Sample Essay on Prevalence of Juvenile Delinquency among Adolescents

Prevalence of Juvenile Delinquency among Adolescents

Juvenile delinquency is an imprecise, ill-defined, social, legal and clinical label for a wide variety of law-violating behavior. An underage offender can be involved in a variety of acts that violate the law ranging from misdemeanors like school violence to felonies like robbery with violence. Juvenile delinquency among the adolescents seems to be a norm nowadays. Adolescent marks the transition from childhood to adulthood, the period is filled with opportunities, challenges, changes, skills, pressures and physical and cognitive development that predisposes the adolescents to delinquent behavior. This paper analyses the prevalence of juvenile delinquency among adolescents with supporting statistics and identifies a theory that best explains juvenile delinquency.

The prevalence of juvenile delinquency among the adolescents can be attributed to the modern family structure and makeup. Young people are brought up in different family settings. Majority of the young people are brought up in violent families and this predisposes them to delinquency during adolescence. Many guardians are alcoholic and violent nowadays and have forgotten about their parental responsibilities. The negligence by guardians has led young ones to be socialized in intimate social groups that teach the young ones antisocial behavior. Adolescents learn anti social behavior in intimate groups as a result of peer pressure. This best explains the prevalence of delinquency among adolescents because this is the time they are influenced by peer pressure to engage in antisocial behavior. Negligence and abuse by parents make young ones to seek solace in intimate antisocial groups which teach them criminal behavior


Statistics have given an alarming picture of juvenile delinquency amongst adolescents; they show that the vice is higher than before. Based on statistics of the census bureau, in 2008, 1,653,000 were recorded in the US that was an increase in relation to previous years.   The magnitude of posttraumatic experiences during childhood has a direct effect on juvenile delinquency during adolescence. A research that was published in pediatrics involving 136,549 US students between the ages of 12 and 17 was used to evaluate this relationship. The researchers looked at childhood experiences like sexual abuse and related to delinquent behavior during adolescence. “Bad experiences in childhood have a direct relationship with juvenile delinquency” (Baglivio, 2014). He conducted the ACE study and concluded  that children who were brought up  witnessing problems at home were more prone to violent behavior for instance crime, dating violence, harassment, carrying weapons at school attempted suicide, suicide ideation and bullying during adolescence. Each traumatic event in childhood mostly related to the consumption of alcohol by a relative increased the risk of the child being prone to delinquency during adolescence by 35%.

Differential association theory

Edwin Sutherland put forth the Differential association theory and argues that  Antisocial behavior is as a result of learning from others and it is to be expected of people who have internalized definitions of crime that are favorable to law violations” (Bartolas & Schmallenger, 2014). The major assumptions of the theory are: Delinquent behavior is learned, learning delinquent behavior occurs in intimate, groups, the learning include techniques of committing crime, the drives and motives are learned from definitions of legal codes as favorable and unfavorable and differential association may vary in frequency, intensity and duration. Sutherland believed that delinquents are taught anti-social behavior.


The theory for instance best explains the increase in juvenile delinquents among adolescents in urban areas as a product of criminalist traditions in the urban environment.  It argues that contents of patterns of relationships vary from one person to another. The prevalence of juvenile delinquency can be attributed to the ever-changing social environment that has predisposed young ones to delinquent behavior.



Baglivio, T. (2014).The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in the lives of juvenile offenders, Journal of juvenile justice, 2(2), 3-13.

Bartolas, C. & Schmallenger, F. (2014)  Juvenile Delinquency, University of Northern Lowa, Pearson.

Katner, D. (2009), “The mental health paradigm and the Macarthur study: Emerging Issues Challenging the Competence of Juveniles in Delinquency systems,” Journal of Law and Medicine. 33(42).