This unit explains how we recognize criminal behavior in juveniles. It defines juveniles and delinquency. It describes “juveniles” and “delinquency” as they relate to the history of criminal behavior. The unit explores the nature and the extent of juvenile delinquency, as well as how family relationships are involved in the process, and offers a few theories in regard to the family influence factor and its causes.
Being a juvenile in any one’s life is part of the stage of development. The behavior patterns of juveniles are influenced in part by what goes on in the environment in which they live. Every stage of development has transitions. Family members, friends, and peers all influence these times of transition for the juvenile. It is sometimes accompanied by a desire for material things, fashion, peer pressure, cash and more. At times, the demands of wants and needs are intensified by a society that consists of high mobility, social change, and is materialistic. Also, social changes can create anxiety and disillusionment for adolescents and thus they commit delinquent acts. Obviously, human beings tend to develop in different stages until they become adults. One of these stages is the adolescent stage. When humans are in the adolescent stage, they are considered juveniles, When a juvenile does something wrong, contrary to the laws or norms of the society, such as acts of vandalism, theft, drug related activity, arson or other anti-social behavior, he/she is then considered a juvenile delinquent.
Many other factors need to be considered before a juvenile act becomes a delinquent act. The “norms” of one society may differ significantly from another society. What could be considered delinquency in Africa or Asia might not be delinquent behavior in the United States. Lawslegal or culturalnorms, belief systems, traditions all play a determining role in various aspects of our lives. These factors allow society to create ideals and expectations for their citizens.
All juvenile delinquent behaviors are influenced not only by what goes on in the environment in which juveniles live, but also by what they observe in adults, what they listen to, learn from peer groups, parents, relatives, and society at large. Juvenile delinquency is not an inherent human condition, but rather is learned through association, imitation, observation, pressure, needs, wants, influence and desires.