Theories Of Juvenile Delinquency

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Theories Regarding the Causes of Juvenile Delinquency

Theories Regarding the Causes of Juvenile Delinquency


Juvenile delinquency—crimes committed by young people—constitute, by recent estimates, nearly one-fifth of the crimes against people and one-third of the property crimes in the United States (Braga, 2005). The high incidence of juvenile crime makes the study of juvenile delinquency vital to an understanding of American society.

Theories Regarding the Causes of Juvenile Delinquency

A number of theoretical answers have been given to the continually raised question: Why do juveniles commit crime? Early in the twentieth century, biological and psychological causes of delinquent behavior received more attention.

Biological Explanations of Delinquent Behavior

Larry and Brandon (2008) mention the belief in a biological explanation for criminality has a long history. More recently, research has stressed the interaction between the biological factors within an individual and the influence of the particular environment (Larry and Brandon, 2008). Supporters of this form of biological positivism claim that what produces delinquent behavior, like other behaviors, is a combination of genetic traits and social conditions (Miller, 2007). Recent advances in experimental behavior genetics, human population genetics, knowledge of the biochemistry of the nervous system, experimental and clinical endocrinology and neurophysiology, and other related areas have led to more sophisticated knowledge of the way in which the environment and human genetics interact to affect the growth, development, and functioning of the human organism.

Psychological Explanations of Delinquent Behavior

Psychological factors have long been popular in the positivist approach to the cause of juvenile delinquency because the very nature of parens patriae philosophy requires treatment of youths who are involved in various forms of delinquency. Psychoanalytic (Freudian) theory was first used with delinquents (Cook and Jens, 2004), but more recently other behavioral and humanistic schools of psychology have been applied to the problem of the illegal behaviors of ...
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