Study Document

Analyzing and Assessing Juvenile Delinquency Essay

Pages:6 (2695 words)



Topic:Juvenile Delinquency

Document Type:Essay


Juvenile Delinquency Is Associated With Parenting Factors Through Social Control Theory

Interventions that involve life-course unrelenting offenders should place emphasis on remedial social abilities, for them to have a chance to decrease their frequency of offence in future, and to tackle conduct disorder problems. Interventions involving teenage-onset offenders should, wherever applicable, tackle issues relating to parenting, alcohol/drug misuse, and anti-social friends. Keane, Krull and Phythian (2008) define self-control as the extent to which a person is susceptible to temptation. According to them, lack of self-restraint or self-control is a fairly universal and stable characteristic, accounting for individual discrepancies in deviant, reckless, and criminal conduct. Youngsters' parents are usually blamed for their kids' delinquent behavior. Some courts go as far as penalizing parents for their kids' antisocial actions. It is believed that weak self-control develops during early childhood, when one's family is the most central socializing agent. Therefore, lack of self-restraint and the resultant deviant behavior result from familial factors. This research work studies parenting effects on kids' self-restraint via a large-scale, countrywide sample of kids in Canada; it considers the part played by factors like household size and parental composition. Analyses show that the dimension of self-control is different for different family structures -- kids residing in a traditional household (both biological parents living together) report higher self-control levels as compared to kids raised in single-parent and reconstituted households. However, parental monitoring partly offsets this relationship. On the whole, regardless of the structure of families, it is clear that an accepting and nurturing family atmosphere positively impacts self-restraint (Farrington, 2010).


Juvenile delinquency represents a growing, and alarming issue in today's world. Kaukinen and Apel (2008) define juvenile delinquency as any minor or major violation of the law (e.g., theft, robbery, rape, murder, etc.) by children aged below 18 years. Minor violations include status offenses and misdemeanors. The former represents activities that are considered illegal for teens on account of their age (e.g. underage drinking, truancy, etc.) According to McVie and Smith (2003), 80% of American teenagers professed to having committed at least one delinquent act worthy of arrest (which they were spared from). A majority of arrested teens are caught for perpetrating minor offenses. In the year 1990, 62.6% of overall juvenile arrests were for small misdemeanors and not for serious offenses. Out of these, 18.6% faced arrest for violating liquor law, violating curfew, running away and other such common status offenses, while 16.2% faced arrest for minor drug law violation, drunkenness, vandalism, and disorderly conduct (Apel & Kaukinen, 2008). Nowadays, however, not only is the frequency of delinquent acts rising, but the offenses are gradually becoming more vicious in nature. One example to corroborate this statement is the recent shooting incidents in American schools. As juvenile delinquency represents a rampant issue in the nation, studying it and assessing some of its potential underlying causes is essential. Hence, this study, whose basis is low self-control criminology theory and how it contributes to juvenile delinquency as a result of poor parenting, takes into account, the role of factors such as parental composition and household size and analyzes parental impacts on children's self-restraint, through an extensive, nationwide sample of Canadian children.

Thesis Statement

There is a strong correlation between permissive style of parenting and high delinquency levels.

Background of the Study and Theory

Self-control or social control denotes an individual trait established in one's early life; it contributes to deviant conduct (Teasdale and Silver, 2009). Kids with low self-control levels are more likely to perpetrate offenses, and this criminal tendency continues into adulthood. Self-control develops through powerful attachments to schools, communities and other social foundations. These social attachments can become weak, and are capable of influencing deviance levels. A popular criminological theory of recent times, the low self-control theory, propounded by Hirschi and Gottfredson (1990), holds that self-control is developed in individuals by the age of 7-8 years, and their self-control level remains relatively constant throughout their lives. Individuals engage in deviant conduct as it leads to immediate gratification of desires (for instance, stealing), has no long-term objective, and requires no much thought processing (Crosswhite and Kerpelman, 2008). The above results appeal to adolescents who have poor self-control, as weak self-control is associated with weak self-regulation. The term "self-regulation" refers to the ability of establishing and accomplishing goals, refraining from problematic activities, and concentrating on long-run goals. Teenagers cannot restrain behavior or maintain goals. The failure to control aberrant tendencies goads children into engaging in deviant or delinquent activities.

Purpose of the Study

This study is aimed at evaluating the relationship between self-reported delinquent behaviors and parenting style. Empirical investigation of relationship between delinquency-related behavior and parenting styles is crucial. This research work's hypothesis was that: There is a strong correlation between permissive style of parenting and high delinquency levels. Conversely, authoritative style of parenting is correlated to low deviance/delinquency levels. Lastly, significant mean difference was anticipated in self-reported levels of delinquency among groups identified by style of parenting (Hoeve, Blokland, Dubas, Loeber, Gerris & van dee Laan, 2008).

Significance of the Study

Numerous social factors influence juvenile delinquency's etiology. Of these, a crucial factor that contributes to risks of delinquency is the child's family (Mmari, Blum, & Tuefel-Shone, 2010). Society will benefit in multiple ways from this study's findings; e.g., educational programs can be created with regard to family's significant role in children's lives.

Research Question

Is juvenile delinquency affected by parenting style and family structure?

Literature Review

Often, parenting or familial factors are believed to contribute to risks of developing delinquency (Tompsett & Toro, 2010). Authoritarian and, in particular, indifferent, styles of parenting are proven to be linked to negative outcomes among children. Mmari and colleagues (2010) discovered that kids in households where an indifferent style of parenting is practiced depict the poorest outcomes on numerous psychological and behavioral measures. Such kids exhibit high drug use and problem behavior rates. Parents' absence in indifferent home environments and its negative impact on the development of children was in line with the findings of other studies (Mmari et al., 2010).

Most participants of the aforementioned study believed that parental absence was the principal cause of American-Indian juveniles'/youngsters' engagement in violent acts and drug consumption. Moreover, as authoritarian parents impose discipline on their children, children do not learn self-regulation, but depend on external and parental controls (Hoeve et al., 2008). By externally imposing authority, there is greater likelihood of juveniles/adolescents rebelling and turning delinquent. Most respondents also stated their belief that inadequate or nonexistent disciplining by parents was also a key factor in increasing risks of delinquency in children. Asher's (2006) findings indicate the critical role parenting styles play in predicting juveniles' behavioral outcomes. The research work involved legal guardians and parents of juveniles imprisoned for felony; it was observed that no less than 46% of these guardians/parents had an authoritarian parenting style (Asher, 2006; Hirschi, 2002).

An analysis of the general crime theory has revolved chiefly around the impact of poor self-control in an individual on his/her criminal behavior. This element was the main focus of Baron's (2003) research on downtown Vancouver's street youth, with whom the researcher held 400 interviews. The subject of these interviews was different kinds of crime, such as violent crime, property crime, and drug use. The researcher discovered a link between violent conduct and poor self-control -- poor self-control was the strongest predictor of violence. However, Baron (2003) remarks that his findings do not necessarily support the claim that weak self-control is associated strongly with all criminal acts. Instead, he suggests that this theory may be applied for explaining certain kinds of offences. Cullen, Dobrin, Piquero, Daigle and MacDonald (2005) arrived at similar conclusions. This research group examined the link of poor self-control with homicide victimization and violent offences, and discovered that poor self-control was, indeed, related to homicide victimization as well as violent offences. But, self-control wasn't the sole contributing variable. There were other factors that influenced homicide victimization and violent offending, namely, race, criminal history, and age when the first crime was perpetrated. Consequently, these researchers contend that, though self-control seems to contribute to violent offences, general crime theory fails to consider other cultural and social elements also potentially impacting individuals' inclination towards violent crime.


Participant Demographics

Of the 4350 youngsters who took part in this research, 930 were aged from 14-18 years, while the remaining 3420 were college-goers aged between 19 years and mid-twenties. Further, 3176 participants identified themselves as females while the rest (i.e., 1174) identified themselves as males.

Research Tools

The study utilized an online survey, containing an informed consent form, a form for obtaining demographic information, confidentiality assurance, and two questionnaires. The survey was administered via two separate websites, one for juvenile participants (14-18 years) and the other for adult participants (aged 18+). The PAQ (Parental Authority Questionnaire) (Buri, 1991) constituted 30 items, aimed at measuring the permissive, authoritative, and authoritarian parenting styles identified by Baumrind (1991). This parenting scale differs from others in that it is to be…

Sample Source(s) Used


Apel, R., & Kaukinen, C. (2008). On the relationship between family structure and antisocial behavior: Parental cohabitation and blended households. Criminology, 46, 35-70.

Asher, A. J. (2006). Exploring the relationship between parenting style and juvenile delinquency. Department of Social Studies and Family Work. Faculty of Miami University.

Baron, S. W. (2003). Self-control, social consequences, and criminal behavior: Street youth and the general theory of crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 40(4), 403.

Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescence competence and substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11, 56-95.

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