The law prescribes for means and ways people should conduct themselves for people to coexist harmoniously. From the age of 18 years, one is legally responsible for their acts unless stated otherwise. Children who are between the age of 10 and 17 years are identified as minors and they are also not required to be involved in any criminal activity. The minors are identified as juvenile delinquents when they commit an act which violates the law. The acts are identified as delinquent acts, as opposed to, crimes for adults. Depending on the scale and nature of the delinquent acts, it is possible for a minor to be treated as an adult when been charged in a court of law.
Under juvenile delinquents, a minor can either be an age-specific offender or a repeat offender. Age-specific offenders are juvenile delinquents whose behaviors start when they are experiencing adolescence. The behaviors of these offenders are dependent on age and end before the minors' transit to adulthood. Their delinquent acts kick-in at when they are in the adolescent age and seize when they transition to adults. The benefit of delinquent acts in the adolescent stage is that one can be able to observe and identify the type of offender one can turn-out to(Matza & Sykes, 2017). Most of the age-specific offenders have mental problems which can make them engage in minor crimes in their adult-hood, for example, substance abuse. Most of the age-specific offenders are also characterized by poor financial management skills despite them leaving their delinquent behavior after transitioning to adulthood.
Repeat offenders also start showing their delinquent acts at the adolescence age but however fail to stop engaging in those behaviors. These offenders also show other signs such as antisocial behaviors which can turn to aggressive behaviors in their adulthood. Due to the consistency of their offenses, the repeat offenders are also identified as life-course-persistent offenders.
Previous research on the development of delinquency has shown that individual, community, and social factors or conditions affect behavior development. The development of delinquent behavior has also been linked to those factors and the interactions the minors' have as they develop. However, researchers have a common agreement that these factors have an interplay with a minor's genetic, environmental, and biological factors(Welsh & Siegel, 2014). The impact of these factors starts to happen at an early stage of development and continues throughout an individual's life. Biological development requires environmental input which makes both environmental and biological factors to influence behavior.
There are several risk factors that are associated with the development of juvenile delinquency. There are individual-level factors, social factors, and community factors are key to both the development and prevention of juvenile behavior. Individual-level factors are such as cognitive and behavioral factors while social-level factors can include peer and family relationships (Weis & Hawkins, 2017). Community-level factors are mainly neighborhood and school attributes. All these levels of risk factors are interdependent because human beings are social beings who interact in different activities.
As earlier stated, there are age-specific offenders and this is because age is identified as a risk factor. Research which studies criminal activities based on age has identified that most of the juvenile behaviors are mainly at the preadolescence and early stages of the adolescence age. The behaviors reach the highest level as the minors grow-out the adolescence age and reduce as they progress to adulthood. However, different offenses differ with age as being a risk factor especially when the behavior is dependent on other factors such as unique gene gifts or deficiencies.
The general pattern for juvenile acts has generally been consistent by showing an increase in juvenile delinquents who are between 10 and 17 years. A decrease in this rates is also observed as the young adults develop (18 years to 24 years). The offenders who start their delinquent acts earlier than the adolescent age are more likely to be worse offenders as compared to those who start in the early or late years of that stage. However, there have challenges predicting the persistence levels of these behaviors at an accurate level(Bartusch & Burfeind, 2015). Those who persist with the delinquent acts into adulthood may have differences with those who seize to practice the behaviors, for example, levels of attachments to programs such as the military and schools. However, there is no significant difference between those who resist and those who persist in the delinquent acts when the offenders are in their early stages of development.
Previous research shows there is a link between prenatal and perinetal complications with delinquent behavior. Prenatal risk factors are those that happen before birth and perinetal behaviors are those that happen during birth or around that time. There are several conditions associated with these two risk factors and can be based on latent and clinical conditions. Some of these factors are relatively benign while others are risky to the life of a child, for example, the respiratory distress syndrome caused by poor breathing. These behaviors are, however, challenging to use as a way of foretelling challenges in development. Abnormal behavior in a child can be as a result of complications of the nervous system brought by prenatal and perinetal risk factors(Sampson, 2017). Children who face these risk factors need to stay in a monitored and controlled environment to ensure they do not risk facing added difficulties.
According to (Matza & Sykes, 2017), most of the minors who face perinetal complications which lead to long-term negative effects mainly come from challenging and disadvantaged backgrounds. There have been challenges trying to link the direct probability of children becoming juvenile delinquents based on the number of perinetal and prenatal risk factors. Based on the report by (Sampson, 2017), most infants with perinetal challenges develop into children with a good and normal behavior. However, the report also notes that developmental risk factors can also be addictive at an early age and this can affect the nature a child turns out to be. Most studies link males to a higher probability of committing a crime as compared to female. Some of the behaviors that are associated with children who suffered from prenatal and postnatal risk factors are attention problems, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. These behaviors are closely related to delinquency and can be observed in the early stages of a child's life.
Observable behaviors communicate a lot about a child and have a link to their future behavior. In the first year of development, the quality of response to a mother's or guardian's instruction or the level of attention to a toy can be an indication of future behavior. However, it is still very challenging to accurately predict behavior at such an early stage of a child's development but aggressive behavior is one of the key indications of an unstable behavior. Children will mainly have either antisocial behaviors such as oppositional behavior or pro-social behaviors such as cooperation (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014). Children should have a gradual and consistent social development which will enable them to have different emotional and cognitive correlates, for example, social cognition, guilt feelings, and empathy.
According to (Bartusch & Burfeind, 2015), most children identified with hyperactivity and impulsivity are mainly associated with antisocial behaviors as they grow-up. However, opposition behaviors and aggression are some of the main factors of predicting delinquent behaviors. Most of the children develop these behaviors at the end of their second year but the consequences of these behaviors are not major or severe as compared to when they happen at later stages of their lives. As the children behaviors develop, they learn to use them as a means of acquiring their needs and solving conflicts.
As children and adolescents grow, they interact with different people, with their families were the closest to their influence. Their peers of influence also play a key role in determining the nature and quality of their behavior development (Weis & Hawkins, 2017). Family interactions have some of the longest effects on a child's development mainly because they have the biggest influence in the early stages of a child's development. Social risk factors are mainly those that are with the family setup and are associated with the development of delinquent behavior.
In most cultures globally, it is the responsibility of parents and a child's family to raise and mold the child's behaviors. Parents are responsible for childbearing and this comes with many expectations related to the future of their child or children. Parents given this responsibility are required to raise their children based in the society's acceptable behavior and mainly the law of the land (Weis & Hawkins, 2017). Therefore, any challenge related to raising a child from the family set-up can highly lead to a child developing juvenile delinquency. The family interaction and family structure are the main factors within a family set-up that can influence a child's behavior.
For families to ensure they can monitor and control their children's behaviors, the parents need to supervise, train, and advocate for the need for the children to experience positive development. Even in a complete family, poor parental management can be linked to the development of delinquent behavior in children. These types of parents have poor reward and disciplinary practices that fail to set clear expectations for children on their behavior levels. A lack of clear expectations makes children develop inconsistent discipline levels which are characterized by aggressiveness or lack of control (Welsh & Siegel, 2014). Parents should work toward the development of well-socialized adolescents who have consistent discipline levels. The parents can realize this through supervision, affection, and disciplining children when they wrong.
The nature of a family structure and the factors that led to that structure can also be risk factors to juvenile delinquency. However, some studies may identify specific family structures that increase the risk of juvenile delinquency but mainly related to other factors such as family interaction. Separation and divorce in families are some of the key factors that have been identified to be of high risk to a child's development based on family structure (Bartusch & Burfeind, 2015). These factors are mainly linked to juvenile delinquency because they are prone to poor family interaction. The development of a child is affected by the can increase in disturbance from separation or divorce of their parents. Children born and raised in single-parent families are mainly linked with an increase in anti-social behaviors and juvenile delinquency.
Single-parent families are prone to developing juveniles because of some of the risks associated with such a family set-up, for example, harsh socio-economic conditions and inadequate disciplinary styles because of challenges in supervision. Child neglect and abuse have also been linked to negative effects on a child's behavioral development. These children start committing offenses at an earlier stage as compared to children who develop delinquency but while not been abused or neglected (Welsh & Siegel, 2014). Child abuse and neglect raise the chances of children developing aggression and this can lead them to been arrested for a violent crime which can turn into a juvenile act.
Deviant peers are closely related to the development of anti-social behaviors in children. There are some studies that have directly linked subsequent delinquency to a child's involvement with antisocial peers. Peer pressure is one of the main peer influences factors that is known to lead to delinquency. However, there are other peer-related factors, for example, amount of time spent with peers, peer support of deviant behavior, and peer delinquent behavior among other factors (Sampson, 2017). The risk of peer influences rises when children or adolescents believe their deviant peers are supportive of their delinquency. Parents should ensure their children avoid deviant peers or they spend very limited time with them to avoid deviant behaviors been impacted on the children.
The social setting of children also affects the behavior of children based on the social opportunities provided. Communities that do not allow social irresponsible behaviors have a high chance of developing well-mannered children (Weis & Hawkins, 2017).Communities that offer their members more opportunities enable people to grow in a responsible manner. Children also learn through observation and the neighborhood provides children with an opportunity to learn through an example from the people living around.
Prevention efforts of juvenile delinquency are aim at helping children from engaging in unlawful acts that can lead to their prosecution. These efforts are mainly tailored for minors at-risk, their families, and where necessary their social and communal surroundings. There different prevention services and are mainly offered by private agencies and the government. Substance abuse treatment is one of the keys preventing and dealing with juvenile delinquency (Pardini, 2016). This treatment is meant for dealing with juvenile delinquency and also for minors prone to reaching that level. Substance abuse is a major contributor to juvenile delinquency because it alters their reasoning.
Juvenile delinquency is also caused by family structure and interaction. Family counseling is also a key preventative measure for juvenile delinquency. Children get disturbed by poor family interactions or changes in family structure and these can increase the risk of delinquency. Family counseling helps parents and guardians guide their children into the desired behavior without causing complications in their social structure. When the children and grown enough to understand language and communication, individual counseling can also be used a preventative measure (Matza & Sykes, 2017). Minors, especially in their adolescent stage, need individual advice, not only, from their families, but also from the related social organizations, for example, schools and religious institutions.
Parenting education is an ideal strategy in preventing or dealing with the risk of juvenile delinquency. Parents need to be offered credible education on ways to raise and parent children in a manner that will be ideal to the societal behavior norms. Education promotes social cohesion between partners and parents and these encourage minors into adopting the ideal behaviors from their parents. Educating the minors on the benefits of adopting good behaviors and the consequences of not doing so can help them in making better decisions (Bartusch & Burfeind, 2015). Family planning services have also been identified as a tool for preventing juvenile delinquency because it helps parents have the right number of children based on their management skills. A huge number of children can be over-whelming to raise and monitor and this can increase the chances of juvenile delinquency.
Juvenile delinquency has managed to change the lives of minors both negatively and positively. The society has to have ways and measures of ensuring people live harmoniously and juvenile delinquency is one way. There are minors who have positively changed their behaviors through juvenile delinquency but there are those who have lost many opportunities in their lives because of delinquency.
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