What Research and Policy Tell Us In this book, we make poverty and the inequities that are related to socio-economic class our primary focus for three reasons.
There is general agreement that behavior, including antisocial and delinquent behavior, is the result of a complex interplay of individual biological and genetic factors and environmental factors, starting during fetal development and continuing throughout life Bock and Goode, Clearly, genes affect biological development, but there is no biological development without environmental input.
Thus, both biology and environment influence behavior. Many children reach adulthood without involvement in serious delinquent behavior, even in the face of multiple risks. Although risk factors may help identify which children are most in need of preventive interventions, they cannot identify which particular children will become serious or chronic offenders.
It has long been known that most adult criminals were involved in delinquent behavior as children and adolescents; most delinquent children and adolescents, however, do not grow up to be adult criminals Robins, Similarly, most serious, chronically delinquent children and adolescents experience a number of risk factors at various levels, but most children and adolescents with risk factors do not become serious, Poverty and juvenile delinquency delinquents.
Furthermore, any individual factor contributes only a small part to the increase in risk.
It is, however, widely recognized that the more risk factors a child or adolescent experiences, the higher their risk for delinquent behavior. Page 67 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice. The National Academies Press. Some studies focus on behavior that meets diagnostic criteria for conduct disorder or other antisocial behavior disorders; others look at aggressive behavior, or lying, or shoplifting; still others rely on juvenile court referral or arrest as the outcome of interest.
Furthermore, different risk factors and different outcomes may be more salient at some stages of child and adolescent development than at others. Much of the literature that has examined risk factors for delinquency is based on longitudinal studies, primarily of white males.
Some of the samples were specifically chosen from high-risk environments. Care must be taken in generalizing this literature to girls and minorities and to general populations. Nevertheless, over the past 20 years, much has been learned about risks for antisocial and delinquent behavior.
This chapter is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of all the literature on risk factors. Rather it focuses on factors that are most relevant to prevention efforts. For reviews of risk factor literature, see, for example, Hawkins et al.
The chapter discusses risk factors for offending, beginning with risks at the individual level, including biological, psychological, behavioral, and cognitive factors. Social-level risk factors are discussed next; these include family and peer relationships.
Finally, community-level risk factors, including school and neighborhood attributes, are examined. Although individual, social, and community-level factors interact, each level is discussed separately for clarity.
These individual factors include age, gender, complications during pregnancy and delivery, impulsivity, aggressiveness, and substance use. Some factors operate before birth prenatal or close to, during, and shortly after birth perinatal ; some can be identified in early childhood; and other factors may not be evident until late childhood or during adolescence.
To fully appreciate the development of these individual characteristics and their relations to delinquency, one needs to study the development of the individual in interaction with the environment. In order to simplify presentation of the research, however, this section deals only with individual factors.
Age Studies of criminal activity by age consistently find that rates of offending begin to rise in preadolescence or early adolescence, reach a peak in Page 68 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Some lawbreaking experience at some time during adolescence is nearly universal in American children, although much of this behavior is reasonably mild and temporary.
Although the exact age of onset, peak, and age of desistance varies by offense, the general pattern has been remarkably consistent over time, in different countries, and for official and self-reported data.
For example, Farringtonain a longitudinal study of a sample of boys in London the Cambridge Longitudinal Studyfound an eightfold increase in the number of different boys convicted of delinquent behavior from age 10 to age 17, followed by a decrease to a quarter of the maximum level by age The number of self-reported offenses in the same sample also peaked between ages 15 and 18, then dropped sharply by age In a longitudinal study of boys in inner-city Pittsburgh just over half the sample was black and just under half was whitethe percentage of boys who self-reported serious delinquent behavior rose from 5 percent at age 6 to about 18 percent for whites and 27 percent for blacks at age 16 Loeber et al.
A longitudinal study of a representative sample from high-risk neighborhoods in Denver also found a growth in the self-reported prevalence of serious violence from age 10 through late adolescence Kelley et al. Females in the Denver sample exhibited a peak in serious violence in midadolescence, but prevalence continued to increase through age 19 for the boys.
The study is continuing to follow these boys to see if their prevalence drops in early adulthood. Much research has concentrated on the onset of delinquency, examining risk factors for onset, and differences between those who begin offending early prior to adolescence versus those who begin offending in midadolescence.
There have been suggestions that early-onset delinquents are more likely than later-onset delinquents to be more serious and persistent offenders e.
There is evidence, however, that predictors associated with onset do not predict persistence particularly well Farrington and Hawkins, There are also important problems with the choice of statistical models to create categories of developmental trajectories Nagin and Tremblay, Research by Nagin and Tremblay found no evidence of late-onset physical aggression.The effect of the Depression on poor children was particularly severe.
Grace Abbott, head of the federal Children's Bureau, reported that in the spring of , 20 percent of the nation's school children showed evidence of poor nutrition, housing, and medical care. Juvenile delinquency, also known as "juvenile offending", is participation in illegal behavior by minors (juveniles, i.e.
individuals younger than the statutory age of majority). Education is the great equalizer, opening doors to lift themselves out of poverty. Delinquent by Reason of Poverty Posted on August 20, by Tamar Birckhead The title of this post is the title of a new column of mine published today on Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.
Research References. The following references are selected from publications within the past five years. These articles were selected to demonstrate the range of social work research related to poverty, its causes, and its impact on people and related social systems.
In , over 93, young people were incarcerated and states spend about $ billion each year imprisoning youth, even though the majority are held for nonviolent offenses. Juvenile Justice involvement in kids within the special education system is a hot topic. When the federal special education law was passed in , Congress found that most children with disabilities were not receiving an appropriate education - and that millions of children were excluded from school altogether.