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Theories and Suggestions on Juvenile Delinquency Essay

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Updated: Jan 8th, 2022


In the evolving set-up that is society, the expectations levied upon the different age groups in the society have also changed. The changes, to a large extent, have affected the teen and the youth who find themselves in the middle of this quagmire. In the end, the values and principles that the previous generations adhered to and even held sacred are shrinking and disappearing in the thick fog that is time. The other factor is that the norms that governed relationships in the different family and societal set-ups such as in the school and the workplace are being challenged (Klein, 1995). The aspects of society that ensured a smooth transition between the age groups and social classes are either deteriorating or changing, people’s lifestyles are becoming more unorthodox and their predictability is waning too. Other aspects that govern the characters of people the society natures are external, inclusive of which is the labor market (Venkatesh, 1997).

The maturity gap in today’s young adults has considerably increased due to many factors such as unemployment. All in all, these factors have a great impact on the relationship between family members, they affect one’s chances at getting a formal education, one’s participation in both the job and labor market, and their general lifestyles. These problems are not only concentrated in the developed nations, rather, but they are also an issue even in the developing countries. Developing countries, in themself, exert pressure on the young adults in their transition to independence. Factors that affect their economies such as an ever-expanding population, poor or inadequate housing, biting poverty, lack of formal reliable employment, overpopulation in the urban areas, the collapse of the general family structure, and poor quality of education being offered with overstretched facilities are the major issues the youth have to grapple with, these end up defining their characters and personalities in the long run (Dzikus, 1996).

Irrespective of which sex the youth may be, today’s world exposes him to many opportunities; some good and others detrimental. More often than not, society in general has its own perceptions about the youth in general, and as such it takes advantage of the whole scenario when the youth breaks the law through some act such as drug addiction and taking part in violent crime such as fighting, stealing. Nobody takes time to find out what the course of the whole problem may, they are blamed squarely when their character is a summation of what they have gone through in life, what experiences their life stories tell and their history. The result of these actions is mainly the society normally pulls away from such characters, victimizes them and segregates against them. These people are often marked by society and are often suspects wherever they go, giving them very few opportunities to interact and maybe change their characters for the better.

Assumptions surrounding Juvenile delinquency

Assumptions abound as to the definitions and cases of delinquency, with the general public broadly classified according to their perceptions and views on the topic. They mostly look it from one perspective, of the youth being the crook. To the different people in the society, juvenile delinquency has different meanings because each of these classes of people holds a different idea about it. Emiralt et-al in his book claims that criminals understand delinquency as petty crime committed by young offenders between the ages of twelve and twenty years (2010). Sociologists, however have a different perspective that is somehow deeper regarding the topic. They combine the whole point of these classes of people to conclude that juvenile delinquents are sometimes negated and overlooked as possible victims of these acts. This takes a big toll on their social life. They attribute delinquency to a poor upbringing and other environmental factors.

Sociologists point out that signs of delinquency may be detected at a tender age in a child’s life, and that delinquency is the summation of what has transpired in the character’s life. As such they attribute these to several factors; hard and difficult infantry, alcoholic parents, family breakdowns, too much crowding, an abusive up bringing at home, HIV/ AIDs. Other causes may be parental loss due to death of one or both parents as a result of family differences, orphans who lack means of sustenance. This situation makes it open that lack of these and other basic needs in life such as shelter are a sure path for a child to sink into delinquency. The following theories, presented by several authors try to explain the causes to some of these characters and their possible solutions in real life scenarios. Other assumptions made about this topic are that juveniles operate in groups, even if it is a single individual in question. There is a tendency to somehow link him to some group of sorts. It is also assumed that the juveniles are of a given age bracket, and as such.

The causes of juvenile delinquency

There are many causes of juvenile delinquency. These causes are widespread in terms of the aspects of life of the characters involved. Some of the factors that may push one towards delinquency are: Economic and social factors; It is associated the negativity resulting from the social and economic structures of a given society. These are often beyond what any single individual could control such as political instability, economic down turns and the breakdown of major institutions such as the state and major educational centers. Continued unemployment and limited chances to formal degenerates into economic instability, since the young would want to survive whichever way salvation comes.

Cultural factors also play a big role in the mayhem that is juvenile delinquency. Culture sets out the norms that are to be adhered to in a given society, the limits for acceptable behavior. When the need to operate within these set rules is overlooked by certain characters, it is viewed as rebellion. They often engage in deviant and even criminal acts. This mostly occurs in societies where the local culture is undergoing tremendous change such as modernity. The loopholes allow for juvenile operatives in the many forms they occur. Other causes are urbanization, the family unit is also a factor when it is not closely knit and the parents do not lead by example. The media has also played a great role and so has migration of people and peer influence.

Population heterogeneity and state dependent theories

Population heterogeneity is a theory that tries to explain the consistency of some elements in the society to always be in a particular kind of issue against the law. Population heterogeneity gives credence to this fact, claiming that the reason for this chronic situation is the difference in anti-social characteristics among people; these traits are imparted in the people at tender ages and stabilized with time. The theory goes further to claim that these people may suppress the character inside them, but they resurface after sometime.

Population heterogeneity can controlled through collective efforts. Bailey established that cultural homogeneity helps establish cultural consensus, and such these traits are suppressed. In the end, there are very few characters and cases of this nature resulting to very low crime rates or juvenile cases in the given regions.

State dependence on the other hand is a complete contrast to population heterogeneity. It attributes the tranquility in a given society to a process of being in contact to the alleged criminals. It asserts that delinquency, if left to flourish would erode the boundaries and strengthen people’s resolutions to be delinquents. This would imply that delinquency would be adapted later on in life as compared to population heterogeneity where the individual grows up adapting the lifestyles.

Self control theory

This theory suggests that the main causal agent for delinquency can be attributed to the weak societal bonds between the individuals in question and the society in general. Hirschi further suggests that in contrast to this, strong bonds among the members of a given society make it hard for any of their members to

be errant and deviate from the norms governing their institutions. This theory sets out to question why individuals particularly avoid acting contrary to the norms that are set aside by the society. This makes it hard to deviate hence control. Lack of this control would then mean that criminalist behavior or juvenile cases would be on the increase. The theorists’ behind the hypotheses had observed that when the norms in the society merged and there was kind of a uniform code of behavior in a given society, the loopholes to defy these norms are greatly reduced.

According to Hischi, “people would conform to a group when they believe they will have more to gain by conformity rather than by deviance” (Tolman, 2001). Strong bonds result in few if any chances to defy while weak bonds result to a high rate of juvenile delinquency.

He further alludes that strong bonds are made up four major colluding factors; conviction, attachment participation and obligation. Lack of any one of these factors leads to there being a void in society and such creates a leeway to deviance. In summation, this theory states that ‘acts of force and fraud are undertaken in the pursuit of self interest and control, therefore criminality is based on a criminal’s own control of himself (Wolfgang, 1987).

Age graded theory

State dependent theory on the other hand suggests that the connection between delinquency at a young age and the eventual behavior of a grown man after years of delinquency is not purely as a result of individual characters. Other factors also affect this; social factors may cause one to change while others remain the same throughout their lifetime. This theory is made of three major features; the micro level structural context, in which a poor family and school set up which contribute to the overall degree of delinquency.

The other feature is the progression of antisocial behavior from infantry to adulthood through the various life stages an individual passes. The third feature to this theory is that the unofficial bonds in the family and one’s relationship during employment upon attainment of adulthood reflect the changes in delinquency in the lifespan of the individual’s character, these changes tend to be positive despite their being delinquency at his earlier stages in life (Machel, 1996). This explains a person’s desistance in a given relationship, whether romantic or job related (Gilmore, 1990).

Case studies on two adults with different social behaviors

Two cases abound of two individuals raised from two distinct families. Mathew is a very humble person who always seems to understand everybody, is accommodative and is at peace with himself. He comes from a Christian background, his parents have always showed him love and affection, his upbringing was characterized by a mum and a dad who were always there for them.

They could go to church quite often and whenever they made a mistake they were always corrected by their parents without being shouted or scolded at. Their home was characterized by happy faces whenever any of them excelled in anything either academically or in sports, he was always applauded and encouraged to continue with the struggle. Mathew’s brother is an accomplished actor who has featured in big budget Hollywood movies, and he attributes his success to the nurturing his parents gave him (Koss, 1994). In one of the interviews, he recalled at one time when he had not done his homework and his mother was mad at him. He says the mother did shout, but her demeanor changed and all he could feel was guilt.

Though his mother forgave him, he says living with the guilt before he apologized and later did the assignment was the worst punishment he had ever been under. He says his parents were strict about the rules in the house while they were young and somehow it was hard for them because then their perceptions were that hanging out with a certain clique of boys in the neighborhood is cool, smoking weed and marijuana would be a good idea to wind up the day and so on. But their parents often took time to teach them about the dangers of adapting anything that society brings your way, they talked them off their ideas about hanging out and chilling out with a group of boys in the hood (Goodman, 1993). They ended up incorporating the parents counsel, and they were as successful as they were in their respective fields.

This is one aspect of life where both parents have struggled to bring up their children within a certain class of ‘customs’ and rules. The children learn that that is the way to lead their lives, and the resultant norms’ and characters they exhibit are at par to what they were brought up in. This is probably what they will pass across to their off springs in the years ahead of them.

The other character, Timothy is one person nobody wants to associate with. His history is marred by a series of escapades from jail and near death adventures with the police. He lives with his grandmother, the parents were alcoholics’ and they fell apart immediately after Timothy was born. Timothy was taken by the mother who lived with him in the shanties and plied the streets by the night as a prostitute. He harbors vivid images of her mother having sex at his side by the bed side for the money, only for the men she slept with to refuse to pay her (Koss, 1994). An argument would ensure and the men would end up beating her mother, sometimes wounding to the extent of her getting admission into a health facility.

The mother, in most cases ran away from the hospital without clearing her bills and medication because she could not fathom lying there while her son is sleeping in the cold alone and hungry. This resulted to timothy growing up with a negative perception towards life and hated anybody who claims he had it smooth through life. The bare marks he received as a result of the street fights to him are a reminder of where he comes from. He finds it so hard to live a life outside the traditional street fights that sometimes involve the street gangs chasing each other with guns to death. These two cases would only strengthen the theory of age graded, that these two individuals lived to be exposed to different environments while they were growing, these environments molded their characters. Mathew’s environment could hardly accommodate the trappings of Timothy’s lifestyle, hence the two distinct characters.


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