Every society is made up of people who have different interests and desires. No human being can live and work in isolation to satisfy all his/her needs without involving other people. This means that we all need each other. As a result people must learn to co-exist with each other by maintaining peace and harmony in the society. It is due to this that different societies develop rules and regulations that guides it members as they undertake their daily activities. Every member of the society is expected to conform to the norms that govern the society in which they live.
Those who do not conform become deviants and are therefore subjected to social sanctions(Brym R, Lie J, 2005, pp. 165). The intensity of the sanctions depends on how grievous the offense that an individual commits. Norms therefore include mores and folkways. Breaking of mores leads to severe punishment(Brym R, Lie J, 2005, pp. 64). When folkways are broken by an individual, it may not necessarily mean that the victim must be punished(Brym R, Lie J, 2005, pp. 12, 60). Other than norms, laws are also important in social central. They are just norms but unlike norms, laws enjoy the right of use of physical force in enforcing them.
Laws operate within a territorial framework and they are enforced by the states law courts and the police among others( Brym R, Lie J, 2005, pp. 168). Norms and laws apply to all members of the society in which they are intended. It should therefore be noted that even children commit crimes. I such cases, the cases are referred to as juvenile delinquency. Different scholars have come up with different theories to explain deviant and delinquent behavior . Among these theories is the delinquent control theory by Hirschi(Crutchfield R, Weis J, Bridges G, 2001, pp. 374).
This paper examines theft as a juvenile crime as explained by the delinquent control theory. Delinquent control theory was developed by Hirschi. This theory associates deviant and delinquent behaviours with weak social bonds in the society. The theory explains that there is a high positive correlation between delinquent behaviours and weak social bonds. According to this theory, people engage in criminal activities because they lack social strong bonds in their respective societies. In cases where the bonds are strong crime state is negligible. As the social bonds become weaker crime rate increases since people are freed to deviate.
This theory identifies four main types of bonds. These are attachment bond, commitment bond, involvement bond and belief bond(Crutchfield R, 2000, pp 247-266) Taking the first factor of the bond, the opinions of friends, family members and other people are very important and people should be sensitive to them. Being sensitive to them will strengthen the attachment bond and deter any deviant behaviour. In many societies, people condemn theft and openly criticize the vice when the young people ignore what the rest of the society say about this unacceptable behaviour, the attachment bond weakens and they become thieves.
The second is the attachment bond this involves investing of ones time in activities like school and sports among others. When the young people dedicate their time in such activities they have no time to think about theft. They only think about how to excel academically, how to be the best player and the like. The more they are idle they tend to realise the good things that other have and they cannot afford. As a result, they engage in theft as the quickest way to have what they lack and they feel they want. Thirdly is the involvement bond. Being committed alone is not enough but people must be involved in those conventional activities.
We have witnessed cases of some children stealing their fellow schoolmates belongings other even steal games kits. This means that though they participate in school and sports activities, they have weak commitment bonds. This means that the more they are committed to such conventional activities, they will have no time to steal other people's belongings. The fourth factor is the belief bond. This means that the more people believe in adhering to society laws, the lower the possibility of people to engage in crime. This is where religion play a major role in preventing crime.
These people who have strong faith in religion cannot engage in theft since all religions criminalize such acts. Many people are aware about legal repercussions of engaging in theft ad it is only these people who have weak belief bonds who engage in theft(Allen J, Conrad J, Cox S, Hauser R, 2007, Chap. 4) It should be noted that the delinquent control theory does not explain the reasons people commit crimes. Criminals and especially thieves carry out a cost benefit analysis. If they realise that they will gain more by deviating than conforming, they will go ahead and steal.
Strong bond normally increases the cost of deviance and reduces the benefits. Social rules are socially learned and children must therefore be taught in order to show how costly engaging in theft is as a way of preventing juvenile delinquency. Parents must clearly demonstrate to their children that stealing is bad by explaining what the law and religious teachings say about theft. This will strengthen the social bonds. The parents should also ensure their children participate in conventional activities. They should help their parents where possible.
Parents should also register their children in sports clubs as a way of preventing juvenile delinquency. Private tuition is also important during the holidays. All these will minimise the duration of time the children can idle and as a result, they cannot have time to steal or even engage in juvenile delinquency(Flowers R, 1986, pp. 164).
Allen J, Conrad J,Cox S, Hanser R(2007), Juvenile Justice: A guide to theory, policy and practice, United States, Sage publications. Brym R, Lie J,(2005), Sociology: your compass for a new world, Thomson Wadsworth Crutchfield R(2000), Crime: Readings, United States, Pine Forge Press