Looking Into Theory on Juvenile Delinquency Essay

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Theory on Juvenile Delinquency

Interventions that involve life-course unrelenting offenders should place emphasis on remedial social abilities, for them to have a chance to decrease their frequency of offending in future, and to tackle conduct disorder problems. Interventions involving teenage-onset offenders should, wherever applicable, tackle issues relating to parenting, alcohol/drug misuse, and anti-social cronies. Keane, Krull and Phythian (2008) define self-control as the extent to which a person is susceptible to temptation. According to them, lack of self-restraint or self-control is a fairly universal and stable characteristic, accounting for individual discrepancies in deviant, reckless, and criminal conduct. Youngsters' parents are usually blamed for their kids' delinquent behavior. Some courts go as far as penalizing parents for their kids' antisocial actions. It is believed that weak self-control develops during early childhood, when one's family is the most central socializing agent. Hence, lack of self-restraint and the resultant deviant behavior result from familial factors. This research work studies parenting effects on kids' self-restraint via a large-scale, countrywide sample of kids in Canada; it considers the part played by factors like household size and parental composition. Analyses show that the dimension of self-control is different for different family structures -- kids residing in a traditional household (both biological parents living together) report higher self-control levels as compared to kids raised in single-parent and reconstituted households. However, parental monitoring partly offsets this relationship. On the whole, irrespective of the structure of families, it is clear that an accepting and nurturing family atmosphere positively impacts self-restraint (Farrington, 2010).

Low Self -Control Theory

This theory deviates from the emphasis on informal relational controls and concentrates instead on individual controls. Through effective parenting practices of discipline and monitoring, some kids develop the ability to appropriately react to situations requiring deferred gratification planning. Delinquency is observed more frequently among males than females. One explanation for this is the divergent etiologies of delinquency for females and males. Males might be relatively more susceptible to inadequate parenting and other such factors that place them at risk of developing delinquency. An alternate hypothesis is: delinquency risk factors are identical for females and males, but the latter have relatively greater exposure to these. People with high self-restraint levels are more sensitive to others, have better verbal and cognitive skills, have lesser independence, and are more willing to accept any restrictions on their actions. On the other hand, those with poor self-restraint are characterized by insensitivity, impulsivity, more physical, rather than intellectual, risk-taking, a non-verbal nature, and short-sightedness. They cannot resist the temptation to perpetrate crime, drive recklessly, smoke, drink excessively, or consume drugs. Consequently, weak self-control results in problematic interpersonal relationships, anti-social behavior, and weak involvement in community institutions. Those suffering from low self-restraint face difficulties in making and retaining friends, achieving success at the workplace and at school, and saving their marriage from falling apart. Life-course and social bond theories emphasize the significance of indirect interpersonal controls, while research works corroborate the significance of attachment bonds in preventing people from turning delinquent. The two aforementioned theories incorporate direct controls like monitoring, discipline, and rule-setting into the causative equation. Instead of highlighting direct or indirect controls as being more crucial, researchers suggest that both significantly curb delinquent behaviors. Moreover, clearly, controls function at individual as well as social levels, and characteristics of family structure impact informal familial social controls (Burfeind & Bartusch, 2006).

Self-control theory aims at reuniting the explanations of crime and deviance under a single theory. However, weak self-restraint doesn't mean that the person will invariably become a criminal. This theory is a control supposition, which contends that one must pose the question of why certain people don't engage in deviant conduct, rather than why certain people do. Meanwhile, Weinberger and Feldman (1994) did not find any significant relationship between teenaged boys' self-control and parenting practices. Discipline and monitoring is easier for dual-parent (both biological parents, or one step and the other biological) families than for single-parent ones. Slightly different problems are encountered by reconstituted families. The stepparent-stepchild bond might be weak, and residing with a stepparent might lead a child to be subject to a family environment that is indifferent or hostile. Brown and Demuth (2004) have revealed in a recent study that familial elements like parental closeness, supervision, monitoring and involvement attenuate family structure's effects on delinquency.
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However, their research didn't involve any self-restraint measures. The parental monitoring scale measures parental supervision and detection of improper conduct. This scale involves four questions pertaining to child activity restraints and parents' knowledge of their kids' whereabouts, and a question pertaining to recognition of incorrect behavior. As regards the parenting factors, study participants self-reported an overall high level of monitoring and nurturance, and low rejection levels. Intriguingly, the dependent variable isn't impactful in a statistically significant manner by parental monitoring. Therefore, the impact of parental monitoring, rejection, and nurturance, on self-control appears not to vary with respondent's gender. As regards monitoring of kids reconstituted/single-parent homes relative to intact households, results reveal that no statistically significant link exists between self-restraint and parental monitoring, in case of intact households. But in reconstituted/single-parent homes, significant positive links have been found (these are stronger in case of reconstituted families compared to single-parent homes, if the different socio-demographic features are controlled for). That is, parental monitoring's impact is relatively more complex, owing to its relationship with family structure. One key fact to consider when studying the link of delinquent behavior with parental supervision is: even if parents confess they don't always know of their children's whereabouts, children may feel their behavior is monitored 24/7. Consequently, children might be deterred from engaging in activities, which end in punishment or disapproval. In such cases, parent-reported and child-reported information on supervision of children can lead to highly divergent results. But the latter results were considered to hold more value, as behavioral responses linked to specific parenting practices necessarily depend on children's perception or internalization of these practices (Phythian, Keane & Krull, 2008).

Weak self-restraint is, nevertheless, considered a primary social trait contributing to delinquency and crime. According to the theory's developers, Hirschi and Gottfredson, self-restraint develops during early childhood, and stays highly stable throughout their lives. As mankind is inherently selfish, and tends to avoid pain and seek pleasure, self-restraint only develops through the effort (unconscious or conscious) to cultivate it. Hence, kids should learn self-restraint, and cultivating this is their families' responsibility. The general self-control theory maintains that there are three conditions essential for the development of self-restraint in children: Parental monitor of children's behavior, identification of any deviant behavior, and punishment or correction of such behavior. At the heart of each aforementioned element is parental love, as a caring parent tends to observe and correct his/her child (Gottfredson, Michael and Travis Hirschi, 1990).

Social Learning Theory

This theory suggests that the process of learning is cognitive, occurring through direct instruction or solely through observation, in social settings, and can even occur when there is no direct reinforcement or motor reproduction. Bandura (1977) states that this theory continues to play a central role in understanding non-criminal as well as criminal conduct; i.e., theories categorized under this group may be understood, broadly, as social behavioral approaches emphasizing the reciprocal link between environmental, cognitive, and behavioral determinants of mankind's behavior. This theory is usually applied in studying criminality and crime (Bandura (1977). This general criminal theory helps explain a wide range of criminal conducts. It is centered on the notion that learning in social settings, with the incorporation of the elements of situation and interaction, produces deviant as well as conforming behaviors. The difference is what direction the balance of behavioral influences lies. Under social learning, the probability of individuals' engagement in deviant and criminal behavior increases while that of conformance decreases in the event of differential association with other criminal-minded people and espousal of favorable definitions to it. These people are comparatively more exposed (symbolically or in-person) to salient deviant/criminal models, and view them as justifiable or desirable in situations discriminative for such behavior. They have previously received relatively higher rewards than punishments for their behavior, and anticipate the same currently and in the future (Social Learning Theories, n.d).

The base for social-learning in understanding crime is the notion that it relates them to others (i.e., friends and family) and contributes to learning and acceptance of anti-social conduct. People with poor self-restraint usually end up having bad friends. While their company might be fun, they are selfish, unreliable, thoughtless and untrustworthy. They are definitely more adventuresome, reckless, and take more risks compared to their counterparts. Therefore, self-restraint constitutes a key factor in membership determination in teen peer groups, as well as in determining relationship quality among group members. It is believed that kids who devote significant time to their peer group will more likely be delinquent. The theory accounts for criminal and deviant behavior's onset, while also explaining delinquents' transition into conformant individuals (Social Learning Theories, n.d).

From the perspective of social learning, criminal and deviant behavior is acquired…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory.

Burfeind, J. W., & Bartusch, D. J. (2006). Juvenile delinquency: An integrated approach. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Demuth, Stephen and Susan L. Brown. 2004. "Family Structure, Family Processes, and Adolescent Delinquency: The Significance of Parental Absence vs. Parental Gender." Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 41(1):58-81.

Farrington, D. P. (2010). Family influences on delinquency. Juvenile justice and delinquency, 203-222.

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