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The antecedents/predictors, theories, and deterrents of juvenile delinquency

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What are the predictors of delinquency in adolescents? What causes adolescent delinquency? What are the deterrents to juvenile delinquency? Discuss in some detail and give examples.

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This solution explains the antecedents/predictors of juvenile delinquency in terms of theoretical underpinnings using Erikson's theory. The deterrents of juvenile delinquency are also discussed.

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1. What are the predictors of delinquency in adolescents? What causes adolescent delinquency? What are the deterrents to juvenile delinquency? Discuss in some detail and give examples.

The term juvenile delinquent refers to a broad range of behaviors, from socially unacceptable behavior (such as acting out in school) to status offenses (such as running away) to criminal acts (such as burglary) (Quay, 1987).

The Antecedents (predictors) of Juvenile Delinquency

Antecedents or predictors of delinquency include these: identity (negative identity), self-control (low), age (early initiation), sex (Males), expectations for education (low expectations, little commitment), school grades (low achievement in early grades), peer influences (heavy influence, low resistance), socioeconomic status (low), parental role (lack of monitoring, low support, and ineffective discipline), and neighborhood (urban, high crime, high mobility).

1. Identity

According to Erik Erikson's (1968) theory of development, adolescence is the stage when the crises of identity versus identity diffusion should be resolved. Not surprisingly, Erikson's ideas about delinquency are linked to adolescent's ability to positively resolve this crisis. The biological changes of puberty initiate concomitant changes in the social expectations placed on adolescents by family, peers, and schools. These biological and social changes allow for two kinds of integration to occur in adolescents' personality:

(a) the establishment of a sense of consistency in life, and

(b) the resolution of role identity, a sort of joining of adolescents motivation, values, abilities, and styles with the role demands placed on them.

Erikson believes that delinquency is characterized more by a failure of adolescents to achieve the second kind of integration, involving the role aspects of identity. He comments that adolescents whose infant, childhood, or adolescent experiences have somehow restricted them form acceptable social roles or made them feel that they cannot measure up to the demands placed on them may choose a negative course of identity development. Some of these adolescents might take on the role of delinquent, enmeshing themselves in the most negative currents of the youth culture available to them. Thus, for Erikson, delinquency is an attempt to establish an identity, although it is a negative one.

2. Family Process-Delinquent link

Some children and adolescents fail to acquire the essential controls that others have acquired during the process of growing up. Parents of delinquents are less skilled in discouraging behavior than are the parents of nondelinquents. Parental monitoring of adolescents is especially important to whether adolescents become delinquents. In one study, parental monitoring of adolescents' whereabouts was the most important family factor in predicting delinquency (Patterson & Stouthamer-Loeber, 1984). "It's 10:00 P.M., do you know where your children are?" seems to be an important question for parents to answer affirmatively.

In a review of research on the family-delinquent link, Michael Rutter and Norman Garmezy (1983) concluded that family influences do have some kind of environmental influence on delinquency. As well, the research by Gerald Patterson and his colleagues (Patterson, De Baryshe, & Ramsey, 1989) documents that inadequate parental supervision, involving poor monitoring of adolescents, and inconsistent discipline are key family factors in determine delinquency. Disruptions or omissions in the parents' applications of family support and management practices are consistently linked with antisocial behavior by children and adolescents (Lytton, 1995; Novy & others, 1992; Rosenbaum, 1989).

As a preventive measures and deterrent of adolescent delinquent behavior, the following family support and management practices are suggested:

· Monitoring adolescents' whereabouts (e.g., Where? What? When? How long? With who?).

· Using effective discipline for antisocial behavior.

. Calling on effective problem-solving skills.

. Supporting the development of pro-social behavior.

. Review of Studies Finds Religiousness a Factor in Reducing Juvenile Delinquency.

For example, New York, NY November 13, 1998... Religion can help lower the incidence of juvenile delinquency, according to a recent report developed by researchers from the National Institute for Healthcare Research and Vanderbilt University. The report, released by the Manhattan Institute today at a conference entitled 'Faith-Based Community Programs: Good Works Make Good Cities" in New York City, is based on a systematic review of 40 journal articles that quantitatively studied a religious aspect of delinquency. The review shows several key findings that underline the relevance of religion in preventing youth crime.

The researchers, David B. Larson, M.D., M.S.P.H. and Byron R. Johnson, Ph.D., are renowned for their work in evaluating the role of religiosity in physical, mental and social health. Dr. Larson is president of the National Institute for Healthcare Research and is adjunct professor, Duke University Medical Center. He has authored dozens of published systematic reviews measuring the impact of spirituality on health. Dr. Johnson is director, Center for Crime and Justice Policy, and senior fellow, Vanderbilt University. He has published numerous studies measuring the impact of spirituality and religion on criminal behavior (http://www.healthyinitiatives.com/Research%20Reports%203.2.htm).

. United Nations Guidelines for the prevention of Juvenile Delinquency

EXCERPT: (lengthy but offers excellent suggestions and strategies to consider)


1. The prevention of juvenile delinquency is an essential part of crime prevention in society. By engaging in lawful, socially useful activities and adopting a humanistic orientation towards society and outlook on life, young persons can develop non-criminogenic attitudes.

2. The successful prevention of juvenile delinquency requires efforts on the part of the entire society to ensure the harmonious development of adolescents, with respect for and promotion of their personality from early childhood.

3. For the purposes of the interpretation of the present Guidelines, a child-centred orientation should be pursued. Young persons should have an active role and partnership within society and should not be considered as mere objects of socialization or control.

4. In the implementation of the present Guidelines, in accordance with national legal systems, the well-being of young persons from their early childhood should be the focus of any preventive programme.

5. The need for and importance of progressive delinquency prevention policies and the systematic study and the elaboration of measures should be recognized. These should avoid criminalizing and penalizing a child for behaviour that does not cause serious damage to the development of the child or harm to others. Such policies and measures should involve:

(a) The provision of opportunities, in particular educational opportunities, to meet the varying needs of young persons and to serve as a ...

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