Remember doing something mischievous or wrong when you were a kid and getting the
“delinquent” slapped on you ? Did you ever wonder what it meant ? That is what my
for today is . . . juvenile delinquency. In this report I will: define juvenile
delinquency, give the extent of juvenile delinquency, give some suggestions on what
juvenile delinquency, and what is being done in various communities to deal with this
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,
police ignore many children who are accused of minor delinquencies or refer them
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
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
An early study comparing delinquent and nondelinquent brothers
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
that many delinquents had parents with whom they did not get along or who were
in their patterns of discipline and punishment. Neighborhood conditions have been
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