Juvenile Delinquency: Correlates & Patterns

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  • 0:04 Origins of Juvenile…
  • 0:41 Who Are They?
  • 1:21 Correlates of Juvenile…
  • 2:43 Chronic Juvenile Offenders
  • 3:50 The Maltreatment Link
  • 4:35 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Eric Keith

Dr. Keith holds a PhD in Criminology and has instructed adult and collegiate learners in theory, research, and application of the social sciences.

Who are juvenile delinquents? What are their common characteristics or surrounding environments? What are the most common characteristics of juvenile victimization? This lesson covers the correlating factors and patterns of all these questions.

Origins of Juvenile Delinquency

Ever wonder what factors might lead to a child committing a crime? Would it surprise you that delinquency can begin before children are even born? There is some evidence indicating that prenatal nutrition, mothers that smoke, or complications at birth are factors contributing to delinquency. Now of course, not all children in these circumstances become juvenile offenders, but it's important to weigh these factors when they do. Considering juvenile delinquency can begin early in a child's life, let's looks at the characteristics of children engaged in this type of delinquency.

Who Are They?

Picture Tom, a 17-year-old, white teen, living in a high crime, poverty-ridden area of town. He's just been arrested for theft. This is the picture of the most commonly arrested juvenile offender. Recent arrest statistics for juvenile delinquency indicates offenders are typically between the ages of 13 and 17, with 17 being the most common. Most are males, though the number of female offenders is on the rise. Also, most juvenile offenders arrested are white, though black juveniles are arrested at higher rates for violent crimes. Now that you know the characteristics of juvenile offenders, you may ask yourself what causes them to offend.

Correlates of Juvenile Delinquency

There are specific risk factors that correlate to the onset of juvenile delinquency. A consensus of research has consistently pointed towards the following:

Individual risk factors are those that are explicitly tied to an individual's development and personality. More often than not, juvenile offenders exhibit aggression, hyperactivity, antisocial behavior, low IQ, low language IQ, attention problems, and impulsivity. These risk factors are most likely associated with substance abuse, risk-taking behaviors, and poor school performance.

Family risk factors are exclusive to parent-child dynamics and interactions within the home. These can include child maltreatment, poor parenting or supervision, home discord, parental conflict, antisocial parents, harsh discipline, aggressive parents, broken homes, and large family sizes.

Community-based risk factors are those occurring within the environment of the juvenile, like gangs, delinquent peers, severe school punishment, disorganized communities, and high crime areas.

However, there's some hope. The majority of juvenile offenders that exhibit these traits or are exposed to many of these risk factors desist in late adolescence and early adulthood.

Chronic Juvenile Offenders

There is a small minority of offenders, however, that are considered chronic offenders. Chronic offenders are those that repeatedly commit serious or violent crimes, such as theft, burglary, robbery, drug involvement, assault, rape, and murder. Happily, as of 2015, juvenile arrests for violent crime are lower than they have been in 30 years. Perhaps it is partly because of our growing knowledge of the factors involved.

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