Book Report on Juvenile Delinquency

This essay has a total of 1861 words and 9 pages.

Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile Delinquency
There is no doubt that various experts can give us many theories as to the causes of
juvenile delinquency, including one's economic background, substance abuse, delinquent
peer groups, repeated exposure to violence, increased availability of firearms and media
violence, however, I feel that the number one cause of juvenile delinquency is the
breakdown of families, including lack of parental control over children. It is ironic in
America, today, one must have a driver's license to operate a vehicle, a permit to own a
gun and even a license to own a dog, but one does not have to have training or a license
in order to become a parent. Without specialized educational programs in child development
and parenting, many of our future parents will not have a chance at becoming successful
parents and worse, yet, many parents today are already contributing to the ever-increasing
problem of juvenile delinquency simply by not knowing how to be parents. Being a parent is
a lifelong commitment and new parents must learn parenting skills immediately; they do not
have the luxury of internships and often times, mistakes in parenting will have drastic
effects on the child.

There are many reasons for the widespread crisis in families today. Below are some of those causes:
Changes in the Social Environment - there have been many changes in our social environment
over the last twenty-five years. These changes have made a risky environment for today's
youth. Children and teenagers spend more time with peer groups than ever before. Drugs and
deadly weapons are used increasingly as ways to solve problems. Illicit and explicit
sexuality and violence are the main subjects of choice in the

media; and the impact of media influence has widened and become more vivid with the
introduction of computers, video games, portable stereos and MTV.

Changes in Family Structure and Functioning - The prevalence of divorce and the increasing
number of women in the workplace have reduced the number of adults who provide
interaction, structure and supervision in a child's life. Along with this, institutions
have not kept pace in providing alternative programs for unsupervised kids. Add to

this new parenting expectations that come with single parent and step-parent families and
you now have a confusing, often inconsistent and/or unreliable home base for children.

Confusion About Parent Roles and Parent Control - When children reach adolescence,
conflict between parents and teens normally increases as teens need to distance themselves
from parental identity to establish their own identity. Experts agree they are generally
three parenting styles that reportedly escalate these conflicts.

The authoritarian parent tends to emphasize rules and very harsh consequences. There is
little room for discussion or negotiation. The indulgent parent tends to spoil the child
and expects little or no responsibility at home, choosing instead to clean up after the
child both at home and in his social misbehavior.

The indifferent parent is so preoccupied with his/her own life and
activities that little time and energy is given to either involvement or
appropriate structure.
The type of parenting that does work is simply called authoritative parenting. This type
of parent assumes a role of authority in the child's life, but the rules and structure are
sensible and flexible to accommodate the child's growth toward adolescence and young
adulthood. The parent's intelligent explanations of the rules plus reasonable enforcement
help to maintain a steady reduction of control as the child matures.

Studies have been made to determine the causes of juvenile delinquency. Many of these
studies have focused on family relationships. In one study, comparing delinquent and
non-delinquent youths showed that over ninety percent of the delinquents had unhappy home
lives and felt discontented with their life circumstances. Only thirteen percent of the
non-delinquent youths felt this way. This study also brought attention to the fact that to
these youths' delinquency appeared to be a sort of solution to them. It brought attention
to youths neglected by their parents, or approval of delinquent friends, or it solved
problems of an unhappy home life in other ways.

A study by the National Institute of Justice also determined that youths from neglectful
homes, single parent homes and homes in which substance abuse was a problem had a greater
likelihood of being charged as a juvenile of a crime or status offense. In fact, research
has shown that fifty three percent of these children are more likely to be arrested and
thirty eight percent more likely to commit an act of violence. Between 1976 and 1996, the
number of juveniles living in poverty grew 42 percent. Along with this growth, crimes
committed by juveniles also grew.

From as early as the turn of the century, experts in juvenile delinquency (Morrison, 1915)
have recognized the family's early and primary role in influencing delinquency. These
experts concluded that family dysfunction and poor parental supervision and socialization
are major influences on children's subsequent delinquency. Unfortunately, society did not
take action on these earlier findings, thus it has only been recently that the impact of
family factors has received much attention or research funding. The implications of
existing research are that the family environment can either protect children from
subsequent delinquency or put them at greater risk.

It is true, that depending on the level of functioning, families can negatively impact a
child's development. In a study conducted by Stouthamer-Loeber of approximately 300
research study cases, it was determined, in longitudinal studies that socialization
factors such as lack of supervision, parental rejection of the child, child rejection of
the parent and lack of parent/child involvement were found to be the strongest indicators
of delinquency. Parental dysfunction, such as criminality, substance abusers and poor
marital relations were mid level predictors and parental health and actual absence of
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