Remember doing something mischievous or wrong when you were a kid and gettingthe 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 Iwill: define juvenile delinquency, give the extent of juvenile delinquency,give some suggestions on what causes juvenile delinquency, and what is beingdone in various communities to deal with this growing problem. The legal termjuvenile delinquent was established so that young lawbreakers could avoid thedisgrace of being classified in legal records as criminals. Juveniledelinquency laws were designed to provide treatment, rather than punishment, forjuvenile 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’ssociety. A youngster can be labeled a delinquent for breaking any one of anumber of laws, ranging from robbery to running away from home. But an actionfor which a youth may be declared a delinquent in one community may not beagainst the law in another community.
In some communities, the police ignoremany children who are accused of minor delinquencies or refer them directly totheir parents. But in other communities, the police may refer such children toa juvenile court, where they may officially be declared delinquents. Crimestatistics, though they are often incomplete and may be misleading, do give anindication of the extent of the delinquency problem. The FBI reports thatduring the early 1980’s, about two-fifths of all arrests in the United Statesfor burglary and arson were of persons under the age of 18. Juveniles alsoaccounted 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 juvenilecourt.
The percentage of youngsters in this group who are sent to court atleast once is much higher. A third or more of those boys living in the slumareas of large cities may appear in a juvenile court at least once. Girls arebecoming increasingly involved in juvenile delinquency. Today, about one ofevery five youngsters appearing in juvenile court is a girl. In the early1900’s, this ratio was about 1 girl to every 50 or 60 boys. Sociologists haveconducted a number of studies to determine how much delinquency is not reportedto the police.
Most youngsters report taking part in one or more delinquentacts, though a majority of the offenses are minor. Experts have concluded thatyouthful misbehavior is much more common than is indicated by arrest records andjuvenile court statistics. Many studies have been made in an effort todetermine the causes of delinquency. Most of these have focused on familyrelationships or on neighborhood or community conditions. The results of theseinvestigations have shown that it is doubtful that any child becomes adelinquent for any single reason.
Family Relationships, especially thosebetween parents and individual children, have been the focus of severaldelinquency studies. An early study comparing delinquent and nondelinquentbrothers showed that over 90 % of the delinquents had unhappy home lives andfelt discontented with their life circumstances. Only 13 % of their brothersfelt this way. Whatever the nature of the delinquents’ unhappiness, delinquencyappeared to them to be a solution. It brought attention to youths neglected bytheir parents, or approval by delinquent friends, or it solved problems of anunhappy home life in other ways.
More recent studies have revealed that manydelinquents had parents with whom they did not get along or who wereinconsistent in their patterns of discipline and punishment. Neighborhoodconditions have been stressed in studies by sociologists. Many of theseinquiries concentrate on differing rates of delinquency, rather than on the wayindividuals become delinquents. A series of studies have shown that delinquencyrates are above average in the poorest sections of cities. Such areas have manybroken homes and a high rate of alcoholism.
They also have poor schools, highunemployment, few recreational facilities, and high crime rates. Many youngpeople see delinquency as their only escape from boredom, poverty, and otherproblems. Social scientists have also studied the influence of other youngsterson those who commit delinquencies. For example, they point out that mostyoungsters who engage in delinquent behavior do so with other juveniles andoften in organized gangs.
Studies indicate that the causes .