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Poverty Areas and Effects on Juvenile Delinquency Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 14th, 2020

Poverty-stricken youths are vulnerable to engaging in criminal activities. The studies indicate that poverty is one of the leading causes of crime among young people. The majority of individuals fear paucity and tend to lose hope when they find themselves incapable of earning a considerable amount of money for their upkeep. In the contemporary world, social status is defined by an individual’s economic status (Nilsson, Backman, & Estrada, 2013). People live in neighborhoods, which are organized according to their financial situations. The young people desire to live in communities that are better than those that they grew up in when they become adults. The desire to live a better life contributes to the youths engaging in crimes, thus the increase in cases of juvenile delinquencies amid low-income families. Teens view crimes as a simple way to accumulate wealth.


Most studies define poverty as the inability to meet basic human needs that include food, shelter, and clothing. There has been significant economic development in many parts of the world today. Nevertheless, the majority of the world’s population is poor and lives in deplorable conditions (Shildrick & MacDonald, 2013). According to Shildrick and MacDonald (2013), economic dualism continues to increase with the growth in economic development across the globe. The studies indicate that the fear of poverty is the primary cause of melancholy in the world. Poor people feel neglected by governments because of the inability to access basic provisions such as clean water and sewerage system, good road networks, health facilities, power, and security. On the other hand, rich people have access to essential amenities regardless of the country’s economic growth and development.

Also, poor people feel as if they are victimized. The majority of them believe that rich people have acquired their wealth through dishonest means. Consequently, the country is said to promote social injustice against its population by failing to bridge the gap between the poor and wealthy citizens. According to Nilsson et al. (2013), poor youths believe that criminal activities could help to mitigate the effect of social injustice and prompt the government to provide excellent services to all people.

Causes of Poverty

Different factors are attributed to poverty in society. However, economic status plays a significant role in determining poverty levels in a community. Developed countries have higher chances of eradicating poverty in their communities by providing good education, quality health services, job opportunities, and food security to citizens. Education is the ultimate solution to poverty in society (Thompson, Bucerius, & Pridemore, 2013). The youths who have access to quality education have higher chances of living a comfortable life in their adulthood than those who do not get an opportunity to study. In the United States, the law obliges parents to enroll their children in schools. The government enacted the law to reduce poverty and guarantee an economic balance between the different races and communities.

Impoverished people live a miserable life. Scholars claim that there are varying levels of poverty (Sutherland, Brunton-Smith, & Jackson, 2013). While some people have challenges meeting basic needs, others are destitute. Individuals who are poor have a possibility of improving their life if given an opportunity. People can enhance their lives by working hard and exploiting any opportunities that come their way. However, individuals living in insolvency can hardly improve the quality of their lives because of poor health and, most often, the lack of skills required for one to engage in productive employment. The governments make an effort to try and protect their citizens from getting to the extreme levels of poverty by providing health services, education, job opportunities, and security.

Research indicates that unemployment is one of the leading causes of poverty in most developing countries. As more youths complete their education and fail to secure jobs, they become desperate and turn to crimes as a way of earning a living (Sutherland et al., 2013). Today, technology and not human capital drive economic development. Many organizations have dismissed their staff after adopting the technology, which they consider to be efficient and cost-effective. The governments feel incapacitated by increased pressure from the high unemployment rate and the desire by organizations to utilize technology.

According to Fuller (2016), unemployed youths lose hope for a better life and opt to seek other methods of acquiring money, which would enable them to lead a better life. They consider delinquency as the only quick way to get money. In most cases, youths carry out criminal activities in gangs. They often participate in illegal activities such as drug trafficking, which are currently prevalent among adolescents. Fuller (2016) maintains that young adults recruit teenagers into crime, promising them to make a substantial amount of money.

Areas Where Poverty Is Prevalent

Youth-related crimes are high in densely populated areas. According to Fuller (2016), a majority of the poor people live in densely populated areas, particularly slums that are adjacent to the main cities. The areas are safe hideouts for criminal gangs. The groups’ members operate by instilling fear in the members of society. They warn the public of dire consequences if it happens to report them to the authority. Also, they conceal their activities by recruiting young children and youths as drug traffickers. The criminal gangs also use juveniles to gather intelligence and to alert them in the event of an ambush by law enforcement agents. Hence, some environments can lure youths into criminal activities without their will.

There are significant distinctions between the privileged and the underprivileged in the society. The privileged live in less populated neighborhoods and have adequate space for their families. On the other hand, the disadvantaged live in congested areas, and their children cannot get a chance to engage in constructive outdoor activities. Sutherland et al. (2013) allege that poor people live in locations where events that occur in the neighborhood affect the lives of every resident.

According to Sutherland et al. (2013), most affluent families comprise an average of three kids. Conversely, many low-income families are made up of an average of five children. The parents do not bear children based on their financial abilities. Consequently, they cannot provide basic human wants to the kids, leave alone enrolling them in school.

Research indicates that households that do not practice family planning are vulnerable to poverty. Increased population leads to a rise in the level of unemployment and high pressure on social amenities like health services, education, and security. Low-income families cannot afford quality education, food, and health. Therefore, kids from families are vulnerable to juvenile crimes as they look for ways to support themselves.

How Society Can Prevent Juvenile Delinquency

Society can prevent minors from engaging in criminal activities. A country’s political system has a significant role to play in ensuring that youths do not participate in illegal activities. The government should prioritize the provision of essential services that might deter crime among young people. The school system should also be structured in a way that children can learn at an early age about the dangers of engaging in criminal behaviors. The society should let the kids appreciate that poverty is not a permanent condition or a sign of failure. They should know that one can overcome poverty by studying to become productive in the future.

The society should provide efficient health services to underprivileged families and educate the parents about the significance of family planning. It would guarantee that parents give birth to a number of kids that they can manage to support. It would go a long way towards ensuring that all children have access to education, thus preventing them from engaging in juvenile delinquency at an early age. The society has a duty to teach kids good morals at a young age and discourage them from keeping bad company. Mostly, peer pressure contributes to children who are morally upright joining criminal groups. Therefore, society and parents, in particular, should monitor their children to ensure that they keep good company (Sutherland et al., 2013).

On the other hand, the government has a role to play in ensuring that kids do not engage in juvenile delinquency. It should establish a youth system that can rehabilitate kids before they get accustomed to crimes. Curtis (2014) alleges that behavioral correction methods can deter youths from engaging in criminal activities, even in adulthood. Therefore, the juvenile system would serve as a long-term solution to illicit activities in society.

The society requires conducting civic education to enlighten the youths on the dangers of using drugs or engaging in drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is a major juvenile crime in most developed countries. It would be difficult for society to prevent children from poor backgrounds from engaging in the vice as they consider it as the only way that they can make quick money. Nevertheless, enlightening the kids on the dangers of drug trafficking can result in them looking for alternative ways of making money. The society should ensure that the youths know the various avenues of earning income. Moreover, they should understand that engaging in juvenile delinquency can ruin their life completely. Curtis (2014) argues that access to illegal firearms contributes to kids engaging in juvenile delinquency. The society should work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that children do not access firearms. Moreover, the government should enact legislation that controls the sales of guns to make sure that they do not fall into the hands of criminals. The parents who own guns should ensure that they secure them. They should not allow their kids to hold or play with the guns as it may encourage them to engage in crimes just to use the weapon.


In conclusion, there is a close relationship between poverty and juvenile delinquency. Poor people choose evil because they consider it as a simple way to get money and protest against social injustice. However, the youths are the most vulnerable to criminal activities. Poor people live in highly populated areas where there is no access to proper education and health services. Their households comprise many children, thus exerting pressure on the available resources. Society can prevent youths from engaging in crimes by enlightening them on the dangers of criminal activities. It can also work in partnership with the government to ensure all kids enroll for education.


Curtis, A. (2014). Tracing the school-to-prison pipeline from zero-tolerance policies to juvenile justice dispositions. Georgetown Law Journal, 102(1), 1254-1265.

Fuller, J. (2016). Juvenile delinquency: Mainstream and crosscurrents. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Nilsson, A., Backman, O., & Estrada, F. (2013). Involvement in crime, individual resources, and structural constraints: Processes of cumulative (dis) advantage in a Stockholm birth cohort. British Journal of Criminology, 53(2), 297‐318.

Shildrick, T., & MacDonald, R. (2013). Poverty talk: How people experiencing poverty deny their poverty and why they blame ‘the poor.’ The Sociological Review, 61(2), 285‐303.

Sutherland, A., Brunton-Smith, I., & Jackson, J. (2013). Collective efficacy, deprivation, and violence in London. British Journal of Criminology, 53(1), 1050-1074.

Thompson, S., Bucerius, S., & Pridemore, A. (2013). Unintended consequences of neighborhood restructuring: Uncertainty, disrupted social networks, and increased fear of violent victimization among young adults. British Journal of Criminology, 53(5), 924‐941.

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