Crime- Juvenile Delinquency

Crime- Juvenile Delinquency

Crime- Juvenile Delinquency

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Introduction

Sociologically, crime and deviance can be viewed as the externalities or acts that are harmful to the individual and society at large, which are prohibited and punishable by law. Each and every social setting has mores, values, beliefs and expected standards that govern interaction of the members and in the long run help to streamline coexistence. For an action to be classified as crime it must be engagement in an activity that sways away from mores and standards of expected behavior accompanied by intentions of the errant which is mostly motivated by strict societal exceptions. In the analysis of social order, institutions within a given social setting and structures have defined social practices that maintain, conserve and enforce ways of interactions and behavior in order to reproduce those conditions that are capable of continually reproducing conditions essential for its own existence (Inderbitzin, Bates & Gainey, 2013). This implies that different institutions will have different definitions of crime and different mechanisms of control or course of action in case there is violation; the conditions affecting the changes and magnitude of committing these crimes and the form of legal or penal responses made by that institution. Juvenile delinquency on the other hand can be viewed as a classification of crime that is associated with young people that is, individuals younger than the statutory age of majority. This age will differ with countries and economies, social institutions and structures as the independence of expected behavior varies and depending with the nature and severity of the crime committed, juveniles can be tried or punished as adults. This paper will evaluate juvenile delinquency from a sociological perspective by use of theories and other sociological insights in a bid to understand various concepts of and offer solutions to this classification of crime since at this age control and management of behavior is paramount to curb regional and international crimes in now and in future.

In human growth and development, there are transitional stages which are characterized by various psychological needs and wants and puberty, as the age bracket of our interest, has personal challenges that can promote development of crime and other violations of social order. For instance, in cognitive development, individuals’ at this age bracket are more abstract than egocentric enabling individual to reason and think in a wider perspective with which the executive functioning of thoughts and cognitive skills control and coordinate thoughts and behaviors. Sociological and behavioral studies suggest that thoughts, notions and perceptions developed at this stage of life significantly impact individual’s future life by shaping one’s character that plays a major role in personality formation. It is in this stage of social development that adolescents form personal identities with egocentrism influencing the self-conscious desire to feel important/ recognition in social groups and enjoy social acceptance (Nofziger, 2010). Theories suggest normalcy as part of development rather than formation but the cognitive process of change in both content of one’s thoughts and structure about one’s self makes it more of a formation and thus control and management of traits such as self-awareness and self-control will lead to wise decisions during the stage and in transition to adulthood.

Researchers suggest two types of juvenile delinquency, repeat offender; defined as life-course-persistent offender who starts showing anti-social / aggressive behaviors in childhood to adolescence and continues to adulthood and specific offender also known as adolescence-limited offender whose anti-social and aggressive behaviors begins and ends during the adolescence period. For good parenting and societal nurturing, it is important for stakeholders to account for behavioral changes from childhood to later stages of development in a bid to evaluate the course of action for respective individual. For instance, by understanding the behavioral changes one can identify an adolescent-limited individual by analyzing his/her post-adolescent actions such as less pathology, dropping of criminal/ aggressive activities once the adolescence is over and other problematic issues such as substance abuse and financial dilemmas, characterized at both adolescence and adulthood for those who were delinquent than those who were not (Moshman, 2011).

Causes

Sociologically juvenile delinquency can be attributed to two major factors of personal/cognitive development and external factors with personal growth/cognitive factors largely influenced by process of growth and development which can be tamed or untamed depending with the approach implemented. For instance, experts view juvenile crimes to be disproportionately committed on sex differences with boys more susceptible than girls; attribute that feminism theories suggest as ideologies of masculinity that make boys feel strong, powerful and aggressive necessitating competition, which in the process of asserting and expressing their masculinity end up in anti-social and criminal behaviors (Silvestri & Crowther-Dowey, 2008). Other factors within the development can be social and economic class of these adolescents as they grow up with the observations that the ones from low social status and who in one way feel social or racial disaggregated are prone to juvenile delinquency. This is naturally manifested in the process of growth and development which with effective control and management from parents and other social institutions can be tamed and managed in the long run. External factors include family factors and peer influence with family factors taking form of parental supervision; disciplining and punishing, parental conflicts and separations, parental abuse and other parent-child relationships influence the susceptibility of the child to juvenile delinquency. Peer influence on the other hand fall under differential association and cultural organization with observations that in a group context, existence of culturally complex communal institutions such as schools, churches and social group, coupled with peer pressure can lead to children diverting their focus to crime (Gelfand, Chiu & Hong, 2011).

Risks and Mitigation

Risks involved with juvenile delinquency include behavioral and cognitive problems such as extreme criminal behaviors of rape, murder and other violent behaviors in childhood or adolescence and other cognitive problems in adulthood such as substance abuse and poor financial and time management, low intelligence and impulsiveness, gratification, restlessness and lack of empathy in adulthood. As part of mitigation, effective parenting such as consequence-based discipline; parents should avoid neglect so as to know and monitor child’s activities and actions, they should be reflective on justifying the discipline actions to avoid authoritative and harsh discipline to the children as they grow and they should give attention to their children especially on mental and psychological needs necessary for upright development.

Conclusion

Juvenile delinquency as a subtype of crime cannot be ignored in that ineffective management can lead to developmental problems which can necessitate crime in a wider perspective both in childhood and in adulthood. This can be tamed and managed by proper parenting and strengthening of social institutions; which as a sociologist, understanding the process of growth and development in conjunction with adaptability in the social institutions will go further in reducing the cases of juvenile crimes for societal, regional and international peace and coexistence.

References

Moshman, D. (2011). Adolescent rationality and development: Cognition, morality, and identity. New York: Psychology Press

Silvestri, M., & Crowther-Dowey, C. (2008). Gender & crime. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Nofziger, S. (January 01, 2010). A Gendered Perspective on the Relationship Between Self-Control and Deviance. Feminist Criminology, 5, 1, 29-50

Gelfand, M. J., Chiu, C., & Hong, Y. (2011). Advances in culture and psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Inderbitzin, M. L., Bates, K. A., & Gainey, R. R. (2013). Deviance and social control: A sociological perspective. Los Angeles: SAGE.