Labeling Youths...and The Consequences Thereof

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A child’s self-esteem often times comes from their status in a group of their peers, their family, school life and in society. With that in mind, society still decides to label youths as deviants, delinquents and status offenders ultimately changing their own views on their self-image. This affects the way youths think about themselves and how they will play a role in society. It also affects the way society will later treat them and whether or not they become an outsider. Labeling youths is an unnecessary evil that often times changes children into criminals. To understand labeling we must first look at its definition. Labeling Theory is a theoretical approach to deviant behavior, basically stating that applying formal definitions to an individual results in a negative self-concept that may subsequently provide motivation for further acts of deviance. (Rush 203) Labeling became a popular perspective during the 1960s and 1970s but it has proven to be influential in current times as well. This theory was developed over the course of years by three prominent theorists: Frank Tannenbaum, Edwin M. Lemert and Howard Becker. It is also known as Interactional Theory of Deviance and Social Reaction Perspective. Frank Tannenbaum is noted with the first use of labeling theory within his book Crime and Community in 1938. “The process of making the criminal, therefore, is a process of tagging, defining, identifying, segregating, describing, emphasizing, making conscious and self-conscious; it becomes a way of stimulating, suggesting, emphasizing and evoking the very traits that are complained of.” (Tannenbaum) Labeling separates juveniles from their counterparts and changes their self-image and how society and the justice system handles t... ... middle of paper ... ...ary evil that often times changes children into criminals. Works Cited Bartollas, Clemens, and Frank Schmalleger. "Schools and Delinquency." Juvenile Delinquency. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall/Pearson, 2011. 207-08. Print. Bartollas, Clemens, and Frank Schmalleger. "Social Interactionist Theories of Delinquency." Juvenile Delinquency. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall/Pearson, 2011. 127-31. Print. Bartollas, Clemens, and Frank Schmalleger. "Social Interactionist Theories of Delinquency." Juvenile Delinquency. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall/Pearson, 2011. 142. Print. Fagin, James A. "The Juvenile Justice System." CJ2011. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2012. 241. Print. Rush, George E. "Labeling Theory." The Dictionary of Criminal Justice. 6th ed. Guilford, Conn.: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, 2003. 203-04. Print.

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