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Family Dynamics Affecting Juvenile Delinquency


This research paper generally talks about juvenile delinquency, in details this paper provides some of the reasons that can make youths engage in delinquent behaviors. Family dynamics affecting juvenile delinquency are also discussed in details. This paper further discusses some of the practices that have been implemented to curb juvenile delinquency among the youths. And finally, recommendations on how delinquency can be avoided are extensively discussed.


The today’s society is being faced by several issues of moral concern, many children have at least engage themselves in committing delinquent crimes, you can agree with me these delinquent crimes were minimal in the old days. The increase in the delinquent crimes among children has forced a team of experts in children’s crime to conduct research and determine what might be the root of this trending problem. The expertise in the field children delinquent crimes argues that what makes a child to be delinquent entirely depends on his/ her lifestyle and how they were brought up in their families. The experts further argued that juveniles are more likely to become juvenile delinquent if there is no moral and appropriate structure provided to them in their families. It is certain that family structure plays an important role in contributing towards the child’s life of becoming delinquent or growing in a moral kind of life without committing any crimes.

Trends, Assumption and Applications.

Crimes committed by young people has been a concern since the 1980s where the crimes started to increase rapidly raising an alarm, news broadcasted since this year to date indicates  occurrence of serious crimes among children especially the adolescent.(Shoemaker, 2009)  According to the patterns, the news warn against the rise of vicious and delinquent children in the coming future, it is commonly believed that young people are more aggressive, violent and difficult control and reaction of  juvenile department to this  menace has been inadequate. However, response to increase cases of juvenile violence has currently taken a positive turn in some of the states,  for instance states and federal legislatures have  proposed and in fact some  states have passed laws that makes the juvenile system  more active on children delinquent crimes.  The laws allow children and adolescent committing crimes to be transferred to the adult prison system depending on the type of offence committed.

The increasing data about the juvenile crimes have brought about debate especially on the policy enactment. Some policy makers feels that the punishment given to delinquent children is not enough and therefore a more comprehensive form of punishment should be developed to totally reform them and act as an example to others. Although others feel that the already available form of punishment is enough and even a burden to the children and it should be revised again. The increasing role of male teenagers and young adults between the ages of 14-24 in criminal activities especially in homicides is quite alarming, this age group makes about 8% of the population but has committed 48% of the murders this is according to research that was conducted in1985. Currently it is believed that the number has double and tripled among the black teens.  The trends on the arrest rate has also changed among the juvenile and the adult, arrests on the homicide cases has dropped among the  adults and increased among the youth below the age of 25. (Berger, 2009) The arrest pattern has not only increased on the homicide, but the trend is also same in the robbery, rape and other assaults, it’s clear that many teens in America especially the ones staying in urban setting lacks full parental care.  Most of their parents are career women and spend most of their time at work therefore they don’t have enough time with their children.

Most of these teenagers in urban settings are faced with idleness and hopelessness, even though they stay idle, they don’t always intend to engage in criminal activities and participate in other activities such as drug use and gang membership as an alternative to violence. There has been tremendous change in social context of crime over the previous decades, this tends to explain why the current generation is more violent than the previous generation and there is possibility that the trend may continue. The current youths engage in taking the control substances, they have access to guns and other weapons and more importantly, the current youths consider crime as a normal thing in life which was not the case in previous decades. Initially teenagers used to socialize with positive socialization forces, this is where the youths only socialized in schools, religion, family and their neighbors. Currently this is not the case the negative socializing forces have displaced the positive ones, Youths socialize in gangs, while using drugs, gun and social media. This negative socialization force has developed the minds of the youth in a criminal perspective hence the increasing trends in the juvenile delinquency.

Family dynamics has a great influence on the Juvenile delinquency; we need to ask ourselves what are the family dynamics that can contribute to a juvenile becoming delinquent juvenile? The family dynamics can be; family functioning, family disruption such as divorce and partial parent families. Improper family functioning can lead to a delinquent in a child.   A well-functioning family should be a complete family with both the father and mother, fee from domestic violence and able to communicate as a household. (Bartol, 2009) A well-functioning family is that family that can solve its problems in a peaceful manner without engaging in violence, but I believe communication is very crucial in preventing violence.  Research shows that children brought up in an environment full of conflict, rejected with their parents or lack adequate parent supervision when they are growing up are likely to become delinquent. It is believed that a good number of children engage in delinquent behaviors in their early years as young as when they are in pre- school or the elementary school. These kinds of childhood vices beginning in these early ages likely to be resistant to change, these children are often punished harshly by their parents and there is possibility that their criminal mind will advance more when they reach their adolescent age. Family environment also influences and lifestyle also influences the children’s behavior especially the adolescent, family environment will influence the type of friends that the adolescent is likely to hang out with in turn influencing his peers.

Family behaviors such as parental monitoring and punishment influences the occurrence of delinquency, monitoring of a child is a role that should be played by the parents, lack of monitoring occurs when the parent is not aware where the child is, whom is he with and what is he doing. Monitoring is a central part of the child’s upbringing, when the child reaches the adolescent age, their parents should be more concerned about them because it is in this adolescent age that most of the children are recruited into crime and drug abuse. In this age the adolescent spend most of their time  with their peers, and research shows that parents who do not  monitor their children or forcefully make  their children perform some activities contributes to the occurrence of delinquent behaviors among these children. Communication is also an important aspect in the family as long as the delinquent crimes are concerned; parents should communicate with their children by telling them the reality of the society. (Gregory, 2009) Before children reach their adolescent age, their parents should have informed them about crimes, drugs and sexual behaviors. Through communication parents will be able to educate their children on the negative effect of drug abuse and engaging in criminal activities, and when they grow up they shall have developed what is referred to as child ego state that will prevent them from engaging from these devious activities when they remember their negative effects.

Family disruptions such as divorce between the parents greatly affects the child and such children in single parent or partial parent families are more likely to be delinquent compared to children with both parents. Social learning theory argues that children brought up in single parent families or exposed to parental divorce and marital discord, tend to have some aggressive behaviors in their lifetime because from their parents they learnt that aggressive behavior is the only way to achieve a desired goal.

Over the decades, researchers have embarked on serious activities involving finding an answer to this vice of delinquency, they came up with a program model that was designed to reduce delinquency and promote pre-social behaviors. However, these researchers spend most of their time researching on the most programs that could be successful, only a few number of youths turn up for these programs. One of the currently and commonly used program is known a s the future of children program ,Juvenile justice has gone through reforms and some of the positive practices have been adopted to help the youth overcome delinquency. The program focuses on interventions such as primary prevention programs to curb the menace of delinquent behaviors.(Agnew, 2009) Primary prevention targets to prevent the behaviors before they occur, and it majorly focuses on preventing drug abuse, smoking and teen pregnancy. Secondary prevention targets a group of youths, who are exposed to a specific effect such as delinquency and violence. The program also focuses on prevention of later drug use, delinquency, anti-social behavior and early school dropout.

In an attempt to help the youths out of delinquency and prevent future occurrences, The School Transitional Environmental Program (STEP) is among the programs used in the future of the children model program. The STEP program mostly focuses on the education perspective and it was majorly founded to decrease absenteeism and school drop-out, increase academic success and enhance more positive feelings about school. Another program that has been successfully applied is the Functional Family Therapy (FFT), this program aimed at children between the ages of 11-18 years old. This program was founded to majorly address children who had problems with delinquency, substance abuse and violence, a therapist worked closely with the families at their homes to increase emotional connections and problem solving ability among the parents. (Howell, 2009) Another family based program is the Multisystemic Therapy (MST). This program was designed objectively to help parents deal with adolescent behavior of their children; the program entails 50 hours of counselling program that the adolescent has to go through to ensure the behaviors are managed. Juveniles with delinquent behaviors should not condemned or rather subjected to thorough punishment that could alter their normal life; rather they should be taken through a rehabilitation program that could change them positively


Juvenile delinquency can be prevented if our society adopt and implement the following issues such as education, recreation, community involvement, nurses to visit parents and infants, bullying prevention program and parent – child interaction program. Education will provide parents with information on how to raise healthy children with good moral behavior; parents should use education to inform their children about the effects of drugs, gang, sex and use of weapons against others. I boldly suggest that society should adopt this recommendation to prevent juvenile delinquency. Secondly, youths should be given time for recreation, research shows that youth engage in criminal activities when they are idle especially after school. Parent should adopt this idea to allow their children participate in recreational activities after school, recreation will allow them to connect with other people in the community. Community involvement activities such as scouting, church youths and volunteer groups should also be implemented, these activities occupy the youths and they will have no time to engage in vicious behaviors. Finally, parent-child interaction program should be deviced, this program is important since it will be able to teach parents more about parenting skills.

Also Study:

Social Modeling Theory and Juvenile Crime

Juvenile Detention Camps

  • Shoemaker, D. J. (2009). Juvenile delinquency. Lamham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield publishers.
  • Berger, R. J, & Gregory, P. D. (2009). Juvenile delinquency and justice: Sociological perspectives Boulder, Colo: Lynne Rienner publisher
  • Howell, J. C. (2009). Preventing and reducing juvenile delinquency: A comprehensive framework.
  • Agnew, R. (2009). Juvenile delinquency: causes and control. New York: Oxford University press.
  • Bartol, C. R., Bartol, A. M., & Bartol, C. R. (2009). Juvenile delinquency and antisocial behavior: A developmental perspective. Upper saddle River,

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