Juvenile Delinquency has evolved overtime, leading to new found crimes and punishments within the system. Delinquency is primarily dominate in young adolescents transitioning into their adult life. It is the act of unlawful behavior that is specifically fulfilled by minors- mostly individuals start under the legally issued age in America. Surprisingly, “A significant proportion of U.S. national crime rate trends over time can be explained by fluctuations in the proportion of the population in the crime-prone age group of 15- to 24-year-olds.” (Steffensmeier & Harer, 1987, 1999). The causes of these delinquent tendencies strive from lack of support, education, environmental help, etc. Delinquent juveniles are dealt with low quality services such as education- old materials, did interesting topics, and declining help. However, minority children have the shorter of the stick with constant poverty, absence of opportunity, and being more influenced by street crime to elevate their living. For example, “Black and Hispanic/Latino adolescents are more likely than Whites to have had contact with the police and to be arrested.” (Cruchfield, Skinner, Haggarty, McGlynn, & Catalano, 2009). African American and Latino students have encountered the police and have been placed under arrest suppressing the numbers for whites. These students are known to live in under developing neighborhoods surrounded by the uprise of crime activity.
Delinquency is heavily constant among the teenage group, those exposed to new life experiences. For many, it begins to decline as adolescents enter their early adult lives. However, those who start offending at an earlier age tend to continue reoffending for most of their adult life. According to “The Pittsburgh Youth Study it found that 52 to 57 percent of juvenile delinquents continue to offend up to age 25. This number dropped by two-thirds — to 16 to 19 percent — in the next five years.” (National Institute of Justice, 2019). More juveniles are participating in criminal activities that surpassed the given age that these tendencies supposedly fade away. It becomes a major concern when offenders are being locked away for years on end, due to early on contact with juvenile delinquency. These crimes committed at such young ages follow them into their future crimes. Some are lucky, however, as they are placed on probation minimizing their time in a detention facility. As stated in the statistics, “Approximately 57 percent of adjudicated youth are placed on probation.” (Youth.Govt, 2010). A little over a half of juveniles are placed on probation, it is significantly low for the youth. Probation is essential for youth to commit to rules and regulations that can potentially keep them out of jail and on a new path.
Adolescents encounter crime conduct from friends, and adapt this type of behavior through the influences of those perceived to be their role models. Absence of an adult mentor or adviser can lead adolescents to act out and cause distribution within society due to a lack of guidance. Family is the main component within youth crime, because guidance starts within the home first: Adolescents can fall into the peer pressure to commit crimes without guidance. Also, the use of drugs are particularly dominant within these age groups to cope with the lack of opportunity in life. Many delinquents do not possess the mature mentality, believe the stereotypes and insults assigned to them through higher power individuals and break off from their environment.For this paper, two theories, the Labeling and Social bond theory, will be applied to explain why youth commit crime. These theories aid to define juvenile delinquency and causes of the youth crime epidemic. In order to change the face of delinquency so that it may be better dealt with, as a society acknowledgment of how we contribute to it is consequential.
Young people are vulnerable due to their under developing cerebellum, that lacks the maturity of decision making. Many youngsters are inclined to participate in crime activity because they are fed up with their current life circumstances. Young people compare heavily with their peers, as they interact with them the most on a daily basis. Adolescent peers are students of the same grade level, their fellow classmates. As they become adjusted to school, students often form groups that have similar backgrounds. “Adolescents usually become involved with delinquent peers before they become delinquent themselves” (Elliott & Simons, 1994). It’s a change reaction, adolescents start to befriend their peers and pick up on their habits and invest themselves in those same activities. They view those behaviors and start to mimic those themselves. Young individuals typically fall into the perception that their delinquent peers are quality examples of sufficient behavior if not addressed ahead.
Drugs are highly popularized among the teen age group because of their curiosity and need to experience. This is common deviant behavior among young individuals. Drugs are easily accessible to the youth, and are commonly shared among their peer groups. Drug use among teens is problematic considering the addictive risks behind it. It can lead adolescents down a path of severe addiction. “During the 6 months prior to detention, 71 percent used one type of substance regularly, and 29 percent used more than one type regularly; 63 percent used cannabis; 46 percent, alcohol; 20 percent, amphetamines; 8 percent, ecstasy; and 7 percent, inhalants.” (Payne & Prichard, 2005, pg, 1). Before these delinquent adolescents were taken into custody and placed in a detention center, more than half had taken an abusive substance. Many adolescents take drugs to suppress their issues behind closed doors. Issues within their families play a key role in their usage of abused substances and need to lash out. Drugs rid of depressive emotions and moods but can enforce the label already imposed on the delinquent.
Labels prohibit the growth and change of developing adolescents and often highlights negative characteristics with misleading information. It travels with the child throughout their life living up to the potential the label limits them to, not allowing room for them to change or grow into a different label. Others around them will continue with the label making it hard for the young adult to ever escape. The Labeling theory was created by Howard Saul Becker in the 1960s to address the concern of youth crime surrounding labels placed upon them. “The deviant is the one whom that label has successfully been applied to; deviant behavior is behavior that people so label.” (Tannenbaum 1951 & Lement 1951, Kitsuse 1962). In deviant behavior, it highlights negative characteristics and neglects the positive. Adolescents become consumed by only their dismissive behaviors. Most of the time, labels are based off accusations, and misconstrued information based off glimpses of displayed behavior. The labels are generated off small interactions or observation over the “delinquent” adolescent that presents socially unacceptable behavior. Adolescents are more susceptible to being influenced by higher authority figures that denounce their temperament, especially minority children. Authority figures such as teachers, police officers, guidance counselors and so further have the power to turn a young adult to participate in crime activity due to the labels placed upon them by these professionals. Remarks toward or spoken among delinquency lead them into a world of crime. Typically assumptions such drug dealer, gang banger, territost, and just simple up to no good weight on the developing mind of the child. They begin to believe these false accusations of their self- characteristics and take up that role that is stereotypical associated with them. This destroys the youth’s fundamentals values and turns them into a newly found criminal. If someone thats perceived to be of higher wisdom and knowledge of the world like high authority figures demies them to become their worst ideal represented in society than an immature, evolving, coming of age adolescent will certainly act in the matter presented of them.
Behavioral factors that others in society deem as “deviant behavior” can stimulate the labeling process. Many students have simple behavioral disorders such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). These disorders make it almost impossible for them to stay still for long periods of time, hold attention, or control their hyper-ness for extended moments. The education system mislabels these students as disruptive, trouble makers, and bad influencers on other children within the classroom. It is at a young age when children are exposed to diminishing labels that can affect how they see themselves and their future performance in their class work. Placement of these children in under developing classes limits their full potential and can lead them conforming to unintelligent labels placed upon them. According to a study of student discipline in an inner city high school Bowditch noticed “ student’s vulnerability to suspension, and identification as a ‘troublemaker,’ may . . . depend upon his or her parents’ ability to influence the actions of school personnel” (Browditch, 1993, p, 501). As parents, many feel the unnecessary need to challenge the administration of education’s actions when it comes toward placement of their child. When children become identified as troublemakers, it is widely known among the student body and the teaching personnel. The child becomes known for their abnormal behavior and begin to believe they are useless in society and will not amount to anything due to their behavioral factors. In many cases, this leads adolescents into a life of crime from stimulated isolated emotions and previous childhood labels surrounding their uncontrollable behavior.
The social bond theory branches off from social control theories, “the most prominent control theory is the one developed by sociologist Travis, Hirschi.” (Siegel & Welsh, 2017, pg, 110). Hirschi discusses in his book “Causes of Delinquency” the arguments to the theory. Many commit crime because it is easily obtainable and gives great rewards. Most people are controlled by their family and their bond to the community. When these bonds are essentially broken, adolescents seek out deviant crimes that are personally desirable. Hirschi details the 4 main components a social bond contains for an adolescent like attachment, commitment, belief, and involvement. (Siegel & Welsh, 2017, pg. 112). It is when social bonds are broken that an adolescent can turn towards a life of crime, diminishing fear of breaking the connection that once was. When developing youth have absent role models and lack attachment to virtuous individuals they are in search of that deeper connection elsewhere. As stated, “ In addition to parental and family attachment, parental control over children’s behaviors and spending time with family are also considered to generate social bonds which might keep adolescents away from delinquency. First, parental control (decisions made by parents on adolescents’ activities) was related to lower delinquency.” (Demuth & Brown, 2004, pg, 60).With positive family bonds, adolescents are taught acceptable behaviors within society. They are natured through care and develop positive attitudes with guaranteed expectations for themselves. Parents and other legal guardians determine activities suitable for their children. They instill and differ right actions from wrong, so that child is aware for future reference in their own actions. Absence of a parental bond can create an emotional isolated and uncompassionate child. Guidance from those they value strengthens their will to do the right thing and focus on their commitment to societal values.
As youngsters progress into their young adult life, their main desire is to impress their peers and not adult figures. Peer acceptance is most important to young adults because they crave that need to be accepted and part of the “in group”. Also, deprivation of ethical and upstanding companionships can lead teens to become delinquent by seeking the acceptance of other delinquent students. They have found themselves a group within society despite their anti socially suitable behaviors. Delinquents will continue to do deviant activities to secure their new found bond. In the text, “association with peers who valued education was related to lower school delinquency (e.g., being late, skipping classes, breaking school rules, and school suspension)” (Liu, 2004, pg, 278). When adolescents are influenced by their peers that take their schooling seriously, they act in less unfavorable school behavior. Delinquents encountering peers that display effective school behaviors are likely to replicate those same behaviors because they are exposed to them. They start to fall out of their delinquent ways picking up the new habits of these new found peers. Positive peers keep children on track with their school studies and represent the pleasing behavior of society.
Stigmatization is not limited to just official institutions but also those unofficial such as parents, neighbors and peers. Society sets this image of certain adolescents, especially minorities into the public, stigmatizing them and influencing the minds of others into thinking alike. As stated in the text, “Although the original cause of the misbehavior is important, it is the labeling process that transforms the adolescent’s identity. Without the label and stigma, they might be able to return to a conventional lifestyle; with it, and they are locked forever into a delinquent way of life.” (Siegel & Welsh, 2017, pg, 114). In other words, the delinquent’s behavior is a factor, but is lightweight compared to the labeling process that is placed upon them. It changes how the adolescent sees themselves and conforms to that identity of a criminal and the stereotypes that are thrown at them. Despite the initial behavior, the delinquent can grow out of the conduct, aspire to do more and live a normal lifestyle just as any other, if not exposed to the labeling process. Those with past run ins with the law and previous records are deemed to be failures in life and will continue to live in a life of crime. When high authority figures such as police officials accuse juveniles of participating in crimes when the juvenile clearly has not actively seeked out the crime caused, they succumb to the stigma.
Delinquents that abandon the social norms, social expectations, and refuse to adjust their anti- social behavior are likely to commit deviant crimes. It can start with simple deviant acts such ungerage drinking and substance abuse and can manifest into hardcore crimes like drug dealing and suppling othet illegal substances. Lack of social bonds allow adolescents to get caught up in deviant crimes such as these when no one is telling them not to participate in them. There are no reciprocations for their actions when no one is concerned with their whereabouts or adverse actions. Participation in school/ sport activities help adolescents channel that hyperactive and driven energy in a positive controlled environment. In the absence of these activities, teens turn delinquent to express their energy in other ways. They become unbothered by consequences of these behaviors because they feel like outsiders and deem them to be insignificant. Relationships children form throughout their lives have a vast impact on their criminal status. Those who have obtained a stable relationship and bond with traditional individuals like family, community and their fellow peers develop a stronger self image. These stable inner connections help encourage adolescents to perceive against temptation of deviant behaviors. Personal relationships are crucial to eliminate the attempt to participate in deviant acts. Turning their life away from crime and the need to break the law, these relations are essential to righteous actions. .