Juvenile Delinquency




Juveniledelinquency encompasses the tendency of teenagers and children toengage in criminal activities that may warrant legal action beingtaken against them. Over the years, juvenile delinquency has causedmany problems all over the world, with societies being adverselyaffected. Teenagers and adolescents from diverse population can takepart in juvenile delinquency and there is no specific ethnic groupthat can be associated with certain crimes. The major forms ofdelinquent behavior among the youths mainly encompass bullying,substance and drug abuse, as well as petty crimes such as theft ofproperty. Various theories have been developed with the aim ofexplaining what juvenile delinquency entails (Siegel and Welsh,2014). The theories are useful in addressing delinquent behaviorsamong children. This paper seeks to discuss two case studies andhighlight the delinquency theories that relate to the cases. Morespecifically, the paper will evaluate the case of Abby and Justin.

CaseStudy 1: Abby

Thecase of Abby portrays the life of a teenager who has been subjectedto suffering as a result of which she has decided to engage indelinquent behavior that has affected her significantly. Although sheattends a good school, her academic performance is not appealing, andthis can be attributed to the actions of her stepfather. The theorythat best explains the behavior of Abby is the routine choice theory,which is related to the rational choice approach. Based on theroutine choice theory, humans make choices after an evaluation ofvarious options. The theory holds that crime is normal and should notbe viewed as deviant all the times since, under normal conditions,the society cannot be free of criminal activities (Siegel and Welsh,2014).

Whileexplaining the behavior of Abby and her motivation to engage inactivities that can be regarded as criminal, routine activitiestheory is essential. From the theory, it is evident that juvenileswho commit crime are motivated by the opportunity to do so. In hercase, Abby views absconding school as reward for the trauma she hasexperienced. The opportunity to run away from home presents itselfand Abby sees it necessary to seize it and goes to the streets whereshe can find peace of mind. In addition, there are elements in thelife of Abby that create a scenario, which motivates her to carry outthe crime she commits. As postulated by the theory, there areincapable guardians in the life of Abby, suitable targets, as well aspotential offenders. Abby’s stepfather is an incapable guardian,who instead of taking of the minor, abuses her sexually. Since themother does not supervise her closely, she easily engages in drugabuse and performs poorly in school.

Thesociological and psychological variables presented in the caseinclude the motivating factors that trigger Abby to behave in themanner she behaves. Her stepfather is the main factor that motivatesthe occurrence of her behavior. With continued sexual harassment,Abby has reached a certain point that she can no longer withstand thesuffering she silently undergoes. She would rather engage inactivities that compromise her education performance than continueliving a miserable life with her father. The psychological variablesthat trigger her behavior are also related to the feelings andemotions she develops, which cause a lot of emotional distress in herlife. In addition, the sociological variables relating to thebehavior of Abby relate to the cultural aspects of her ethnic group.The major aspect is family values and stability most Caucasianfamilies are unstable and parents quarrel regularly. This might bethe case with the parents of Abby since she does not tell her motherabout the behavior of her step-father (Siegel and Welsh, 2014).

Thetreatment strategy in the case of Abby should focus on addressing thecauses of her behavior and establishing contacts with people who aresignificant in her life. Necessary legal action should be takenagainst her step-father who has been the major cause of her behavior.The therapist should emphasize the need to have Abby’s motherpresent in her daughter’s life as this can go a long way inpreventing her father from assaulting her sexually. In addition, thetreatment plan should focus on encouraging Abby to attend school andtake her studies seriously. Abby should be encouraged to talk to herteachers whenever she is experiencing a problem rather than beingquiet and suffering alone.

CaseStudy 2: Justin

Fromthe case, Justin is presented as a teenager who comes from a poorfamily where access to basic necessities is a challenge. He is beingtaken care of by her mom who is a single parent and the problems athome are likely to affect his future despite the fact that heperforms well in school. The theory that best applies to the case ofJustin is the deterrence theory of juvenile delinquency. Thedeterrence theory is based on the belief that, with the use ofappropriate strategies, it is possible to deter teenagers fromcommitting crime in the future. While dealing with delinquents, thedeterrence theory is based on evaluating the causes of criminalbehavior and addressing these causes through the juvenile justicesystem. Since Justin is engaging in crimes that are unlawful,deterrence through rehabilitation can be the appropriate strategy toprevent future instances of criminal behavior (Siegel and Welsh,2014).

Forthe case of Justin, the deterrence theory on the foundations of somevariables in sociology and psychology such as rational choice. Justincan be viewed as a rational person whose choices are based on theevaluation of the risks, rewards, as well as benefits that can bederived from behaving in a certain way. Justin might have seen therewards of gang activity as more beneficial than the risks involved.As a result, his choice to join a gang may seem reasonable since hegets money with which he can help the mother take care of his youngsiblings. The cultural variable that relates to the ethnic group ofJustin (African-American) is single-mother parenting, which is acommon phenomenon among Americans of the African descent. Thechallenges facing African-American families often results to disunionbetween the mother and father, and as a result, break-ups are common(Siegel and Welsh, 2014).

Theappropriate intervention that can help address the case of Justin isrehabilitation. While applying the deterrence theory, juvenile crimecan either be addressed using rehabilitation or punishment. However,rehabilitation is the best approach in developing the interventionplan for Justin. This is because Justin is bright in academics, andwhen he is subjected to punishment, he might lose focus and performpoorly in school. Through rehabilitation, Justin can be taken to acenter where education is provided and be given a chance to continuewith his education. This way, he will be separated from factors thattrigger his criminal activities and he will become a law abidingcitizen. Justin’s mother can be assisted to access social welfarebenefits that will help her take care of Justin’s other siblings.


Siegel,L. and Welsh, B. (2014). JuvenileDelinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law.London: Cengage Learning.