Causes of Juvenile Delinquency Term Paper

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Causes of Juvenile Delinquency

Criminal Justice

The problem of juvenile delinquency is becoming more complicated and universal, and crime prevention programs are either unequipped to deal with the present realities or do not exist. Many developing countries have done little or nothing to deal with these problems, and international programs are obviously insufficient. Developed countries are engaged in activities aimed at juvenile crime prevention, but the overall effect of these programs is rather weak because the mechanisms in place are often inadequate to address the existing situation. On the whole, current efforts to fight juvenile delinquency are characterized by the lack of systematic action and the absence of task-oriented and effective social work with both offenders and victims, whether real or potential. Analysis is further complicated by a lack of international comparative data. (WYR, 2003) The paper is a meditation and investigation of the causes of juvenile delinquency. While it is a discreet issue in of itself, juvenile delinquency is a symptom or result of greater problems present within a society.

We live in a world where human beings of any age commit and are punished for menial to heinous crimes. In other words, humans at every stage of life are committing and being punished for crimes, including children and teenagers, who are called juveniles under the law until they reach adulthood. Juvenile crime is not new. In most, if not all, countries, there is a separate criminal justice system and practice specifically designed and designated for juvenile offenders. This is the juvenile justice system. Most juveniles, after found guilty of committing crimes, are put through the juvenile justice system. Many readers may be aware that the justice system and the legal system in general is much different regarding juveniles over adults. The same offences that are committed by juveniles and adults have variations in their penalties and sentences.

Juvenile delinquency refers specifically to the criminal activity of youth. Juvenile delinquency includes committing crimes and participation in other forms of illegal activities. Across the world, the existing legal systems have different sets of punishments and penalties for juvenile delinquency vs. being tried as an adult. (Loeber, 1990) This is a pervasive issue that nearly every country in the world combats.

Juvenile delinquency is not only a national issue but also a global phenomenon. Juvenile delinquency refers to a large variety of disapproved behavior of teenage and adolescents whom the society does not approved of, and for which some kind of punishment or corrective measure is justified in the public interest. Certain acts such as-begging, truancy, vagrancy, stealing, hijacking, kidnapping, drinking and gambling etc. are included within the meaning of the term juvenile delinquency (Paranjape, 1998: 356). At present, juvenile delinquency is one of the:important social problems in the world that varies country to country. (Chowdry et al., 2012, 1 -- 2)

Thus, while the forms of juvenile delinquency vary in expression, the presence of juvenile delinquency around the world persists. In many countries, the age when individuals are no longer classified as juveniles as may be tried for crimes as adults is in the latter part of adolescence and early adulthood. There is more than one type of juvenile delinquency. Furthermore, there are typically two types of juvenile offenders. Juvenile delinquency is classified as a status offense, criminal behavior, and delinquency. Each type of delinquency is enforced or dealt with in specific levels of court. Juvenile offenders are either repeat offenders or age specific offenders. Repeat offenders are obviously more likely to become long-term criminals while age specific offenders participate in criminal activities as an expression of the particular stage of human development in which they occupy, i.e. adolescence. Risk factors in juvenile delinquency include class, style of parenting, and gender. (Loeber, 1990)

There are those who contend that antisocial behavior is a cause of and expression of juvenile delinquency. Antisocial behavior is behavior that causes physical, psychological, or other kinds of damage to a society, whether on purpose or by accident or negligence. Antisocial behavior is not often isolated and recurs with ease for the offender the more often the behavior manifests. Extended demonstration of antisocial behavior can lead to classification of Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is a disorder with several very distinct characteristics and signs. Antisocial behavior includes a propensity and proclivity for deception; antisocial people are exceptional liars and they lie often with the intention to hurt and/or deceive others as a means of deriving pleasure. Antisocial behavior additionally includes a reckless disregard for the safety and well being of other people, present and imagined. (Loeber, 1990) Antisocial people lack remorse and compassion. Therefore, antisocial behavior can contribute to juvenile delinquency.

Juvenile delinquency may be an expression of antisocial behavior, but they do not mean the same thing. Externalizing problem behaviors are behaviors that if scaled up in magnitude or gravity would be classified as antisocial behaviors. Antisocial behavior and externalizing problem behavior are therefore very closely related, and yet there still remains a distinction. Just as conduct disorder is a sort of adolescent version of antisocial personality disorder, so is externalizing problem behaviors the precursor or less severe versions of antisocial behaviors. Children who demonstrate such behaviors are statistically more probable to delinquents, criminals, and very violent. The existence of some antisocial behavior is actually normal during the adolescent period.

Antisocial behaviour may be a normal part of growing up or the beginning of a long-term pattern of criminal activity. The United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the Riyadh Guidelines) assert that "youthful behaviour or conduct that does not conform to overall social norms and values is often part of the maturation and growth process and tends to disappear spontaneously in most individuals with the transition to adulthood"; a great majority of young people commit some kind of petty offence at some point during their adolescence without this turning into a criminal career in the long-term.4 While delinquency is a common characteristic of the period and process of becoming an adult, it is very important to note that juveniles often create stable criminal groups with a corresponding subculture and start to engage in the activities of adult criminal groups, in effect choosing delinquent careers. (WYR, 2003, 191)

Therefore, the simple existence of antisocial in an adolescent does not guarantee that the teen will become or is a juvenile delinquent; the existence of such behavior could simply be a sign that a person is moving out of childhood and into adolescence. Parents and educators should not be immediately alarmed or put on the defensive if adolescents they encounter should demonstrate some form of antisocial behavior. As aforementioned, it is the persistence and increase intensity or frequency of antisocial behaviors that is a sign that the teen is becoming a full fledged juvenile delinquent, who will likely continue and transform into a career criminal and/or incarcerated. The stakeholders in juvenile delinquency have a great range from the individual to the society.

Juvenile delinquency is a very challenging issue to deliberate upon and discuss. On the one hand, there is very concrete evidence or causes for juvenile delinquency, but on the other hand, it is hard to pinpoint one or even a set of specific, uniform causes of juvenile delinquency. Many criminologists have opposing arguments regarding the causes of juvenile delinquency. There are those who argue one to one correlations and discreet causes and effects to the issue. There are others that say that the causes are tough to pinpoint consistently as juvenile delinquency is very situational and the contexts within which it occurs have some relative similarity, but a distinct lack of uniformity, as well as corroborating data from a variety of sources.

There is no single root cause of crime. Crime is primarily the outcome of multiple adverse social, economic, cultural and family conditions. To prevent crime it is important to have an understanding of its roots. Causes of crime differ from country to country because of different cultural, economic and social characteristics. The causes of crime are primarily related to: Economic Situation, Social Environment, Family Structures. (Ali, 2008, 2)

There is some consensus, then, that juvenile delinquency occurs less frequently in homes that are stable, loving, and fairly normative. Where there is support, adequate to abundant resources, and a social context with minimal tension, there will not be juvenile delinquency, for the most part. Even at this stage in time, there is still a lack of data to support theories, make comparisons, and locate useful patterns.

Whether people agree about the causes of juvenile delinquency or not, it still exists. Just as the existence of juvenile delinquency is pervasive, so are the conditions and causes for juvenile delinquency pervasive. This is to say that the causes and conditions for juvenile delinquency are ever present in every society where juvenile delinquency exists. The presence of certain conditions contributes directly to the presence of juvenile delinquency. While each individual has the power to make his/her own choices, environmental factors play heavily into a person's perceptions…

Sources Used in Document:


Ali, M. (2008). Youth Crime: Causes and Remedies. Munich Personal RePEc Archive, 17223, Available from:

Chowdry, I.A., Khan, M.M., & Uddin, I. (2012). Causes and Consequences of Juvenile Delinquency in Bangladesh: A Sociological Analysis. International Journal of Social Science Tomorrow, 1(4), 1 -- 11.

Loeber, R. (1990) Development and risk factors of juvenile antisocial behavior and delinquency. Clinical Psychology Review, 10, 1 -- 41.

Tigar, Michael E. "What Are We Doing to the Children?: An Essay on Juvenile (In)justice." Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 47, No. 849, 849 -- 866, 2010.

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