The main aim of the current research is to identify the main factors of juvenile delinquency among the youths in Malta. Statistics show that the Juvenile delinquency rate in Malta is continuously increasing and it is important to know from where it is originating. If the factors will be known, then it will be easier for authorities and professionals to find strategies to help the youth to not get introduced to delinquency at a very young age. Furthermore, consequently to the results, more awareness can be promoted directly in certain areas and hence will lead to minimising juvenile delinquency.
“It has long been a problem why some children steal and not others, why some play truant, or why some set fires and damage property”(Bridges,1926,p.531). Delinquency occurs not in a vacuum, but in a social context. This does not mean that individual factors, such as biological makeup and psychological functioning, do not play a role in delinquency. Nor does it imply that individuals do not make choices to engage in delinquent behaviours. However, it recognises that individuals, and the choices they make, cannot be adequately understood without considering the social contexts within which they live and act.
From the literature reviewed, youths’ interactions with parents, peers and schools are thought to exert powerful influence on their involvement in delinquent activities. They can help insulate a child from delinquency, but they can also encourage illegal activities. Kids who fail at home and at school, are considered prone to sustaining a delinquent career over the life course.
Family is the main institution which provides the primary socialization of young children, and so, the relationship determines the adolescent behaviour through the life-course. Youths growing up in a household characterized by abuse, conflict, and tension, whose parents are absent or separated, and who lack family love and support, will be the ones most likely to engage in violence and delinquency.
Saputra found that youth who were abused or neglected as children were more likely to engage in delinquent and adult criminal behaviour than youth who were not subjected to such treatment. Helfer and Kempe contend that “once the developmental process of a child is insulted or arrested by bizarre child rearing patterns, the scars remain. One should not be surprised, then, to find that the large majority of delinquent adolescents indicate that they were abused as children” (Helfer,Kempe, 1976)
Aggressive, delinquent behaviour is the means by which many abused or neglected children act out their hostility towards their parents. Some join gangs, which furnish a sense of belonging and allow anger to be expressed in group-approved delinquent acts.
Many of the underlying problems of delinquency, as well as their prevention and control, are intimately connected with the nature and quality of the school experience. Poor academic performance has been directly linked to delinquent behaviour. Henson Reymen and Crosswell state that “failure to accept the routine of attending school actually instils in children that they do not have to comply with societal norms and that they can do as they please”(Reimer;Cresswell, 2017). School failure will lead to early school- leavers and therefore in the involvement in antisocial behaviour.
Young people invest a lot of energy in social life. Being part of a group serves as a source of status. Peers are essential to the shaping of personality, and they provide young people with plenty of room to develop their identity. So, acceptance by peers has a major impact on young people. Youths who are rejected by their peers are more likely to display aggressive behaviour and disrupt group activities by behaving antisocially.
Weerman link delinquency to the rewards gained by associating with like-minded youths and their formation of law-violating youth groups and gangs. Lower-class youths who find it difficult to achieve success and a sense of pride through legitimate means, are open to achieving status in such a group.
Understanding why a minor commits a crime at an early age is essential to preventing future crimes from happening. Addressing the issues that has led to the choices that the minor child has made can help in building protective barriers which may allow the child to develop in a more secure environment and avoid problems in the future as well as when they are adults.
For the purpose of this study, a qualitative research approach shall be adopted. A qualitative methodological approach not only offers the interviewer with narratives which can directly record personal experiences, but it also provides an opportunity for the researcher to understand and relate better to the everyday work life experiences of the participants.
Another characteristic which favours the qualitative approach over the quantitative approach for this particular research is the fact that the former allows the researcher to freely capture the participant’s working experience and be able to relate to such happenings in a receptive yet curious manner. Such an in-depth analysis is essential for this study, since the researcher aims to discover and unfold the factors related to juvenile delinquency; a phenomena which cannot be investigated through a quantitative methodological approach.
Data collection plays a very crucial role in every research carried out. Amongst the diverse tools which may be used, interviews tend to be the most applicable since they offer an in-depth insight into what cannot be plainly observed. Semi-structured interviews shall be adopted for the purpose of this study. These offer the flexibility of the unstructured style of interview which is then merged with centralised rigidness which constitute a structured interview.
Six semi-structured interviews shall be conducted with a; Social Worker, Legal practitioner, professional working in the probation and parole section, prefect of discipline representing the education sector and two Police officials. In this regard, the research participants must have work experience and are presently engaged in the youth sector.
Considering the nature of the study, a thematic analysis approach shall be used to analyse and probe the information elicited from the interviews carried out. While being the most common form of analysis amongst the various qualitative research methods, the thematic analysis approach is not bound to a particular theoretical framework. Therefore, by offering the researcher accessibility and flexibility when it comes to selecting patterns within the data collected from the established research questions, thematic analysis can successfully identify the factors and the results desired for this research.
Special precautions shall be taken in relation to ethical issues making sure that the wellbeing of all people involved is not impaired as a result of the research. Following the acquisition of ethical permission to conduct the study, the researcher shall attempt to recruit research participants through a voluntary and informed consent which they will eventually sign upon approval. Apart from stressing that participants can opt to renounce from the research at any phase, the information letter should also provide the assurance of anonymity and confidentiality.
Prior to the interview, the researcher will explain the nature and scope of the study to all participants via a recruitment letter. Participants will be reminded not to discuss any particular details of their cases.
Apart from having the option to quit from the study at any point throughout the interview, the participants may also choose to omit answering any questions which they might feel uncomfortable with. The research participants will also be given the possibility to indicate if they would prefer having the interview audio recorded or not. Participants may possibly prefer not having their voices recorded so as to ensure full anonymity. However, in the case that they will opt for the audio recording, the media devise shall be left visible making it possible for the participant to have full control and pause it whenever necessary.
Throughout this process, the safety of the researcher will also be safeguarded. A new mobile phone sim card shall be used for the sole purpose of this study. This contact number will be given to the research participants so as to be able to communicate with the researcher if the need arises. Interviews will be carried out in public places and during day time.
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- Bridges, K. (1927). Factors Contributing to Juvenile Delinquency. Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, 17(4), 531.
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- Helfer, R. E., & Kempe, C. H. (Eds.). (1976). Child abuse and neglect: The family and the community. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Company.
- Meldrum, R., Connolly, G., Flexon, J., & Guerette, R. (2016). Parental Low Self-Control, Family Environments, and Juvenile Delinquency. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 60(14), 1623-1644.
- Rose, S., Ambreen, S., & Fayyaz, W. (2017). Contributing Factors of Juvenile Delinquency among Youth of Balochistan. Pakistan Journal of Criminology, 9(3), 156.
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- Trio Saputra. (2017). The relationship between family functioning and juvenile delinquency at SMKN 4 Pekanbaru. Jurnal Psikologi Pendidikan Dan Konseling, 3(1), 21-26.
- Weerman, F., & Hoeve, M. (2012). Peers and delinquency among girls and boys: Are sex differences in delinquency explained by peer factors? European Journal of Criminology,9(3), 228-244.
- Zammit Marmara, D. (2008). Juvenile delinquency. Retrieved from https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20080422/opinion/juveniledelinquency.205126