Juvenile delinquency occurs when a minor is charged with a crime. Click here to learn the leading causes of juvenile delinquency in the U.S.
Juvenile Delinquency is a big problem in the United States and one that transcends socio-economic and demographic identifiers. The causes of juvenile delinquency are just as widespread. One thing we do know is that it can have negative implications for our youth.
There are several factors that can lead a child down the wrong path in life. However, other children can be exposed to those same factors and make totally different choices.
The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” means everyone plays a part in the success of the children in our communities. As times have changed the village as we once knew it has become less likely to get involved. This has contributed to the rise in juvenile delinquency.
Are you an adult concerned about youth going down the wrong path? Keep reading for seven major causes of juvenile delinquency in the United States.
Different Causes of Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile delinquency occurs when you have a person under the age of 18 engaging in acts that break the law. These actions start out as minor offenses such as truancy and graffiti. Over time their actions grow into bigger crimes with more damaging ramifications.
When exploring the causes of juvenile delinquency, it is important not to judge a book by its cover. Kids doing bad things come from the hood as well as the suburbs. Recognizing the signs can help you change the direction of a kid who is heading down the wrong path.
It’s important to understand that charges against a minor can follow them for the rest of their life. You can read more here to learn about the long-term effects.
1. Low Self-Esteem
A child dealing with low-esteem is more likely not to see their self-worth. Low self-esteem is one of the factors contributing to juvenile delinquency.
When someone has a negative image of themselves, they tend to drift toward others that ate seen as popular or having street credibility. This opens the door for the person to be dragged down a path of self-destruction.
2. Abuse in the Home
Children who are physically and/or sexually abused in the home sometimes end-up being juvenile delinquents. They also have a high rate of ending up homeless and forced to survive on their own.
Crimes such as shoplifting and burglary become a means of survival.
3. Illiteracy and Learning Disabilities
A child who is struggling to learn in school is more likely to have truancy issues. The embarrassment of not being able to read at grade level can cause students to act out.
Too often, learning disabilities are misdiagnosed as the student being bad, which leads to disciplinary action and not help. Once a student reaches middle or high school, they begin to gravitate towards students seen as similar to them.
What causes juvenile delinquency is the parent’s inability to ask or the help and the school’s inability to see a bigger problem exists. Once kids are left to their own devices inevitably, trouble is not too far away.
4. School-To-Prison Pipeline
The school-to-prison pipeline occurs when schools enact zero-tolerance policies that do not allow kids to be kids. The policies have led to higher suspension rates and even arrests at school.
Police officers are placed in schools under the guise of school resource officers. This move introduces students to the idea of misbehavior in school as a crime that warrants harsher penalties.
If the child does not self-correct, they are suspended at higher levels and can be reassigned to schools that are almost jail-like.
The more days a student misses away from traditional school environments, the opportunity to become juvenile delinquents increases. School-to-prison pipelines are designed to increase a child’s chances of dropping out of school and turning to crime as a means of survival.
Bullying is on the rise among students and has long and short term negative effects. On the far extreme, bullying can lead to thoughts of suicide. Another negative effect is juvenile delinquency.
Teenagers begin to skip school and engage in petty crimes that can lead to bigger crimes. They put themselves in dangerous positions that can cause harm to others and the community.
The more unsupervised and undirected time minors have the more chances there are for them to end up in trouble.
6. No Positive Role Models
A lack of role models is a factor contributing to juvenile delinquency. Children that come from single-parent homes or homes that do not have positive role models are at risk.
These individuals lack a parental figure to provide guidance and someone to look up to and confide in. Many schools and churches offer programs that pair at-risk students with role models from within the community. Children that take advantage of these programs do better in school.
They also avoid the need to seek attention from negative influences.
7. Wrong Social Circles
Hanging in the wrong social circles or spending too much time on social media can lead to juvenile delinquency. At the heart of the issue is the need to be accepted or seen, and the need to survive.
When children and youth gravitate towards negative people and situations, it is a cry for attention and help.
Juvenile delinquents don’t wake-up one day and decide to be a menace to society. Juvenile delinquency is a systemic problem that derives from an internal need that isn’t being met.
Too often kids are not taught how to express what is bothering them. As a result, that expression manifests into poor decisions that lead to crime.
Auto-theft is common among some social circles. It’s challenging, it’s fun, and it’s also the reason many teens have juvenile records.
Overcoming Juvenile Delinquency
Knowing the causes of juvenile delinquency can help parents, guardians, teachers and other people of influence help our youth. Every day is a new day of possibilities, and also a chance to redirect a life.
Many people have gone from delinquency as a youth to become successful leaders in their communities. Check out the rest of our blog to read some of those stories.