Social Values And Norms

Factors Contributing to Juvenile Delinquency



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The more criminogenic factors in a child's environment, the more likely the child is to become a "juvenile delinquent". How those factors intersect with each other, along with a lack of protective factors makes a difference.

The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but should be sufficient to give the reader some things to consider.

Criminogenic factors include a pro-crime upbringing. If a child's role models are anti-social or pro-criminal, it follows that the child will develop a proclivity to the same thinking and behaviour.

Violence within the home, though not causal by itself, is a contributing factor to delinquency for a few reasons. Children who witness or experience abuse learn that violence is an acceptable, or at least effective way, to solve problems. They also feel powerless and may lash out to feel that they have some power of their own. Some children actually defend the abuser in order to physically and mentally survive. This is part of what's called "identification with the offender".

Please note that most children who are abused do not go on to abuse others. It is but one in a myriad of factors to consider.

Failure to develop communication skills and other social skills such as team-work, sharing and problem solving are other indicators that a child is on his or her way to becoming delinquent.

Learning to be self-oriented rather than other-oriented, a failure to learn empathy, and inability to deal with frustration also contribute to the problem.

Some may claim that poverty is a factor in juvenile delinquency, but, for the most part, this is a myth. Delinquents who are poor are more likely to be caught and put through the criminal justice system than those who have financial resources.

However, living in poverty can create a feeling of hopelessness and what is called a "lack of future orientation". This can play a role in delinquency because the young person feels that he or she has nothing to lose anyway.

Protective factors include such things as strong social support systems, positive pro-social role models, reward and attention for pro-social behaviour, and psycho-social education.

Encouraging a child or youth to volunteer promotes civic-mindedness, which is also a protective factor, and puts the young person in a position to associate with other positive people.

A young person who is held accountable and takes responsibility for his or her behaviour will have a better, more balanced self-esteem and more confidence in dealing with the world.

More about this author: Laurie Reece

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