Juvenile delinquency refers to juvenile behavior characterized by antisocial conduct that is beyond parental control and istherefore subject to legal action. However, such behavior or violation of the law is not punishable by death or life imprisonment.
Extensive research and study have been conducted to determine the possible causes as well as risk factors that eventually lead to cases of juvenile delinquency. A risk factor can be defined as scientifically proven reasons that have a strong causal relationship to a certain problem. An in-depth understanding of various factors that result in juvenile delinquency can help parents and society as a whole to come up with solutions to deal with the problem. Some risk factors have been categorized and are listed below:
Individual/Personal Factors — Individual psychological or behavioral risk factors that may increase the likelihood of committing criminal offenses include intelligence, aggression, impulsiveness, anxiety and empathy. Aggressive behavior has also been noted among childrenwith certain neurological and cognitive abnormalities. These may manifest as restlessness, low IQ and verbal ability, poor scholastic performance, constricted problem-solving skills and reasoning abilities, neurophysiological disorders and aberrant functioning ofneurotransmitter systems and steroid hormones.
Children with low intelligence are likely to have poor performance in school. This situation may further increase the chances of offendingsince low educational aspirations and low educational attainment are all risk factors for juvenile delinquency. Moreover, children who perform poorly in school are the ones who are more likely to truant, which is likewise related to offending.
Environmental Factors – The immediate environment where a child grows has a significant role in influencing the child’s behaviorpatterns. Some environmental factors that have been generally associated with delinquent behavior include poverty or limited economic opportunities, excessive exposure to violence and criminal acts, and high unemployment rate.
Community/Social Factors – Researchers claim that the community has a substantial role to play in child development, including a smooth transition from adolescence to adulthood. A strong social infrastructure help children and teenagers to develop the essential social skills,boost self-confidence and enhance decision-making capabilities. In contrast, a disorganized society is a potential risk factor for juvenile delinquency. Some community level risk factors include lack of quality educational and recreational opportunities, availability and accessibility of illicit drugs and weapons.
Family Factors — It is crucial to establish good communication between parents and children, adequate parental supervision and guidancein order to ensure healthy development of a child. However, there is sufficient evidence which suggests that family environment has direct influence on a child’s state of mind, resulting in juvenile delinquency. These include incidences like domestic violence, child neglect, child abuse, parental conflict or separation, criminal parents or siblings, and ineffective disciplinary practices of parents.