Factors underlying Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile Delinquency is usually the result of psycho-social factors such as social rejection, alienation, psychological support provided by delinquent gang, parental discipline etc. Enmeshed with these psycho-social factors can be socio-cultural factors such as stress produced in a given culture or insecurity caused by it and some biological factors such as hormonal imbalance or chromosomal aberrations etc. Let us discuss the major factors responsible for delinquent behavior one by one.
Alienation and Rebellion –
Many youths today are uncommitted to the values of their parents but at the same time are confused about their own values and identity. These misguided youths often view adult world as hostile and develop hatred for it. These youths disobey their parents and therefore alienate themselves from their families and the society. Because of this alienation they may fall prey in the hands of antisocial elements or may identity with the peer group that is considered as delinquent.
Social Rejects –
There are some young people who lack motivation or the ability to do well in the school. These youths drop early and they often fail to find a job suited for them with the meager qualification that they have. Thus these youths discover that they are not needed in the society i.e. they are Social Rejects. These youths are generally the victims of social progress.
Delinquent Gang Culture –
Delinquent Gangs are prevalent in lower socioeconomic areas but they are not restricted to them. Most youths join the gang as it gives them a sense of belongingness and serve as means of gaining some measure of status and approval and enable them to commit illegal acts for financial gains.
Sociopathic Parental Model –
Several investigators have found a high incidence of sociopathic traits in the parents of delinquents – particularly but not exclusively father (Gluek & Gluek). The traits present are alcoholism, brutality, antisocial attitude, unnecessary absences from home etc. Sociopathic parents may contribute in various ways to delinquent behavior of girls as well. Covert encouragement of sexual promiscuity is fairly common and in some instances there is actual incest with the daughter.
Broken Homes –
A number of investigators have pointed to high incidence of broken home and multiple parent figures in the background of delinquent youth. In general delinquency appears to be much more common among youths coming from homes broken by parental separation than from homes broken by death of a parent.
Parental Rejection and Faulty Discipline –
Every child wants to be loved and understood. As the child grows he expects to have love and affection from his parents and family members. In case child fails to receive requisite quantum of love and understanding he feels alienated, and rejected and moves out to satisfy his unmet needs by restoring to antisocial activities. Frequently he falls prey to antisocial elements who exploit the youth for their illegal business or the youth joins the delinquent gang. In a study of 26 delinquent boys, Bandura and Walter delineated a pattern in which father’s rejection was combined with inconsistent handling of the boy by both parents. To complicate the pathogenic picture the father typically used physical punitive methods to discipline the child thus augmenting the hostility the boy already felt towards him as well as modeling aggressive behavior.
Undesirable Peer Relationship –
Juvenile Delinquency tends to be shared experience for both males and females. In a study of delinquents in Michigan area Haney and gold found that about 2/3 of delinquent acts were committed in association with one or two other persons.
Influence of Adult Criminals –
In gang robberies and pocket picking young boys are involved. Adults Criminals keep a watch on young boys, draw then towards themselves initially by talking to them pleasantly and then tempt them with luxuries of life over a period ranging from 3 – 6 months before training them in their trade. The advantage of training and operating with children is that when these boys are arrested the adult criminals can influence their parents to pay sizeable amount to bail them out or defend them through lawyers.
Drug Abuse –
A sizeable number of delinquent acts – particularly theft, prostitution and assault are directly associated with drug problem. Most youths who are addicted to hard drugs in an attempt to maintain their habit are forced to steal and commit other crimes.
Unusual Stresses –
In some instances, traumatic experiences in the life of a boy or a girl appear to act as precipitating agents in Delinquency. Clarke in his study found that in about 1/3 of the cases highly stressful events preceded delinquency.
Cheap Films and Literature –
Crime loaded serials, novels and films and X rated movies may also lead a child to delinquent path.