Causes of Juvenile Delinquency

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Juvenile delinquency can be caused by the home, school, or neighborhood environments.

If juveniles come from an abusive home, they may act more violently or aggressively toward others. If the mother and father in the home are constantly yelling at each other or hitting each other, the juvenile learns this behavior is acceptable. When juveniles think this behavior is acceptable, they may act this way in school toward classmates or teachers. This behavior will probably land them in a juvenile detention center.

The home environment can be so chaotic that it takes all of the teen's physical and emotional energy to survive at home. When juveniles have no energy left to concentrate on school, they will not perform as well at school. Perhaps teens have an undiagnosed learning disability that causes them to fail at school. All of these frustrations may cause the teen's grades to dip. When this happens the teen may ditch school and get involved with other delinquent teens who drink, steal, do drugs, or are in gangs.

Sometimes simple geography can cause teens to be involved in gangs. If juveniles live in neighborhoods controlled by gangs, they may look up to gangs for their power and wealth. Gangs can cause fear in the neighborhood and terrorize others. If gangs are dealing drugs or selling stolen merchandise, gang members can become wealthy. When teens see this behavior they want in on the money. Gang members may do drugs themselves and cause other neighborhood teens to do drugs also. Any of these activities can cause harm or land juveniles in jail or juvenile detention centers.

When teens end up in juvenile detention centers, obviously they will come into contact with other delinquents. Juveniles can learn additional bad behaviors from those around them. Perhaps friendships will form and when the teens get out, they may meet up and introduce each other to other troubled teens and make more bad choices.

When parents drink or use drugs, teens are taught this is acceptable behavior. Juveniles may even drink and use drugs with their parents. When this happens, juveniles may not make it to school or work. Without an education and an income, teens are trapped into an unhealthy lifestyle.

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