Forms of Juvenile Delinquency. Causes and Prevention Measures

Term Paper, 2010

21 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Definitions of terms
2.1 Crime, deviance, delinquency
2.2 Juveniles and criminal responsibility
2.3 Juvenile delinquency

3. The extent of juvenile delinquency

4. Forms of juvenile delinquency
4.1 Offences
4.2 Young migrants

5. Risk factors
5.1 Social influencing factors
5.1.1 Family
5.1.2 Peer group
5.1.3 School
5.1.4 Media
5.1.5 Environment and social space
5.2 Individual characteristics and personality traits
5.2.1. Biological characteristics
5.2.2 Willingness to use violence and risk-taking
5.2.3 Gender

6. Preventive measures
6.1 Definition of prevention
6.2 Police, judiciary and sanctions
6.3 Home and school
6.4 Youth welfare

7. Conclusion


List of figures

1. Introduction

Juvenile delinquency is not a modern problem of society, but is only discussed more publicly due to its constant presence in the media. The current trial of three youths from Munich, who beat a man to death in September last year because of his moral courage, triggered a nationwide debate on juvenile delinquency and became the focus of social as well as political discussions. Due to daily "horror reports" in the media, it can be assumed that the brutality of young people and the extent of juvenile delinquency in Germany have increased enormously in recent years. But whether this assumption corresponds to reality and is not exclusively caused by the media is one of the questions to be examined in this paper. During many political discussions, the question repeatedly comes to the fore as to whether it makes sense to introduce tougher sanction measures and to tighten the Youth Act. Regarding these questions, many empirical studies are conducted that examine and compare the effect of prison detention and therapeutic measures.

Accordingly, this paper deals with the central question of whether the tightening of sanction measures can reduce the extent of juvenile delinquency and which possible preventive measures achieve an appropriate effect. In the first part of the thesis, the terms delinquency, juveniles and juvenile delinquency will be explained in order to create a clear basis of definition for this thesis. In addition, the age of criminal responsibility of children, youths and adolescents will be dealt with in order to give an overview of legal basics on this topic. In the following two chapters, statistics will be used to examine the extent to which juvenile delinquency has increased or decreased in Germany and whether changes can be observed with regard to criminal offences. Subsequently, the state of research regarding the causes of juvenile delinquency will be examined more closely, as the explanatory approaches represent an important basis for possible preventive measures, which will be the focus of the last chapter.

Especially due to the presumed increased brutality of young people, prevention always plays an important role in the subject area of juvenile delinquency. For this reason, various measures will be explained, presented and evaluated in the last part. In addition, the last chapter of this thesis will clarify which effects harsh or mild sanction measures have on the recidivism probability of juvenile offenders and to what extent it makes sense to tighten juvenile criminal law.

It should be noted that this paper deals exclusively with the development of juvenile delinquency in Germany and does not include international comparisons. Furthermore, the following work exclusively uses the masculine form of all persons. This is due to aesthetic reasons of the text design and to simplify the flow of reading.

2. Definitions of terms

2.1 Crime, deviance, delinquency

Terms such as criminality, deviance and delinquency are often used synonymously. With regard to the differentiation of these terms, the question must be asked which behaviour can be defined as criminal or as deviating from the norm, i.e. deviant.

Crime is defined as an act that violates valid criminal laws. The question of guilt is not considered in this definition, since children who are not punished or sentenced can also act criminally.1

In connection with adolescents and children, terms such as conspicuousness, delinquency, deviance and deviant behaviour are often used. They are differentiated from the term delinquency because they do not include acts that are punishable under the Criminal Code. For example, truancy or alcohol and cigarette consumption by young people are considered deviant behaviour or misdemeanours. Only the sale and distribution by adults to adolescents makes this act a criminal offence.2

The two terms deviance and delinquency are similar in meaning and are synonyms for deviant behaviour. Deviance is defined as general deviant behaviour and includes behavioural problems such as eating disorders. Delinquency, on the other hand, is oriented exclusively towards legal principles and is understood as a tendency to transgress legal boundaries. Therefore, especially in discussions about juvenile and child delinquency, delinquency is often spoken of as a substitute for criminality.

2.2 Juveniles and criminal responsibility

According to the Criminal Code §19, children under the age of 14 are minors. “A juvenile is someone who is 14 but not yet 18 at the time of the offence, and an adolescent is someone who is 18 but not yet 21 at the time of the offence”.3

This paragraph of the Juvenile Court Act defines juveniles as an age group between 14 and 18 who are sentenced on the basis of the Juvenile Court Act (JGG). A special case is the group of adolescents, which is defined as an age group between 18 and 21. Here, according to §105 of the JGG, in individual cases and after assessing the personality of the offender, an individual decision can be made as to whether sentencing is already based on the Criminal Code or still based on the JGG. Often, adolescent offenders are still classified as juveniles due to their personal and mental development and can be sentenced according to the JGG on this basis. The difference is that the maximum sentence under the JGG is 10 years and thus milder sentences can be handed down.

2.3 Juvenile delinquency

The term juvenile delinquency is made up of two different word components that originally have a contradictory meaning. Youthfulness is often perceived positively, as it is associated with concepts such as vitality, health, beauty, strength and energy.4 On the other hand, the concept of criminality has a negative effect. From this contradiction, it can be assumed that the contrasts lead to the fact that especially juvenile delinquency is moving more and more into the foreground of social interest. Juvenile crime is characterised by several aspects that distinguish it from adult crime. Firstly, juvenile crime is described as ubiquitous, which means that it affects a large proportion of young people. Ubiquity wants to express that juvenile delinquency as a phenomenon can be found in all social and societal strata and can be understood as part of the maturation process. A juvenile is often considered unusual as soon as he or she does not break norms. On the other hand, juvenile delinquency is presented as transitory or episodic. Often, the phase of a juvenile's criminal acts is limited in time and not infrequently subsides after the age of 18. Dollinger describes juvenile delinquency as a “temporary and self-settling phenomenon in the course of life”.5

Furthermore, juvenile delinquency is group-related and spontaneous in comparison to adult delinquency. In addition, juvenile delinquency is characterised by the commission of minor, petty offences and in the fewest cases causes economic damage.6

Another aspect that should be considered in the discussion on juvenile delinquency is not only the reference to juveniles as perpetrators, but equally as victims. Juvenile delinquency is very often directed at peers and thus poses a danger not only to society but especially to young people themselves.


1 cf. Lange, H. J., Ohly, H. P., & Reichertz, J. (2008)

2 cf. Dietsch, W., & Gloss, W. (2005). p.19 f.

3 see

4 cf. Dietsch (2005), p. 15

5 cf. Dollinger, B. (2010). p. 11f

6 cf. Walter, M. (2005). p. 32

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Forms of Juvenile Delinquency. Causes and Prevention Measures
University of Marburg
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forms, juvenile, delinquency, causes, prevention, measures
Quote paper
Mirka Fuchs (Author), 2010, Forms of Juvenile Delinquency. Causes and Prevention Measures, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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