From 1990 to to the present there has been a sharp increase in juvenile crime across the United States. From 1996 to the present there has been a slight decline from the statistics in 1995(OJJDP). What was the cause for this uprise in juvenile delinquincy? I will discuss 2 different theories to why there was such an increase in juvenile crime rates. I will analyze the rise of the "Gangsta-Rap" culture in the early 1990's and how it may have affected teenagers that are in lower- income families. Many people believe that the increase in real life violence on television is a cause for violence in juveniles. I will discuss the evidence for this theory. It seems to me that the best theory to explain the rise in juvenile crime is the social constructionist theory. Different sub-cultures of teens have higher crime rates than others because of their interests, whether it be the music that they listen to or the types of television programs that they watched as child.
In the early 1990's a new form of Hip-Hop music appeared in America known as Gangsta-Rap. This style of Hip-Hop had lyrics pertaining to killing police, gang warfare, guns, and robberies. This style of music perked interest in teenagers across the country. Song titles such as "F*ck the Police" gave laughter to teenagers in middle and upper class America, but for these rap artists, the lyrics they wrote were their way of life. The Gangsta-Rap culture came straight from the worst neighborhoods on the Pacific Coast of the United States, where this kind of lifestyle was led by 1000's of people stuck in the slums of America. Could the lyrics from these kind of songs promote violence in low income areas where teens look up to these Rap artists? Teenagers that grow up in neighborhoods that are considered low-income (more so in larger cities than suburban areas) have a very low amount of opportunities to leave these areas and become successful in life. Teens in these areas are looking for the easy way out. There isn't many legal ways of getting out of a slum and becoming successful. Teens in these areas are more likely to sell drugs and perform robberies to make money than hold a steady job. In essence, crime is already higher in low-income areas than it is in higher-income areas. When gangsta rap was introduced in the early 1990's, It became very popular with people facing the same problems as these rap artists had in their childhood. These rappers glorified murder, violence, and drug dealing in their songs which perked the ears of many teens in the struggle. Hearing the people that they look up to preach this way of life, opened more doors for crime in these teen's lives. Many teens get heavily involved in the music that they listen to. A large amount of evidence of this can be found by looking at the "hard-core" crowds that follow different types of music.
The Punk Rock culture is a good example. Many kids that are intoduced to punk rock music incorperate the music into their way of life. They dress in tight jeans with holes, have odd and sometimes even ridiculous hair styles, piercings, tattoes, and their way of life is to not care about anything. Hard-core punk music is usually hate based. Hate for the government, society, drugs, and other issues.. The teens that get heavily involved in punk music will fight against governmental issues and things that they dislike about their surroundings.
The hippie culture, driven by 60's music that preached peace, excercised what they heard in the music that they cherished. They promoted peace and protested against things such as war and hate. I point out that all of the people that are part of these cultures surrounding music, for the most part, use the music they listen to and incorperate it into their belief systems and their ways of everyday life. As I have said earlier, Gangsta-Rap lyrics revolve around guns, violence, crime, and drugs. Juveniles that are influenced easily by the music that they hear, incorperate these...
Bibliography: Lefkowitz, Monroe M. 1977. Growing Up to be Violent: A Longitudinal Study of the Development of
Aggression. New York: Pergamon.
Wolfgang, Marvin E., Terence P Thornberry, Robert M. Figlio. 1987. From Boy to Man, from
Delinquincy to Crime. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. Dec 14,1994. Television Gets Closer Look as a Factor in Real Violence. New
York Times, pp A1, D20.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquincy Prevention. [On-line]. Available:
Please join StudyMode to read the full document