Juvenile delinquency, also known as juvenile offending, or youth crime, is participation in illegal behavior by minors (juveniles) (individuals younger than the statutory age of majority). Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers, andcourts. A juvenile delinquent is a person who is typically under theage of 18 and commits an act that otherwise would have been charged as a crime if they were an adult. Depending on the type and severity of the offense committed, it is possible for persons under 18 to be charged and tried as adults.
In recent years, the average age for first arrest has dropped significantly, and younger boys and girls are committing crimes. Between 60-80% percent ofadolescents,and pre-adolescents engage in some form of juvenile offense. These can range from status offenses (such as underage smoking), toproperty crimes and violent crimes. The percent of teens who offend is so high that it would seem to be a cause for worry. However, juvenile offending can be considered normative adolescent behavior. This is because most teens tend to offend by committingnon-violent crimes, only once or a few times, and only during adolescence. It is when adolescents offend repeatedly or violently that their offending is likely to continue beyond adolescence, and become increasingly violent. It is also likely that if this is the case, they began offending and displaying antisocial behavior even before reaching adolescence.
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The development of juvenile delinquency
Nearly all cultures possess a transition phase from childhood into adulthood. As the world changed, so did the transition into adulthood. Whereas before, in most now industrialized countries, this transition ranged from brief to almost non-existent, it is now a significant part of a person's development. It is known nowas adolescence. In fact the popular term "teenager" wasn’t coined until the '50s to describe this new group of people living through adolescence. It is believed that this new, drawn-out transition from childhood into adulthood that is common in the western world has left many adolescents in a sort-of limbowhere they must seek to define their identity and place in the world, and delinquency may provide away to do that. This is supported by the fact that crime is committed disproportionately by those aged between fifteen and twenty-five. However, contrary to popular belief it is highly rare for teenagers to become spontaneously aggressive, antisocial or violent simply with the onset of adolescence. Also, although there is a high percentage of offending among all teenagers, the majority ofoffenses which violate the law are one-time occurrences and most often non-violent. Only about 5-10% of adolescents commit violent crimes. In the United States, one-third of all of suspects arrested for violent crimes are under eighteen.
The high rates of juvenile delinquency often receive great attention from the news media and politicians. The level, amounts, and types of delinquency are usedby commentators as an indicator of the general state of morality and law and order in a country, and consequently juvenile delinquency can be a source of ‘moral panics’.
Types of juvenile delinquency
Juvenile delinquency, or offending, can be separated into three categories: delinquency, crimes committed by minors which are dealt withby the juvenile courts and justice system; criminal behavior, crimes dealt with by the criminal justice system, and status offenses, offenses which are only classified as such because one is a minor, such as truancy, also dealt with by the juvenile courts.
According to the developmental research of Moffitt (2006), there are two different types of offenders that emerge in adolescence. One...
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