12 Sep 2022


Juvenile Delinquency: Causes and Prevention

Format: APA

Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 1538

Pages: 6

Downloads: 0

A juvenile is a minor. In the United States of America, a juvenile is a person ranging between the ages of 16-18 depending on the state. Delinquency according to the English dictionary is an act of neglect or failure to do something. It is also the act of committing a wrongful, illegal, or an antisocial behavior. Any form of misdeed or an offence is also termed delinquency. Therefore, juvenile delinquency is the illegal behaviors or crimes committed by minors in the society. Most states in both developed and developing countries have structured their legal systems in such a way that juveniles are judged and sentenced differently from adults. Even when serving their sentences, juveniles are always secluded from adults. However, in more severe cases the juveniles face the same wrath as adults depending on the crime they have committed. 

Juvenile delinquency has become a common feature in the contemporary society. The crimes and offences committed by minors have rapidly risen in the recent past. Scholars have attributed this to moral decay in the society (Cohen, 1955). They, therefore, suggested that states should come up with more aggressive criminal justice systems and zero tolerance to criminal activities. The systems should not tolerate the minors who commit crimes. According to them, the juveniles should face severe punishment like the adults in order to curb the vice. 

It’s time to jumpstart your paper!

Delegate your assignment to our experts and they will do the rest.

Get custom essay

Juvenile delinquency is a normative youth behavior (Spinner, 1992). Youth in most cases tends to offend others by involving themselves in non-violent criminal activities. These activities may lead to violence if not properly dealt with. Crimes and antisocial behaviors committed by minors range from status offences, property crimes to violent crimes. Status offences are those behaviors that affect their status like smoking, alcoholism, and sexual malpractices. Property crimes are antisocial behavior which leads to vandalisation of either public or private property in the surrounding premises. Violent crimes which are the most extreme form of juvenile delinquency involves minors taking part in violent criminals activities like robbery, rioting, and assassinations. 

In this paper am going to focus on the theories of delinquency, who came up with them and how these theories impact on crimes committed by minors. The theories include: Labelling theory, Bonding theory, General strain theory, Subculture theory of delinquency, Concentric Zone Hypothesis 


It is one of the major theories that try to explain and elaborate on delinquency in the society. W. I Thomas, the proponent of this theory, argues that if we define situations as real they are real in their consequences (Hirschi, 1969). In this case, if certain activities are good to a person or a group of people, then they will enjoy the consequences of such actions. Labelling theory, as the name goes, champions that all deviant activities are just labels given to those activities. According to him, no criminal activity is intrinsically criminal. All deviant behaviors are good and natural. No person nor a group takes part in deviant activities as an intrinsic crime. 

Labeling theory points fingers at the state, policies, rules and laws that have been put in place. Each religion has laws that are well stipulated and are viewed as sacred. Each family has certain rules and conditions that one must adhere to in the day to day life. States have laws whether written or unwritten that one must keep. Labelling theory, notes that it is how these laid down and formulated policies, conditions, and rules are explained and interpreted that makes one be labelled a deviant. Ones you go against the laws it is interpreted that you have engaged in an antisocial behavior hence delinquency. 

This theory does not limit delinquency to any specified characteristics. According to it, delinquency is relative. Some people are labelled as deviant while others are not. This can be attributed to the social interactions that take place in the society. This interaction may be of people with colliding interests. People with opposite interests tastes and preferences. In such a scenario a group is likely to be labelled deviants by those who consider themselves non-deviants. This theory has strived and gone an extra mile to explain and understand why a certain group of people or a certain person is being labelled a deviant and others are not labelled. Why do children from wealthy families fight, break properties, steal oranges from nearby farms, smoke, take alcohol, abuse elders and it is termed as growing up while those from poor backgrounds be tagged juvenile deliquescent when they engage in such activities? 

Deviant rules and tags according to this theory are structured in line with the social setup. They are meant to favor the powerful and subdue the subordinate from the ancient times. The laws and labels will always favor the rich over the poor, pastors over the flock, teachers over students, men over women, older over the youth and the ruling class over the citizens in the society. The upper class will always label the lower class as deviant if they engage in activities that are contrary to theirs. 

In relation to juvenile delinquency, labelling can have a major impact to the juvenile. It is extremely difficult to remove a label labeled to an individual. The label may even be lifelong in some cases. Such cases have resulted to the stigmatization of minor in relation to the deviant behavior they committed sometimes back. This makes them be isolated and secluded from others with the fear that they may teach them deviant behavior. No one seems to trust them because of their past history. This has led to psychological torture among the juvenile deviants. 

In other cases has promoted juvenile delinquency. Some minor have accepted to live with the labels. They, therefore, behave in the same way they have been labeled as per the expectations of the public. They are aware they have nothing to lose and even if they acted good, they will still hold the label. 


This is also another theory put forward to explain crime and deviant activities in the society today. The theory, raised by Travis Hirsh chi in 1969 identifies the man as a social being. According to him, the social bonding that exists in the society plays a significant role in shaping the individuals (Hirschi, 1969). Individuals are a reflection of the societies and groups they have been socialized in. It is, therefore, necessary to maintain social groups that are normal and keep them strong. It is evident that the more weakened the group a person belongs, the less he depends on them, the more he consequently depend on himself and recognizes no other rules of conduct (Trasher,1927). This has resulted in people who live an isolated life with their own set of rules. This rules and their way of life are always considered and they do not even seem bothered. 

This theory is broken from the General Crime theory though it tends to lay much emphasis on peers and peer groups. According to Travis, the fundamental elements of the social bonding theory is the attachment to families, commitment to social norms and institutions, involvement activities and the belief that these things are important in one's life. These factors are looked at in relation to crime and other deviant behaviors. 

Parental attachment is the primary and important. However, other forms of attachment like in schools and the society are also vital in shaping the life of the youth. Naturally, like in schools, brighter students and those from rich backgrounds will tend to humiliate those who are not bright and from poor backgrounds respectively. This kind of treatment, and even from teachers, may lead to resentment of school rules and even school dropout. The student may also resort to drugs to boost his self-esteem. 

Commitment is also another element within this theory. From family level, children are committed to following the rules and obey the laws established by the elders. They are committed to doing what is right and avoid what the society terms as wrong. Naturally, we commit ourselves to do what we see and what we think is normal. A juvenile who is brought up in a family that abuses drugs engages in criminal activities and another deviant social behavior is likely to take that route since he thinks that's the normal way of life. Children brought up in religious life will take the religious way and view other practices as deviant from what is a normal way of life. 

Bonding theory sees the only remedy to juvenile delinquency is to shape the society. The minors should be socialized right from the elementary level to know what is right and wrong. Peers should be taught to accommodate one another. Society bonds should be kept intact for the juveniles to have a feel of belonging. 


Subculture theory of delinquency tries also to focus on the issue of deviant behavior in the society. Built on the ideas of Merton, the theory points out the source of deviant behavior as the move of conforming to a certain subculture. If one belongs to a certain social group which is different from the society expectations then he is considered immoral (Cohen, 1955). Cohen further uses this idea to explain the rise of criminal activities in poor families. According to him, the young boys from poor backgrounds with no education strive to be at the same level with their counterparts from rich families. They hence resort to criminal activities in order to amass wealth quickly. He also points out at young boys who are not given attention and commitment and will always resort to criminal activities and other antisocial behavior to attract attention from the public. 

Walter B. Miller said that “a deviant subculture doesn’t arise from the inability of the members to achieve success; instead he said that crime is a result of the fact that there is a lower-class subculture with different norms and values to the rest of society". According to him, these values include excitement, toughness, and smartness. Due to poverty and lack of education, the only source of these among the youths include the use of violence, gambling, alcoholism among other deviant behaviors. 

This aspect has directly led to the rise of juvenile delinquency. 


Cohen, A. (1955). Delinquent Boys. Culture of Gang. Glencoe. Free Press 

Hirsch, Travis. (1969).Causes of Delinquency. Berkeley. University of California Press. 

Spinner, G. (1992).Homeless and Drug Abuse. Berkeley. University of California Press. 

Tannenbaum, F. (1938).Crime and Community. London. Columbia University Press. 

Trasher, F. (1927). The Gang. Chicago. University of Chicago Press. 

Cite this page

Select style:


StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Juvenile Delinquency: Causes and Prevention.


Related essays

We post free essay examples for college on a regular basis. Stay in the know!

17 Sep 2023

Group Facilitation: Engagement and Authority

PART1 This was a part of the first group therapy session of a group of individuals. The group had both men and women of different backgrounds and personalities. The observation parameters that govern this sort...

Words: 883

Pages: 3

Views: 123

17 Sep 2023

Micro Client System

Discussion 1 In my career as a social worker, I have worked with client systems of all sizes. In their career and daily work, social workers interact with all client systems in assisting individuals suffering...

Words: 789

Pages: 3

Views: 177

17 Sep 2023

Food Policy and Habits

The survival of human being depends on the food. Globally, food is known to be more than a source of nutrients and energy for human well-being. The food we eat, how we eat, who we eat with, when we eat, and what we...

Words: 382

Pages: 1

Views: 148

17 Sep 2023

Culture, Ethnocentrism, and Cultural Relativism

Since the middle Stone Age, human beings are considered as social creatures, from those days people have identified and associated with each other as a community to live and survive. Common behavior and habits unite...

Words: 1321

Pages: 5

Views: 72

17 Sep 2023

Client Population and Problem Addressed by the Program

A considerable number of Americans are not consuming the right amount of vegetables and fruits. As of 2013, about 13% of the entire USA population was consuming the required daily intake of fruits (one and a half to...

Words: 1367

Pages: 4

Views: 155

17 Sep 2023

Community Observation: How to Get Started

The meeting attended was a legislative meeting of the Board of Directors of the School District of Cheltenham Township. The meeting was held on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, at 7:16p.m in the Administration Building,...

Words: 1513

Pages: 5

Views: 115


Running out of time?

Entrust your assignment to proficient writers and receive TOP-quality paper before the deadline is over.