The Impact of Gender and Family on Juvenile Delinquency in the United States

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Juvenile delinquency is of great concern in the United States. In 2007 over 2 million arrests were juveniles. There are two types of juvenile delinquency. The first type of offense is a behavior that would be a criminal violation for an adult. The other offense is called a “status” offense. Status offenses are delinquent actions that do not apply to adults, like running away and truancy. This paper will discuss the impact of gender and family on delinquency and the treatment by gender in the juvenile justice system.

Juvenile delinquent behavior is believed to be under-represented due to the limited methods of collecting juvenile crime data. Juvenile arrests accounted for 16 percent of all violent crime arrests (i.e. murder, rape, assault) and 26 percent of all property crime arrests (i.e. burglary, theft, arson) (Puzzanchera, 2009). Other crimes for which juveniles are arrested include simple assault, vandalism, gambling, disorderly conduct, weapons possession, illicit drug/liquor violation (including DUI) and prostitution. It is important to note that a number of misdemeanor crimes go unreported while serious crimes involving injury and/or large economic loss are reported more often. A 1998 U.S. longitudinal study tracking over 6,400 boys for over 20 years found that children who grew up without their biological father in the home were roughly three times more likely to commit a crime that led to incarceration, than children from intact families (Harper & McLanahan, 1998). Others have found that children of divorced parents are up to six times more likely to be delinquent than children from intact families. Boys raised without their fathers were more than twice as likely to end up in jail as those rose with their fathers, and ...

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...ibit both theories at different points within the juvenile processing.

Research has concluded that in order to reduce the amount of juvenile deviancy, juveniles need to have more stable environments at home and school. There is no such thing as a perfect world, therefore deviancy will continue to be a problem, but it can be reduced by introducing programs to provide juveniles with positive re-enforcement of role models. Programs such as the Boys and Girls Club, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters can have a dramatic effect on children who suffer the pains of a fragmented home. A safe place where a child can engage in positive activities to rid them of the strain/stress of their daily living could be the key to reducing juvenile deviancy. Encourage the local government officials to bring these types of programs to the community and guide those who are being led astray.

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