Juvenile Delinquency


Remember doing something mischievous or wrong when you were a kid and getting
the label "delinquent" slapped on you ? Did you ever wonder what it meant ?
That is what my topic for today is . . . juvenile delinquency. In this report I
will: define juvenile delinquency, give the extent of juvenile delinquency,
give some suggestions on what causes juvenile delinquency, and what is being
done in various communities to deal with this growing problem. The legal term
juvenile delinquent was established so that young lawbreakers could avoid the
disgrace of being classified in legal records as criminals. Juvenile
delinquency laws were designed to provide treatment, rather than punishment, for
juvenile offenders. Young delinquents usually are sent to juvenile courts,
where the main aim is to rehabilitate offenders, rather than to punish them.
But the term juvenile delinquency itself has come to imply disgrace in today\'s
society. A youngster can be labeled a delinquent for breaking any one of a
number of laws, ranging from robbery to running away from home. But an action
for which a youth may be declared a delinquent in one community may not be
against the law in another community. In some communities, the police ignore
many children who are accused of minor delinquencies or refer them directly to
their parents. But in other communities, the police may refer such children to
a juvenile court, where they may officially be declared delinquents. Crime
statistics, though they are often incomplete and may be misleading, do give an
indication of the extent of the delinquency problem. The FBI reports that
during the early 1980\'s, about two-fifths of all arrests in the United States
for burglary and arson were of persons under the age of 18. Juveniles also
accounted for about one-third of all arrests for larceny. During any year,
about 4 % of all children between the ages of 10 and 18 appear in a juvenile
court. The percentage of youngsters in this group who are sent to court at
least once is much higher. A third or more of those boys living in the slum
areas of large cities may appear in a juvenile court at least once. Girls are
becoming increasingly involved in juvenile delinquency. Today, about one of
every five youngsters appearing in juvenile court is a girl. In the early
1900\'s, this ratio was about 1 girl to every 50 or 60 boys. Sociologists have
conducted a number of studies to determine how much delinquency is not reported
to the police. Most youngsters report taking part in one or more delinquent
acts, though a majority of the offenses are minor. Experts have concluded that
youthful misbehavior is much more common than is indicated by arrest records and
juvenile court statistics. Many studies have been made in an effort to
determine the causes of delinquency. Most of these have focused on family
relationships or on neighborhood or community conditions. The results of these
investigations have shown that it is doubtful that any child becomes a
delinquent for any single reason. Family Relationships, especially those
between parents and individual children, have been the focus of several
delinquency studies. An early study comparing delinquent and nondelinquent
brothers showed that over 90 % of the delinquents had unhappy home lives and
felt discontented with their life circumstances. Only 13 % of their brothers
felt this way. Whatever the nature of the delinquents\' unhappiness, delinquency
appeared to them to be a solution. It brought attention to youths neglected by
their parents, or approval by delinquent friends, or it solved problems of an
unhappy home life in other ways. More recent studies have revealed that many
delinquents had parents with whom they did not get along or who were
inconsistent in their patterns of discipline and punishment. Neighborhood
conditions have been stressed in studies by sociologists. Many of these
inquiries concentrate on differing rates of delinquency, rather than on the way
individuals become delinquents. A series of studies have shown that delinquency
rates are above average in the poorest sections of cities. Such areas have many
broken homes and a high rate of alcoholism. They also have poor schools, high
unemployment, few recreational facilities, and high crime rates. Many young
people see delinquency as their only escape from boredom, poverty, and other
problems. Social scientists have also studied the influence of other youngsters
on those who commit delinquencies. For example, they point out that most
youngsters who engage in delinquent behavior do so with other juveniles and
often in organized gangs. Studies indicate that the causes of delinquency also
extend to a whole society. For example, delinquency