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CHAPTER

Juvenile Justice
Juvenile Crime, Criminals, and Victims

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CHAPTER OBJECTIVES

After completing this chapter, you should be able to:


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Identify three main ways that juvenile crime is measured in the United States. Analyze strengths and weaknesses of victimization surveys and self-reports for juvenile crime. Demonstrate an understanding of juvenile crime and victimization in the United States. Describe the concepts of risk factor and protective factor. List the various risk and protective factors and explain how these relate to juvenile delinquency.

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2.1 Issues in the Measurement of Juvenile Crime


Juveniles are more and more perceived by the general public as potential offenders. Despite the medias sharp focus on a recent string of shootings at suburban schools, the nature and extent of juvenile delinquency in the U.S. remains elusive for several reasons:

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Issues in the Measurement of Juvenile Crime


Measuring total crime in the U.S. is extremely difficult. Singling out juvenile crime presents its own sent of unique problems.

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Issues in the Measurement of Juvenile Crime


The juvenile justice system is decentralized. Record-keeping in the juvenile justice system is still subject to confidentiality and sealing restrictions. There are many options available for juveniles who come into contact with the system, which makes it difficult to measure the true extent of delinquency.
confidentiality and sealing restrictions: Laws that keep juvenile records confidential to prevent them from being viewed.

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Issues in the Measurement of Juvenile Crime


There are mechanisms in place to measure juvenile delinquency.
Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Each presents different issues in measurement and interpretation.

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Issues in the Measurement of Juvenile Crime


This chapter will examine:
Ways in which juvenile crime is measured The extent of juvenile crime and victimization Some of the correlates of juvenile delinquency
correlates: Variables that are related to each other and are said to be correlated. Correlates should not be interpreted to imply causation.

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Research on delinquency has led to a variety of conclusions about what causes, and what correlates with, juvenile crime.
There are many risk factors in juvenile offending There are also many protective factors that keep people from committing delinquent acts.
risk factors: Variables that research has found to be correlated with juvenile delinquency. protective factors: Variables that research has found to protect or insulate a juvenile from becoming a delinquent.

Issues in the Measurement of Juvenile Crime

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SELF CHECK

What factors help explain the elusive nature of juvenile delinquency in the United States?

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The question of how much juvenile crime exists is typically answered through three main methods of gathering crime statistics:
Official records Victimization surveys Self-report surveys
self-report surveys: Survey research conducted with offenders or potential offenders.

2.2 Measuring the Extent of Juvenile Crime


official records: Statistics and data collected by law enforcement agencies, courts, and correctional institutions.

victimization surveys: Survey research conducted using victims or potential victims of crime.

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Official Records and Measures


Official statistics and measures are data collected by city, county, state, or federal governmental agencies. The primary storage agency for juvenile records is typically the juvenile probation agency.
Typically, each county has its own system of recordkeeping. Official records of juvenile crimes outside of the county or state itself are based almost exclusively on police records and counts of crimes.

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Law Enforcement Statistics


The most comprehensive official measure of crime in the U.S. is the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR).
Uniform Crime Reports (UCR): Statistical report compiled by the FBI using reports from law enforcement agencies across the country. The report is broken into two main categories of offenses: Part I and Part II crimes.

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Law Enforcement Statistics


Part I Offenses
Part I Offenses: Also known as the index offenses. The counts of the most serious crimes in the UCR (felonies), including murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Part II Offenses

Part II Offenses: The less serious crimes counted in the UCR, mainly misdemeanors.

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The UCR collects data from police agencies throughout the U.S. that count the number of crimes reported for each category of offense.
The FBI then counts the number of crimes committed each year throughout the U.S. and the number of arrests. From the arrest data, the FBI estimates how many juvenile offender arrests the police have made.

Law Enforcement Statistics

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The total number of juvenile arrests for Violent Crime Index offenses has been declining.
Violent Crime Index: The violent crimes included in the Part I offensesmurder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Law Enforcement Statistics

In contrast, the Property Crime Index rate has remained relatively constant over the last 16 years.
Property Crime Index: The property crimes included in the Part I offenses: burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft, and arson.

Status offenses have risen sharply over the last several years.

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Juvenile Arrest Rates 1981-1998
FIGURE 2-1

Note: The Property Crime Index includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle the and arson.

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Juvenile Arrest Rates for Curfew and Loitering Violations 1981-1998

FIGURE 2-1 (continued)

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Juvenile Court Statistics


The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) collects data from state and local agencies.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP): A component of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Primary federal agency responsible for addressing the issues of juvenile crime and delinquency and the problem of missing and exploited children.

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Juvenile Court Statistics


The office collects both automated case-level data and aggregate data from juvenile courts around the country.
automated case-level data: Data collected by agencies at the individual case level containing details on the offender, victim, disposition, and other relevant items. aggregate data: Data collected by agencies on how many crimes or dispositions they possess. No individual-level data are collected, only summary statistics and counts.

These statistics are estimates and should not be viewed as a comprehensive count of court activity.

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Juvenile Court Statistics


These statistics reveal several interesting patterns, including a demonstration of the funnel effect in processing these cases.
funnel effect: Way in which the number of cases processed through the juvenile justice system decrease at each successive step.

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MYTH
Juveniles are
responsible for most crimes in the United States.

FACT
According to arrest
data, juveniles are only involved in 18% of all crimes in the U.S. Juveniles were involved in 17% of all violent crime arrests and 33% of all property crime arrests in 1998.

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Juvenile Court Processing of Delinquency Cases 1987-1996

FIGURE 23

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Juvenile Correctional Statistics


Another official measure of delinquency in the U.S. is based on correctional statistics: the tabulated number of juveniles committed to public and private facilities. These counts accurately indicate how many juveniles have been incarcerated for delinquency.

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Strengths and Problems with Official Records and Measures


The chief strength of official records is that they are reliable counts of juveniles who have been arrested, processed, and incarcerated by the justice system.
Summary counts give a clear idea of the workload the system must handle. Official statistics present the national picture of juvenile crime and allow comparisons between jurisdictions. Official statistics can clearly show trends in arrests and processing.

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Strengths and Problems with Official Records and Measures


These statistics are limited by the fact that many juvenile dispositions occur outside formal processing and very few juvenile offenders are ever sent to a secure correctional facility.

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Strengths and Problems with Official Records and Measures


The UCR depends on accurate counts from law enforcement agencies.
Yet not all enforcement agencies report to the UCR. Sometimes counts are inaccurate, and do not include the dark figure of crime.
dark figure of crime: The phrase used to describe the number of crimes committed but undiscovered or unreported.

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The UCR underestimates crimes for several reasons:

Strengths and Problems with Official Records and Measures

Not all crimes are reported to police, particularly victimless crimes. Crimes go unreported because incidents are handled informally. The UCR uses a hierarchy rule. The broad discretion and variety of dispositional options leave incidents undocumented or unreported.
victimless crimes: Crimes in which the victim is often a willing participant, for example in crimes of prostitution and drug use. hierarchy rule: Rule used in collecting data for the UCR that states only the most serious crime in any one criminal event will be counted. For example, if a person kidnaps, rapes, and then murders another person, the crime is counted as one murder.

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Strengths and Problems with Official Records and Measures


Victimization surveys document that less than 40% of all serious crime is reported to the police.

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Percentage of Crime Reported by Juveniles Aged 12-17
Percentage of Violent Crime Reported To Victims Age 12 13 14 Police 20% 22 26 31 33 38 Others 28% 23 17 13 9 6 Percentage of Theft Reported To Police 7% 8 12 11 10 14 Others 36% 35 32 30 23 17

FIGURE 2-5

15 16 17

SOURCE: Snyder, Howard N. and Melissa Sickmund. 1999. Children as Victims, Juvenile Justice Bulletin May 2000. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.c

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Strengths and Problems with Official Records and Measures


A new system of data collection that solves many of the problems with official statistics is the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS): Data collection system implemented to collect individual-level data on offenders, victims, and crime from police departments. It is designed to address many of the problems with the UCR.

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Another way juvenile crime is measured is through victimization surveys.


People are randomly selected throughout the country to be surveyed about any criminal victimizations they have experienced over the last 6 to 12 months. The statistics gathered are then used to generate estimates of the amount of crime that occurs.

Victimization Statistics and Measures

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Victimization Statistics and Measures


The longest and most well-known victimization survey presents a better picture of the dark figure of crime. It is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS): A national survey of households on the subject of victimization, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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Victimization Statistics and Measures


A better measure of juvenile crime comes from data taken from self-reported victimization at schools.

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Strengths and Weaknesses of Victimization Statistics and Measures


Victimization studies do capture the dark figure of crime. They also tend to show a more realistic picture of the total number of crimes committed annually.

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The main drawback in the measurement of juvenile crime is that victimization surveys are sent to homes, asking that the head of household complete the survey. Because juveniles rarely report victimization, it is unlikely that the head of household knows the true extent of victimization affecting their children.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Victimization Statistics and Measures

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Strengths and Weaknesses of Victimization Statistics and Measures


For victimization studies to be accurate measures of juvenile crime, the victim must know the offender was a juvenile. For most crimes reported in the NCVS, the offender is unknown.

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Self-report statistics are gathered from surveys of youths who volunteer information about their criminal and drug histories. These are the only research projects specifically targeted at juveniles. These probably provide the most accurate picture of juvenile crime.

Self-Report Statistics and Measures

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Self-Report Statistics and Measures


An important self-report research endeavor is the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency Program, a combination of three surveys:

Denver Youth Survey Pittsburgh Youth Study Rochester Youth Development Study
Denver Youth Survey, Pittsburgh Youth Study, and Rochester Youth Development Study: Three interrelated studies designed to assess the level and correlates of juvenile crime.

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Self-Report Statistics and Measures


The study is designed to improve the understanding of serious delinquency, violence, and drug use by examining how youth develop within the context of family, school, peers, and community. It constitutes the largest sharedmeasurement approached ever achieved in delinquency research.

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Strengths and Weaknesses of SelfReport Statistics and Measures


Self-report data has shown that individuals commit many more offenses than those for which they are arrested. Self-reports allow researchers to probe juveniles backgrounds for reasons they may have for committing delinquent acts. The data allow an examination of trends in juvenile offending and juvenile risk-taking behavior. Self-reports give a detailed picture of juvenile crime and offenses.

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One common criticism of self-report research is that the data may not be exact because of inaccurate memory, exaggeration, confusion over definitions, and lying. Another problem is that chronic truants and habitual delinquents are excluded from surveys taken in schools.

Strengths and Weaknesses of SelfReport Statistics and Measures

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Strengths and Weaknesses of SelfReport Statistics and Measures


Questionnaires can cause problems with selfreport research:
Questionnaires focus on non-serious offenses People confuse crimes, such as robbery and burglary Responses such as often, sometimes, occasionally, and never can be interpreted differently.

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Comparison of the Three Methods


Notable differences between self-report data and official statistics are:
Self-report data show that nearly all juveniles break the law at one time or another. However, only a small percentage go on to become serious or habitual delinquents.
serious or habitual delinquents: Juveniles who persist in delinquency. Research has shown that a small number of habitual delinquents commit a disproportionate amount of crime.

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Comparison of the Three Methods


Self-reports show less impact on juvenile offending of gender, race, and social class than official statistics show. The best measure of juvenile crime and juvenile offending comes from self-reports. Victimization surveys are probably the worst.

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SELF CHECK

1. Explain the concept of victimless crime. 2. Why do you think the report percentage for crimes involving juveniles is low compared to that of crimes involving adults?

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2.3 Juvenile Victimization Rates and Trends


Determining the level of juvenile victimization is as difficult as determining the amount of juvenile crime.

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Juvenile Victimization Rates and Trends


Juveniles are more likely to be victims than to commit crime. Recently, the number of serious violent victimizations involving juveniles has decreased.

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Juvenile Homicide and Serious Violent Victimization in the U.S.

FIGURE 2-

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Juvenile Homicide and Serious Violent Victimization in the U.S.

FIGURE 2-7 continued

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Juveniles were the victims in 25% of all violent crimes and 20% of all family violence incidents in 1998. 66% of the violent crime committed by juveniles was committed against juvenile victims. Juveniles were twice as likely as adults to be victims of serious violent crime and three times as likely to be the victim of a simple assault.

Juvenile Victimization Rates and Trends

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Juvenile Victimization by Type of Crime, Percentage of All Crimes Against Juveniles

FIGURE 29

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Juvenile Victimization Rates and Trends


Many crimes committed by and against juveniles occur at school.
In a recent survey, nearly 75% of students reported being aware of a crime being committed at school.

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Juvenile Victimization at School (Physical Attacks, Robbery, FIGURE 2-10 Bullying)
Proportion of Students in Grades 6-12 Reporting Victim of Crime Total Gender Male Female Race/Ethnicity White Black Hispanic Other Race 12 12 11 12 72 69 65 64 57 56 51 48 24 27 30 26 14 9 71 70 58 54 25 26 12% Aware of Crime 70% Witnessed Crime 57% Worried About Crime 25%

SOURCE: Poe-Yamagata, Eileen. 1993. Student Victimization by Sex and Race. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

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Juvenile Victimization Rates and Trends


There are few differences based on race or gender in awareness, witnessing a crime, or being worried about crime.

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MYTH
Most crimes
committed against juveniles are reported to police.

FACT
Only a small
percentage of crimes against juveniles are ever reported.

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SELF CHECK

Between 1985 and 1995, what was the percentage of juveniles in the number of victims of violent crimes?

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2.4 Risk and Protective Factors in Juvenile Delinquency


Whats wrong with kids today? Its a question that adults have asked for generations.

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Risk and Protective Factors in Juvenile Delinquency


In the U.S., the answers have typically been simplistic: rock and roll, rap, and punk music
pornography the Internet television violence violent video games media coverage of crimes crime and violence in movies

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Risk and Protective Factors in Juvenile Delinquency


The fact is that juveniles have always been crimeprone. However, in recent years, the trend toward violent juvenile crime has increased. Juvenile crime should be considered multivariate; there is no single variable, such as music and television, that causes a juvenile to commit crime.

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Risk and Protective Factors in Juvenile Delinquency


A new area of research focuses on risk and protective factors, as well as causal factors.
causal factor: A factor that is said to cause another factor or outcome.

A risk factor is a variable that, by its presence or absence, is correlated with the youths becoming delinquent, but does not cause the delinquency. A protective factor is a variable or characteristic that correlates with not committing delinquent acts.

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Risk and Protective Factors in Juvenile Delinquency


It is important to remember that: Risk factors do not cause delinquency. Protective factors do not prevent delinquency.

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Risk and Protective Factors in Juvenile Delinquency

Research has attempted to identify risk and protective factors in an effort to design a delinquency prevention program. These factors may be: Variables out of the childs control: race, gender, socio-economic
status, school district Behaviors juveniles display when very young: hyperactivity, lying, acting out Activities juveniles engage in: substance abuse, unprotected sex, dangerous driving

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Risk and Protective Factors in Juvenile Delinquency


An at-risk youth may be defined in several ways.
Boys Town has this definition: Any youth who is in danger of placement outside of the home; has had negative contact with law enforcement, schools, churches, or other agencies; or who has been impacted directly by substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, or physical abuse.

at-risk youth: A youth who is in danger of becoming a delinquent.

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Risk and Protective Factors in Juvenile Delinquency


Researchers are not able to say that certain factors cause or prevent delinquency. For every at-risk youth who becomes a delinquent, another does not. Risk and protective factors are best understood as being interrelated.

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Risk and Protective Factors in Juvenile Delinquency

In general, risk and protective factors can be categorized into six areas: biology and genetics: A set of hereditary factors correlated with juvenile delinquency. Biology and genetics personality: A set of factors focusing on Personality psychological make-up and attitudes correlated with juvenile delinquency. Family
family: A set of factors focusing on parents, siblings, extended family members, and the inner-workings of the family, correlated with juvenile delinquency.

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Social environment Ecological environment Educational environment
educational environment: A set of factors focusing on the juveniles school, attitudes toward education, and academic behavior and performance, correlated with juvenile delinquency. social environment: A set of factors focusing on the juveniles peers, social class, and activities and interests, correlated with juvenile delinquency. ecological environment: A set of factors focusing on the community and neighborhood correlated with juvenile delinquency.

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Risk and Protective Factors in Juvenile Delinquency


Research has shown that risk and protective factors are predictive of who will and who will not become delinquent. The model should be viewed as predictive and not causal.

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Biology and Genetics


Researchers are still studying biological and genetic explanations for delinquency.
Low IQ has been found to be related to delinquency independently of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, neighborhood, and impulsivity. How we develop IQ is not understood.
IQ: Intelligence Quotient. Standardized test score
used for measuring intelligence.

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Biology and Genetics


Another area of contention has been the connection between race and crime.
Some research has shown that African-American boys are more likely to commit delinquency than Caucasian boys at age 6. Differences gradually developed as the boys aged, with African-American boys 8% more likely than Caucasians to be seriously delinquent.

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Biology and Genetics


Gender is a genetic risk factor that is clearly a predictor of delinquency. Boys are more involved in more serious forms of delinquency than girls. However, in recent years there has been a marked increase in female involvement in delinquent acts.

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A large body of research has assessed many family characteristics and found that several are related to delinquency and drug use, including:
Parental criminality Child maltreatment Poor family practices Absence of parental supervision Parental rejection Lack of parental involvement with the juvenile Parental marriage status and relations Parental discipline Parental health

Family

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Family
The presence of a father reduces the chances of a delinquent son. First-born children are less likely to be delinquent. The larger the family size, the more likely it is that a child in the family will be delinquent.

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A large study found that there was a minimal impact from a broken home on delinquency.
broken home: A home that is plagued by a variety of serious problems such as abuse or neglect; a correlate of juvenile delinquency.

Family

The factor that best explained delinquency was poor supervision.

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Family
The Rochester Youth Study found that:
Children more attached to and involved with their parents were less involved in delinquency. Poor parenting increased the probability of delinquent behavior and delinquent behavior further weakened the relationship between parent and child. The impact of family variables appeared to fade as adolescents became older and more independent from their parents.

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Family
A link has also been found between childhood victimization and delinquent behavior.

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Family
The overall effect of family on delinquency is difficult to assess definitively.

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Personality
Most research is still in its infancy in the area of personality characteristics and their relationship to youths being at risk. Some personality characteristics are common to delinquents:
Hyperactivity Restlessness Risk-taking behavior Aggressiveness

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Social Environment
A young persons social environment includes peers, social class, and activities and interests. Associating with Accordingly, having
delinquent peers is strongly and consistently related to delinquency. peers who disapprove of delinquency is a protective factor.

peers: Classmates, friends, and associates.

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Social Environment
The idea that social class influences delinquency has been hotly contested.
social class: The socio-economic level of a juveniles family, typically sorted as underclass, lower class, working class, middle class, upper-middle class, upper class, etc.

Findings from self-report research show that youths from all backgrounds participate equally in delinquency.

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Social Environment
An old proverb says, Idle hands are the devils workshop. In other words, the more time juveniles are involved in extracurricular activities, the less time they have to be delinquent.

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Ecological Environment
There is a strong correlation between community crime rates and delinquency. Particular risk factors in delinquency are areas with:
High crime rates High poverty rates Easy access to drugs and firearms Social disorganization

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Education
There are three broad areas related to education that are either risk or protective factors related to delinquency: The school itself The juveniles attitude toward education The juveniles behavior and performance at school

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Education
One study found that: Weak school commitment and poor school performance were associated with increased involvement in delinquency and drug use. School success was associated with resilience. Involvement in delinquency reduced commitment to school.

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Behavior and Lifestyle


Juveniles who possess risk factors tend to engage in different behaviors than juveniles who possess protective factors.

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Behavior and Lifestyle


Pittsburgh Youth Study researchers identified three developmental pathways in which progressively more serious problem behaviors are displayed:
Authority conflict Stubbornness prior to age 12, then defiance and avoidance of authority. Covert Minor covert acts, such as lying, followed by property damage and moderately serious delinquency, then by serious delinquency. Overt Minor aggression followed by fighting and violence.

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Behavior and Lifestyle


The progression to more serious delinquency leads to a certain lifestyle.
lifestyle: Pattern of individual behaviors, attitudes, and outcomes.

Once a juvenile has adopted a particular lifestyle, the lifestyle reinforces itself and leads to subsequent risky or protective behavior, depending on the lifestyle.

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Behavior and Lifestyle


The risk and protective factors involved in a lifestyle also relate to the odds of becoming the victim of crime. Juveniles who adopt a risky lifestyle also put themselves at greater risk of being victims of assault, robbery, rape, and murder.

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Drugs and Alcohol


The question of whether drug use or delinquency comes first is still unanswered. Drug use has been found to be a risk factor in a variety of delinquent and violent behaviors. Drug use is a risk factor in becoming a victim of violent behavior at school.

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Contact with the System


The early initiation of the juvenile into criminal or drug-using behavior, accompanied by early serious contact with the criminal justice system, is one of the most predictive risk factors associated with delinquency.

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Social Behavior
How juveniles behavior in society and how they interact with others is also a risk factor.
Those who lie, cheat, and steal are at more risk than those who dont. Anti-social and aggressive behavior in young children is a risk factor for future delinquency.

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Social Behavior
Youths who join gangs, regardless of the reasons, are substantially more at risk for becoming arrested or becoming a victim of crime. Those who remain in gangs for a long time have extraordinarily high rates of delinquency.

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Other Behaviors
Other risk factors include: Sexual promiscuity Poor diet and health care, including smoking, drinking, and using drugs Unsafe conduct, including carrying a weapon

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Cumulative Effects of Risk Factors


It is not any one risk or protective factor that determines delinquency. Instead, the cumulative effect of risk or non-risk behavior, background, and attitude is more important. cumulative effect: The total
result of combined risk factors.

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Cumulative Effects of Risk Factors


The probability of delinquency increases as the number of risk factors increases. When the number of risk factors exceed the number of protective factors, the juveniles chance of having a delinquency-free adolescence will be small.

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Outcomes and Opportunities


Engaging in risky behaviors or lifestyles typically leads to certain outcomes and opportunities or the lack of them.
outcomes and opportunities: The consequences of a persons particular lifestyle; low-risk lifestyles lead to different outcomes and opportunities than high-risk lifestyles.

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For juveniles already involved in risky behavior, serious and bad outcomes may be likely:
Teenage pregnancy School failure Trouble with the criminal justice system Unemployability Poor self-concept Chemical dependency Once a youth adopts a certain lifestyle, it tends to either open or restrict access to opportunities.

Outcomes and Opportunities

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Outcomes and Opportunities


Risk and protective factors do offer a partial explanation for delinquency. For this reason, identified risk and protective factors have found their place in programmatic interventions and initiatives designed to reduce juvenile delinquency and violence.

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SELF CHECK

What is the difference between a causal factor and a risk factor?

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