“Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.”
--- Isaac Asimov
Americans today are often bound to the stereotype that poor parental child-rearing methods, peer pressure and poverty are the cause of juvenile delinquency in America. However, the truth is that there are far more factors other than these, major and minor, that contribute to the cause of juvenile delinquency such as drug addiction, nervous disease, and malnutrition. Despite the varieties in types of influences, the cause of juvenile delinquency can be narrowed down into four primary risk factors: individual, family, mental health and substance abuse. These factors can then be extended to contribute to minor causes such as having a low intelligence capacity, not receiving proper education, lacking proper parental supervision and exhibiting disorderly conduct. Juvenile Delinquency is also known as youth crime and is targeted on juveniles who are typically under the age of eighteen. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines juvenile delinquency as “the conduct by a juvenile characterized by antisocial behavior that is beyond parental control and therefore subject to legal action.” (Shader) Depending on the type and severity of the offense committed, juvenile delinquents are either sent to the juvenile court or the criminal justice court. The juvenile court is specially set up for under-age defendants who are found guilty of crime. The court provides these juveniles another chance by subjecting them to less severe punishments than legal adults in hope that these juveniles will learn from their mistakes and become better people. Although many agree that the juvenile court provides equal opportunities to the youth, there are still some people who do not believe that the youth should be given a second chance due to the fact that it is hard to change one’s personality and behaviors.
Cesare Lombroso, a renowned 20th century Italian criminologist, first came up with the idea that one could be “born a criminal.” Lombroso's theory of anthropological criminology essentially states that criminality is inherited. Lombroso’s theory is highly controversial because it cannot be scientifically proven. This debate eventually comes down to one question: is it nature or nurture that causes youth crime? Scientists have hypothesized that several genes have influence on the development of antisocial behaviors. “Conduct disorders and certain serotonin pathway genes may be associated with impulsive antisocial, aggressive and violent behavior; (Waldman)” yet, these hypotheses have not been scientifically proven due to the difficulty in gathering sufficient data and evidence to yield a solid conclusion. There is, however, one interesting case, which motivates scientists to continue in investigating in these hypotheses. Studies and data on adoption show evidence that children, who have biological parents with genetic disposition to antisocial behavior, are more prone to developing conduct disorders, even if they are adopted and raised in a different environment from the one their biological parents could have provided. This case study hints that there is a certain genetic influence, not necessarily a genetic disorder, which is capable of influencing the growth and upbringing of a child. (Waldman)
The most common and strongest factor associated with youth crime is the family’s influence. It is in human nature than a child seeks love and attention from his or her parents. However, when this need is neither responded nor understood, children often feel disappointed and vent their frustrations with alternative methods that are often appear troublesome to others or the community. A family’s inadequate child-rearing method has always linked as the strongest predictors for young crime. In public opinion, parents most often are the ones to blame when their child...
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