The Relationship Between Social Class and Delinquency

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Most people have preconceived notions regarding the relationship between social class and delinquency. A common assumption is that lower-class juveniles are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior than their higher-class counterparts. Criminologists have performed a large number of studies examining the socio-demographic characteristics of delinquents, which often yielded contradictory results. When analyzing the extent and trend of juvenile delinquency in the United States conclusions can be drawn from estimates derived from arrest records, self-reports, and victimization data. Arrest estimates, self-reported information, and victimization data provide different estimates of the extent of delinquency in the United States (Maxfield et al., 2000). The relationship between social class and delinquency is gauged by examining studies based on arrest data and self-reported data. Early studies based on arrest data found that lower-class communities have much higher arrest rates than higher-class communities. On the basis of these studies criminologists concluded that social class was strongly associated with delinquency. Early self-report studies of delinquency found little or no relationship between social class and delinquency. The self-report studies accounted for the findings from the arrest data by citing its biased nature. It was claimed that offenses committed by lower class juveniles were more likely to come to the attention of the police and thus were more likely to result in an arrest (Hagan et al., 1985). Studies such as Chambliss’ “Saints versus the Roughnecks” accounts for the reason why lower class juveniles are perceived to be more delinquent than their higher class peers, citing reasons such as decreased visibil... ... middle of paper ... ...ugs (Agnew 1985). WORKS CITED Maxfield, Michael G., Barbara Luntz Weiler, and Cathy Spatz Widom. "Comparing Self-Reports And Official Records Of Arrests." Journal Of Quantitative Criminology 16.1 (2000): 87. Hagan, John, A. R. Gillis, and John Simpson. "The Class Structure Of Gender And Delinquency: Toward A Power-Control Theory Of Common Delinquent Behavior." American Journal Of Sociology 90.6 (1985): 1151. Siegel, Larry J., Brandon C. Welsh “Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law.” Cengage Learning (2011): Wright, Bradley R. Entner, and C. Wesley Younts. “Reconsidering the Relationship between Race and Crime: Positive and Negative Predictors of Crime among African American.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 46.3 (2009) Agnew, Robert. "A Revised Strain Theory Of Delinquency." Social Forces 64.1 (1985): 151-167.
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