Juvenile Delinquency Running head: JUVENILE DELINQUENCY MIDTERM ESSAYS


Juvenile Delinquency Midterm Essays Jake J. Koppenhaver

Juvenile Delinquency Professor Robar July 3, 2007

Juvenile Delinquency Juvenile Delinquency Midterm Essays What are some of the reasons discussed in the text to help explain racial and gender differences in juvenile offending patterns?


It is well known by criminologists that gender and race are factors in the criminal conduct and treatment of adult offenders. So too are the subject's sex and ethnic background a factor in youth deviancy. Both of these differences carry with them unique offending patterns and criminal justice needs, and while both of these diversity groups may offend in different rates or ways, it is a personal belief that gender has more of an effect on criminal behavior than race. Gender difference in juvenile offending is not as stark of a contrast as it used to be in previous generations. Early theory represented that female offenders were few and far between, seen as participating in crimes which were sexual in nature (such as prostitution) or emotionally charged. Due to a recent surge in interest into the female offender studies have shown very different results than what was previously thought. Female rates, compared to male rates which are substantially higher, are growing more rapidly than male offender rates (Siegel & Welsh, 2005), climbing six percent between 1993 and 2002 while their male counterparts' dropped sixteen percent. It is also important to note that while the above figures are official arrest statistics, self reported data shows female deviancy as being even higher, and includes similar crimes to males. There are several reasons that help explain the differences in genders and criminal behavior. It is no question that social environment plays a part in the development of youth. Male and female youths are raise very differently in our modern society which may present an insight into their criminal habits. For example, males are socialized to be more aggressive, are less likely to form attachments, and respond to conflict through retaliation whereas females are encouraged to preserve relationships, internalize conflict, and are more closely supervised by social control

Juvenile Delinquency agents (whether these are their parents or criminal justice personnel). This has a detrimental effect on females' self esteem, a possible cause for outbursts of deviancy.


The issue of race as it relates to deviancy in youth is not as comfortable of a topic as gender. Long has higher arrest statistics for minority offenders spurred controversy throughout the criminal justice system. For example, arrest rates for all crimes between 1980 and 2002 show that African-American youth are arrested disproportionately for all crimes than their white counterparts. Why could this be? Researchers have narrowed it down to two possible causes, the first being that African-American youth really do perform a disproportionate amount of crimes, however this is unreliable and encouraged studies to turn to self-reported statistics. Self reported information suggests that delinquent activity between black and white youth are quite similar, which leads believers of this information to conclude that those involved in the criminal justice process (law enforcement, judicial staff, etc.) are biased. If this is true, it would explain the high prison rates of African-Americans due to harsher punishments and non-intervention in their initial contact with the law. Several theories expound upon possible explanations for race and gender in deviant activity. As for gender, social development theory seems to be the most appropriate given the radical differences in the growth of males and females within the social and family structures and the formation and enforcement of scripts according to the gender-schema theory. Race is highly affected by social class and economical status, fitting into the theory of anomie. Cloward and Ohlin (1960) built upon Merton's strain theory with some of their own ideas and formed their theory of differential opportunity. They cited that those who are given or perceive to have less legitimate opportunity to succeed then turn to illegitimate means in order to gain status. Identifying the basis of both gender and race differences in juvenile delinquency--and crime in general--is vital in order to provide alternative means to crime for potential offenders.

Juvenile Delinquency Discuss labeling theory. What are some of the policies or programs designed to reduce delinquency based on this perspective? Of the several social reaction theories in the criminal justice community labeling is, I believe, the most influential and substantiated when it comes to juvenile delinquency. Youth are highly susceptible to the world's influence on them as well as the labels that are placed on them by their environments. This outside stimuli affects the youth's view on themselves and their environment, either helping reduce or increase the risk of anti-social and deviant behavior. According to an original labeling researcher, Tannenbaum concluded that a youth's


tendency to minimize their deviant activity as "fun" or "adventure" is in direct conflict with how society views their actions (1938). This conflict of interpretation leads to what Tannenbaum refers to as the "dramatization of evil," and ultimately labeling the youth as the evildoer. This idea leads to the youth being stigmatized, and according to Goffman, this leads to the youth seeing these stigma symbols as an accurate definition of their growing identity (1963). This stigma helps to promote and reinforce degradation ceremonies such as trials, public punishments, etc., which as described by Garfinkel (1956) enforces the label on the youth and presents the idea that society is against the youth. With this newfound knowledge of how society feels, the youth may then view the label of "deviant," "criminal," or any of the plethoras of other terms as their master status. Becker (1963) affirms that this master status is the acceptance that they are deviant and drastically reduces their chances of correction. Programs which would likely be effective against labeling theory when dealing with the juvenile delinquency problem would be those which help to minimize the labeling of early deviant behavior and provide a chance at correction. Diverting initial contact with the traditional criminal justice system for youth and focusing on community building on the macro level, I believe, will also help the youth on the micro level. Deinstitutionalized punishment forms are

Juvenile Delinquency along these lines so called "boot camps," community corrections programs, and youth treatment centers which focus on repairing the delinquent conduct before it escalates to fully criminal behavior in addition to or instead of the more formal ways of punishing. It is important to punish offenders for the crimes they commit in order to show them that the behavior will not be tolerated in society. Labeling the offender in a permanent manner, however, works against the concept of corrections and helps to ensure that offenders keep offending with little chance of integration into productive society. Describe parenting styles that can insulate youth from delinquency while also producing a well-adjusted adolescent. Parenting and its various styles are at the very heart of the issue when speaking on juvenile delinquency. Parenting has in many ways become "hands-off" as in two parent families both parents may work. Add to this the phenomenon of Blackberry Parenting (The Wall Street Journal, 2006) and the parents who extensively work at home and it can be obvious that parenting is not what it used to be. In order to understand how vital parenting is to a youth's development one must understand the theory of social bond and how the family unit influences behavior. According to Travis Hirschi social bond theory contains four main concepts that,


depending on how well they are addressed socially in a child's life, can either help them succeed legitimately in life or walk down the path of deviancy: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief (1972). Through strong attachments to parents, siblings, teachers, and friends a youth can have positive role models and sources of advice and guidance. Commitment to positive goals such as success in school, a solid career, and even wealth can help keep a youth focused on the right path. Through involvement in sports, community organizations, extra-curricular activities, and social clubs, the youth has a better chance to form lasting bonds with others while being

Juvenile Delinquency shown the importance of becoming a functional member of society. Finally, belief in positive qualities such as morality, service, and responsibility learned from the other three branches can help the youth integrate into a productive adulthood.


There are four major areas in the family environment which heavily influence delinquent behavior in youth: Breakup, conflict, neglect, and deviance. Family breakup (divorce, parental separation) is more commonplace in our time. Studies have shown that children who grow up outside of the influence of their father perform less in school, are not as likely to attend college, or have stable employment later in life (Siegel & Welsh, 2005: 160). It is important to note that males are more impacted by the lack of a father, but girls do not go unaffected. Girls tend to be more affected by the quality of parenting by the mother and are heavily influenced by any postbreakup or divorce conflict which ensues between her parents. While many families separate due to conflict, many others stay together and include it. According to F. Ivan Nye, a youth’s perception on the happiness and quality of relationship between their parents is a heavy indicator of future delinquency (Siegel & Welsh: 161). Nye also found that there is little difference between a child who merely witnessed conflict in the family structure and those who are a direct victim of it. Often when conflict is present, neglect is as well. Parental efficacy, raising a child with non-coercive but supporting discipline, is found to help strengthen the child’s resistance to deviant behavior. Unfortunately, many families who experience serious conflict do not follow this practice and the child tends to turn to outside influences and exhibit deviant behavior. Likewise, inconsistent supervision and discipline by the parents also contribute to criminal mindsets by showing youth that punishment is not always guaranteed and there are ways to act criminally with it being okay. As youth grow and develop there becomes less and less of a requirement for a parental bond, however information suggests that the positive effect this bond has is still considerable (Siegel & Welsh: 162).

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Deviancy which runs in a family, which is children who have a long line of relatives who act in a deviant manner in their environment while developing, helps contribute to a child’s views on this behavior. Information shows that youth with criminal fathers are 37% more likely to become criminal, in contrast to the 8% of those without (Siegel & Welsh: 164): This is nearly five times more likely. Sibling influence also plays a huge role, as in families where conflict and neglect exists, a child is provided with another of similar age and experience who they can bond with. If the elder of the two follow a deviant path, the younger is likely to as well out of similar interest and imitating actions. Parenting is no easy task, and I do not believe there to be any higher responsibility than that of raising a child to be part of our world’s future. Unfortunately, marital conflict, modern technology, and the daily hustle and bustle of normal life can detract from the relationship a child has with their parents. When a child does not have a solid, stable relationship which supports their bond positively deviance is more likely to follow in their life. The weaker that bond may be, the stronger the attraction to criminality.

Juvenile Delinquency References Becker, Howard S. (1963). Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of deviance. New York: Free Press.


Garfinkel, Harold. (1956). “Conditions of successful degradation ceremonies.” American Journal of Sociology 61: 420-24.

Goffman, Erving. (1963). Stigma. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Hirschi, Travis. (1972). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Rosman, K. (2006, December 8). “BlackBerry orphans.” The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 1, 2007, from web site: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB116553463083344032SzuhOlzamjgoRWAGOqtyX7h8ldM_20071208.html?mod=blogs.

Siegel, L. J., & Welsh, B. C. (2005). Juvenile delinquency: The core (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Tannenbaum, Frank. (1938). Crime and the community. New York: Ginn.

Winfree Jr, L., & Abadinsky, H. (2003). Understanding crime: Theory and practice (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.