Criminology: Theories of Juvenile Delinquency
Criminology, which encompasses all study of criminal behavior, has long been concerned with the roots of juvenile delinquency. In many cases, juveniles with a history of delinquent behavior graduate into adult career criminals, and many researchers and sociologists believe that crime in the United States can be reduced by addressing the causes of juvenile delinquency. Unfortunately, there is no single universally accepted theory of juvenile delinquency. Rather, juvenile delinquency appears to occur at the convergence of numerous causative factors.
Research has indicated that today street gangs exist in 94 percent of all cities in the United States that have populations greater than 100,000. And while the scope and the nature of the problem vary widely from city to city, estimates place the number of youths in gangs in Los Angeles between 50,000 to 100,000 children and youths (See Rogers, 1991, p. 20; Hixon, 1999, p. 2121). Another study in Chicago demonstrated that 5 percent of all elementary school children there were affiliated with street gangs, as were 35 percent of high school dropouts (Hixon, 1999, p. 2121).
Numerous researchers and scholars have articulated the juvenile delinquency associated with gang membership. Yet, despite the substantial research performed in this area, there is still no consensus among scholars as to the roots of juvenile delinquency. This paper examines several studies that attempt to determine the roots of juvenile delinquency based on juvenile behavior as well as juveniles' own articulation of the roots of their delinquency. Unfortunately, but perhaps not fatal to the problem of solving juvenile delinquency, the paper then concludes that there may exist almost as many reasons for juvenile delinquency as there exist juvenile delinquents. Thus, rather than attempting to fashion a solution by which all juvenile delinquents must abide, this ...