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In today's society, the problem of juvenile delinquency is running more

rampant than ever before. Also, the degrees to which it occurs are far more serious
than they were, even ten years ago. The problem used to be over-simplified and
chalked up to "kids will be kids", but today's "kids" are contributing to much more
serious crimes than they used to. One statistic states that youths under the age of 18
years accounted for 15.4% of arrests for violent crimes and 33.5% of arrests for
property crimes in 1986.1 This statistic is more than ten years old, and with the
increasing popularity of gang culture and substance abuse amongst young people, it
would be safe to assume that these statistics have either increased, or at the very least,
remained the same.
With numbers as high as they are, delinquency amongst youths must be seen as a
social problem that has to be dealt with soon, before it becomes even more out of
control than it is right now. Before we can begin to try and treat this behavior, we
must establish a cause for it. As with a physical illness, a cure cannot be obtained until
a cause is determined, therefore we must uncover the underlying factors that cause
this behaviour, and then work fro.


Delinquency as defined by Friedlander, is a juvenile misconduct that might we

dealt with under the law.

Cyril Burt defines delinquency as occurring in a child “when his anti-social

tendencies appear so grave that he becomes or ought to become the subject of official

William H. Sheldon regards delinquency “as behaviour disappointing beyond

reasonable expectations.”


Juvenile delinquency refers to criminal acts performed by juveniles. Most

legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as
juvenile detention centers. There are a multitude of different theories on the causes of
crime, most if not all of which can be applied to the causes of youth crime. Youth
crime is an aspect of crime which receives great attention from the news media and
politicians. Crime committed by young people has risen since the mid-twentieth
century, as have most types of crime. The level and types of youth crime can be used
by commentators as an indicator of the general state of morality and law and order in
a country, and consequently youth crime can be the source of ‘moral panics’ Theories
on the causes of youth crime can be viewed as particularly important within
criminology. This is firstly because crime is committed disproportionately by those
aged between fifteen and twenty-five. Secondly, by definition any theories on the
causes of crime will focus on youth crime, as adult criminals will have likely started
offending when they were young. A Juvenile Delinquent is one who repeatedly
commits crime, however these juvenile delinquents could most likely have mental
disorders/behavioral issues such as schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder,
conduct disorder or bipolar disorder.

20% of all children and youth are at some time officially delinquent.


are forced
because of a

Classical criminology stresses that causes of crime lie within the individual
offender, rather than in their external environment. For classicists, offenders are
motivated by rational self-interest, and the importance of free will and personal
responsibility is emphasised. Rational choice theory is the clearest example of this

Current positivist approaches generally focus on the Culture, which would

produce the breakdown of family relationships and community, competing values,
and increasing Individualism.

Studies also show only 16 in every 100 kids will do something bad opposed to
adult 26 in 100 will do something bad or illegal.


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. [1] 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. 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 which causes most
anxiety to the public.


Related to strain theory is subcultural theory. The inability of youths to

achieve socially valued status and goals results in groups of young people forming
deviant or delinquent subcultures, which have their own values and norms. (Eadie &
Morley: 2003 p.552) Within these groups criminal behaviour may actually be valued,
and increase a youth’s status. (Walklate: 2003 p.22) The notion of delinquent
2subcultures is relevant for crimes that are not economically motivated. Male gang
members could be argued to have their own values, such as respect for fighting ability
and daring. However it is not clear how different this makes them from ‘ordinary’
non-lawbreaking young men. Furthermore there is no explanation of why people
unable to achieve socially valued goals should necessarily choose criminal substitutes.
Subcultural theories have been criticised for making too sharp a distinction between
what is deviant and what is ‘normal’. (Brown: 1998 p.23) There are also doubts about
whether young people consciously reject mainstream values. (Brown: 1998 p.23)

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 states that once young people have been labeled as criminal
they are more likely to offend. (Eadie & Morley: 2003 p.552) 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. (Eadie & Morley: 2003 p.552)
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 lower-class
young male offenders. (Walklate: 2003 p. 24)


Youth crime is disproportionately committed by young men. Feminist

theorists and others have examined why this is the case. (Eadie & Morley: 2003
p.553) One suggestion is that ideas of masculinity may make young men more likely
to offend. Being tough, powerful, aggressive, daring and competitive may be a way of
young men expressing their masculinity. (Brown: 1998 p.109) Acting out these ideals
may make young men more likely to engage in antisocial and criminal behaviour.
(Walklate: 2003 p. 83) Alternatively, rather than young men acting as they do because
of societal pressure to conform to masculine ideals; young men may actually be
naturally more aggressive, daring etc. As well as biological or psychological factors,
the way young men are treated by their parents may make them more susceptible to
offending. (Walklate: 2003 p. 35) According to a study led by Florida State
University criminologist Kevin M. Beaver, adolescent males who possess a certain
type of variation in a specific gene are more likely to flock to delinquent peers. The
study, which appears in the September 2008 issue of the Journal of Genetic
Psychology, is the first to establish a statistically significant association between an
affinity for antisocial peer groups and a particular variation (called the 10-repeat
allele) of the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1).



Behavior that contribute to health risks


Gangs often
engage in
and are
to criminal
Public and Private Vandalism
These are
malicious and
defacement or
destruction of
both public and
private property.
It often territorial
and designed to
show ownership.



Once the juvenile offender reaches maturation he is likely to continue

exhibiting maladaptive behaviors and increases his risk of being cycled through the
criminal justice system as an adult offender. Due to the small population of habitual
adult and juvenile offenders attributing for the large percentage of violent crimes (i.e.
murder and aggravated assault) the criminal justice system should supervise the small
population of career criminals in an effort to prevent the spawning of serious violent
offenders. If mental disorders such as conduct disorder go undiagnosed and untreated
the juvenile offender has the increased potential to later develop antisocial personality
disorder and continue his life as a career criminal. The majority of violent offenders
exhibit characteristics of antisocial personality disorder and exhibit it no later than age
15Antisocial personality disorder is a common diagnosis for a serial killer. Authors
Alvarez and Bachman found that one similarity among serial killers was their prior
criminal convictions. In this case conduct disorder can become a probable constituent
to serial murder if not diagnosed and treated before it fully develops in adulthood as
antisocial personality disorder. Both conduct disorder and antisocial personality
disorder are categorized as personality disorders under the DSM-IV-TR and share
extremely similar definitions as explained above in 'Mental Disorders'. Some of the
common characteristics include consistent violation of societal norms, aggressive
behavior towards people,and a disassociation to the emotion of empathy. These traits
are also common amongst serial killers and if the maladaptive behaviors are not
treated they have the potential to conceive a person that fantasizes about killing
several victims and then fulfills their impulsivity when they are no longer capable of
suppressing it.


Individual psychological or behavioural risk factors that may make offending

more likely include intelligence, impulsiveness or the inability to delay gratification,
aggression, empathy, and restlessness. (Farrington: 2002) Children with low
intelligence are likely to do worse 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. (Walklate:
2003 p. 2) Children who perform poorly at school are also more likely to truant,
which is also linked to offending. (Farrington: 2002 p.682) If strain theory or
subcultural theory are valid poor educational attainment could lead to crime as
children were unable to attain wealth and status legally. However it must be born in
mind that defining and measuring intelligence is troublesome. Young males are
especially likely to be impulsive which could mean they disregard the long-term
consequences of their actions, have a lack of self-control, and are unable to postpone
immediate gratification. This may explain why they disproportionately offend.
(Farrington: 2002 p.682) (Walklate: 2003 p. 36) Impulsiveness is seen by some as the
key aspect of a child's personality that predicts offending. (Farrington: 2002 p.682)
However is not clear whether these aspects of personality are a result of “deficits in
the executive functions of the brain”, (Farrington: 2002 p.667) or a result of parental
influences or other social factors. (Graham & Bowling: 1995 p.32)


Family factors which may have an influence on offending include; the level of
parental supervision, the way parents discipline a child, parental conflict or
separation, criminal parents or siblings, parental abuse or neglect, and the quality of
the parent-child relationship (Graham & Bowling: 1995 p.33) Children brought up by
lone parents are more likely to start offending than those who live with two natural
parents, 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 then others. (Graham & Bowling: 1995 p.35) Conflict
between a child's parents is also much more closely linked to offending than being
raised by a lone parent. (Walklate: 2003 p. 106) If a child has low parental
supervision they are much more likely to offend. (Graham & Bowling: 1995) 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. (Farrington:
2002 p.610) (Graham & Bowling: 1995 p.38) 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. (Graham & Bowling: 1995 p.45,46) A lack of supervision is
connected to poor relationships between children and parents, as children who are
often in conflict with their parents may be less willing to discuss their activities with
them. (Graham & Bowling: 1995 p.37) Children with a weak attachment to their
parents are more likely to offend. (Graham & Bowling: 1995 p.37)


Delinquency Court seeks to provide for the protection and safety of the public and
the minor who has come in contact with the court


Special facilities that seeks to provide the structure, safety and supervision for
delinquent youths.


Support teens in making a variety of important lifestyle choices. An

array of community support services for youth released to aftercare


Families need to
be able to provide
behavior control,
models, and
adolescence and
into adulthood

STATES 2003 2004 2005 2006

JHARKAND 821 821 189 881
BIHAR 260 214 286 210
UTTARKHAND 28 36 23 106
CHATTISGARH 1179 1819 2924 2053
WEST BENGAL 106 75 131 99
ORRISA 219 261 430 430

INDIA 25686 24985 25601 25817


• The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (as amended and retitled in
• The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958
• Juvenile Justice Act, 1986
• The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic
Substances Act, 1988
• The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights
and Full Participation) Act, 1995
• Prevention of Beggary Acts (State Acts)


Delinquency Prevention is the broad term for all efforts aimed at preventing
youth from becoming involved in criminal, or other antisocial, activity. Increasingly,
governments are recognizing the importance of allocating resources for the prevention
of delinquency. Because it is often difficult for states to provide the fiscal resources
necessary for good prevention, organizations, communities, and governments are
working more in collaboration with each other to prevent juvenile delinquency.

With the development of delinquency in youth being influenced by numerous

factors, prevention efforts are comprehensive in scope. Prevention services include
activities such as substance abuse education and treatment, family counseling, youth
mentoring, parenting education, educational support, and youth sheltering.


The prevention of delinquency requires identifying at-risk individuals and

their environments before delinquent activity and behavior occur, and then removing
such risk factors or strengthening resistance to the risk factors already present. The
most logical starting place for prevention efforts is the family.

In many societies, another way to attack the problem of juvenile delinquency

is by creating programs that help prevent children from committing crimes. These
programs may focus on avoiding drug use or gang involvement, or may focus on early
education, therapeutic help for families, help to the impoverished or a variety of other
things. With unclear answers on a single cause for juvenile delinquency, these
programs may have some success, but probably won’t reach all children who might
commit a crime. Society is sometimes horrified by the seemingly random acts of
relatively “normal” children that are so heinous they do not bear repeating. Though
delinquency prevention is admirable, it isn’t universally successful. Yet preventing
some juvenile delinquency through intervention and education is better than allowing
it to occur.



Madan G.R [2002] Indian Social Problems (Vol 1) Allied Publishers Pvt Ltd

http://www.slideshare.net/farizahj/juvenile-delinquency 24/10/2009