Juvenile delinquency refers to criminal acts performed by Juveniles. Juvenile delinquents are simply under-age criminals that are, non-adult criminals, or juveniles who engage in offences that constitute crimes when committed by adults, and are between the age of seven and 16 or 18 years, as prescribed by the law of land. Especially, Juvenile is apply to the youths who are involved in ‘status offences’ such as truancy, vagrancy, immorality and un-governability also fall within the definition of juvenile delinquency. Juvenile delinquents have been classified by different scholars on different basis.
Most Legal systems prescribe specific procedure for dealing with Juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers. There are a multitude of different theories on the causes of crime, most if not all of which can be applied to the causes of youth crime. Youth crime is an aspect of crime which receives great attention from the news media and politicians. Crime committed by young people has risen since the mid-twentieth century, as have most types of crime. The level and types of youth crime can be used by commentators as an indicator of the general state of morality and law and order in a country.
Some scholars have been classified Juvenile delinquents as quite different perceptive. Scholar Hrish has been classified them in six group on the basis of the kinds of offences committed: (1) Incorrigibility (keeping late hours, disobedience…), (2) truancy (staying away from school), (3), larceny (ranging from petty theft to armed robbery), (4) destruction of property (including both public and private property), (5) violence (against individual or community by using weapons), and (6) sex offences ( ranging from homosexuality to rape).
In addition, Scholars Eaton and Polk have classified delinquents into five groups according to the type of offence. The offences are: (1) Minor violations (including disorderly conduct and minor traffic violations), (2) Major (including automobile thefts), (3) property violations, (4) addiction (including alcoholism and drug addiction), and (5) bodily harm (including homicide and rape). Further more, Scholar Trojanowicz has classified them as accidental, un-socialized, aggressive, occasional, and professional and gang organized.
Moreover, in the psychology point of view some of psychologists have classified juvenile delinquents on the basic of their individual traits or the psychological dynamics of their personality into five groups: mentally defective, psychotic, neurotic, situational and cultural.
The intensity and severity of juvenile offences are generally determined by the social, economic and cultural conditions prevailing in a country. There is evidence of a universal increase in juvenile crime taking place concurrently with economic decline, especially in the poor districts of large cities. In many cases street children later become young offenders, having already encountered violence in their immediate social environment as either witnesses or victims of violent acts. The educational attainments of this group are rather low as a rule, basic social experience acquired in the family is too often insufficient, and the socio-economic environment is determined by poverty or unemployment. The causes of and conditions for juvenile crime are usually found at each level of the social structure, including society as a whole, social institutions, social groups and organizations, and interpersonal relations. Juveniles’ choice of delinquent careers and the consequent perpetuation of delinquency are fostered by a wide range of factors, the most important of which are described below.
Juvenile delinquency is driven by the negative consequences of social and economic development, in particular economic crises, political instability, and the weakening of major institutions (including the State, systems of public education and public assistance, and the family). Socio-economic instability is often linked to persistent unemployment and low incomes among the young, which can increase the likelihood of their involvement in criminal activity.
Delinquent behaviour often occurs in social settings in which the norms for acceptable behaviour have broken down. Under such circumstances many of the common rules that deter people from committing socially unacceptable acts may lose their relevance for some members of society. They respond to the traumatizing and destructive changes in the social reality by engaging in rebellious, deviant or even criminal activities. An example of such a setting would be the modernization of traditional societies and the accompanying changes wrought by the application of new technologies; shifts of this magnitude affect the types and organization of labour activity, social characteristics, lifestyles and living arrangements, and these changes, in turn, affect authority structures, forms of obedience, and modes of political participation— even going so far as to influence perceptions of reality.
In both developed and developing countries, consumer standards created by the media are considerably beyond the capacity of most families to achieve. Nevertheless, these ideals become a virtual reality for many young people, some of whom will go to great lengths to maintain a lifestyle they cannot afford. Because not all population groups have access to the necessary resources, including education, professional training, satisfactory employment and income, health services, and adequate housing, there are those who are unable to achieve their goals by legal means. The contradiction between idealized and socially approved goals and the sometimes limited real-life opportunities to achieve them legally creates a sense of frustration in many young people. A criminal career becomes one form of addressing this contradiction. One of the reasons for delinquent behaviour is therefore an excessive focus on proposed goals (achieving success) coupled with insufficient means to achieve them.
The likelihood of deviant acts occurring in this context depends in many respects not only on the unavailability of legal opportunities but also on the level of access to illegal opportunities. Some juveniles, cognizant of the limitations imposed by legal behaviour, come under the influence of adult criminals. Many young people retreat into the confines of their own groups and resort to drug use for psychological or emotional escape. The use of alcohol and illegal drugs by juveniles is one cause of delinquency, as they are often compelled to commit crimes (usually theft) to obtain the cash needed to support their substance use.
Geographical analysis suggests that countries with more urbanized populations have higher registered crime rates than do those with strong rural lifestyles and communities. This may be attributable to the differences in social control and social cohesion. Rural groupings rely mainly on family and community control as a means of dealing with antisocial behaviour and exhibit markedly lower crime rates. Urban industrialized societies tend to resort to formal legal and judicial measures, an impersonal approach that appears to be linked to higher crime rates. Cultural and institutional differences are such that responses to the same offence may vary widely from one country to another.
The ongoing process of urbanization in developing countries is contributing to juvenile involvement in criminal behaviour. The basic features of the urban environment foster the development of new forms of social behaviour deriving mainly from the weakening of primary social relations and control, increasing reliance on the media at the expense of informal communication, and the tendency towards anonymity. These patterns are generated by the higher population density, degree of heterogeneity, and numbers of people found in urban contexts.
Studies show that children who receive adequate parental supervision are less likely to engage in criminal activities. Dysfunctional family settings characterized by conflict, inadequate parental control, weak internal linkages and integration, and premature autonomy are closely associated with juvenile delinquency. Children in disadvantaged families that have few opportunities for legitimate employment and face a higher risk of social exclusion are overrepresented among offenders. The plight of ethnic minorities and migrants, including displaced persons and refugees in certain parts of the world, is especially distressing. The countries in transition are facing particular challenges in this respect, with the associated insecurity and turmoil contributing to an increase in the numbers of children and juveniles neglected by their parents and suffering abuse and violence at home.

The family as a social institution is currently undergoing substantial changes; its form is diversifying with, for example, the increase in one-parent families and nonmarital unions. The absence of fathers in many low-income families can lead boys to seek patterns of masculinity in delinquent groups of peers. These groups in many respects substitute for the family, define male roles, and contribute to the acquisition of such attributes as cruelty, strength, excitability and anxiety.
The importance of family well-being is becoming increasingly recognized. Success in school depends greatly on whether parents have the capacity to provide their children with “starting” opportunities (including the resources to buy books and manuals and pay for studies). Adolescents from low-income families often feel excluded. To raise their self-esteem and improve their status they may choose to join a juvenile delinquent group. These groups provide equal opportunities to everyone, favourably distinguishing themselves from school and family, where positions of authority are occupied by adults.
When young people are exposed to the influence of adult offenders they have the opportunity to study delinquent behaviour, and the possibility of their engaging in adult crime becomes more real. The “criminalization” of the family also has an impact on the choice of delinquent trajectories. A study carried out in prisons reveals that families involved in criminal activities tend to push their younger members towards violating the law. More than two-thirds of those interviewed had relatives who were incarcerated; for 25 per cent it was a father and for another 25 per cent a brother or sister.
Because immigrants often exist in the margins of society and the economy and have little chance of success in the framework of the existing legal order, they often seek comfort in their own environment and culture. Differences in norms and values and the varying degrees of acceptability of some acts in different ethnic subcultures result in cultural conflicts, which are one of the main sources of criminal behaviour. Native urban populations tend to perceive immigrants as obvious deviants.
Television and movies have popularized the “cult of heroes”, which promotes justice through the physical elimination of enemies. Many researchers have concluded that young people who watch violence tend to behave more aggressively or violently, particularly when provoked. This is mainly characteristic of 8- to 12-year-old boys, who are more vulnerable to such influences. Media bring an individual to violence in three ways. First, movies that demonstrate violent acts excite spectators, and the aggressive energy can then be transferred to everyday life, pushing an individual to engage in physical activity on the streets. This type of influence is temporary, lasting from several hours to several days. Second, television can portray ordinary daily violence committed by parents or peers (the imposition of penalties for failing to study or for violations of certain rules or norms of conduct). It is impossible to find television shows that do not portray such patterns of violence, because viewer approval of this type of programming has ensured its perpetuation. As a result, children are continually exposed to the use of violence in different situations—and the number of violent acts on television appears to be increasing. Third, violence depicted in the media is unreal and has a surrealistic quality; wounds bleed less, and the real pain and agony resulting from violent actions are very rarely shown, so the consequences of violent behaviour often seem negligible. Over time, television causes a shift in the system of human values and indirectly leads children to view violence as a desirable and even courageous way of reestablishing justice. The American Psychological Association has reviewed the evidence and has concluded that television violence accounts for about 10 per cent of aggressive behaviour among children.
The growing gap between rich and poor has led to the emergence of “unwanted others”. The exclusion of some people is gradually increasing with the accumulation of obstacles, ruptured social ties, unemployment and identity crises. Welfare systems that have provided relief but have not eliminated the humble socio-economic position of certain groups, together with the increased dependence of low-income families on social security services, have contributed to the development of a “new poor” class in many places.
The symbolic exclusion from society of juveniles who have committed even minor offences has important implications for the development of delinquent careers. Studies show that the act of labelling may lead to the self-adoption of a delinquent image, which later results in delinquent activity.
Youth policies seldom reflect an understanding of the role of the peer group as an institution of socialization. Membership in a delinquent gang, like membership in any other natural grouping, can be part of the process of becoming an adult. Through such primary associations, an individual acquires a sense of safety and security, develops a knowledge of social interaction, and can demonstrate such qualities as loyalty or leadership. In “adult” society, factors such as social status, private welfare, race and ethnicity are of great value; however, all members of adolescent groups are essentially in an equal position and have similar opportunities for advancement in the hierarchical structure. In these groups well-being depends wholly on personal qualities such as strength, will and discipline. Quite often delinquent groups can counterbalance or compensate for the imperfections of family and school. A number of studies have shown that juvenile gang members consider their group a family. For adolescents constantly facing violence, belonging to a gang can provide protection within the neighbourhood. In some areas those who are not involved in gangs continually face the threat of assault, oppression, harassment or extortion on the street or at school. As one juvenile from the Russian Federation said, “I became involved in a gang when I was in the eighth form [about 13 years old], but I joined it only when I was in the tenth [at 15 years of age]. I had a girlfriend and I feared for her, and the gang was able to provide for her safety.”
In identifying the causes of criminal behaviour, it is important to determine which factors contribute to a delinquent identity and why some adolescents who adopt a delinquent image do not discard that image in the process of becoming an adult. Delinquent identity is quite complex and is, in fact, an overlay of several identities linked to delinquency itself and to a person’s ethnicity, race, class and gender. Delinquent identity is always constructed as an alternative to the conventional identity of the larger society. Violence and conflict are necessary elements in the construction of group and delinquent identities. The foundations of group identity and activity are established and strengthened through the maintenance of conflict relations with other juvenile groups and society as a whole. Violence serves the function of integrating members into a group, reinforcing their sense of identity, and thereby hastening the process of group adaptation to the local environment.
Other factors that may provide motivation for joining a gang are the possibilities of economic and social advancement. In many sociocultural contexts the delinquent way of life has been romanticized to a certain degree, and joining a gang is one of the few channels of social mobility available for disadvantaged youth. According to one opinion, urban youth gangs have a stabilizing effect on communities characterized by a lack of economic and social opportunities.

Criminal activity is strongly associated with a victim’s behaviour. A victim’s reaction can sometimes provoke an offender; however, “appropriate” behaviour may prevent a criminal act or at least minimize its impact. According to scientific literature, the likelihood of becoming a victim is related to the characteristics or qualities of a person, a social role or a social situation that provoke or facilitate criminal behaviour; personal characteristics such as individual or family status, financial prosperity, and safety, as well as logistical characteristics such as the time and place in which a confrontation occurs, can also determine the extent of victimization.
People may become accidental victims, as assault is often preceded by heated discussion. According to the classification of psychological types there are three typical adolescent victims of violence: accidental victims; people disposed to become victims; and “inborn” victims.12 Studies have shown that in the majority of cases that result in bodily harm, the offender and his victim are acquainted with one another andnmay be spouses, relatives or friends; this is true for 80 per cent of murders and 70 per cent of sexual crimes.
While certain aspects of juvenile delinquency are universal, others vary from one region to another. As a rule, cultural contexts are important in understanding the causes of juvenile delinquency and developing culturally appropriate measures todeal with it.
In Asian countries, juvenile crime and delinquency are largely urban phenomena. Statistically, as is true elsewhere, young people constitute the most criminally active segment of the population. The most noticeable trends in the region are the rise in the number of violent acts committed by young people, the increase in drug-related offences, and the marked growth in female juvenile delinquency. The financial crisis that hit some countries in East and South-East Asia in the late 1990s created economic stagnation and contraction, leading to large-scale youth unemployment. For millions of young people, this meant a loss of identity and the opportunity for self-actualization. The principal offences committed by young people are theft, robbery, smuggling, prostitution, the abuse of narcotic substances, and drug trafficking.
Some countries are facing great difficulty because they are located near or within the “Golden Crescent” or the “Golden Triangle”, two major narcotics-producing areas of Asia. Traffickers actively involve adolescents and youth in serving this industry, and many of them become addicted to drugs because of their low prices and easy availability. Another major problem is human trafficking.
In the industrialized countries, increased prosperity and the availability of a growing range of consumer goods have led to increased opportunities for juvenile crime, including theft, vandalism and the destruction of property. With the social changes that have occurred over the past few decades, the extended family has been replaced by the nuclear family as the primary kinship group. The informal traditional control exercised by adults (including parents, relatives and teachers) over young people has gradually declined, and adequate substitutes have not been provided. Lack or insufficiency of parental supervision is one of the strongest predictors of delinquency. The contemporary Western family structure constitutes one of the most important factors associated with the increase in juvenile delinquency in the past 50 years.
Within developed countries there are groups of impoverished and needy people suffering from relative deprivation. In recent years some countries have reduced their social services, placing the weakest strata of the population in an even more vulnerable position. Poverty has increased, and the problems of homelessness and unemployment have reached alarming dimensions. In most EU countries the rise in juvenile crime has corresponded to observed increases in poverty and unemployment rates among vulnerable groups.
Criminologists are fairly divided when it comes to determining the causes of juvenile crime. Those who espouse the rational choice theory believe that the individual is responsible for himself, and blame can't be put on other environmental factors. Backers of this theory believe most juvenile delinquents and other criminals assess the possible crime, weight the costs and benefits, and make the decision they feel provides the best reward-to-risk ratio. Proponents of the theory believe that stealing the opportunities as well as raising the price for criminal activity are the best ways to stop juvenile crime.
Social structure theorists believe that the cause of juvenile (and other) crime is not within the person themselves but is due to external factors. These causes may be within an individual's social circumstances (for instance, a child who grows up with parents who smoke pot may be far more likely to view illegal drugs as a viable choice), or could be related to overarching social policies. These people believe crime is created by social structures such as poverty, a peer group who believes there is nothing wrong with crime, and a racial imbalance in the justice system.
Regardless of the causes, juvenile delinquency carries a high cost to the Political, Economic and social system. These costs can be measured in terms of money spent and lost, as well as moral costs to a society. Government is forced to pay more for increased policing, as well as the costs of the entire judicial system process (prisons, juvenile halls, court trials). Medical costs skyrocket due to violent crimes and drug abuse. Property theft and vandalism result in high costs in the public and private sector. Also, there's a societal cost whenever a citizen is removed from society and placed in a juvenile facility or jail, as this person is no longer a functional, contributing person.
Juvenile Delinquency can be checked at a very primary stage and measures can be taken both at home as well as in school to help bring children out of this characterization. As it is evident from the above discussion that it’s not just the will of an individual which makes him get into the world of wrong deeds, all other factors like schools, neighborhood, Family, Society, Situations are equally responsible for the degradation or fall of a child.
Hence instead of labeling them as one we must try and find ways, rectify the errors in their lives which led them to behave in this manner. Children are soft clay, we can mould them, we have the art, we have the knowledge, all that is needed is faith and patience which if we fail to practice it results in complete reform of a child to anti social elements and thereby criminals, which is wrong on our part. Criminals are not born they are made, and if we as a society can make them then we as a society also have the power to cure them.
Resource of References:
1. Social Problem in India (By Ram Ahuja)
2. World Youth Report, 2003
4. http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4922973_what-cause-effect-juvenile delinquency.htmlAdvocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

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