Juvenile Delinquency

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Juvenile delinquency
Learn about Juvenile Delinquency

What is Juvenile Delinquency?

Juvenile delinquency generally refers to illegal behavior by children or adolescents. The meaning and age of a juvenile varies from country to country, but is generally considered to be between the age of 10 and 18 years of age. Check your local laws and statutes to determine the appropriate age in your jurisdiction.

What is a Juvenile Delinquent?

A Juvenile Delinquent is a child or adolescent who repeatedly commits crime. Examples of the illegal behavior performed by such delinquents includes:

  • Theft or the stealing of property, money or other items
  • Breaking and entering, also known as burglary
  • Pick-pocketing
  • Loitering (hanging out near establishments when prohibited)
  • Sexual offenses

Causes of Juvenile Deliquency

There are many different theories on the causes of crimes committed by juvenile delinquents. In the simplest cases, the motivation to commit crime is caused by peer-pressure, when one child “dares” another child to do something. Quite often, this is how criminal behavior begins, as children get a “high” or a “rush” from taking on more and more daring challenges. Many children in this situation don’t even think of their activity as illegal, but rather as simply having fun. Unfortunately, their “fun” leads to stolen property, property damage, bodily injury and other negative situations.

In other situations, some children simply fall in with the wrong crowd. They start staying out late on the streets, hanging out with other friends that aren’t being supervised by adults. This new found freedom can often lead to experimentation with alcohol and illegal drugs.

Gang Involvement

In more extreme cases, bad behavior can be linked to gang involvement. Many established gangs target young children because they can be more easily controlled. Young teens are often used as “runners”, taking information, stolen property or even illegal drugs from one location to another. This tactic is used because of the perceived safety of sending these materials via a young adult, as they are a less likely suspect than older teens and adults.

Mental Disorders and Behavioral Issues

Juvenile delinquents sometimes have mental disorders/behavioral issues such as post traumatic stress disorder or bipolar disorder. In some cases, they are  diagnosed with conduct disorder partially as a result of their delinquent behaviors. In these cases, it is important for parents, friends and school teachers to help direct the child to assistance. Getting the child the appropriate help at an early agent may help prevent them from becoming an adult offender.

Other Potential Causes of Juvenile Delinquency

  • Poverty
  • Lack of educational opportunities and extracurricular activities
  • Neighborhood / geographic area – The surrounding environment can have an impact on children.
  • Family problems – lack of family involvement, divorced or separated parents

Questions and Comments

If you have any questions about juvenile delinquency, please post a comment below. In addition, view other terms in our glossary of investigation terms.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including eInvestigator.com. Michael created eInvestigator.com more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at Amazon.com.

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