juvenile delinquency

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juvenile delinquency,

legal term for behavior of children and adolescents that in adults would be judged criminal under law. In the United States, definitions and age limits of juveniles vary, the maximum age being set at 14 years in some states and as high as 21 years in others. The 16- to 20-year age group, considered adult in many places, has one of the highest incidences of serious crime. A high proportion of adult criminals have a background of early delinquency. Theft is the most common offense by children; more serious property crimes and rape are most frequently committed in later youth. The causes of such behavior, like those of crime in general, are found in a complex of psychological, social, and economic factors. Clinical studies have uncovered emotional maladjustments, usually arising from disorganized family situations, in many delinquents. Other studies have suggested that there are persisting patterns of delinquency in poverty-level neighborhoods regardless of changing occupants; this "culture of poverty" argument has come into disrepute among many social scientists. The ganggang,
group of people organized for a common purpose, often criminal. Gangs of criminals were long known on the American frontier and also flourished in urban settings. Notorious were the outlaws led by Jesse James and his brother, the Sydney Ducks of San Francisco (active in
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, a source of much delinquency, has been a common path for adolescents, particularly in the inner cities. Not until the development, after 1899, of the juvenile court was judgment of youthful offenders effectively separated from that of adults. The system generally emphasizes informal procedure and correction rather than punishment. In some states, psychiatric clinics are attached, and there has been a tendency to handle cases in public welfare agencies outside the court. Juvenile correctional institutions have been separated from regular prisons since the early 19th cent., and although most are inadequate, some have developed intensive rehabilitation programs, providing vocational training and psychiatric treatment. The parole system, foster homes, child guidance clinics, and public juvenile protective agencies have contributed to the correction of delinquent and maladjusted children. Especially important for prevention is action by community groups to provide essential facilities for the well-being of children. On an international level, delinquency rates are highest in the more economically and technologically advanced countries.


See P. Cromwell, Jr., et al., Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency: Text and Readings (1978); D. J. Shoemaker, Theories of Delinquency (1984); V. Bailey, Delinquency and Citizenship (1987); A. Binder et al., Juvenile Delinquency (1988); R. Kramer, At a Tender Age (1988).

delinquency, juvenile:

see juvenile delinquencyjuvenile delinquency,
legal term for behavior of children and adolescents that in adults would be judged criminal under law. In the United States, definitions and age limits of juveniles vary, the maximum age being set at 14 years in some states and as high as 21 years in others.
..... Click the link for more information.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Juvenile Delinquency


the socially dangerous actions of minors, responsibility for which is provided in criminal law. Juvenile delinquency must be distinguished from the socially dangerous actions of those minors who are too young to be held criminally responsible.

In a society where exploitation prevails, juvenile delinquency, like crime in general, is conditioned by the socioeconomic structure of the society and is inherent in its nature. Juvenile delinquency is a concomitant of bourgeois society, in which a number of social phenomena that are particularly depressing for young people have become common, including unemployment, uncertainty about the future, and difficulty in obtaining education. The increase in juvenile delinquency is essentially due to such widespread faults in bourgeois society as drug addiction and gambling. Crime, which is practiced as an occupation on a mass scale in capitalist countries, has a demoralizing effect on young people. The bourgeois press, motion pictures, radio, and television, which arouse chauvinism, racial hatred, and brutish instincts in the younger generation, breed in them the cult of brutality and violence. According to the evaluation of a US congressional committee (1967), crime and violence are the themes of 60 percent of television programs.

The steady growth of juvenile delinquency in capitalist society has outstripped the population growth of the corresponding age groups. In addition, the composition of the total population of juvenile delinquents shows an active growth of delinquency among younger adolescents and girls and an increase in the percentage of dangerous crimes. In the USA the number of cases in juvenile courts increased by 70 percent between 1948 and 1956, while the population growth of corresponding age groups increased by 16 percent during the same period. Between 1956 and 1965 the numbers of cases in US juvenile courts doubled. In 1967, 759,000 persons under 18 were arrested for committing crimes. In Great Britain, where the number of minors between age ten and 17 has decreased since 1938, the level of juvenile delinquency in 1967 was 2.8 times the prewar level in the age group from 14 to 17 and 1.5 times the prewar level in the age group from ten to 13. In the Federal Republic of Germany there were 175 percent more convictions for criminal offenses by minors age 14-17 in 1969 than in 1948, and in Denmark and Sweden juvenile delinquency increased by 2.3 and 2.5 times, respectively, compared to 1939.

The majority of the works of bourgeois researchers, who do not want to disclose the main reasons for juvenile delinquency, which are inherent in the exploitative system, are descriptive and factual and endeavor to reduce the problem of delinquency to psychological or microsocial factors. Several authors explain the growth of juvenile delinquency by the so-called sex revolution among minors, family crises, and the existence of an independent youth subculture. Fairly common among bourgeois researchers are the antiscientific concepts of the “constitutional predisposition” of some adolescents to crime because of hereditary burdens, specific subconscious psychological processes, and even “racial and group characteristics.”

In socialist societies, where the inherent reasons for juvenile delinquency have been eliminated, its causes are vestiges of the previous social system and are associated with improper upbringing, a negative influence in the family, and instigation by criminal elements in society. Age-group characteristics of minors (lack of experience in life, tendency to follow an example, difficulty in evaluating certain events, and emotional excitability) intensify the danger that they will adopt negative views and habits if they fall under an undesirable influence, particularly when there is no proper educational influence or control over their behavior. Negative influences of older family members (alcoholism, quarreling, and cruelty) are observed in approximately 30-40 percent of juvenile delinquents, and incitement by criminal elements in 20-30 percent. The majority of juvenile delinquents have poorly educated parents. However, there is essentially no difference in the financial means and housing conditions of families of delinquents and families of minors who do not commit crimes.

A decisive role in the fight to eliminate juvenile delinquency in socialist society is played by the system of measures designed to promote a steady increase in the prosperity, culture, and consciousness of the members of society. As pointed out in the Program of the CPSU, these measures create all the prerequisites for eradicating criminality. Measures are being systematically implemented to improve education in the family, school, and social organizations and to improve the organization of leisure time for minors in their places of residence. At schools and major housing offices new positions have been established for instructors to organize extracurricular work with children. It is prohibited to expel children from school, to transfer them to other educational institutions (for example, to vocational-technical schools), or to dismiss working teenagers without the permission of a commission on the affairs of minors. To facilitate the employment of minors in all enterprises, a quota has been established for graduating students. Up to 2 percent of the revenues of the housing fund are allocated to financing local programs for children, and the network of cultural and educational institutions is being expanded.

Of great importance are measures especially designed to fight juvenile delinquency: Assistance is given to minors whose way of life has adversely affected them or who have difficulties with their education, and arrangements are made for the settlement of these problems. Preventive work is done to keep adolescents who are guilty of minor violations of the law from embarking on a life of crime. Legal measures based on the criminal code are used to fight juvenile delinquency, including the enforcement of laws assigning criminal responsibility to adults who induce minors to engage in criminal activity. Soviet legislation provides for a number of special procedures for the hearing of cases of crimes committed by minors. These procedures guarantee the protection of the interests of teen-agers and reveal the reasons for which they commit crimes.

G. M. Min’kovskii

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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