juvenile delinquency | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Juvenile Justice

Juvenile delinquency refers to violations of the law committed by juveniles.

Juvenile delinquency is a term used to describe the illegal or criminal behavior of minors under the age of 18 years. It refers to a broad range of criminal acts, from status offenses such as truancy and curfew violations to more serious offenses such as theft, drug offenses, and violent crimes. Juvenile delinquency is a complex issue that is affected by many factors, including social, economic, and environmental factors.

The causes of juvenile delinquency are multifaceted, and research suggests that it may be influenced by a combination of individual, familial, and community factors. Individual factors may include mental health issues, substance abuse, and a history of trauma or abuse. Familial factors may include parental neglect, abuse, or involvement in criminal activity. Community factors may include poverty, lack of access to education and healthcare, and exposure to violence or gang activity.

Juvenile delinquency is a serious issue that can have long-lasting impacts on the lives of young people. Delinquent behavior can lead to legal consequences, such as detention or probation, and can also have negative social and emotional consequences. Delinquent behavior can cause young people to become alienated from their families and communities and can lead to a cycle of criminal behavior that is difficult to break.

The juvenile justice system is designed to address the needs of young people who have committed delinquent acts. This system operates differently from the adult criminal justice system, with an emphasis on rehabilitation rather than punishment. Juvenile courts are typically closed to the public, and proceedings are confidential. This is intended to protect the privacy of young people and to encourage them to participate in rehabilitation programs without fear of stigma or retaliation.

The goal of the juvenile justice system is to provide young people with the support and guidance they need to become responsible and productive members of society. This may involve counseling, educational programs, community service, and other interventions designed to address the underlying causes of delinquent behavior. In some cases, detention may be necessary to ensure public safety or to provide a structured environment for treatment and rehabilitation.

Juvenile delinquency is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach to address. This includes efforts to address the underlying causes of delinquent behavior, such as poverty, trauma, and lack of access to education and healthcare. It also involves working with young people who have already become involved in the juvenile justice system to provide them with the support and guidance they need to overcome their challenges and become productive members of society. By addressing the root causes of delinquency and providing effective interventions, we can help to prevent future delinquent behavior and build stronger and more resilient communities.

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Last Modified: 04/08/2023

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