factors contributing to juvenile delinquency

Factors Contributing to Juvenile Delinquency

Over the years, several reasons have been presented for juvenile delinquency in adolescents and pre-adolescent kids. The scientific investigation about juvenile delinquency advanced during the last 20 years. Research investigators, juvenile courts, educators, health organizations, adolescent welfare organizations, and mental health institutes have done extensive research on the factors contributing juvenile delinquency. In general, it can be said that juvenile delinquency is the result of social, emotional, mental, and/or physical problems that an adolescent faces. These adolescent himself can be the one who has gone through any such problems in his life or his family has gone through any such dilemma.

Personality and human behavior

Personality and human behavior are  complex phenomena and it is difficult to say with certainty that a certain factor can be the cause of a certain behavior. There are great hurdles in understanding why one adolescent might steal because of poverty but other will do gambling and still another one will be a good citizen. However it does not mean that we cannot predict the factors that might result in delinquent behavior in adolescents. Researchers, and social scientists have done great work in recent years and studied the factors that contribute to delinquent behavior. They study the underlying attitudes of adolescents that result in a particular behavior that they display to the world.

Several thousand of studies have been conducted to study the factors contributing to juvenile delinquency. The result of these studies show that there are a mix of personal factors and environmental factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency. Personal factors are dependent on human genetics or heredity and environment.

Physical Factors

There are many ways in which human body can contribute to delinquent behavior. Physical factors are not just the result of our heredity but environment also plays an important role in shaping our body. The more a person is exposed to its environment the more he/she will get influenced from it. A child who has acquired poor genetic makeup can improve due to positive environmental exposure.

Developmental abnormalities

Developmental issues or genetic abnormalities can be a strong force in juvenile delinquency. Children with some developmental problems need a lot of positive motivation and encouragement to become a healthy individual. They also need a platform where they can learn ways to cope with their problems. Positive influence can make them happy and healthy otherwise they will bring out their frustration on society in some way.

Poor sleep

Poor sleeping habits sometimes also result in a delinquent behavior. Poor sleep can be due to poor family habits like watching movies late night, late dinner routine, negligence from parents, mental issues, or physical health issues. Poor sleep or lack of sleep can cause frustration, nervousness, and fatigue in adolescents.  Poor sleep can also cause over stimulation that can trigger bad behavior towards society.

Food habits

Food habits also play major role in how an adolescent exhibit his/her behavior towards society. Its really difficult for a teacher or caregiver to understand that a poor behavior in an adolescent is sue to poor eating habits in family. Sometime directly and sometime indirectly malnutrition can become a cause of delinquency. Malnutrition can be due to poverty and poverty itself can be a reason of criminal behavior in children. Malnutrition can also be due to parents not being responsible towards their kids, irresponsible attitude of parents is also a major factor in delinquency.

Physical ailments

Physical ailments like kidney problems, heart problems, diabetes, obesity can be dangerous for the physical as well as mental health of a child. These ailments bring frustration in the child and the child find refuge in delinquency. If good care is provided to the child from parents, caregivers, teachers, and counselor the child can overcome his frustration and low feelings. He can become a positive and responsible citizen. Children sometimes hear bad comments from society due to their obesity, this obesity can be genetic in which case they do not have much control over their body.

Mental Factors

It goes without saying that mental or psychological factors play a big role in shaping our behavior. There are always two sides of our mental abilities. For example: some adolescents with excessive intelligence can do wonders for themselves and for the society, while other can become dangerous. Similarly, children with low intelligence can work hard to overcome their low IQ while other children can become aggressive, depressed, and frustrated due to that. Various studies suggest that adolescents with low intelligence that get scolding from parents or teachers can become poor citizens, they find outlets in delinquent behavior.

Dominance and egocentricism

Some kids acquire an urge of dominance from their parents they cannot stay under control and power of others. Dominance is one such behavior that needs a lot of skill on the part of parents and teacher to deal with. When a child cannot display his urge for dominance among his peers he find other delinquent ways to bring it out. Similarly, egocentricism is also common in adolescents, egocentric children become readily angry, aggressive and want to prove their point of view. If dealt with carefully they can control over their emotion otherwise they will find a bad way to satisfy it.

Mental abnormalities

Mental abnormalities can be very frustrating for a child, these abnormalities can be congenial or developed later in life. Sex offences are very common among youth that want to prove their developmental abilities among their peers. Use of weapons in inappropriate ways is also common among children with mental abnormalities. The reason for such display of negative behavior is that they either want to use the excessive energy that they have or they cannot control their actions.


Mental conflicts with peers, siblings, parents, and/or teachers can arouse negative emotions in children. Usually when kids have mental conflict they try to be offensive in one way or other. They want to be heard and approved, this needs adults to listen to their point of view and try to resolve the issues. If not resolved for a longer period of time they can develop a habit of being in conflict with other people for small issues. Parents and teachers can train kids at very young age to learn to resolve conflicts and avoid over debating whenever possible.

Emotional instability

Emotional instability like anger, grief, aggressiveness, sadness, or fear of loss can very easily trigger bad behavior. Emotional instability is not something that develop later in adolescence, it actually develops from very young age. Kids acquire it from parents or they become unstable when they see chaos and confusion at home.

Home Conditions


Poverty is one big reason for theft, stealing, use of weapon, aggressiveness, gang crimes, and law breaking in young kids. Some kids start criminal behavior at a very young age due to the poor economic conditions at home. They want to fulfill their physical, psychological and social needs. Later when they develop criminal habit they can go on and can commit serious crimes. Just like poverty, unemployment of parents can also trigger criminal behavior.

Luxury and riches

On the other hand, being too rich and enjoying a luxury life can also make a child over-materialistic. There are two ways in which a rich child can become delinquent: first, he enjoys riches at home and then all of a sudden his parents could not afford to provide as much luxuries as he was enjoying, second, he becomes materialistic and develop bad habits.

Broken home

Research has proved that broken homes and single parenting is the most common reason for juvenile delinquency. When either one of the parent die or they separate/divorce the child cannot get the affection and morale that he could have received from both parents.  Responsible parents understand the need of taking good care of their child when they are single-handed grooming their child. Single parents often become over-protective and harsh to discipline their children.

Lack of discipline

On the other hand parents who are very lax, do not discipline their kids, or do not give the necessary values and morale to be a good citizen can also ruin their child’s personality. Such kids will commit a crime and will never even feel bad for what they have done because of poor parenting. Some parents do not feel bad to break laws, like, driving on a red traffic light and overs-peeding. When kids see such behavior shown by their parents they too become law breaker and lack discipline.

School Conditions

When it comes to school conditions over the past few years a lot of control has been exerted over the use of drugs, gang-effects, poor discipline, and law enforcement. The use of power, weapon, drugs, breaking laws and discipline is more common in high schools then in middle and elementary schools. The underlying conditions can be many like lake of skilled staff that can groom an adolescent into a good citizen. Sometimes favoritism from teachers can lead to aggressiveness and frustration in child. This also causes revengeful attitude in the child and can have serious implications.

Poor attendance

Sometimes poor attendance in a school and no law enforcement can lead to criminal behavior in children. When schools are not concerned about how many kids are attending the school and if they are absent or tardy where they have spent this time children can be at ease to do anything. Such kids can become prey to being part of gangs who commit serious crimes.

Lack of recreation

Schools should also provide good recreational space to children where they can spend some time having fun. Poor building structure of school can make a child feel frustrated and will try to spend time out of school. Such children can develop bad companionship out of school where they are not safe alone.

Neighborhood Conditions

Poor morale of the people in neighborhood, poor recreational facilities, congested neighborhood, show of luxury and wealth in neighborhood, presence of gangs in neighborhood, loneliness and lack of social outlets,

The neighborhood where a child lives should have good sanitation, healthy recreational places, and positive social outlets. Living in a neighborhood where there is gang influence, people with poor morale, and influence of luxury and wealth can all be a negative influence on a child.

Children need good social outlets where they can spend some time having healthy activities. They need good recreational facilities where they can develop their physical and mental health. Good recreation and socialization is necessary for physical, mental, social and emotional grooming. A good recreational space in the neighborhood can make sure that the child can have good after-school hours.

Gang and drugs

Having a neighborhood where their are presence of gangs and drug dealers can have serious negative implications. When children become part of a gang they want to be part of all the activities going on in the gang. Saying no to any criminal activity in the gang means losing your place in the gang. Some children do serious crimes as fun as they are part o f a gang that is involved in such activities. Same goes for the use of drugs, when children become part of a group that uses drugs, acceptability becomes an issue. The child has to use drugs to be part of that group.

The factors contributing to juvenile delinquency cannot be understood unless you know the present and past of a child. Its not just the displayed behavior that is important but underlying attitudes and the reasons for those attitudes that need to be studied. To investigate the causes of a delinquent behavior one needs to study the past background and the current situations. One needs to collect information from various sources to be able to justly treat the cause.

Also Read:

Causes and Solutions of Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile Delinquency Prevention




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