Uploaded by Navya Sony Dinakar

Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile Delinquency
Navya Dinakar Kannan
AUD 8387
B.Sc Forensic Science batch 2018-2021, Semester 1
What is juvenile delinquency?
Juvenile delinquency is an ambiguous concept mingled with many different criteria,
especially those concerning age, sex, race, and nature of offense. In the broadest sense,
juvenile delinquency means behaviour by nonadults that violates the formal norms. In a
narrower sense, juvenile delinquency is any behaviour by those persons designated as
nonadults that would make them subject to the juvenile court. Thus, officially, a person is
not considered a juvenile delinquent unless he or she has been adjudicated as such.
The Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
(DHEW) defines delinquency in the following way: Juvenile delinquency cases are those
referred to courts for acts defined in the statutes of the State as the violation of a state law
or municipal ordinance by children or youths of juvenile court age, or for conduct so
seriously anti-social as to interfere with the rights of others or to menace the welfare of the
delinquent himself or of the community. This broad definition of delinquency includes
conduct which violates the law only when committed by children, e.g., truancy,
ungovernable behaviour, and running away (DREW, 1972). This official definition by DHEW is
the one principally used in all Federal Government dealings. It is general enough to cover
most of the definitions used for research as well as for delinquency projects, and specific
enough to be close to most of the legal definitions used in the many jurisdictions of the
United States.
In addition to crimes, juvenile delinquency often covers such acts as running away
from home, truancy, and incorrigibility. For this type of offender, the New York Statutes
provide a separate category known as PINS (person in need of supervision). Other states use
similar categories: CHINS (children in need of supervision); JINS (juveniles in need of
supervision); and MINS (minors in need of supervision).11 Children in these categories come
under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court even though the offenses they have committed
would not be classified as crimes if they were committed by persons over the age of 18.
These offenses are often called status offenses since they are considered illegal only when
committed by persons who are under the age of 18. The age and the actions of the child,
then, will determine whether he or she is delinquent or in need of supervision.
Because legal definitions of delinquency are broad and often vague, the state has been
given considerable leeway in deciding how and when to intervene in a youngster's life. These
statutory guidelines, which were originally intended to facilitate the ability of the court to
offer help to children in need, have also allowed the court to exercise virtually unlimited
power over the lives of individual juveniles.
The broad definitions of delinquency found in the state statutes are especially
problematic for status offenders since these youngsters are often processed in the same
manner as more serious offenders.
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Causes of juvenile delinquency
Juvenile delinquency takes place in different ways and it may vary in degree,
frequency and seriousness and involves different forms like theft, pick pocketing, drug
addiction, sex offences, predatory acts, etc. Delinquency, like othe social problems, has
complex roots.
No single cause has been attributed for the cause of Juvenile Delinquency. There are
innumerable causes basically, and they are of 3 types: biological, socio-environmental and
physiological and personal.
Biological Causes:
This includes various issues such as ocular ailments, nose and throat problems, hearing
problems, speech problems, enuresis, irritation, headache, excessive strength and
hypoglycemia. Such issues cause irritation or feeling of inferiority in the juveniles causing
them to act out and commit an offence.
Socio-environmental Causes:
1. Mobility: It is the major factor that is liable for crime causation in the society.
Nowadays, communication and travel facilities have become easy due to
industrialization which have led to the migration of persons to new places. Chances of
detection to these new places are low and offers them opportunity from crime.
2. Cultural conflicts: The urbanization and industrialization have resulted in drifting of
people from one place to another which has led to cultural conflicts between
inhabitants and immigrants. Such cultural conflicts occurring between different
sections of a society have resulted in deviant behaviour thus increasing the crime rate
of that particular place.
3. Family background: This factor also encourages the Juvenile to commit for offence in
the society. Sutherland said that “the family background has greatest influence on the
criminal behaviour of offender or Juvenile. The Children divert themselves toward
criminal tendencies, if they find their parents or members of the family behaving in
the similar manner. A child who is grown up in a hostile aggressive parenting
atmosphere becomes an easy prey to criminality”.
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There is lack of parental support and control over their children due to separation,
divorce or desertion which may indulge them in criminal acts. Some factors of family
background that cause Delinquency are:
a. Family Structure: The structures of the family are responsible for figuring out
the personality/character development of the child. Delinquents mostly belong
to poor and inadequate homes.
b. Broken homes: broken home means a home where there is instability present
in homes due to any one of the missing family members like either the parents
are dead or living separately or are divorced. If parents are drunkards or drug
addicts or often fight with each other, it disturbs the mind of their children. In
such conditions, the child feels insecure and, in that way, finds his/her path to
c. Child’s birth order in the family: it is found that sibling position could be an
attributing factor for difference among the delinquent. According to a study,
middle children are likely to get less attention and care compared to older and
younger children resulting in attention deficit disorder. Such children are more
likely to get prone in criminal activities and their number is also considerably
large in group of delinquents.
d. Family size and type: it is also recognized as a factor in reason of delinquent
behaviour. Delinquents mostly belong to joint and bigger families as compared
to the smaller and nuclear families as less attention is likely to be paid to the
children in bigger families.
e. Parent-Children relationship: the most significant factor in the behavioural
development of a child is the relationship with their parents. The infrequent
delinquents showed greater bonding with their family than the habitual, or the
4. Socio-economic condition: This condition is also a factor which leads the child to
commit the offence. Present day industrial progress, economic growth and
urbanization have paralyzed our domestic life. The loose control over the wards have
slackened, leaving them free to behave as they like. Poverty also contributes a major
factor in commission of crime.
5. Neighbourhood: The influence of neighbourhood is also having much to do with the
types of crimes occurring in that particular area. Therefore, densely populated
villages, towns and cities offer regular opportunities for crimes relating to theft,
fraud, dacoity, burglary, kidnapping, cheating etc. The cases of theft and pick
pocketing are common at public places like bus and railway stations. Another
considerable characteristic of delinquency is certain anti-social activities in the
neighbourhood. It includes gambling houses, brothels and similar other bad characters
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6. Alcohol and Intoxication: it has become a fashion in the youth to consume alcohol.
The use of alcohol in any manner causes heavy damage to the mind and body of the
person or child, who consumed liquor. A child cannot identify the consequences of his
acts of consuming alcohol. Those who take alcohol generally lose self-control.
Generally, it is a reason for fighting between husband-wife and children and led to
assault on them. It creates hostile atmosphere at home and the children think it
better to go away from house. This may also reason for frustration in children which
led them for commission of crime.
7. Peer group: The behaviour of an individual largely depends on his peers. Some of the
individuals (mostly in teen ages) form gangs in which several individuals associate
together in group activity which often emerges into criminal tendency.
8. Nature of Society: The living condition of a society whether democratic, socialist or
dictatorship, also determines the prevalence of delinquent behaviour of the children
in that society.
9. Socio-cultural conditions: The socio-cultural condition is also a contributing factor for
juvenile delinquency. When a child living in a society meets different types of persons,
some of whom were engaged in criminal activities. The anti-social elements in the
society tend to change the normal children into delinquents for their multiple
benefits, like to get their illegal work done and to earn profit by attracting them
initially in petty crimes like theft, extortion, cheating, pick-pocketing etc.
10. Cinema: Movies and social-sites are also considered as cause of crime or delinquency
because children are easily attracted by the movies. What they watch on the movies
and TV screen they try to do in their real life. Now day movies are based on sexual
crime and criminal actions scenes like dacoity, bank robbery, theft, hurt, rape etc.
11. Role of Press: Press plays a vital role in creation of good and bad impressions on the
mind of children. Children are generally paying attention to those headlines of
newspaper and clipping of news channel which contain news of gambling/lottery, loot,
robbery, rape, how to earn easy money etc. Children also learn how they can commit
the offence and earn easy money and become rich.
12. Cheap Literature: There is a common belief that the bad and cheap literature has a
side effect on the minds of young people. Description of any crime in such readings
directly gives them suggestions and technical procedures to be used for criminal
13. Physical Standards: Lombroso stresses on the organic causes of crime and suggested
several criminal types, such as criminals by passion and occasional criminals.
Kretschme identified “body-mind” types: the cylothyme and schizothyme. He believed
that the cylothymes were less serious delinquents and criminals than the
schizothymes. Sheldon (1949) also linked the body-types to delinquency. He
discovered three basic body types: i. Mesomorphs ii. Endomorphs iii. Ectomorphs
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14. Mental makeup: Mental makeup of the child also conditions his behaviour to a large
extent. Lots of researches reveal that “a large proportion of delinquents are pathetic
minded and deficient in intellect”.
15. Heredity: The factor of heredity is emphasized a lot when studying the cause of
delinquent behaviour. According to Goring, “pathetic mindedness is the result of
hereditary transmission”.
Physiological and personal causes:
Criminal’s psychological behavior plays a significant role in the determination of
delinquency. It is the psychology of a criminal which controls it mind, and the mind designed
the criminal act which a delinquent intends or wants to do. There are some significant factors
in act of anti-social behaviour:
School factors
Drug addiction
Bad company
Adolescent insecurity
Mental conflicts
Excessive social suggestibility
Love adventure
School dissatisfaction
Poor recreation facilities
Poor living conditions
Vocational dissatisfaction
Physical condition.
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Preventing Juvenile Delinquency
Violence against children endangers their fundamental human rights. It is therefore
imperative to convince individuals and institutions to commit the time, money, expertise and
other resources needed to address this global problem.
It is widely believed that early-phase intervention represents the best approach to
preventing juvenile delinquency. Prevention requires individual, group and organizational
efforts aimed at keeping adolescents from breaking the law. Various countries use different
methods to discourage delinquent and criminal behaviour
Early preventive work is being carried out in several area.
Within the economic sector, professional development programmes are being set up to
provide legal alternatives for income generation.
Educational programmes are helping young people learn how to engage in positive
self-appraisal, deal with conflict, and control aggression. The programmes debunk the
myth of gang glamour and help young people find alternatives to illegal behaviour.
A wide range of recreational facilities and services of particular interest to young
persons should be established and made easily accessible to them.
Often it is possible to reduce the level of juvenile delinquency by changing an urban
environment, altering the physical features through architectural and landscape
planning and providing opportunities to engage young people’s interest.
Recently, greater attention has been given to the role and responsibility of local
communities in dealing with juvenile delinquency. There are programmes designed to
train groups and individual representatives of local communities in which juvenile
delinquency has increased to informally control youth and include young people in
constructive activities.
Families and communities play the greatest role in helping these delinquents.
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