Juvenile Delinquency


Juvenile delinquency can be defined as the act of engaging in deviant behaviour by a minor who has not attained the majority age according to the laws and regulation of a state. In every society, there are norms, values, beliefs and rules that govern how its members should behave and interact with each other.  The formulated laws are aimed at maintaining social order and enhance cohesiveness among the members of the community. Anyone who acts in contrary to these rules and directives is prone to sanctions as stipulated in the cord of conduct of that given community.  In this paper we will therefore give a comprehensive coverage of crime theories that aim at predisposing the concept of juvenile delinquency and how it develops.

Comparing and Contrasting between:

Social learning theory:  According to Agnew (1997), crime is a concept that is socially constructed and propelled in the society through the process of modelling. A child imitates people who are superior in the society and expose their behaviour if it is rewarded and refrain from deviant behaviour if discouraged via punishment. Furthermore, a child may engage in deviant behaviour due to conformity and peer pressure from others so as to attain a sense of belonging.

Social bond theory: This theory proposes that the norms, values, beliefs and commitment that people do hold depend on how they have been socialized in the society. If the moral codes of the society are well impacted on the members, prevents them from engaging in deviant behaviours thus enhancing cohesiveness among the people. The theory also states that laws are formed to prevent criminality in the society in future. The theory mainly rests on the premise that breaking of social bonds frees one to engage in criminal acts and vice verse holds true.

Social disorganization theory: This theory focuses on the means through which various institutions in the society function together to maintain the whole system. If there is no effective interaction and collaboration within the elements of the system, it will lead to weakened social bond among the members of the society hence enhancing occurrence of crime in the society.

General crime Theory: While social learning theory relay on forces from a group and one’s growing environment in providing prospective view of crime, general crime theory base its premise on the pressure placed on an individual by the society due to negative treatment (Agnew 1998) .  The members of the society are not equally provided with means of attaining cultural values which in most cases favours people from effluent families in expense of poor people. This disparity in turn encourages commitment of crime in the society.

Interaction model:  The model mainly focuses on how crime is socially created through the process of interaction between its members and the institutions. The family institution plays an integral role in deterring of escalating juvenile delinquency in the society. Those families that inculcate good moral to their children help in the children to obey the laws of the land hence preventing crime.  An external environment such as the things held valuable by the community will influence the occurrence of juvenile delinquency.

Social developmental model: Whereas interactional model emphasizes  to what extend does interaction in the various institutions of the society influence the emergence of juvenile delinquency, social interaction  asserts the positive association that emerge after integrating all the other theories. Both theories tend to complement each other but in different dimensions. Positive association develops after one conforms to group norms and mode of reward which comes along with such activities in the group. If one is reward he or she tends to conforms to other thus establishing a bond that either encourage or discourage occurrence of deviant behaviour.

Life course concept on crime

Most of the developmental theories according to Siege (2004) can be termed as latent which means that they are controlled by an internal master trait that influence the behaviour of an  individual for  the rest of the lifetime.  According to Sampson & Laubs (1993), there are two concepts; trajectory and transition which have an entry, success and timing points respectively. After sometime one reaches a turning point which involves a change of behaviour from one level to the other.

According to Mark Colvin (2000), there are three delinquent pathways of crime namely;

Authority conflict path way: which involves the early signs of avoiding authority via engaging in minor stubbornness behaviours such as coming home late .Occurs at age 11.

Covert pathway: Occurs at age 10 and involves cheating, shoplifting and vandalism of property.

Overt path way: It emergence at age 12 and involves the act of bullying, annoying others and acting in behaviours that portrays aggression.

In conclusion there is no accurate time when deviant behaviour emergence and ends. Some of these acts continue through one’s life time.