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Ampeloquio, Karen S.

JD1B – Legal Research

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

A. Local Literature

The Philippines has signed several international treaties pertaining to children’s right

and juvenile justice. It is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the

Child, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice or

“Beijing Rules”, the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency

Nations Rule for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Liberty.

The enactment of RA 9344 was an important step forward for children’s rights in the

domestic laws of the country. In the legislation itself, the government pledges to promote and

protect the well-being of the children in conflict with the law and to observe international

standards in their treatment and detention.

The regulations which supplement the RA 9344 refer in particular to Article 40 of

the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the importance that the children be treated in such

a way as to respect the child’s sense of dignity. Reference is made to dealing with children in

conflict with the law without resorting to legal proceedings, and the need to seek alternatives to

institutional care for offenders.

Practically, the legislation increased the age of criminal responsibility from 9 years

old to 15. It called for the establishment of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council and for the

establishment of local councils for the protection of children to implement the legislation.
To ensure that the authority would protect and promote the best interest of a child, the

government had enacted law that apprehend juvenile offenders without impairing the rights and

liberty of a child providing the minimum age of liability. Under Section 6 of RA 9344, Minimum

Age of Criminal Responsibility. - A child fifteen (15) years of age or under at the time of the

commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability. However, the child shall

be subjected to an intervention program pursuant to Section 20 of this Act.

A child above fifteen (15) years but below eighteen (18) years of age shall likewise

be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he/she has

acted with discernment, in which case, such child shall be subjected to the appropriate

proceedings in accordance with this Act.

According to 1Soriano (2010) “Juvenile Delinquency and Crime Prevention”, the

protection of society is the primary responsibility of government. Specifically, it is the

government’s duty to ensure that the rights of every individual, especially the children, are

protected. As the principal agent of the government authorized to enforce laws and to maintain

peace and order in the community, the police force plays a crucial role in the protection of

children’s rights.

It is recognized that the responsibility of the police in the protection and care of

children is comprehensive. If policemen carry out their jobs more effectively, less children will

languish in jail and more will receive appropriate intervention and immediate protection from the

hazardous conditions in the community. The manner by which various categories of children are

handled by the police considerably influences and guides the courts of the juvenile justice

system.
The researchers included this as related literature because it discusses the primary

responsibility of a police officer, who first interacts with a juvenile upon commission of a

criminal offense. This will help the researchers to understand the very actions of a police officer

with regards to the minor offender.

According to 2Alviola (2012) “Juvenile Delinquency”, juvenile crime represents one

of the most demanding and frustrating areas of police work because one of the most common

complaints the police receive is that the juvenile offenders are back on the streets before the

officers have had a chance to complete the necessary paper work. Youthful law breaking and

misbehavior strain law enforcement in a large degree. The leniency of juvenile court codes also

makes it difficult for the police to effectively deal with youth crime. The significance of the

police is the fact that they are usually a juvenile offender’s first contact with the juvenile justice

system. As the doorway into the system, the police officer can use his discretion to either change

the youth or involve them in the system. In fact and in truth, the police officer becomes an on-

the-spot prosecutor, judge and correctional system when dealing with a juvenile offender.

The researchers included this as related literature because it demonstrates the

complications the police face in handling juvenile offenders. It is, indeed, a difficult pill to

swallow, that after these juvenile delinquents undergo a program to supposedly rehabilitate them,

upon release to society, commit the same offense, if not a more atrocious one.

Because of the growing frustrations of the people in authority in combating the

number of juvenile delinquents, tons of proposed bills before the lower house amending the

minimum age from 15 years to 9 years of age have been presented. Asserting that lowering the

age of criminal liability would deter offenses committed by the minors. Davao del Sur 1st district
Rep. Mercedes Cagas penned and filed House Bill Number 5183, which seeks to lower the age

of criminal liability of a child, “the law has failed to shield minors from crime in general.”

According to a representative from Cebu, Pablo P. Garcia, one of the many who

sponsored a bill regarding lowering the age of criminal liability, “All laws in a democratic

society are supposed to be made with good intentions such as the promotion of justice, order,

freedom and the common good. But not all good intentions make good laws. And, as often

pointed out as a caveat, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. A law that looks good

during its passage may turn out to be prejudicial or detrimental, in its application or

implementation, to its own good intentions.”

Also, according to the explanatory note on his bill presented before the Fifteenth

Congress with a House Bill Number 2894, an example law that he is referring to be a

detrimental to its application and implementation is the RA 9344.

The measure that society undertakes to deal with the huge number of juvenile

offenders is one thing but the difficulty of the authority to drag the number down is another

thing. Almost everywhere, law enforcers have complained about their inability or helplessness in

coping with the rising, if not alarming, incidence of serious crimes committed by teen-aged

offenders who, under RA 9344, are immune from arrest and detention. The worst part is that the

criminal syndicated and other criminal elements are taking advantage of the law and are now

using these juvenile offenders in actually carrying out their nefarious criminal activities such as

murder, robbery, drug trafficking and other serious crimes.

Rep. Pablo asserted that the local government units all over the country, through their

governors, mayors or sanggunians, have complained about the bad effects of the law—RA
9344—on the peace and order situation in their respective constituencies and have been calling

for the repeal or amendment of said law.

The researchers included this as related literature because this puts emphasis on the

opinions of several legislators seeking to amend the current Juvenile Justice Act.

In the website 3http://www.dswd.gov.ph (2008), it discussed that Philippine

government focuses their attention to the escalating number of youth offenders which happened

to increase year by year. This is perhaps why the Department of Social Welfare and

Development (DSWD) formulated programs to assist youth offenders in gradual and in-process

rehabilitation. In the official website of DSWD, the programs and services offered to the youth

are the following:

1. Special Social Service for Youth Offenders, which are meant “To provide

interventions and opportunities youth offenders with suspended sentence and to

assist them and their family. The objective of this program is to rehabilitate and

reintegrate youth offenders into the mainstream of society and facilitate their access

to developmental opportunities.”

2. Residential Care, which provides “Residential services for youth offenders and

unwed girls. This involves services to disadvantaged youth in regional rehabilitation

centers for youth offenders, Sulong Dunong Youth Scholars and other OSYs who

availed of education assistance and assisted in the youth hostel in region IX are

included in the residential based data. Youth drug dependents are being rehabilitated

in the reception center for drug dependents.”


The government continues to establish programs that will cater to and aid the growing

population of street children and youth offenders, including housing programs, and re-educating

and re-inculcating the moral values to these children.

The researchers included this as related literature because it is essential for the

researchers to determine the rehabilitation programs that are being given by our government for

the protection, rehabilitation and reintegration of a minor offender.

According to 4Soriano (2010) “Juvenile Delinquency and Crime Prevention”, the

protection of society is the primary responsibility of government. Specifically, it is the

government’s duty to ensure that the rights of every individual, especially the children, are

protected. As the principal agent of the government authorized to enforce laws and to maintain

peace and order in the community, the police force plays a crucial role in the protection of

children’s rights.

It is recognized that the responsibility of the police in the protection and care of

children is comprehensive. If policemen carry out their jobs more effectively, less children will

languish in jail and more will receive appropriate intervention and immediate protection from the

hazardous conditions in the community. The manner by which various categories of children are

handled by the police considerably influences and guides the courts of the juvenile justice

system.

The researchers included this as related literature because it discusses the primary

responsibility of a police officer, who first interacts with a juvenile upon commission of a

criminal offense. This will help the researchers to understand the very actions of a police officer

with regards to the minor offender.


According to 5Alviola (2012) “Juvenile Delinquency”, juvenile crime represents one

of the most demanding and frustrating areas of police work because one of the most common

complaints the police receive is that the juvenile offenders are back on the streets before the

officers have had a chance to complete the necessary paper work. Youthful law breaking and

misbehavior strain law enforcement in a large degree. The leniency of juvenile court codes also

makes it difficult for the police to effectively deal with youth crime. The significance of the

police is the fact that they are usually a juvenile offender’s first contact with the juvenile justice

system. As the doorway into the system, the police officer can use his discretion to either change

the youth or involve them in the system. In fact and in truth, the police officer becomes an on-

the-spot prosecutor, judge and correctional system when dealing with a juvenile offender.

The researchers included this as related literature because it demonstrates the

complications the police face in handling minor offenders. It is, indeed, a difficult pill to

swallow, that after these juvenile delinquents undergo a program to supposedly rehabilitate them,

upon release to society, commit the same offense, if not a more atrocious one.

Juvenile Crime is a terminology used to generally denote various offenses committed

by children or youths under the age of 18. Such acts are at times referred to as juvenile

delinquency. Children’s offenses characteristically include aberrant and anti-social acts, which

would be considered crimes if committed by adults, and status offenses, which are less serious

misbehavior such as truancy and parental disobedience. Both are within the jurisdiction of the

Family/Juvenile court; more serious offenses committed by minors may be tried in criminal court

and be subject to prison sentence.


Categories of Delinquent Youth

According to 6Guevara (2008), there are different categories of delinquent youth:

Accidental – Less identifiable in personality and temperament, essentially a law abiding

citizen but happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. This may be credited to peer

pressure or pure curiosity on the part of the young person.

Asocial – Children whose acts are manifested by vile, cruel and atrocious acts and

conduct for which the feel no remorse. Timely intervention is necessary so as to prevent them

from becoming ruthless criminals capable of acts of violence and heinous crimes.

Neurotic – The anti-social behavior of the youth is a direct result of internal conflict and

pre-occupation with his own emotion and mood. Therapy and counseling is necessary to control

this type of delinquency, failure to do so will be risky since this anti-social behavior makes the

child prone to commit serial crimes upon adulthood.

Social – Refers to an aggressive teens who resents authority, whether be it parental,

school regulations or ordinance and laws passed by the proper legislative authorities. The most

common reason for such dislikes is focused to anyone who tries to control their conduct.

The researchers included this as related literature because it shows the different

categories of delinquent youth, which may also aid in creating custom rehabilitation programs

for each child, for a faster and more efficient reintegration to society.
Types of Youth Behavior Disorders

Furthermore, 7Guevara (2008) stated that there are different types of youth behavior

disorders:

Anti-social behavior – it may be best characterized by disobedience and disrespect for

authority.

Truancy – Students failing to attend their classes for 20 days without any reasonable

cause. This may be attributed to the school’s proximity to place of vices, unattractive school life,

failing grades, strict and unreasonable mentors, family and domestic problems; fear of schools

bullies and fear of punishment.

Vagrancy – Refers to children who are unable to cope with their family life and choosers

to leave the family home. This is a direct result of Feeble-mindedness, disagreeable home

conditions, broken homes and misdirected fancy for adventures.

Emotional disorders – Such misbehavior is related to fear reactions, temper tantrums

and jealousy reactions.

Lying – The penchant for not telling the truth clearly manifest that the following are

lacking love, security, attention, respect, acceptance, praise and happiness.

Stealing – This criminal act comes from loose morals in the home, lack of economic

security wherein the parents are unable to provide for the needs of their children, undisciplined

desire for possession and pleasure seeking and parental indifference.


Community and Juvenile Delinquency

Community based services and programs which respond to the special needs, problems,

interests and concerns of young persons and which offer appropriate counseling and guidance to

young persons and their families should be developed, or strengthened where they exist.

(Guevara, 2008)

Communities should provide, or strengthen where they exist, a wide range of community-

based support measures for young persons, including community development centers,

recreational facilities and services to respond to the special problems of children who are at

social risk. In providing these helping measures, respect for individual rights should be ensured.

Special facilities should be set up to provide adequate shelter for young persons who are

no longer able to live at home or who do not have homes to live in.

A range of services and helping measures should be provided to deal with the difficulties

experienced by young persons in the transition to adulthood. Such services should include

special programs for young drug abusers which emphasize care, counseling, assistance and

therapy-oriented interventions.

The researchers included this in related literature for it shows the significance of the

community in reshaping the distorted values of delinquent juveniles, and to help them recognize

what sets apart the wrongful acts from the rightful ones. Furthermore, Guevara’s study of the

delinquent youth stresses the claim that it is also of utmost importance, and of interest to the

society in correcting the errant ways of the youth—for our country’s future rests in their hands.

Community Bodies Dealing With Child Welfare


Art. 86. Ordinances and resolutions- Barangay Councils shall have the authority to enact

ordinances and resolutions not inconsistent with law or municipal ordinances, as may be

necessary to provide for the proper development and welfare of the children in the community, in

consultation with representatives of national agencies concerned with child and youth welfare.

Art. 87. Council for the Protection of Children- every barangay council shall encourage the

organization of local council for the Protection of Children and shall coordinate with the Council

for the Children and Youth in drawing and implementing plans for the promotion of child and

youth welfare.

Said council shall:

(1) Foster the education of every child in the barangay;

(2) Encourage the proper performance of the duties of parents, and provide learning

opportunities on the adequate rearing of children and on positive parent-child relationship;

(3) Protect and assist abandoned or maltreated children and dependents;

(4) Take steps to prevent juvenile delinquency and assist parents of children with

behavioral problems so that they can get expert advice;

(5) Adopt measures for the health of children;

(6) Promote the opening and maintenance of playgrounds and day-care centers and other

services that are necessary for the child and youth welfare;

(7) Coordinate the activities of organizations devoted to the welfare of children and

secure their cooperation;


(8) Promote wholesome entertainment in the community, especially in movie houses; and

(9) Assist parents, whenever necessary in securing expert guidance counseling from the

proper governmental or private welfare agency.

The Role of Government in Preventing Delinquency

Governments are under obligation to make public education accessible to all young

persons. Education system should, in addition to their academic and vocational training

activities, devote particular attention to the following:

(a) Teaching of basic values and developing respect for the child’s own cultural identity

and patterns, for the social values of the country in which the child is living, for civilizations

different from the child’s own and for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

(b) Promotion and development of the personality, talents and mental and physical

abilities of young people to their fullest potential;

(c) Involvement of young persons as active and effective participants in, rather those

mere objects of, the educational process;

(d) Undertaking activities that foster a sense of identity with and belonging to the school

and community;

(e) Encouragement of young persons to understand and respect diverse views and

opinions, as well as cultural and other differences;

(f) Provision of information and guidance regarding vocational training, employment

opportunities and career development;


(g) Provision of positive emotional support to young persons and the avoidance of

psychological maltreatment; and

(h) Avoidance of harsh disciplinary measures, particularly corporal punishment.

Educational systems should extend particular care and attention to young persons who are

at social risk. Specialized prevention programs and educational material, curricula, approaches

and tools should be developed and fully utilized.

Special attention should be given to comprehensive policies and strategies for the

prevention of alcohol, drug and other substance abuse by young persons. Teachers and other

professionals should be equipped and trained to prevent and deal with these problems.

Schools should serve as resource and referral centers for provision of medical, counseling

and other services to the young persons, particularly those with special needs and suffering from

abuse, neglect, victimization and exploitation.

General Prevention

Comprehensive prevention plans should be instituted at every level of Government and

include the following:

(a) In-depth analysis of the problem and inventories of programs, services, facilities and

resources available;

(b) Well-defined responsibilities for the qualified agencies, institutions and personnel

concerned in preventive efforts;

(c) Law enforcement and judicial agencies in taking concerted action to prevent juvenile

delinquency and youth crime;


(d) Youth participation in delinquency preventive policies and processes, including

recourse to community resources, youth self-help, and victim compensation and

assistance programs; and

(e) Specialized personnel at all levels.

Juveniles and the Police

According to 8Guevara and Bautista (2008), the police are the first in line of defense

against crime. Having the power to arrest and use deadly force, the police are charged both with

preventing and deterring crime and maintaining peace within the community.

At work, the police have to constantly bear in mind though that juveniles should be

handled in a different manner from adult offenders. Most juvenile delinquents are immature boys

and girls lacking in judgment, who need understanding and guidance rather than punishment.

Juvenile crime represents one if the most demanding and frustrating areas of police work.

Youthful law breaking and misbehavior strain law enforcement in large degree. The leniency of

juvenile justice codes also makes it difficult for the police to deal effectively with youth crime.

One of the most common complaints of the police officers is that arrested juvenile offenders are

back on the streets before the officers have had the chance to complete the necessary paper work.

Yet, the police-juvenile relations cannot be minimized. The police are usually a juvenile’s first

contact with the juvenile justice system. As the doorway into the system, the police officer can

use his discretion either to change the youth or involve them in the system. In fact and in truth,

the police officer becomes an on-the-spot prosecutor, judge and correctional system when

dealing with a juvenile offender.


B. Foreign Literature

According to 9Rogoli, et al. (2008) “Delinquency in Society: Youth Crime in the

21st Century”, since ancient times, legal systems have distinguished between juvenile

delinquents and adult criminals. Under the Code of Napoleon in France the delinquent children

generally were not considered morally responsible for their behavior and limited responsibility

was given to children under the age of 16. Despite the apparent humanity of some early statutes,

however, the punishment of juvenile offenders until the 19th century was often severe. In the

U.S., child criminals were treated as adult criminals. Sentences for all offenders could be

harsh, and the death penalty was occasionally imposed.

The first institution for juveniles, the House of Refuge, was founded in New York City in

1825 so that institutionalized delinquents could be distinguished from adult criminals.

In the second half of the 19th century, increased attention was given to the need for

special procedures that would protect and guide the juvenile offender rather than subject the

child to the indifference of criminal law. The juvenile system began to develop, and jurisdiction

over criminal acts by children was transferred from adult courts to the newly created family

courts.

One of the main reasons for the creation of juvenile justice was to avoid the harsh

treatment previously imposed on delinquent children. An act of wrongdoing by a minor was seen

as an indication of the child’s need for care and treatment rather than justification for punishing

that child through criminal penalties.


Origins of Delinquency Prevention

According to 10
Rogoli, et al. (2008) “Delinquency in Society: Youth Crime in the 21st

Century”, the history of the prevention of juvenile delinquency is closely tied to the history of

juvenile justice. From the House of Refuge, which opened in New York in 1825, to more

contemporary events, such as enactment of various statutes, child saving organizations and

lawmakers have had interest in both the prevention and control of delinquency.

Many social scientists have noted that improving the socialization of lower-class youth to

reduce their potential for future delinquency is an important focus of national government

programs. The largest and best-known of these programs are day care centers—a national

program for pre-schoolers.

The researchers included this in related literature because the researchers believe that

knowledge about the origin of juvenile delinquents and the juvenile justice system is of great

importance in acquiring ideas regarding the difference in treatment of juvenile delinquents in the

past and of today’s practice.

The Classical World View

According to 11
Bartolas, C. (2013) “Juvenile Delinquenc: The Justice Series”, humans

were rational and intelligent beings who exercised free will. They commit crimes because they

imagine greater gains coming from crime than from conformity. Because of that, they advocated

harsh and immediate punishment so the offenders would be greatly discouraged to commit future

crimes.
The popularity of the classical approach was in part responsible for the development of

the prison as an alternative to physical punishment and the eventual creation of criminal

sentences geared to the seriousness of crimes.

The Positivist World View

According to 12
Bartolas, C. (2013) “Juvenile Delinquency: The Justice Series”,

delinquent behavior is the result of youth’s biological make-up and life experiences, and he feels

treatment should include altering one or more factors that contribute to unlawful behavior.

He believed that criminals were born, not made, and that the primary cause of crime was

biological. He was writing at the same time that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was

becoming widely circulated, and was probably greatly influenced by Darwin’s ideas.

The researchers included this in related literature because both theories are important in

determining the possible causes and origin of delinquent behaviors and identifying approaches

that would fit the needs, protection and the pattern of rehabilitation programs for children who

are delinquents or in conflict with the law.

Biosocial theorists believe that it is the interaction between predisposition and

environment that produces delinquency. Children born into a disadvantaged environment often

do not get the social and familial support they need to overcome their handicaps. Lack of family

support can have long-term physical consequences. For example, a child’s neural pathways may

be damaged by repeated child neglect or abuse. Once experiences are ingrained, the brain

“remembers” and a pattern of electrochemical activation is established, which remains present

across the lifespan. The relatively small numbers of youths who suffer both physical and social
handicaps, and who also lack social supports, are the ones who become early onset offenders and

persist in a life of crime.

The researchers included this in related literature because environment is one of the

factors that affect the behavior of a child. An out-of-school youth, for example, is susceptible

and at risk of becoming a delinquent since he could be easily influenced by others whom he

frequently keeps company with.

According to 13
Rogoli, et al. (2008) “Delinquency in Society: Youth Crime in the 21st

Century”, law violations are a product of an abnormal personality structure that formed early in

life and which thereafter controls human behavior choices. In extreme cases, mental torment

drives people into violence and aggression. The basis of psychodynamic theory is the assumption

that human behavior is controlled by unconscious mental processes developed early in

childhood.

Psychodynamic theory argues that the human personality contains three major

components. The id is the unrestrained, primitive, pleasure-seeking component with which each

child is born. The ego develops through the reality of living in the world and helps manage and

restrain the id’s need for immediate gratification. The superego develops through interactions

with parents and other significant people and represents the development of conscience and the

moral rule shared by most adults.

All three segments of the personality operate simultaneously. The id dictates need and

desires, the superego counteracts the id by fostering feelings of morality and righteousness, and

the ego evaluates the reality of a position between these two extremes. If these components are
properly balanced, the individual can lead a normal life. If one aspect of the personality becomes

dominant at the expense of the other two, the individual exhibits abnormal personality traits.

Furthermore, the theory suggests that an imbalance in personality traits caused by a

traumatic childhood can result in long-term psychological difficulties. For example, if neglectful

parents fail to develop a child’s superego adequately, the child’s id may become the predominant

personality force; the absence of a strong superego results in an inability to distinguish clearly

between right and wrong. Later, the youth may demand immediate gratification, lack compassion

and sensitivity for the needs of others, disassociate feelings, act aggressively and impulsively,

and demonstrate other psychotic symptoms. Antisocial behavior then may be result of conflict of

trauma occurring early in a child’s development, and delinquent activity may become an outlet

for violent and antisocial feelings.

The researchers included this in related literature for it provides a thorough discussion on

the psychological make-up of an individual. The id, ego and superego are three segments of

personality which needs to be balanced in order to control, and, if possible, predict the actions of

a child. If a child has fully developed these three segments, he or she will most certainly not

engage in delinquent acts. The id dictates a person’s want for immediate satisfaction while the

ego restrains immediate gratification by knowing what is right from wrong, and the superego is

the conscience.

Sutherland argued that as children are socialized, they are exposed to and learn pro-social

and anti-social attitudes and behavior. Simply put, if the pro-delinquency definitions have

learned outweigh the anti-delinquency definitions, they will be vulnerable to choosing criminal

behaviors over conventional ones.


Another prominent approach, identified with Matza and Sykes, suggests that delinquents

hold values similar to those of law-abiding citizens but they learn techniques that enable them to

neutralize those values and drift back and forth between legitimate and delinquent behavior. Drift

is the process by which an individual moves from one behavioral extreme to another, behaving

sometimes in an unconventional manner and at other time with constraint.

They also suggest that juveniles develop a distinct set of justifications for their behavior

when it violates accepted social rules and norms. These neutralization techniques allow youths to

drift away from the rules of the normative society and participate in delinquent behavior. While

most adolescents accept the rules of society, they learn these techniques to release themselves

temporarily from moral constraints.

The researchers included these in related literature because these explain that juvenile

delinquents are capable in adapting to the society’s norms, values and traditions, and to shift to

unconventional behavior at their own volition.

Family Structure and Delinquency

There is an abundance of research that examines the impact of family structure on

delinquency (14Amato & Keith, 1991; 15


Price & Kunz, 2003; 16
Rankin, 1983). The majority of

research finds that youth from broken homes report increased levels of delinquency. For
17
example, in a longitudinal survey of 411 males living in South London, Juby and Farrington

(2001) found that delinquency rates were higher among 75 boys who were living in non-intact

homes compared to boys living in intact families. Moreover, Price and Kunz (2003) conducted a

meta-analysis involving 72 studies that involved divorce and juvenile delinquency. The results

indicated that children from divorced homes have higher rates of delinquency (status offenses,
crimes against person, felony theft, general delinquency, tobacco and drug use) compared to

children from intact homes, with the exception of alcohol use. Some have questioned the causal

relationship, arguing that there may be a genetic trait common among children from divorced

families that increase the risk of delinquency (18Guo, Roettger, & Shih, 2006). Recent research,
19
however, failed to support this view. Specifically, Burt, Barnes, McGue, & Lacono (2009)

examined if parental divorce or genes that are inherited are the cause of delinquency. From a

sample of 610 adoptive and biological families, they found that it is the experience of parental

divorce, and not common genes that drives the association between divorce and adolescent

delinquency. This study shows that juvenile delinquency is not hereditary, but it can be linked to

parental divorce. While past research has demonstrated that children raised in traditional, two-

parent families experience a lower risk of delinquency than children from alternative family

types (Free, 1991; Rankin, 1983), the understanding of whether this effect is universal remains

imperfect (20Kierkus & Hewitt, 2009). For example, using a national sample of adolescents

between the ages of 12 to 17, Kierkus and Hewitt (2009) examined whether the link between

nontraditional family structure and delinquency varies according to six distinct circumstances:

gender, race, age, SES, family size, and place of residence. They found that gender, race, SES,

and place of residence do not condition the relationship between family structure and

delinquency. They did report, however, that age and family size impacted the relationship

between family structure and crime and delinquency. Specifically, older adolescents and those

from larger families were at a higher risk for participating in juvenile delinquency.

Since 1950 the American nuclear family has arguably undergone more change than at

any other time in history (Kierkus et al., 2010). Much of the early research on family structure

and delinquency focused on simplified measures of family structure that may mischaracterize the
relationship between family structure and delinquency. For example, Rankin (1983) examined

the relationship between broken homes and delinquency among two samples of U.S. children

interviewed in 1967 and 1972. He found that when family context is operationalized as a simple

dichotomy (broken verses intact homes), broken homes are more strongly associated with

“family” offenses such as running away and truancy than with other types of more serious

juvenile misconduct. Rankin says studies that suggest broken homes are not an important causal

factor are misleading because of their inadequate operational definitions of both family context

and delinquency.

Moreover, there is evidence that there is a great degree of variability within “broken

home” families (21Apel & Kaukinen, 2008; 22Demuth & Brown, 2004). One third of all children

are born to unmarried mothers and over one half of children will spend some time in a single-

parent family (Demuth & Brown, 2004). In fact, single-father families are the fastest growing

family form (Demuth & Brown, 2004). Family structures are extremely varied today not only

due to the high rate of divorce and the proliferation of complex stepfamilies but also to

increasing rates of non-marital childbearing and cohabitation (Demuth & Brown, 2004).

More recent research has looked specifically at how cohabitation is related to

delinquency. In general, studies find children who live in cohabitating households are much

more likely to participate in juvenile delinquency compared to those in two-biological-parent

households (Apel & Kaukinen, 2008; Kierkus, 2010; Manning & Lamb, 2003). Apel and

Kaukinen (2008) conducted a study on the relationships between family structure and antisocial

behavior that focused on parental cohabitation and blended households using the National

Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. They found considerable heterogeneity in the risk of

antisocial and delinquent behavior among groups of youth who reside in what are traditionally
dichotomized as intact and non-intact families. In particular, Apel and Kaukinen found that

youth in “intact” families differ in important ways depending on whether the two biological

parents are married or cohabitating and on whether they have children from a previous

relationship. For example, if the two biological parents are married, the child is less likely to

engage in criminal activity. If the biological parents are only cohabitating, youth are more likely

to engage in antisocial behavior. In addition, they found that youth who reside with a single

biological parent who cohabits with a non-biological partner exhibit an unusually high rate of

antisocial behavior, especially if the custodial parent is the biological father.

Similarly, Manning and Lamb (2003) examined the well-being and delinquency of

adolescents in cohabitating stepparent families using national data from Add Health. Their

research showed that teens living with cohabitating stepparents often fare worse than teens living

with two-biological parents in terms of well-being and delinquency. In fact, teenagers living with

single unmarried mothers were found to be similar to teens living with cohabitating stepparents

in terms of levels of well-being and delinquency.

Similar to the research by Manning and Lamb (2003), a study conducted by Dunifon and

Kowaleski-Jones (2002) also found that children who live in single-parent or cohabitating

families show higher signs of delinquency than those who live in intact and non-cohabitating

families. This study examined if family structure affects childhood delinquency. They found that

single parenthood does reduce the well-being of children. Cohabitation, however, is only

associated with delinquency and not the well-being of a child. In other words, this study shows

that single parent families and cohabitation can affect children and influence if they will

participate in juvenile delinquency or not and it also shows that single parenthood does reduce

the well-being of children, but cohabitation does not.


A particularly important factor to delinquency may, therefore, be the presence or absence

of a father figure in the household. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth,

Comanor and Phillips (2002) did research to determine if nontraditional family structure,

particularly caused by divorce, affected delinquency. They concluded that the single most

important factor affecting delinquency is the presence of a father in the home (Comanor &

Phillips, 2002). This research corroborates other studies looking at broken homes but suggests

that children from single-mother households may be at particular risk.

Using data from Add Health, Demuth and Brown (2004) extended prior research that has

investigated the effects of growing up in a two-parent versus single-mother family by examining

adolescent delinquency in single-father families too. This strategy helped the researchers to

identify whether the effect is predominantly a function of parental absence (i.e., one versus two

parents) or parental gender (i.e., single mother versus single father) (Demuth & Brown, 2004).

The results indicated that adolescents in single-parent families were significantly more

delinquent than their counterparts residing with two biological, married parents (Demuth &

Brown, 2004). They also, however, found a difference in single mother and single father

families. Children from single father families showed higher signs of delinquency than those

adolescents from single mother families. Adolescents from single parent families do show higher

signs of juvenile delinquency overall, compared to children from intact families.

Family Processes and Delinquency

One theoretical perspective that can explain the relationship between family structure and

delinquency is social control theory (Hirschi, 1969). The main tenet of this theory is that

increased social bonds decrease the likelihood of engaging in crime and deviance. Specifically,
Hirschi (1969) specifies four elements of the social bond: attachment, described as the extent that

a person has close affectionate ties with others; commitment, described as the fear of law-

breaking behavior; involvement, described as meaning participating in conventional acts to make

one too busy to commit crime; and belief, described as impressions or opinions that are highly

dependent upon social reinforcement.

Hirschi’s (1969) version of social control theory contends that individuals conform

because they have strong affective attachments to parents, stakes in conformity, involvement in

conventional activities, and belief in social norms. Conversely, those youth who have weak

attachments, low stakes in conformity, little involvement in conventional activities, and poor

attitudes regarding societal norms are more likely to participate in delinquent behavior. Hirschi

originally argued that the attachment between parent and child is paramount and the strength of

this relationship is the most important factor in determining delinquent behavior. In other words,

it is the quality, and not the quantity, of bonds that determines delinquency (Leiber et al., 2009).

Many children who experience a divorce or are otherwise in nontraditional families may

not be as close to their parents as children in two-biological-parent families. They may

experience weakened bonds with their parents and others, thus increasing the likelihood that they

will engage in crime and delinquency (Matsueda & Heimer, 1987). If a child lives in a

nontraditional family structure, this can impact the four elements of the bond. Hirschi suggested

that inadequate families fail to provide the attachments that could leverage children into

socialized life-styles (Hirschi, 1969). If a child is brought up in a broken home, the child is going

to have a hard time socially and this may cause the child to turn to deviant acts.
Parental attachment can, therefore, be a key factor in explaining crime and delinquency

among adolescents. A study by Grove and Crutchfield (1982) examined the effect of various

“family variables” on the etiology of juvenile delinquency focusing on self-reports by parents on

their child’s behavior. Some of the potential explanations for delinquency in this study were:

family structure, poor parental characteristics, household characteristics, and parent-child

relationships. Of these factors, they found parental attachment to be the strongest predictor of

delinquency. In addition, research using nationally representative data has found that maternal

attachment was an especially important predictor of nonserious and serious delinquency

irrespective of family structure, economic factors, and race and ethnicity (Leiber et al., 2009).

While children from single parent homes can certainly have strong attachments with the

custodial parent, some research has suggested that having a second parent in the household is

still important in reducing delinquency. For example, Rankin and Kern (1994) found that

children who are strongly attached to both parents have a lower probability of self-reported

delinquency than children who are strongly attached to only one parent. Furthermore, even

children living in single-parent homes who are strongly attached to the custodial parent generally

have a greater probability of committing delinquent acts than children living in intact homes who

are strongly attached to both parents (Rankin & Kern, 1994).

In addition to parental attachment or closeness, social bonds with parents have also been

measured with terms such as parental monitoring, supervision, and involvement. Of these,

parental monitoring and supervision have received much support in the literature (Hoeve et al.,

2009; Keijsers, Branje, VanderValk, & Meeus, 2010; Pettit, Laird, Dodge, Bates, & Cirss, 2001).
For example, Hoeve et al. (2009) examined the factors that impact why family structures

cause crime and delinquency. Their meta-analysis of 161 published and unpublished manuscripts

determined that the strongest links connecting this relationship were parental monitoring,

psychological control, and negative aspects of support (Hoeve et al., 2009). This meta-analysis

has demonstrated that a significant relationship exists between parenting and delinquency and

confirms previous research that behavioral control, such as parental monitoring is negatively

linked to delinquency (Patterson & Yoeger, 1993). Furthermore, several specific indicators of

parental monitoring including parental knowledge, child disclosure, and active monitoring by

parents have links to delinquency (Hoeve et al., 2009).

With respect to parental involvement, some studies show that more time spent with

parents leads to less participation in crime and delinquency (Keijsers et al., 2010). The more

leisure time that an adolescent spends with parents, the less likely the adolescent is to deviate. If

an adolescent spends more time away from parents, he or she is more likely to disclose

information from authority figures and keep things from his or her parents (Keijsers et al., 2010).

In addition, Eitle (2005) found that the quantity of parenting may provide additional

protection against adolescent substance use beyond quality of parenting factors. In other words,

the more frequent adolescents are supervised, the less likely they are to engage in crime and

delinquency.

Parenting practices may also impact delinquency over the long term. Petts (2009) used a

life-course approach to examine whether family influences individual-level delinquency

trajectories from early adolescence through young adulthood. Based on data from the NLSY79,

results suggested that residing with two parents deters youths from becoming delinquent and that
supportive parenting practices reduce their likelihood of becoming involved in delinquent

behavior early in adolescence (Petts, 2009). This study shows that parenting may have long-term

effects on crime and deviance and parenting practices impact delinquency across different ages.

The gender of the child may also impact the relationship between parenting practices and

delinquency. Considering the gender of the child, Gove and Crutchfield (1982) found that the

variables that predict male delinquency were different from those that predict female

delinquency. Characteristics of the parents’ marriage, such as if the parents get along with each

other or not, play an important role for boys, while misbehavior of girls is more strongly

predicted by variables measuring parent-child interaction and parental control. Females were

more likely to engage in crime and delinquency if they did not have a lot of interaction with their

parents and if their parents did not control and monitor what they are doing. The principle

predictor of female delinquency in this study was, therefore, the parent’s family management and

techniques (supervision and discipline) (Loeber & Dishion, 1983). Put differently, supervision

and monitoring may be an especially important predictor of delinquency for female adolescents

compared to male adolescents.

The gender of the parent may also be an important factor in predicting delinquency,

especially maternal relationships with children. Maternal relationships in particular appear to be

important with regards to crime and delinquency. For example, maternal behavior may influence

crime and delinquency and, through those effects, adult criminality. If a mother does not pay

close attention to her child, the child may turn to delinquency. Parental interaction with the

family, however, appears to have a more direct influence on the probability of adult criminal

behavior (McCord, 1991). McCord found that children who are brought up in families where

they are closely supervised and have interaction are less likely to turn into criminals as adults
(Petts, 2009). Practicing good parenting and closely supervising an adolescent can influence the

adolescent not to participate in crime throughout adulthood, also (Petts, 2009). Parental

monitoring, supervision, involvement, and attachment appear to be especially important in the

case of an adolescent participating in crime and delinquency (McCord, 1991).

Given the importance of parenting practices to predicting delinquency, these factors may

account for the relationship between family structure and delinquency. Some research has

previously examined the extent to which family processes such as parental monitoring,

supervision, involvement, and attachment can mediate the impact of family structure and

delinquency. For example, Demuth and Brown (2004) found that adolescents in single parent

households are more delinquent than youth in married households, but that these differences are

reduced once the authors account for various family processes such as monitoring and closeness.

In other words, if parenting practices lend to increased levels of social control, an adolescent is

less likely to engage in crime and deviance.

Delinquency among Asians/Pacific Islanders

Asian, Asian Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders (APIs) are socially constructed

categories, commonly used to reflect national and ethnic origins of individuals from the

continent and islands of Asia and the Pacific. In this article, we used the term APIs to refer to

both immigrant and American-born APIs. As a population, APIs currently comprise 4 percent of

the United States population (US Census, 2000), and have disproportionately low arrest rates,

lower than that of other racial and ethnic groups in the US such as Whites, Blacks, Hispanics,

and American Indians (Marshall, 1997).


Both empirical and qualitative data indicate that involvement of API youth in every stage

of the legal/juvenile justice process is proportionately lower than their presence in the population

(Poe-Yamagata, 2000; Conley, 1994). Official statistics, however, can provide a misleading

picture, especially when they are not disaggregated by race and ethnicity, because they often do

not fully depict involvement of API groups in the justice system. Despite their historically

limited presence as indicated by official data, this group is gaining attention because of their

increasingly visible presence in the legal system. Indeed, within the last 20 years, the flow of

API youths in the juvenile justice system has increased dramatically, while national arrest trends

in general and for Black and White youth in particular have decreased substantially (FBI, 1993-

1997; California Department Justice, 2000; Le, Arifuku, Louie, Krisberg and Tang, 2001).

The picture is even more revealing and compelling when data is disaggregated by API

ethnicity. With more than 32 distinct ethnic populations (Wong, 1982), there are notable

differences and important variations expressed by groups in terms of criminality and the

attention received by law enforcement. Socioeconomic status and class, immigration status,

politics and culture of country of origin, place and settlement, entrenchment in US society,

among others, are variables that shape intra-API differences and similarities (Espiritu, 1992).

These factors may have an effect on delinquency or propensity to commit crime. For instance,

Japanese Americans have had consistently lower crime rates than Chinese Americans (Mann,

1993); both groups share a similar historical presence in the US, but differ in their social

structures, assimilations, patterns and experiences. Arrest rates for the Southeast Asian

population, the more recently arrived group, are highest within the API population in the

mainland, and in some cases, higher than their racial counterparts. For example, in Alameda

Country, California, the arrest rate for Samoan and Vietnamese youths far out-stripped Whites,
Hispanics, and all other API groups in 2000 (Le et al., 2001). Other groups like the Hawaiians

who are native to their own land are disproportionately overrepresented in juvenile arrest

statistics (Kassebaum et al., 1995). LaFrambiose (1988) argues that native population can also be

placed in a minority status resulting in serious ramifications because their land, culture and

strengths have been systematically decimated throughout the history of their relations with those

in the dominant culture.

Thus, the growing proportion of APIs in delinquency statistics and their visibility has

resulted in an increasing concern with issues related to APIs and delinquent behavior.

Unfortunately, empirical research on this topic is scant due in part to the “model minority” myth

which relegates this issue to nonexistence. The majority of studies that do exist tend to focus on

gangs, often blurring the distinction between organized crime syndicates and youth delinquent

behavior.

Juvenile delinquency is certainly not a new issue. Although there has been considerable

research on youth violence and on risk/protective factors as they relate to juvenile delinquency in

general (Lipsey and Derzon, 1998), studies of specific ethnic groups have not been studied

uniformly. Attention to the API juvenile population is especially nascent. Thus far, delinquency

research on APIs has been undefined, undifferentiated, and minimal. Researchers have worked

independently with specific ethnic groups, and within narrowly defined parameters. Small

sample sizes and limited measures have also restricted generalizability of their results. And

although certainly important, the few theoretical writings that do exist far outweigh empirical

research. The majority of the literature and research to date has been exploratory, with neither

strong empirical findings nor clear conceptual frameworks. In order for research to provide

meaningful results and illuminate the topic under study, conceptual and methodological clarity is
needed. The objective of this paper is to provide such clarity. The author examines the ways

different researchers have sought to understand APIs and delinquent behavior, and provide

recommendations for future research.