The increase in juvenile crime, highlighted by the proliferation of handguns in schools in America and in Britain knives, has caused some concern and has meant both the British Government and American States have had to take action. Within the past six months, a critical mass of public opinion has formed around the issue.
These groups are categorised into violent, delinquent or social groups.
Violent group members are usually unstable and carry weapons, whilst delinquent gangs are smaller and carry out petty crimes such as theft and muggings.
What is Delinquency?
Delinquency is the legal term for the behaviour of children and adolescents that in adults would be judged criminal under law. In the United States, definitions and age limits of juveniles vary, the maximum age being set at 14 years in some states and as high as 21 years in others.
It is said to have increased due to the lack of punishment given to offenders and also the influence from other gang members. You are not considered one of the gang until you have completed an initiation test which would include committing an offence so that you are fully accepted as a member.
It is believed that most delinquents come from dis-advantaged families even though this has not been proven as fact. It is said that lack of parental guidance and quality time spent with family members could also be a major factor. Also another factor could be the higher unemployment rates with more families living below the bread line and less jobs available for young people, therefore, more young people then turn to criminal behaviour instead.
The family unit has also changed over the years due to more divorce and separation and more families being made of step mothers and fathers and other siblings. This can create a conflict of parental control with one parent not wanting to step on anyone's toes when disciplining someone else's child. Various studies have shown that the economy and social development are important factors in whether a country has a high level of delinquency.
The 16- to 20-year age group, considered adult in many places, has one of the highest incidences of serious crime. A high proportion of adult criminals have a background of early delinquency.
Theft is the most common offence by children; more serious property crimes and rape are most frequently committed in later youth. The causes of such behaviour, like those of crime in general, are found in a complex of psychological, social, and economic factors.
Clinical studies have uncovered emotional maladjustments, usually arising from disorganized family situations, in many delinquents. Other studies have suggested that there are persisting patterns of delinquency in poverty-level neighbourhoods regardless of changing occupants; this "culture of poverty" argument has come into disrepute among many social scientists.
The gang, a source of much delinquency, has been a common path for adolescents, particularly in the inner cities. Not until the development, after 1899, of the juvenile court was judgment of youthful offenders effectively separated from that of adults. The system generally emphasizes informal procedure and correction rather than punishment. In some states, psychiatric clinics are attached, and there has been a tendency to handle cases in public welfare agencies outside the court.
Juvenile correctional institutions have been separated from regular prisons since the early 19th cent., and although most are inadequate, some have developed intensive rehabilitation programs, providing vocational training and psychiatric treatment. The parole system, foster homes, child guidance clinics, and public juvenile protective agencies have contributed to the correction of delinquent and maladjusted children. Especially important for prevention is action by community groups to provide essential facilities for the well-being of children. On an...