PEERS AND DELINQUENCY
18 CJ 798 008
University of Cincinnati
June 5, 2009
The problem of how to deal with juvenile offenders has plagued society since before the establishment of the first juvenile court in 1899. (OJJDP, Juvenile Court Statistics 1999) Prior to that development, delinquent juveniles were processed through the adult court and often received harsh punishments. The American juvenile justice system was designed to reform juveniles found guilty of minor crimes, minor crimes such as petty theft and truancy. The system attempts to balance the concerns of the community with the best interest of the child. (Dr. Wright Lecture Notes) The system is becoming overwhelmed by crimes of violence. Theft and truancy issues have been replaced by rape, robbery, and murder. The juvenile justice system was never meant to deal with these issues of criminality. Many professionals have their thought about what factors lead to crime and delinquency. These thoughts have lead to many researchers unearthed a plethora of possibilities and theories as to why crime occurs among juveniles. It leads researchers to dealing with the issue of juvenile criminality through group assimilation or learned criminal behavior.
Juvenile delinquency describes the antisocial behavior of many different types of youth who are delinquent or unruly or on the verge of being delinquent or unruly. In general terms juvenile delinquency means those acts committed by a juvenile that would violate a law. On the other hand the unruly juvenile is one that has committed a status offense, i.e. truancy, runaway or turbulent behavior. These laws define a juvenile delinquent as a minor age seventeen or under who commits a criminal act determined by law and found true in juvenile system. Children are not born delinquent. They are products of circumstances. Several factors can be predictors of criminality in youth, such as individual factors, family factors, school factors, peer-related factors and community and neighborhood factors. (Hawkins, et.al, pg. 2). Most juveniles become delinquents because they have a history of persistent behavior problems. (Huizinga, et.al, pg 1) Huizinga and his colleagues in the Juvenile Justice Bulletin, examine of persistent behavior problems in the article titled Co-occurrence of Delinquency and Other Problem Behavior. Their study focused on three cities, Denver, Pittsburg and Rochester. They conclude that as persistent behavior problems increase so does seriously delinquent behavior. (Huizinga, et.al, pg 6) In another Juvenile Justice Bulletin (December 1997), examined the Development Pathways in Boys’ Disruptive and Delinquent Behavior, it summarized that three behaviors that can be pathways are overt, covert and authority conflict behaviors. (Kelly, el.al, pg 17) These pathways should be taken seriously when encountered and examined against future behavior. Affiliation with delinquent peers may be a prominent determinant of juvenile delinquency (Paschall, et al., 2003). Research has provided evidence both supporting and against this assertion. However, problem behavior theory, as well as other models of juvenile delinquency, indicates that peer affiliation in fact mediates the relationship between parenting and delinquent behavior (Paschall et al., 2003).
Mark Warr in his book, Comparisons in Crime, defines these affiliations in two ways. First would be the group delinquency, Warr defines the group delinquency, “involves two or more offenders or co-defenders.” The second he describes are gangs. Warr goes on to discuss the difference between “groups and gangs (Warr, 2008, pg 5).” Warr believes it is important to make the point that gang criminal behavior only makes up a small portion of group delinquent behavior. James Short in Criminology, in article entitled, “The Level of Explanation Problem Revisited-The American Society of Criminology 1997...
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