Causes of Juvenile Delinquency and Crime
This report aims to explore the relationship between juvenile delinquency and poor parenting and their failure to teach norms and values. It will also address other aspects of influence, including; peer pressure, mass media, poverty and the actions of the juvenile justice system. Theory
Through this report, the following theory will be tested;
“There is a link between juvenile delinquency, poor parenting and their failure to teach norms and values.” Literature Review
It is commonly acknowledged that crime ‘is an act of which breaks the criminal law of society’. Juvenile delinquency, also known as youth crime, ‘is the participation in illegal behaviour by a minor’. Crime is committed due to various reasons such as; the lack of family norms and values and peer pressure. The family unit plays the primary role of socialisation in the development of a child and it is the parents’ responsibility to teach the norms and values which are expected of them. Many sociologists believe that ‘youth’ and ‘crime’ are socially constructed. According to Wilson and Hermstein (1985); inherited traits combined with environmental factors produce crime. In other words; the social factors and situations in which a child is brought up in, may influence their actions and choices, in their adolescent years. Brym and Lie (2003) believe that, ‘early childhood experiences bear a lasting impression on the individual unique personality, that everyone develops’. This is supported by Hickey (1991) who considers that, stress caused in childhood may trigger an individual to resort to criminal behaviour and in the future, if the individual does not have the ability to cope with the stress, then they may turn to serious crimes. Although some sociologists believe that what happens during primary socialisation is the key cause; others argue that there are many other factors which may contribute to the instigation of juvenile delinquency and crime. Functionalism emphasises that social structure, not just individual motivation, produces crime. Functionalists argue that certain social conditions, applies pressure on individuals to behave in both conforming and non-conforming ways. Functionalists also regard a moderate amount of crime is needed in order to maintain a balanced society. The functionalist perspective on crime originally stems from the work of Emile Durkheim. Durkheim saw crime as a function in society, because it generates cohesion amongst society’s members and viewed some crime as, ‘an anticipation of the morality of the future’, (Durkheim, 1938). Durkheim work has been further elaborated by Robert Merton. Merton’s; Structural Strain Theory, traces the origins of crime, to the strain on society, caused by the gap between cultural goals and the means in which individuals have to achieve these goals. In other words; poor people are more likely to feel the tension as they desire the same goals and values as the rest society but they lack the same opportunities for success. From a functionalist view it can also be said that the structural strain theory also helps to explain the relationship between unemployment and crime. Criticism of this theory comes from the New Right who believes that, there is no direct association between unemployment and crime. According to Dennis and Erdos (1992); 'High unemployment was associated with low criminality in the 1930's. Low unemployment was associated with growing criminality in the 1960's’. Therefore, given the lack of correlation between unemployment and crime, the New right dismisses the functionalists’ structural explanation of crime, and turns to a cultural explanation. They believe that a decline in 'family values', in particular a lack of discipline both inside and outside the home, is a key factor. Travis Hirschi took a different approach to Durkheim functionalist perspective. Hirschi developed a social control theory. This theory speculates that crime occurs...
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