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What is Juvenile Delinquency?

Children often test the limits and boundaries set by their parents and other authority
figures. Among adolescents, some rebelliousness and experimentation is common.
However, a few children consistently participate in problematic behaviors that negatively
affect their family, academic, social, and personal functioning. These children present
great concern to parents and the community at large. The prevention of delinquency
requires identifying at-risk individuals and their environments before delinquent activity
and behavior occur, and then removing such risk factors or strengthening resistance to the
risk factors already present. The most logical starting place for prevention efforts is the
The prevention of delinquency requires identifying at-risk individuals and their
environments before delinquent activity and behavior occur, and then removing such risk
factors or strengthening resistance to the risk factors already present. The most logical
starting place for prevention efforts is the family.


Juvenile delinquency is that behavior on the part of children which may,
under the law, subject those children to the juvenile court. As such, it
is a relatively new and legal term for a very old phenomenon.The term
has both precise and diffuse referents. When a child is designated a
juvenile delinquent by the court, this is a precise definition of his legal
status. He is, by this act, a ward of the court, subject to its discretion.
By contrast, except in a strictly legal sense, the term refers only
vaguely to actual behavior, since what is delinquent varies greatly
over time and from one part of the world to another.

Types of delinquency

With some precision and a degree of practical utility, juvenile delinquents can be
categorized into three general classes: the socialized delinquent, the neurotic delinquent,
and the psychopathic delinquent. Each of these types exhibits certain traits that
distinguish it from the other types and from nondelinquents. Since the background and
treatment of each variety of delinquent differs, an understanding of youthful crime should
commence with an examination of these differences.

Characteristics of a Juvenile Delinquent

The roots of juvenile crime may vary among individual youths, but studies by the
U.S. Justice Department and criminal justice scholars have identified
characteristics of juvenile delinquents. They also have identified risk factors
that may cause delinquent behavior or increase the likelihood of delinquent
Expert InsightThe following conditions and behaviors increase the
likelihood that a juvenile will engage in delinquent acts: child abuse
and neglect, substance abuse, teen pregnancy and dropping out of
school. Experts contend that the more these and other risk factors are
present, the greater the likelihood of delinquent behavior.


o Clinical profiles of juvenile delinquents suggest that they generally have

poor relationships with family, peers and school.

Time Frame

o The Justice Department found that juvenile arrest rates increase with age,
with the highest arrest rates occurring among juveniles between 16 and 18.


o African-American and Hispanic youths are disproportionately represented

among juvenile delinquents relative to their proportions in the overall
juvenile population.


o Many people associate adolescent males with juvenile delinquency.

However, the Justice Department found that delinquent acts by adolescent
females have risen steadily. In 1998, adolescent girls accounted for one-
fourth of juvenile arrests.

What is Cause & Effect of Juvenile Delinquency?

Juvenile Crime
o Arrest records indicate that the majority of crime committed in the United
States is associated with youths more than any other demographic. Year
after year, files from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program show that
young people from their early teens to their early 20s account for the bulk
of reported street crime. These offenses range from homicide to minor
drug charges. Criminologists have long warned that if things don't soon
change, we could see a major youth-fueled crime wave in America.
Cause: Rational Choice Theory

o Criminologists are fairly divided when it comes to determining the causes

of juvenile crime. Those who espouse the rational choice theory believe
that the individual is responsible for himself, and blame can't be put on
other environmental factors. Backers of this theory believe most juvenile
delinquents and other criminals assess the possible crime, weight the costs
and benefits, and make the decision they feel provides the best reward-to-
risk ratio. Proponents of the theory believe that stealing the opportunities
as well as raising the price for criminal activity are the best ways to stop
juvenile crime.

Cause: Social Structure Theory

o Social structure theorists believe that the cause of juvenile (and other)
crime is not within the person themselves but is due to external factors.
These causes may be within an individual's social circumstances (for
instance, a child who grows up with parents who smoke pot may be far
more likely to view illegal drugs as a viable choice), or could be related to
overarching social policies. These people believe crime is created by
social structures such as poverty, a peer group who believes there is
nothing wrong with crime, and a racial imbalance in the justice system.

Effects of Juvenile Delinquency

o Regardless of the causes, juvenile delinquency carries a high cost to the

American system. These costs can be measured in terms of money spent
and lost, as well as moral costs to a society. Government is forced to pay
more for increased policing, as well as the costs of the entire judicial
system process (prisons, juvenile halls, court trials). Medical costs
skyrocket due to violent crimes and drug abuse. Property theft and
vandalism result in high costs in the public and private sector. Also, there's
a societal cost whenever a citizen is removed from society and placed in a
juvenile facility or jail, as this person is no longer a functional,
contributing person.

Reasons for Juvenile Delinquency

Communities across the United States are concerned about the incidence of juvenile
delinquency.These cities and towns are keenly interested in finding ways to reduce the
occurrence of juvenile delinquency. In order to take affirmative steps toward reducing
juvenile delinquency, it is important to understand the root causes and the reasons
underlying the problem.

o lllegal and destructive conduct by a young person can be stopped only if
the underlying reason for the behavior is identified and resolved. For
example, if a young person's delinquent behavior stems from illicit drug
use, it is essential that the substance abuse be resolved before attendant
delinquent conduct can be stopped. Similarly, if the cause of juvenile
delinquency is a mental health condition, that issue must be dealt with in
order for illegal conduct to be brought under control and ended.

Drug abuse

o One of the primary reasons that juveniles become involved in delinquent

behavior and illegal conduct rests in drug and alcohol abuse. Drug use and
abuse accelerates juvenile delinquency in two primary ways.

First, drug abuse increases the incidence of juvenile delinquency because

young people undertake unlawful acts in order to obtain illicit drugs.
These youths commit a variety of crimes in order to get money to buy
drugs, or to obtain drugs directly. Second, many juveniles commit crimes
while "high" on these substances. These young people commit crimes to
get drugs and engage in illegal conduct while using drugs.

Mental health issues

o Mental health issues are another factor that commonly drives juveniles
toward delinquent behavior. Various mental conditions can contribute,
including depression and bipolar disorder.

In many cases, the root causes of juvenile delinquency include what is

known as a dual diagnosis. In other words, a juvenile suffers from both a
substance abuse problem and a mental health issue. This type of situation
tends to develop into a vicious circle in which the mental health issue
aggravates the substance abuse problem and vice versa.

Family environment

o In examining the underlying causes of juvenile delinquency, the family

environment in which a particular young person resides or has been raised
is a significant factor. For example, a juvenile who has a parent with legal
problems is far more likely to engage in delinquent conduct than is a
juvenile without a parent involved in the criminal justice system.

Research also demonstrates that a young person from an abusive home or

one who has a parent with a substance abuse problem has a far greater
chance of ending up in delinquent and illegal behavior.
Peer pressure

o Peer pressure can also cause a juvenile to become involved in delinquent

and illegal behavior. In many instances the peer pressure involves enticing
a juvenile to use illegal substances or alcohol. This can lead the young
person into other types of delinquent conduct

Juvenile delinquency
is the broad-based term given to juveniles who commit crimes. Juveniles are defined as
those people who haven’t reached adulthood or the age of majority. What defines
adulthood or the age of majority in a court system may be predetermined by law,
especially for minor crimes. Major crimes may force the courts to decide to try a juvenile
as an adult, a very important distinction, since sentencing can then mean not just
spending adolescence, but a lifetime in prison. Delinquency can be defined as the
committing of those things considered crimes by the state, although delinquent can also
mean abandoned. Thus juvenile delinquency can cover anything from small crime — a
student who cuts school repeatedly is delinquent--to very serious crimes like felony theft
and murder.

When a child, anyone under the age of majority, commits a crime, most frequently they
are tried and sentenced through a court system separate from that which tries adults.
There are also confinement centers, in other words, prisons, specifically designed for
children who commit serious crimes. These are often called juvenile detention centers.

It is often within the court’s province in juvenile or family court to determine the degree
of risk the juvenile poses to society and the degree of benefit incurred by incarceration.
Juvenile court judges may have greater license especially with very young children, to
find alternative means of rehabilitating a child and preventing future delinquency. They
may recommend court appointed therapy, house arrest, or a variety of measures short of
incarceration. In many cases, records of children who commit crimes are expunged when
a child reaches eighteen, especially if no other crimes have been committed.

Juvenile Delinquency Act

• Also in India, the juvenile Justice Act 1986 provides government guidance for
the rehabilitation of Juvenile delinquents. A similar act, the Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, was passed in the United States for the
same reasons.
• Though delinquency prevention is admirable, it isn’t universally successful. Yet
preventing some juvenile delinquency through intervention and education is
better than allowing it to occur.

Juvenile Delinquency Treatment

• Changing the prevalence of troubled and troublemaking youth will likely require
a combination of solutions. In many instances, juvenile delinquency rates are
extremely high among minorities. There are several theories as to why this may
• Children with psychological disorders and behavioral problems are particularly
susceptible to juvenile delinquency. Many governments are taking a more
proactive role in preventing juveniles from becoming delinquents by funding
programs that seek to keep youth from becoming involved in criminal activities.

Premarital Sex - Positives and Negatives

"Is it ok to have premarital sex?" That is a common question among teens and engaged couples. Perhaps
you are in a relationship that is progressing in that direction, but you're not sure what to do. In your mind,
you are probably weighing the pros and cons of premarital sex. On the positive side of the scale, there is
acceptance from your peers, hope for pleasure, and the fulfillment of sexual desires. The negative side of
the scale carries the weights of morals, fear of pregnancy or disease, and guilt. How do these scales
balance? What is the right decision? Let's take a look at some of the facts.

Premarital Sex - Is it Moral?

Morality is a factor for many people when deciding whether or not to have premarital sex. Is it a factor for
you? After all, the messages we receive from most TV shows and movies these days tells us "everyone is
doing it." In light of today's permissive attitude, your peers may think you're weird to even question it.

But maybe there is something inside you, like a voice in your head, that is making you uncertain about
whether or not sex before marriage is a right or wrong action. Many people refer to this voice as their
conscience. How can you know if your "conscience" is right? People all around the world look to the Bible
as a moral or religious book, so let's see what it says about premarital sex.

The Bible refers to premarital sex as fornication. That's a word we don't hear much these days, so what
does it mean? Fornication is sexual intercourse between people who are not married to each other. The
only distinction the Bible makes between premarital sex and adultery is that adultery involves married
persons while fornication involves those who are unmarried. Premarital sex is just as much of a sin as
adultery and all other forms of sexual immorality. They all involve having sexual relations with someone
you are not married to.
The Bible explains, "…The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the
body" (1 Corinthians 6:13). Verse 18 of this chapter goes on to say, "Flee from sexual immorality. All other
sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." Galatians
5:19 speaks the same, "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity…" Ephesians
5:3 says it most plainly, "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind
of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." From these verses, we see that
the Bible promotes complete and total abstinence from premarital sex.

Premarital Sex - Is it Safe Physically and Emotionally?

Another consideration when deciding about premarital sex is safety. Did you know that 50% of the people
who currently have HIV are between the ages of 15 and 24?1 Using a condom only reduces the risk of
contracting HIV by 85%. Condoms do not significantly reduce the risk of contracting other sexually
transmitted diseases.2 Take these statistics into consideration when making your decision.

Most people don't consider the emotional effects of premarital sex. You see, sex is an emotional experience
and it affects our lives in ways we don't understand. After engaging in premarital sex, many people express
feelings of guilt, embarrassment, distrust, resentment, lack of respect, tension, and so much more. As you
read the next section, consider God's love for you as a primary reason for sexual purity. God does not want
you to experience unnecessary emotional pain!

Premarital Sex - Recreation or Re-creation?

In discussing premarital sex, we often focus on the "recreation" aspect of it. Yes, sex is pleasurable. God,
our Creator, designed it that way. It may be hard to think of God creating sex, but He did! In God's plan,
sex was designed for married couples to enjoy the pleasure and excitement of sexual relations. The Bible
talks about this in Hebrews 13:4, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for
God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." God created sex to be fun, exciting, and
pleasurable. At the same time, though, it is clear in the Bible that God restricts sexual activity to married

Why is this? Yes, sex is pleasurable, but in God's view, the primary purpose of sex is not recreation, but
rather re-creation. In other words, sex is for reproduction. God does not limit sex to married couples to rob
pleasure from those who are unmarried. Rather, God commands against premarital sex in order to protect
unmarried people from unwanted pregnancies, from children born to parents who do not want them, and to
protect children from parents who are not prepared for them. Imagine, for a moment, a world without
premarital sex. There would be no sexually-transmitted diseases, there would be no un-wed mothers, there
would be no unwanted pregnancies, there would be no abortions, etc. According to the Bible, abstinence is
God's only policy when it comes to premarital sex. Abstinence saves lives, protects babies, gives sexual
relations the proper value, and most importantly abstinence honors God.