What is juvenile delinquency and who can become a juvenile delinquent?
Children often test the limits and boundaries set by their parents and other authority figures. Among adolescents some rebelliousness and experimentation is common. However, a few children consistently participate in problematic behaviours that negatively affect their family, academic, social and personal functioning. These children present great concern to parents and the community at large.
Delinquency a legal term for criminal behaviour carried out by a juvenile is often the result of escalating problematic behaviour. Parents may define such behaviour as disobedience, fighting with siblings, destroying or damaging property, stealing money from family members or threatening parents with violence. School staff members often regard delinquent behaviour as that which interrupts or disturbs classroom learning, violates the school code of conduct and threatens the safety of faculty and students.
The law considers persons under the age of 18 to be juveniles. However when children under this age commit serious crimes (for example murder) they may be prosecuted as adults.
Delinquency offences involve destruction or theft of property, violent crimes against persons, illegal weapon possession and sale of illegal drugs. Crimes committed by juvenile delinquents include: underage drinking, running away, vandalism, burglary, robbery and arson.
In my opinion there are no definite predictors that indicate exactly which children will engage in delinquent behaviour and activities. However, some statistics indicate that girls are arrested less frequently than boys and children from lower socioeconomic levels perpetrate delinquent acts at a higher rate than children from other socioeconomic classes. Nonetheless, although social conditions are linked to higher rates of delinquency many youngsters growing up in disadvantaged environments manage to avoid delinquent behaviour while some youngsters growing up in advantaged environments engage in delinquent activities.
There are three main influences on the development of delinquent behaviour in adolescents: family, peers and school. Family factors which may affect the development of juvenile delinquency include intense and relentless family conflict. Such conflict could be characterized by domestic violence, child abuse and parental inability to express appropriate affection toward a child, lack of adequate supervision of a child and rigid and non-democratic child rearing practices.
Adolescence is a stage of development in which acceptance by one’s peers becomes extremely important to the juvenile’s sense of self-worth. Associating with a circle of friends who exhibit delinquent behaviours and perform delinquent acts increases the risk of non-conformity to social norms as well as deviant and criminal behaviours.
Poor academic performance and classroom conduct problems may be predictors of later delinquency. Lack of academic competency creates feelings of alienation, worthlessness and low self-esteem. Truancy is often a child’s way of dealing with school-related failures.
Child’s failure to develop features such as honesty, non-aggression and respect for authority figures may lead to problematic behaviours. Prevention of delinquent behaviour is the best way to avoid having to consider methods of treatment. However, if the teenager chooses to engage in delinquent behaviour, then he must also accept the consequences of those actions.
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How can delinquent behaviour be prevented?
The prevention of delinquency requires identifying at-risk individuals and their environments before delinquent activity and behaviour occur. Building parent-child relationships by taking time each week to have fun as a family and listening attentively to a child is one of the most important methods. Parents should set logical rules for behaviour according to a child’s age and then apply appropriate consequences fairly and consistently when the rules are broken.
It is better to adopt a democratic parenting style by allowing a child’s voice to be heard and offer to help with academic problems and show concern about your child’s studies and behaviour at school.
- juvenile delinquency – przestępczość nieletnich
- adolescent – dorastający chłopak, dorastająca dziewczyna , młodzieniec, nastolatek
- disobedience – nieposłuszeństwo,