Juvenile Delinquency and Troubled Teens

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The media has exploded with epic tales of juvenile's gone wild. Troubled teens plastered on plasma tv screens, news feeds nestled among various post on social media, and instant news alerts that battle each other for top spot on your internet's home page. The Unites State of American, it seems, has popularized mass juvenile delinquency on a very cinematic level. With the debut of the Columbine High School Massacre to the present-day Florida School Shooting we have been enthrall by the horrific acts that have permeated and simmered beneath the surface of our most impressionable youth. Held captivated, rooted to our seats we are mesmerized by this epidemic that seems to have planted itself into our nations adolescence. To understand and potentially curb this manifestation of juvenile delinquency, we will explore:

  • How someone is categorized as a juvenile delinquent
  • How juvenile delinquency can be prevented
  • How important family is in combating juvenile delinquency

Juvenile Delinquent

Youth. Adolescent. Juvenile. These are some of the terms frequently used for our children, our most precious and vulnerable commodity. Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers, peers, and society imprints and sculpts the young and impressionable. From the time of conception, we tinker with the possibilities. The possibilities that our young will become productive, contributing citizens. When their cemented proverbial footprints venture off course sometimes it can lead into things that go beyond the normal adolescent behavior. Taking them on a shadowy path that branches out into juvenile delinquency.

Juvenile delinquency consists of children under the age of 18, who displays problematic behavior at home, school and in social settings. Sometimes Parents want what is best for their children, but in some cases the best discipline is no match for the consequences. There are many programs out there and many ways to prevent problems from getting out of hand. Some of these ways to prevent juvenile delinquency consist of clubs and associations, After School Programs, Working and Volunteering, and even treating your juvenile like an adult. (One way to help your child through personal issues or prevent him or her from making bad choices is to surround him or her by supportive people in a positive environment. Turning to local clubs and associations in your community will help provide support and guidance to your troubled teen).(BOEHLKE, 2017) (Many programs that are available directly after school hours, prevent children and teenagers from being at home alone and getting involved with substance abuse and gang violence. Find Youth Info explains that there are several types of after school problems that help combat juvenile delinquency. This begins by schools and communities organizing programs that will entice and draw in youth to participate. This could be having the school gym or weight room left open and available for kids until early evening hours, so they have a safe place that is drug free to hang out and socialize. After School.gov offers activity ideas for school and local organizations to develop and offer the community such as field trips, tutoring, academic advancement or enrichment courses and field trips.)(BOEHLKE, 2017)

Cultivating and implementing activities for the youth is a win-win. Not only does it give them a chance to help the community, but it instils core values; such as, work ethics and it also gives them a since of self-worth and accomplishments. In truth, these valuable tools can make all the difference in world in shaping a positive path for our teens.

How important family is in combating juvenile delinquency

Adolescence is a time of expanding vulnerabilities and opportunities that accompany the widening social and geographic exposure to life beyond school or family, but it starts with the family.Research indicates that various exposures to violence are important sources of early adolescent role exits, which means that not only can a juvenile witness violence within the family but on the outside as well (Hagan & Foster 2001).If violence encompasses all emotionally environmental aspects of the juvenile's life, he or she is more likely to engage in delinquent activities.

A substantial number of children engage in delinquency. Antisocial and/or aggressive behaviors may begin as early as preschool or in the first few grades of elementary school. Such childhood misconduct tends to be resistant to change; for example, the parents disciplining more harshly, often predicts continuing problems during adolescence, as well as adult criminality (Prochnow&DeFronzo1997).

In the realm of family functioning there is a theory known as the coercion theory, which suggests that family environment influences an adolescent's interpersonal style, which in turn influences peer group selection (Cashwell&Vacc1996).Peers with a more coercive interpersonal style tend to become involved with each other, and this relationship is assumed to increase the likelihood of being involved in delinquent behavior.Thus, understanding the nature of relationships within the family, to include family adaptability, cohesion, and satisfaction, provides more information for understanding youth (Cashwell&Vacc1996). The cohesiveness of the family successfully predicted the frequency of delinquent acts for non-traditional families (Matherne& Thomas 2001). Family behaviors, particularly parental monitoring and disciplining, seem to influence association with deviant peers throughout the adolescent period (Cashwell&Vacc1994). Amongsocial circumstances which have a hand in determining the future of the individual it is enough for our present purpose to recognize that family is central (Wright & Wright 1994).

For family disruption and delinquency, the composition of families is one aspect of family life that is consistently associated with delinquency.Children who live in homes with only one parent or in which marital relationships have been disrupted by divorce or separation are more likely to display a range of behavioral problems including delinquency, than children who are from two parent families (Thornberry, et al. 1999).Children who witness marital discord are at greater risk of becoming delinquents.Previous research has demonstrated associations between exposure to parental divorce and marital discord while growing up and children's psychological distress in adulthood (Amato &Sobolewski2001). Social learning theory argues that aggressive behavior is learned; as parents display aggressive behavior, children learn to imitate it as an acceptable means of achieving goals (Wright & Wright 1994).

Jubyand Farrington (2001) claim that there are three major classes that explain the relationship between disrupted families and delinquency; trauma theories, life course theories, and selection theories.The trauma theories suggest that the loss of a parent has a damaging effect on children, most commonly because of the effect on attachment to the parent.Life course theories focus on separation as a long drawn out process rather than a discrete event, and on the effects of multiple stressors typically associated with separation.Selections theories argue that disrupted families are associated with delinquency because of pre-existing differences in family income or child rearing method. (Juby& Farrington 2001). In truth, most children are influence by their family/home life. It would be reminiscent not to mention that children are frequently soaking up their surroundings. Their observation and senses are so keen that they have the ability to pick up on passive aggressive energy. Sometimes harnessing that energy within themselves leading to self-destructive behavior.

The third major area within juvenile delinquency and families is single parent households versus two parent households.Klein and Forehand (1997) suggest that the prediction of juvenile delinquency in early childhood depends on the type of maternal parenting skills that are imposed upon the child during early adolescence. Muehlenberg(2002) poses the question of how do children from single parent family homes fare educationally compared to children from intact two parentfamilies?

Several studies have been undertaken which show a very real connection between delinquent and /or criminal behavior, and single parent families. Wright and Wright's (1994) research shows that single parent families, and mother-only families, produce more delinquent children than two parent families.Indeed, the very absence of intact families makes gang membership more appealing (Muehlenberg2002).

It's unfortunate but sometimes when the family breaks down or is in crisis mode children are easier to prey on. The search of acceptance makes children susceptible and easily influence. So much so that most are willing to seek the comfort and fortitude that a gang may offer. In most cases the gang is a family, but most are involved in illegal activity. Drugs and violence are frequent flyers in the gang community and the quest for acceptance is a gateway to reach the juvenile delinquent status.

Sometimes the focus is taken off the mother and shifted towards the father.The lack of emphasis on the role of fathering in childhood conduct problems is especially unfortunate given that there are several reasons why fathers can be expected to be particularly significant in the initiation and persistence of offspring offending.For example, fathers are particularly likely to be involved with sons who are at higher risk than daughters of delinquent behavior (Flouri&Buchannan2002).Popenoe(1997) states thatfatherlessnessis a major force behind many disturbing US social problems.The institution of marriage acts as culture's chief vehicle to bind men to their children.The absence of fathers from children's lives is one of the most important causes related to children's wellbeing such as increasing rates of juvenile crime, depression and eating disorders, teen suicide, and substance abuse. Two parent households provide increased supervision and surveillance of property, while single parenthood increases likelihood of delinquency and victimization simply by the fact that there is one less person to supervise adolescent behavior (Wright & Wright 1994).

The old adage that it takes a village is most decidedly true especially when it comes to keeping our children from becoming juvenile delinquents. Individuals that are in a place or a position who come in contact with children throughout their adolescence can have a positive influence. Yes, juvenile delinquency may begin to build within the family structure but together with positive programs, positive people, and a positive house environment juvenile delinquency can be minimized our extinguished.

Works Cited

BOEHLKE, J. ( 2017, jun 13). Retrieved from


BOEHLKE, J. (2017, jun 13). Retrieved from


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Juvenile Delinquency and Troubled Teens. (2019, Dec 12). Retrieved March 3, 2024 , from

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