In areas where the social norms have broken down, it is highly probable that the youths will engage in delinquent behavior. This is especially true of developed countries whereby the new technologies have brought about new lifestyles and social characteristics which have broken down the structures of authorities and people are increasingly being left on their own with no proper guidance. Furthermore, not everyone can afford the modern lifestyle due to a limited access to resources such as education, health services, employment and an adequate income.
It is quite frustrating not to be able to meet the societal approved goals and for this reason, those who are unable to legally access these resources may choose to acquire them illegally. Hence juvenile criminality may be a way of addressing this contradiction. The likelihood of engaging in such criminality is not only due to a limitation of the legal opportunities but also how likely it is for the youth to access the illegal opportunities. It is very easy for the youth to access guns in the United States and this has been linked to the rise in juvenile criminality.
The increasing use of alcohol and other drugs among the youth is also an underlying factor. Youths abuse these drugs as a form of escapism from emotional and psychological problems and this is another reason that contributes to juvenile delinquency since they may need to engage in criminal activities to be able to finance their habit (world youth report, 2003). In Colorado, the number of juvenile and drug violation arrests has been on the increase since the 1980s (ORS). Urbanization Studies have shown that countries which have a higher level of urbanization also tend to have higher levels of crime.
This is attributed to the decline in social control and cohesion as the country becomes more urbanized. Rural and semi urban areas tend to have a lower rate of crime and this is attributed to the reliance on family and the community as a means of dealing with anti social behavior. The urban environment may encourage delinquency due to weakened social relations, reliance on the media to gain information, and an increased tendency of isolation and anonymity. This is the result of a high population density and heterogeneity. Youth who are supervised by their parents are less likely to be involved in crime (world youth report, 2003).
Snyder and Sickmund (1995) points out that poor children tend to be concentrated in Central cities, where they will be more likely to be engaged in crime. Family Dysfunctional families involve conflict, have little parental control and family integration and children may gain premature autonomy. All these factors lead to juvenile delinquency. Other than dysfunctional families, children from disadvantaged families are also likely to engage in criminal activities due to limited employment opportunities. Thus minority families and migrants are more at risk of juvenile delinquency.
As Snyder and Sickmund (1995) point out, between 1977 and 1992, the increase in the number of juveniles who live in poverty was highest among Hispanics, a minority group. Minority juveniles were also more likely to live in poverty; hence they are more likely to be engaged in criminal activity. The rise in single parent families and non- marital unions as well as absentee fathers in the low income families is also a contributing factor (Lonardo, ET al. 2009). Between 1980 and 1990, the proportion of juveniles in Colorado increased by 7%. Juveniles are also increasingly growing in households headed by a single parent (Snyder & Sickmund, 1995).
Lack of proper parental guidance may lead juveniles, especially boys to engage in delinquent peer groups so as to identify their masculinity. These groups tend to replace the family, define the roles of the male and enable acquisition of cruel characteristics. Success in school depends on whether the family can provide resources such as books which are considered as starting opportunities, children from the disadvantaged families feel excluded and this may tempt them to join a delinquent group which provides each member with equal opportunities and while giving them positions of authority in society.
Exposure to delinquent adult behavior may also encourage juveniles to take part in it. A study of United States prisons revealed that families which families which are involved in criminal activities tended to push their young ones into engaging in such activities. Approximately 67% of those interviewed had a relative who was also in prison; 25% being a father and another 25% being a sibling. Thus criminalization of the family (world youth report, 2003). Migration Immigrants are often financially disadvantaged and likely to engage in crime.
Another reason is the likelihood of cultural conflict. Native urban population tends to believe that immigrants are clear deviants (world youth report, 2003). Media The media has created a culture in which the heroes physically eliminate their enemies in pursue of justice. Research has established that youth who are more exposed to violence tend to be more aggressive especially if provoked 8- 12 yr old boys are especially at risk. An individual who watches violent movies may actualize it due to excitement or normalize violence by showing it daily.
The effects of violence also seem to be less real and the real pain is rarely portrayed so the youth do not learn of the effects o violent behavior. Thus media has normalized violence and in fact, makes it appear as a as a courageous way of achieving justice. The American Psychological Association has established that 10% of aggressive behavior in children is linked to television violence (world youth report, 2003). As a 1990s report reveals, before the average child reaches the seventh grade, he or she will have witnessed 8000 murders as well as 100, 000 violent acts on television.
Exclusion There is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor, leading to emergence of the unwanted others. There is development of a poor class that is dependent on welfare. Poor rehabilitation and exclusion of juveniles- labeling- may lead to an adoption of the delinquent image which may encourage juvenile activity (world youth report, 2003). Peer influence The peer group plays a significant role in socialization. Most of the delinquent or pro-social choices that individual peer group members make are influenced by the peer groups.
Studies into delinquent behavior have revealed that a maximum of 93 percent of delinquent behaviors happen in group settings (May et al 2007). Gangs are defined as a peer group of 2 to 4 members, which is recognizable as distinct by others and engages in delinquent tendencies. Through out the United States, there are more than 21,600 youth gangs with a membership of more than 731, 500 youths (May et al 2007). Being a gang member may provide protection especially if one lives in an unsafe neighborhood. In some areas, those who are not gang members may be threatened with assault, oppression, harassment, extortion.
The opportunities for social and economic advancement may lead the disadvantaged youth to join a gang so as to be able to gain social mobility. Gangs provide stability in an area that is faced with limited opportunities for advancement (World youth report, 2003). AT RISK JUVENILES It is worth noting that not all cases of delinquency are crimes. If a youth is perpetually absent from home or associates with immoral people, it does not necessarily mean that he or she is criminal (Roucek, 1970). However, most juvenile delinquents have a high likelihood of engaging in criminal activity.
The juveniles who are most at risk of becoming delinquents are those who live in very difficult circumstances. They may come from families where there is parental alcoholism, poverty, overcrowding, abuse or no proper parental guidance. Youth in families which have disintegrated for one reason or another are also at risk. Juvenile delinquency is increasingly becoming a major concern worldwide. For this reason, there are some measures which have been put in place to deal with the problem of juvenile delinquency.