed in groups and in companies. Shaw analysed 6,000 cases of crime and observed that in 72 per cent of the cases two or more companions were involved.

Healy reported that companionship was a single factor causing delinquency in 34 per cent of the cases while Burt gives the figure at 18 per cent. Uday Sankar gives the figure at 23 per cent. Sometimes parents are seen complaining that their child became a delinquent by mixing in bad company.

But bad companionship is not the only cause of delinquency unless there are some defects in the character formation of the individual. However, bad companionship is never the less an important factor which lead to delinquency, since delinquency is also a learnt behaviour.

In a gang or a restricted group the influence of social norm is there, sense of responsibility is divided and a boy feels that cinema and various electronic medias, like TV, Video films of violent and sexual nature lead children to delinquency by being helped through various techniques of delinquency shown in the screen.

However, it is quite reasonable to assume that early childhood training and parental attitude, how the child is reared up, all these have tremendous impact in deciding delinquent behaviour. These predisposing characters are precipitated in a gang thus leading to delinquency.

Recently female delinquents have also formed their gangs with a purpose to protect and defy themselves. They find a sense of acceptance, belongingness and give and take, sympathy, understanding, companionships, loyalty, power and authority which they do not find in a socialized world which they consider to be an out group.

(v) Poverty:

Ample evidences are there to hold that a large percentage of the delinquent children come from poor homes. It is found that even 50 per cent of the delinquents come from lower strata of the society with very poor economic background and hand to mouth living standard. Glueck’s (1934) study revealed that only 28.8% of the children came from comfortable homes with good economic status of parents.

Those who are disadvantaged and under privileged due to their poverty had to take recourse to some anti-social action for their living also.

Hence, keeping all other factors constant, a child coming from a comfortable home has relatively less chance for becoming a delinquent than a child coming from a poor under privileged family, Glueck’s study also showed that 37% of the fathers of delinquent children were skilled labourers while 23% were semi-skilled labourers and 40% were unskilled labourers.

Findings of his study showed that not a single parent of the delinquent children came from the clerical services. Glueck’s study, thus, brings the fact to light that the nature of job of parents is also an important determinant of delinquency.

Of course, Glueck’s study was conducted about sixty four years back and much changes have taken place during these six to seven decades. Children of some well to do highly educated parents doing very good jobs in government and non-govt.

Offices also, now a days, are engaged in delinquency and the percentage is growing up day by day. But compared to their lower SES counterparts the percentage is very low. According to Uday Sankar’s Study 83% of the Juvenile delinquents came from poor homes, 13% from border line (neither poor nor rich) homes and only 4% came from comfortable homes.

But poverty cannot be the role cause of delinquency. Had it been so, in India where poverty is found in most homes, the number of delinquents would have been more than the rich and better off countries which is not a fact. In India the percentage of Juvenile delinquency is very low and most people are peace loving and disciplined unlike other developed and developing countries.

A study conducted by the Ministry of Education (1952) Govt, of India indicates that 32,400 children were awarded sentences for delinquency in 1949. But in 1950 it was noticed that 40,119 children of all the states of India except U.P. were put up for trial in the Juvenile courts. But besides these recorded cases, there might have been some unrecorded cases also.

Poor parents have to leave their children and go for work. Thus, the mother is not available to take proper care of the child. They are neglected and the child becomes wayward. Children from poor homes also do not get scope for education as they have to supplement the earning of their parents. Poverty is, therefore, a contributing cause of delinquency, although it is not the sole cause.

(vi) Stress:

Serious traumatic experiences may lead one to become a delinquent. Clark (1961) found that one- third of the cases studied by him were found to be suffering from trauma. These traumatic experiences may range from death of parents, children husband or wife, broken homes, disorganised families etc.

Burks and Harrison (1962) have also stressed the function of stresses which directly threaten the adolescent feeling of inadequacy and worth as precipitating events in some cases of aggressive antisocial behaviour. Finkelstein (1968) holds that accumulation of emotional tensions also lead to a final outbreak the form of delinquency.

(vii) Delinquent Areas:

Studies of Burt in England indicates that there are certain localities from which majority of delinquent children come. In these areas, there are poor housing overcrowding and lack of recreational facilities. Most delinquents also come from the areas where cinema houses and hotels are located.

Burt found a high correlation of 77 between delinquency and density of population. Shaw in a similar study found that the majority of the Juvenile delinquents came from the centres of Chicago and the number of juveniles decreased from centre to periphery. But this is not applicable to all children staying in the crowded localities.

Essay # 6. Treatment of Juvenile Delinquency:

What is a crime after all? An act which is a crime in one society may not be a crime in another society as crimes are acts which violate the rights of a person or property as envisaged by law or tradition. But never the less certain acts are considered as criminal in every society like murders, theft etc.

Inspite of the cultural variations in different parts of the world, criminals are always punished by the society or law, although the degree of punishment may vary from society to society. Many in the society believe that punishment should be exemplary so that others will not dare to commit it.

This purpose of giving punishment to the culprit in a major way is to prevent criminal acts. But the question arises whether Juvenile delinquents who are below 18 years of age should be punished like the convicts and criminals or not.

Rehabilitation of delinquents has been a great social issue. Delinquency is an anti-social behaviour and it creates unrest and indiscipline in the society. It makes social life hazardous and dangerous. It also affects the peace and prosperity of the nation. It is, therefore, imperative that the readjustment problem of delinquents should be dealt very sincerely and effectively.

Many people in the society feel that Juvenile delinquents should be given severe punishment so that not only they, but others will not dare to repeat such illegal, anti-social action in future. But sociologists and psychologists strongly hold that since Juvenile delinquency refers to the cases of young minds and children at their tender age, one has to deal with such cases very cautiously and carefully.

Juvenile delinquency being a social disease the child or the adolscent has to be treated in such a manner, so that he can readjust with the society. His maladjustment with the society has to be changed.

Since delinquency is mainly caused in the society under social conditions mostly because his basic needs are not fulfilled, efforts should be made first to fulfil the basic needs of every child in a socially approved manner whether delinquent or non-delinquent and extra care should be taken of the delinquent child.

Each delinquent child tries to fulfil his needs in an anti-social manner. But it would be the job of the social reformers and psychologists dealing with the care of the delinquents, to fulfil their needs in a socially accepted manner according to the norms of the society and legal sanctions.

Further, each delinquent has to be considered individually focussing attention on the fulfillment of his needs for power, prestige and recognition. Each individual case of delinquency has to be studied separately keeping in view his specific problems. Then only, it will be possible to rehabilitate, recondition and readjust the individual in the society.

In recent years there has not only been any transformation in the past attitude of the society and social thinkers towards delinquency there has also been change in law with regard to Juvenile delinquency. The outlook is now more progressive and dynamic. Special courts have been established with specially trained Magistrates to handle the cases of delinquents.

They are also sheltered in special homes instead of jails and special care is taken so that they can be rehabilitated in the society. Remand homes are established by law to which the young offenders are sent. Trained social workers are also engaged to study each case. For each case a separate file is built up with the detailed case history, type of crime committed and further improvement in behaviour.

Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists are also engaged in many remand homes to reform these anti-socials. Instead of giving physical punishment to the offenders, constant efforts are made to bring change in their outlook and attitude towards society, towards themselves. In short, the aim of everyone involved is to rehabilitate the individual in the society as a normal individual.

Special schools are also established otherwise known as ‘Reformatory Schools’ with specially trained teachers to help the delinquents to overcome the deficiencies in their socialization and develop the right kind of attitude towards themselves. The teachers of such schools gradually try to become substituted parents and help the children in generating a sense of security, self confidence, right attitude towards society.

They are given various craft and other vocational training to earn their livelihood, once they are rehabilitated in the society. The schools also develop a number of group activities to change the ego and super ego of these children.

In Western countries delinquents in small groups are brought up in residential areas and given individual treatment, to have in them a feeling that they are part and parcel of the society. Thus, they are removed from the aversive environment and allowed to learn about the world of which they are a member.

If required, they are given individual therapy, group therapy and psychological counselling. Here, their behaviour is resocialized by the help of group pressure. Counselling with the parents in the rehabilitation centre is also of great help for the rehabilitation of the Juvenile delinquents.

Institutionalization may not be quite successful in case of Juvenile offenders, i.e. youths whose offenses have involved acts that world not be considered criminal, if committed by an adult such as running away from home or engaging in sexual relations. If such types of delinquents are kept with those who have committed serious crimes, they would in turn learn these from them.

It may, therefore, aggravate their behavioural problems instead of correcting them. The teachers of reformatory schools should also keep in mind to act as substitutes of good, warm and understanding parents and help the children to generate a sense of security and involvement. They should give up the idea that their life is meaningless and their birth is useless.

The school also should make efforts to develop a number of group activities in debate, sports, various social functions, picnics, exhibitions and study tours to change the ego of the delinquent child, to create a feeling of togetherness, belongingness, we feeling, sense of sacrifice and cooperation along with healthy competition.

Positive human values like honesty, sociability, amiability, truthfulness etc. are to be developed through teaching and action. One has to remember that changes are to be made from negative to positive outlooks and values of life.

Parents have also tremendous role to play in the rehabilitation of their delinquent children. They, therefore, must be helped to develop insight to their own behaviour and analyse their own behaviour which might have led to the maladjustment in the child.

They should, therefore, try to rectify their own behaviour so that in future there is no problem from the side of parents when the child returns from the reformatory home to be rehabilitated in the society. Since a lot depends upon parental behaviour and attitude, they should be very cautious.

Finally, the society and public should also change their outlook and attitude towards delinquency in general. They should not hate or distrust the delinquents. The delinquents must be dealt with sympathy, understanding and good behaviour.

They should not be hurt emotionally. Society as a whole should give up its fear and hostility towards the delinquents and anti-socials. It should develop a flexible attitude so that proper analysis of the causes of delinquency is made and adequate steps are taken both with respect to the prevention and treatment of delinquency.

Mentally retarded children should be specially and cautiously, dealt with parents and teachers. Otherwise, they may become susceptible to delinquency. They should be handled with proper care and should be taught in such a way so that their attention can be sustained.

The psychopathic and neurotic children should be given the opportunities of necessary therapeutic measures and prevent the development of delinquent behaviour.

All kinds of delinquents should not be treated identically, in a group or and should not be given similar rehabilitation facilities. For this purpose, differential diagnosis of the delinquents is essentially required. This can be possible by the, services of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

Increase of population without proportionate increase of space and other living conditions is one of the major causes of rise in delinquency. Particularly people migrate to cities from villages and the cities, semi-urban and urban areas for earning their livelihood.

So they are overcrowded. Various difficulties crop up and so problems of socialization are also experienced. Slum areas in cities create more problems leading to the growth of anti-social feelings in children.

Therefore, vast programmes are now being undertaken to clear the slum areas and for providing educational and recreational facilities for the slum children like parks, gardens, play grounds, doll house. As a result, the children need not play in street corners and constitute consciously or unconsciously street corner gangs.

Large amount of money are being spent in Western countries to rehabilitate the delinquents through various remedial measures. Various steps are also being taken at different quarters to prevent the rise of delinquents. But since delinquency is a very complex problem being caused by multifarious factors, it is difficult, though not impossible, to control it and prevent it.

Inspite of the various rehabilitation programmes developed by different countries of the world, they do not appear to be sufficient to reduce the percentage of delinquency from the society or prevent it significantly.

The inadequacies of the correctional system are being changed as and when necessary. Effective rehabilitation programmes, long range programmes to prevent delinquency should also be prepared to combat the rise of delinquency in the society.

This can be made possible by improving the conditions of the slum areas, providing suitable educational facilities for children staying in slum areas, near railway station, bus stand, market etc.

Along with this minimum education, vocational training and training in different trades should also be provided. By being engaged in work and earning some money during the training period, they can be normalized and can also adjust with the main stream.

The manual training will not only encourage their creative abilities, but also would give them satisfaction. When a child or an adolscent produces a bag or a basket, a toy in mud or a painting he gets immense satisfaction. This sense of achievement produces in him a sense of security and confidence, a sense of adequateness.

Orphanage and destitute homes are not sufficient to rehabilitate the juvenile delinquents in view of their increasing numbers during the recent years. Hence, these along with recreational centres should be increased.

In the school the teacher should show sympathetic treatment to the Juveniles. They should not hate them. Their approach should be different from what they show to the normal children and each Juvenile delinquent should be given individual attention. Mentally handicapped and retarded children should not be ridiculed by class mates and peers. The teacher should give special attention to this.

The rehabilitation programmes are not enough keeping in view the rapid growth of Juvenile delinquency in the entire world. The inadequacies of the correctional system are being changed. Besides effective rehabilitation programmes, long range programmes to prevent delinquency should be prepared.

This can be made possible by improving the conditions of the slum areas, provision for suitable educational and recreational facilities, education of parents disciplined and organised society with role relationship defined, development of proper ego identity and etc.

Odell (1974) has developed a programme that combined educational development and job placement facilitating entry in to the opportunity structure more effective than traditional case work methods in preventing Juvenile recidivision. Finally, it can be said that the emphasis should be more on rehabilitation than punishment.

Juvenile delinquency cannot be curbed fully from the society. No society can ever completely prevent or eliminate crime, practically speaking. However, delinquency and crime can be reduced social scientists and psychologists can plan to reduce delinquency and crime.