The prevalence of antisocial and delinquent behavior in juveniles has increased dramatically over the past decades, along with the prevalence of other health-endangering behaviors, such as substance use and suicide. These trends have been accompanied by increased levels of psychiatric admissions and special classroom placements in schools. It is posed that these changes reflect decreased levels of impulse control by children living in the U.S. This paper focuses on impulse control as it relates to antisocial and delinquent behavior in juveniles. It traces the development of these behaviors through their age-specific manifestations, and summarizes known social and biological risk factors. The paper examines how different risk factors impinge on the development of antisocial behavior at different points in the life cycle.

Developmental sequences are reviewed leading to serious antisocial behavior or to assistance of the behavior. The interaction between developmental tasks and the emergence of antisocial behavior is considered. Critical, “sensitive” periods in development often intersect with the increased prevalence of risk factors at certain age periods of children, leading to the emergence or aggravation of antisocial behavior. The use of empirical developmental knowledge for screening of population of youngsters is highlighted. The paper closes by reviewing how treatment and preventive studies are affected by pre-existing risk factors, and then lists priority areas for future survey and process studies, and for improved intervention efforts.


Table of Contents


                                                                  Introduction                      4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                           Definition                  4                                                                                                               

Types                                                                                                     4

Factors of juvenile delinquency                                                         6

Dealing with Juvenile Delinquency                                                    7

Preventing Juvenile Delinquency                                                       9

            Methodology                                                                                     10

Literature Review                                                                                      10

Discussion and Conclusion                                                                      11

References                                                                                                  12







Juvenile delinquency, also known as “juvenile offending”, is the act of participating in unlawful behavior as minors (juveniles, i.e. individuals younger than the statutory age of majority). Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers and courts, with it being common that juvenile

Juvenile delinquency is the participation by a minor child, in illegal behavior or activities. Juvenile delinquency is also used to refer to children who exhibit a persistent behavior of mischievousness or disobedience, so as to be considered out of parental control, becoming subject to legal action by the court system. Juvenile delinquency is also known as “juvenile offending,” and each state has a separate legal system in place to deal with juveniles who break the law. To explore this concept, consider the following juvenile delinquency definition.


Delinquency exhibits a variety of styles of conduct or forms of behavior. Each of the patterns has its own social context, the causes are alleged to bring it about, and the forms of prevention or treatment most often suggested as appropriate for the pattern in question. Howard Becker (1966) has referred to following four types of delinquencies:

Individual Delinquency 

This refers to delinquency in which only one individual is involved in committing a delinquent act and its cause is located within the individual delinquent. Most of the explanations of this delinquent behavior come from psychiatrists. Their argument is that delinquency is caused by the psychological problems stemming primarily from defective/faulty/pathological family interaction patterns. 

Group-Supported Delinquency

In this type, the delinquencies are committed in companionship with others and the cause is located not in the personality of the individual or in the delinquent’s family but in the culture of the individual’s home and neighborhood.

Organized Delinquency

This type of delinquency refers to delinquencies that are committed by developing formally organized groups. These delinquencies were analyzed in the United States in the 1950s and the concept of ‘delinquent sub-culture was developed. This concept refers to the set of values and norms that guide the behavior of group members encourage the commission of delinquencies, award status on the basis of such acts and specify typical relationships to person who fall outside the groupings governed by group norms.

Situational Delinquency

The above three types of delinquencies have one thing in common. In all of them, delinquency is viewed as having deep roots. In individual delinquency, the root of delinquency lies primarily within individual. In group-supported delinquency and organized delinquencies the roots lie in the structure of the society with emphasis either on the ecological areas where delinquency prevails or the systematic way in which social structure places some individuals in a poor position to compete for success. The situational delinquency provides a different perspective. Here the assumption is that delinquency is not deeply rooted, and motives for delinquency and means for controlling it are often relatively simple. A young man indulges in a delinquent act without having a deep commitment to delinquency because of less developed impulse control or because of lesser reinforcement of family restraints and because he has relatively little to lose even if caught.

Factors of Juvenile Delinquency

What causes juvenile delinquency or adult crime? There is no simple or straightforward answer available. Although criminal behavior sometimes has its roots in juvenile delinquency, many juvenile delinquents do not become criminals as adults. Further, many criminals have no prior history of juvenile delinquency. However, the range of offences, motivations and associated causative factors are much the same in both delinquency and crime and it may be appropriate to discuss them together. What impels some people, children, women and men to break social sanction or any law? Efforts have been made by a number of writers and researchers to understand the factors involved and they have discovered many: physical, emotional, psychological and environmental. It has not been possible to assign a single universal source nor even two or three. Crime flows out of a wide variety of sources and usually from a multiplicity of alternative and converging influences. Without contending that they will inevitably cause delinquency or crime, it is now accepted that certain conditions are more favorable to this causation than others. For example, physical deformity, mental imbalance, mental deficiency, emotional insecurity, a slum environmental stimulation to crime, etc., are obviously more favorable to anti-social behavior than their opposites. It is also true that any or all of these unfavorable conditions will not inevitably drive a given person to commit a crime in all circumstances. It is true that all seemingly favorable circumstances are no insurance against a person committing a crime. Hidden factors that tip the scale either way can never be eliminated from specific situations by all the theories of causation in the world. In this sort of perplexing situation then, what we can say, at best, is that the area of unknown regarding human behavior is quite substantial though some personal factors and some common social and economic conditions go hand in hand with the committing of crime and delinquency. And the impact of these factors, and their varying combinations, differ greatly from one individual to another. In some cases, the factors responsible may be more personal than environmental.

Natural and Environmental Factors:

Poor health, chronic diseases, physical deformities may cause an inferiority complex

Reality Versus Fantasy:

Health and Disease:

The Family: broken family, divorce/separation

Child Care and Delinquency:

Poverty in the Family:

Social Environment

Slum Neighborhoods:

Earning and Schooling:

Poverty and Low Income 

Dealing with Juvenile Delinquency

The procedures followed in the juvenile justice system differ greatly from those followed for adult offenders. Each state has specific programs or systems that deal with juvenile offenders. Juvenile offenders come into police contact in number of ways. Some are caught committing a crime and arrested, others are referred to police by parents or school officials. Once the police have become involved, they may choose to deal with a juvenile offender in several ways. The police can:

Issue a Warning and release of the minor

Detain the minor and notify the parents to pick him up

Refer the case to juvenile court

Arrest the minor and refer the case to juvenile court

If the case goes to court, the minor and the parents meet with a juvenile court intake officer. The intake officer can handle the case informally, referring the juvenile to a probation officer, he can dismiss the case, or he can file formal charges. When deciding whether to file charges, officers often consider:

The Offense

The Offender’s Age

The Offender’s Previous Record

The Offender’s Educational or Social History

The Ability of The Parents To Control The Offender’s Behavior or Seek Help

If dealt with informally, the minor reports to a probation officer, and is given advice and ordered to perform community service, pay fines, attend treatment, or enter probation.

If charges are filed in juvenile court, the minor is arraigned, at which time his charges are read before a judge. The judge then decides whether to detain or release the juvenile until the hearing takes place. After appearing in court, three things are possible:

Plea Agreement

The minor may enter a plea agreement with the court. This often requires the juvenile to comply with certain conditions, such as attending counseling, obeying a curfew, or paying restitution.


The judge may divert the case, which means he retains control over the matter until the juvenile successfully completes treatment programs or performs community services. If the juvenile fails to comply, formal charges may be reinstated.

Adjudicatory Hearing

The judge may decide to have an adjudicatory hearing, which is a trial in a juvenile case. While both sides argue the case and present evidence, a juvenile trial takes place in front of a judge, not a jury. If, at the end of the hearing, the judge decides the juvenile is delinquent, he may order punishments such as probation, community service, or even detention in a juvenile center.

      Preventing Juvenile Delinquency

Prevention of juvenile delinquency serves at-risk youths, their families, and the public, as it can put a stop to the transition of juvenile offenders to adult offenders. Prevention services are offered by a number of government and private agencies, and include such services as:

Substance Abuse Treatment

Family Counseling

Individual Counseling

Parenting Education

Family Planning Services

The availability of education, and encouragement of minors in obtaining an education, plays a large role in prevention of juvenile delinquency. This is because education promotes social cohesion, and helps children of all ages learn to make good choices, and to practice self-control.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (“OJJDP”) is just one agency that sinks resources into researching juvenile delinquency, and providing both prevention and rehabilitation programs. The agency also works toward reducing under-age substance abuse, and gang influence on minors. 


For this term paper, secondary data will be utilized. Various journal, book and research articles will be reviewed to explore thechild delinquency and try to find the ways to help in juvenile delinquency.

Literature Review 

A meta-analysis of 50 studies was conducted to investigate whether juvenile delinquents use lower levels of moral judgment than their non delinquent age-mates and, if so, what factors may influence or moderate the developmental delay. The results show a lower stage of moral judgment for juvenile delinquents (d=.76). Effect sizes were large for comparisons involving male offenders, late adolescents, delinquents with low intelligence, and incarcerated delinquents. The largest effect sizes were found for period of incarceration and comparisons involving juvenile delinquents with psychopathic disorder. Production instead of recognition measures, dilemma-free assessment methods, and non-blind scoring procedures yielded relatively large effect sizes, whereas effect sizes were medium for comparisons involving delinquents with average intelligence, non-incarcerated delinquents, female offenders, as well as early and middle adolescents. Psychopathic disorder and institutionalization were identified as unique moderators of the link between moral judgment and juvenile delinquency. It is concluded that developmentally delayed moral judgment is strongly associated with juvenile delinquency, even after controlling for socioeconomic status, gender, age and intelligence.

The influence of religion on delinquency has been debated for more than 30 years, and yet, there remains a lack of consensus about the nature of this relationship. In an effort to bring some clarity to this area. The findings further indicate that future research on delinquency may gain explanatory power by incorporating religious variables in relevant theoretical models.

Discussion and Conclusion

The issue of juvenile delinquency is a serious issue in our society today which requires more attention since it determines the values of the next generation. Thus, this proves that the government and all other agencies and association whom have a role to play in solving this issue do so and with a lot of diligence. Parents and the society at large also have a duty and role to play in solving this menace. Juvenile delinquency should be prevented before it spills over to a level whereby it will be too late to do something about it. Every individual diligent should be treated separately since every individual will have different factors which influence their criminal behaviors. Different programs should be developed so as to ensure that the juvenile is rehabilitated to the highest desired level. New technologies and correction procedures should be invented to ensure that diagnosis of this issue is done earlier and if any disorder is discovered in a child then it is corrected. This will ensure that the number of juvenile delinquencies reported cases reduces completely.

The number of juveniles in adult correctional facilities will continue to grow as states turn to the adult criminal justice system as one solution to increasing violent juvenile crime rates. Many questions regarding transfer and its consequences have been and are being researched. One seemingly unexplored area of research focuses on the adult system’s response to these young newcomers.


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Lok Raj Pathak
Lok Raj Pathak Administrator

Lok Raj Pathak is a Professional Computer Engineer and Technology enthusiast. He has completed Master in Science in Information Technology (M. Sc. IT) and Master in technology in Computer Science and Engineering (M. Tech. Eng). He usually writes in science and technology, life style and religion.

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