Juvenile delinquency has become a common societal issue since the early 60s. By definition, juvenile delinquency broadly refers to criminal acts that have been committed by individuals under the age of 18 years. Much debate and research revolves around the cause of juvenile delinquency and this is triggered by the prevalence of juvenile delinquency. In this paper, I will seek to look at the prevalence of juvenile delinquency by giving facts and figures to support arguments made. The different theories that explain juvenile delinquency shall be highlighted and the most accurate explained based on the data.
The cause of juvenile acts show the number of times such offenses are committed. One study shows that the lack of supervision and rules is one of the most prevalent causes and triggers of juvenile behavior. The study showed that the peak hours during which delinquent behavior takes place is during the hours when there is no supervision. This is mostly after school when the parents are away at work. Statistically, 78% of all delinquent acts in the United States take place in the afternoons, between 1pm and 6 pm.
Family dynamic and environment play a huge role in dictating the prevalence of juvenile delinquency in a particular area. This is because family dynamics are fundamental in shaping a child’s development and well-being. In 1997, about 106,000 juvenile offenders under the age of 21 were residing in residential placement facilities. This has formed a focus point for programs meant to reduce juvenile delinquency.
Cultural background and sex have also proven to influence the prevalence of juvenile delinquency in the United States. In 1997, 85% of all juvenile offenders were male. Showing males are more likely to commit juvenile offenses than females. In the same year, 18.5% of all juvenile offenders were Hispanic, 37.5% were white and 40% were black. Though racial profiling is not permitted, these figures show which neighborhoods are more likely to experience high rates of juvenile delinquency.
There are several theories that attempt to explain the causes of juvenile delinquency. Each of these theories look into the different facets of a juvenile’s life, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Below is a list of theories of juvenile delinquency causation.
In conclusion, I personally believe that the sociological theories are most effective and best handle juvenile delinquency. This is because it emphasizes on the basic unit of the society, family. It is most effective in the United States currently.
Bartollas, C., & Schmalleger, F. (2011). Juvenile Delinquency (8th ed.). Prentice Hall.
National Center for Juvenile Justice. (2012). Juvenile Arrest Rates by Offense, Sex, and Race (1980 - 2010). National Center for Juvenile Justice. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/excel/JAR_2010.xls