Peer Influence and Juvenile Delinquency

One cannot segregate Peer influence from juvenile criminal behavior . Psychologists believe that friends and peers highly effect young peoples’ decisions. There are many factors other than the peers that effect an adolescent’s behavior. And, therefore, you cannot quantify the extent to which a criminal behavior is linked to a delinquent peer. For example, personal factors, family factors, and society all play important role in shaping an adolescent.

Having good friends can boost a child’s self esteem, confidence, morale, moral values, and civic sense. On the other hand, bad company can cause more harm to the teenager. Some peers consciously pressurize the child to indulge in criminal activities. It is evident from past research that delinquent youth effect non-delinquent youth to join in their delinquent activities. This gives a kind of satisfaction and strength to delinquent youth.

What is criminal behavior?

A criminal behavior is one that is different from the norms of the society. Such behavior is abnormal because it can cause harm to the society or its people. According to Esiri, 2016 ” Behaviour that does not conform to the cultural norms or laws of a given society at a particular time and is often times negatively sanctioned, is referred to as criminal”. Criminal behavior include stealing, theft, rape, possession of unlawful weapons, murder, money laundering, corruption, early-age drinking, or drug sale.

Why and how peers influences a juvenile

It is evident that adolescents’ brain is not fully developed like adults’ brain. And, hence, they are more prone to get influence by criminal peer behavior than adults. Adolescent girls and boys spend more time with their friends and classmate inside and outside the school. This is also a big reason why they can easily adopt criminal behavior from their peers.

Peer group involvement in social work and creative activities gives adolescents a good opportunity to adopt good habits. Sports give good opportunity to adolescents to spend time in healthy activities. For example, biking, soccer, swimming, basketball,or other games. This gives the youth an opportunity to adopt good physical activities.

Choice of school

The choice of school is important in safeguarding the teenager from indulging in criminal behavior. Many parents move to good neighborhood so that there children can attend good schools. Teachers and other school management can shape a child’s behavior . But the strongest influence is always peer group.

Strengthening crimes

It gives more strength to the criminals when more and more people get part of the criminal world. And, therefore, they not only influence but pressurize friends and classmates to join crimes. Sometimes this influence is so slow that the adolescent cannot recognize how it all happened.

Treatment of delinquency

The places where the youth receive treatments for their deviant behavior put all deviant youth together. There are various studies that suggest that putting youth in segregation with other deviant youth has more risks than benefits.

Role of family

Some studies suggest that a child can influence from a deviant group but here family plays an important role. Kids belonging from good social families will less likely adopt deviation. Conversely, a child that comes from a family that acts in a deviant manner will more likely react to deviant activities positively. Therefore, the readiness to adopt to the norms and values of the deviant group depends on several factors.


  • National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. 2001. Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.



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