This study investigated the inter-relation of delinquency, illegal drug use, school-related problems, and mental health problems among youth. Research Problem Although the correlations between illegal drug use and delinquency among youth have been reported, limited information is available to assess the inter-relations among these behavioral problems.
Through the analysis of three-year Causes and Correlates of Delinquency data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the inter-relations among delinquency, school behavioral problems, illegal drugs, mental health risks, and the mix-up of these behavioral problems were given possibility.
Thus, the research has evaluated the behavioral problems in relation with school and mental health problems. Research Questions The study sought ways to determine plausible answers for these two main questions: are those youth who committed delinquent behaviors have problems in school or mental health? and are delinquent behaviors observed among youth with associated school or mental health problems? Theoretical Concepts Behavioral delinquency of youth, more often than not, is either caused by or may lead to other behavioral problems. The results of researches over the past years showed that a lot of societal factors are correlated to delinquency among of which are birth trauma, child abuse and negligence, parental discipline, broken family, attention disorder and hyperactivity in children, academic failure, peer influences, employment factors, local community problems (“Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency,” n. d. ).
Meanwhile, sociologist sought ways for logical determinants of these behavioral problems. They generally ascribed delinquency to environmental determinants like home, family, community, peers and many other factors. Moreover, the peer group takes precedence on the formation of gender roles and relations, including behavior-related problems. As such, gender-based groups like gangs are products of gregariousness of youth to established authority or unique peer-group identity in the community (“Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency,” n. d. ).
In every class or culture similarities among juvenile group behaviors were observed. This peer group is typically characterized by gregariousness, pyramidal organizational structure, and a set of organizational behaviors that is commonly unique for their group. The formation of their unique code of behavior is often a product of media-promoted values and familial or cultural norms influences (“Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency,” n. d. ).
To develop an efficient prevention strategy and intervention program then, the analysis inter-relations between delinquency and other behavioral problems should be explored. Thus, the research was anchored on the notion that as the number of behavioral problems on an individual increases, this eventually leads to a greater tendency that a person will become a serious delinquent. Prevalence of Persistent Problem Behavior Behavioral problems, more often than not, are transient in nature.
Youth may exhibit certain behavioral problems for a year, within two or three years span (Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern, 2000). The study considered persistent delinquency and behavioral problems lasting for two years or more. Drug Use Researches done for the past 25 years, varied in the extent and strength, correlated the drug use and delinquent behavior. Even though statistics favored drug delinquency for both males and females, the degree of correlations varied from different sampling sites and it is improper to postulate that illegal drug users are the most delinquent youths.
In the study conducted by OJJDP, for both sexes, subjects who exhibited delinquency were not drug users (Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern, 2000). School Problems Similar with the prevalence of persistent behavioral problems, it has been a long subject of research leading to similar findings of correlations between school problems such as poor academic performance, truancy, or absenteeism and delinquency (Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern, 2000). However, the definite relationship, due to variation, has not yet been established. Mental Health Problems
OJJDP Juvenile Justice Bulletin reported that, mental health problems and persistent delinquent behaviors for both males and females were statistically significant (Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern, 2000). Thus, the mental health status is a good predictor of serious delinquency. Combinations of Persistent Problems The correlations between persistent delinquencies in combination with other behavioral problems were fairly consistent. However, it was noted among youth with behavioral problems that aggravation of their problems leads to a greater tendency of serious delinquency (Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern, 2000).
Operational Definitions The research presented the findings of a number of studies concerning delinquency and behavioral problems in youth to come up with clear scenario of the possible inter-relations among these problems. The following terms were operationally defined: Persistent serious delinquency is the involvement of an individual in serious assault or serious property offences within two or three years (Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern, 2000).
Also, the deletion of the word “persistent” is only done to avoid redundancy; Drug problems pertain to the use of marijuana, inhalants, cocaine or crack, heroin, angel dust (PCP), psychedelics, amphetamines, tranquilizers, or barbiturates(Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern, 2000). School problems were limited to below-average grades or dropped out of school (Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern, 2000); mental health problems were determined through the subset of the Achenbach and Edelbrock 1982 instrument in observing Child Behavior (Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern, 2000).
And persistent problems were limited to problems met or committed within two or three years (Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern, 2000). Problem Formulation, Research Question, and Theory Congruence among the research problems, research questions, and theoretical concepts has been observed. The assessment in this research is based on the Research Methods in Human development and family science (Wilkinson, 2007). The research problem of Huizinga, Thornberry, and Cothern (2000) Co-occurrence of Delinquency and Other Problem Behaviors study was clearly defined with respect to perspective, focus, level, and scope.
The research problem was clearly grounded in reality in the sense that: it reflected who, what, where, why, and how the phenomenon has been existed; gave specific qualitative and quantitative observations; and incorporated reliable data on the prevalence and context of the societal problem. In addition, the problem was diagnosed well: data elements or variables were defined and classified; patterns among variables were analyzed and presented; and refinement and heuristic inference were made. Nevertheless, the problem was of significant interest not only for juvenile justice advocates but for societal benefits in general.
Also, prior research-based knowledge was linked into the new investigation subject. The research questions, on the other hand, were expressed in quantifiable terms and permitted specific answers. Also, significant theories and findings of related studies were analyzed and presented that gave clarity and justification for the conduct of this research. References Huizinga D. , Loeber, R. , Thornberry, T. P. , and Cothern, L. (2000). Co-occurrence of Delinquency and Other Problem Behaviors. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Juvenile Justice Bulletin.
Retrieved November 17, 2008, from http://www. ncjrs. gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/182211. pdf Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency. (n. d. ). Juvenile Justice Bulletin, Gang Membership, Delinquent Peers, and Delinquent Behavior. Retrieved November 17, 2008, from http://ojjdp. ncjrs. org/jjbulletin/9810_2/contents. html Wilkinson, D. L. (2007). How to Choose a Research Proposal Topic? Research Methods in Human development and family science: HDFS 760. Retrieved November 17, 2008, from http://hec. osu. edu/people/dwilkinson/how_to_choose_a_research_proposa. htm