Causes of Juvenile Delinquency. A Literature Review

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2015

18 Pages, Grade: A


Table Of Contents


History of Juvenile Justice System

Risk Factors Contributing to Juvenile Delinquency
Physical Conditions
Mental conditions
Home conditions
School conditions
Neighborhood conditions
Occupation conditions
Substance abuse correlation with juvenile delinquency
Mass media influence juvenile delinquency
How television shows and movies influence juvenile behavior
Effects of violent video games on juvenile behavior
The relationship between juvenile delinquency and the use of the internet
The relationship between music and juvenile delinquency

Phases of Prevention and Intervention
Pre-natal intervention
Early childhood
School age
Intervening with status offenders
Child abuse




The causes of juvenile delinquency have being a field that many scholars have built their research on. In addition, causes leading to violent behavior especially among the youth has being widely studied aiming at intervention at an early stage (Schreck, Fisher, & Miller, 2012). In the vast field of psychology, human violence is a key element consequently; psychologists evaluate how the environment interacts with the individual to result in a violent act (Jessica, Osmond, & Ballick, 2014). Juvenile violence is a key issue in the corridors of justice on a global scale. However, juvenile violence focuses on the punishment rather than development of mechanisms that may be instrumental in prevention and intervention at early stage in life (Winterdyk, 2014).

There are two outstanding themes in this literature review. First theme is that various life events and immediate environment including home, school, and neighborhood is essential in shaping ones trajectory as ones transit from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. The second theme is that identifying such life events is the determining factor of delinquent behavior. In summary, the pathway to crime for a child is greatly dependent on the social bonds that exist in the society.

History of Juvenile Justice System

Statistical data shows that rates of youth delinquency shot up in the late 80’s and early 90’s globally. The social support relations that ensure a smooth transition from childhood to adulthood are no longer functional (Brook, et al., 2013). Issues such as unemployment, inadequate housing facilities, absence of social services, local authority disintegration, irrelevant educational systems, and peer pressure are some of the challenges facing the 21st century youth. As a result, violence is often looked upon as an agreeable outcome (Anna, Ryan, & Michael, 2011).

In the 19th century, children and teen were viewed as adults under the law (Chung & Laurence, 2013). Their trials were held as adults, they served their terms in jails and penitentiaries. The judicial system offered few options and hence youth regardless of the age and gender were confined together with hardened adult criminal and the mentally challenged culprits in overcrowded penal institutions. In most cases, their crimes did not amount for such harsh treatment. The punishment still did not yield the required results in terms of rehabilitation but instead resulted in hardened criminals (Chung & Laurence, 2013).

Thomas Eddy and John Griscom were advocating for youths below the age of eighteen to be treated differently from adults. They also urged for the creation of a new type of reformation institution. This gave rise to New York House of Refuge. These Houses’ of Refuge were built in urban areas and were similar to large fortresses. They housed youth with traits of delinquency, or those who were incorrigible. The houses of refuge were faced with the same challenges of overcrowding, abuse, and poor management. New reforms put emphasis on educations for the delinquent youths as the way for reformation. This saw the rise of reform school known as training and industrial schools. They all became part of the America’s juvenile justice system (Chung & Laurence, 2013).

Risk Factors Contributing to Juvenile Delinquency

Delinquency is defined as an act or behavior done by a juvenile that is socially undesirable (Sirohi, 2010). A juvenile is a minor below the legal age depending on the country who cannot be held accountable for their criminal behavior. Juvenile delinquency is thus an antisocial act that is illegal or criminalistics in nature done persistently by a minor and cannot be handled by the parent or guardian but requires the help of law enforcement agencies as the act threatens the well-being of the society (Sirohi, 2010). Despite the diversity of underlying factors leading up to delinquency, they all have similar underlying themes. These factors are classifiable under six categories namely; physical factors, mental factors, home conditions, school environment, neighborhood, and occupation environment (Arseneault, Tremblay, Boulerice, S覵in, & Jean-Franæ, 2011).

Physical Conditions

The first category is the physical condition of a child that influences the child’s behavior in a number of ways that may eventually translate to delinquent behaviors. Physical issues such as disabilities, malnutrition, and drug abuse amongst others contribute to how a child responds to certain situations (Arseneault, Tremblay, Boulerice, S覵in, & Jean-Franæ, 2011). These physical conditions of the child may influence their behavior in several ways. First, the physical disabilities may be the direct cause of the delinquency. Secondly, to compensate for these disabilities, the child may engage in delinquent behavior. Lastly, the nature of the bodily condition may result in abundance of energy finding outlet in delinquency behavior(Staff, Osgood, Schulenberg, Bachman, & Messersmith, 2010).


Excerpt out of 18 pages


Causes of Juvenile Delinquency. A Literature Review
Northcentral University
Scholarly Literature Review
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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498 KB
juvenile delinquency, jugendkriminalität, crime, juvenile violence
Quote paper
Louis Howell Jr (Author), 2015, Causes of Juvenile Delinquency. A Literature Review, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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