Juvenile Delinquency Causes and Control

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  • Edition: 5th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-12-05
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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An essential resource for exploring juvenile delinquency in the twenty-first century, Juvenile Delinquency: Causes and Control, Fifth Edition, offers a clear and concise overview of the latest theories and research on the causes and control of delinquency.

Instead of attempting to provide a sweeping view of the entire subject, Robert Agnew and new coauthor Timothy Brezina organize the text around three major questions: What is the nature and extent of delinquency? What are the causes of delinquency? What strategies should we employ to control delinquency? These thought-provoking questions draw students into the text, challenging them to use major theories to explain the basic facts about delinquency, to understand the research on its causes, and to develop and evaluate programs and policies for its control.

Author Biography

Robert Agnew is Professor of Sociology at Emory University and Past President of the American Society of Criminology.

Timothy Brezina is Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University.

Table of Contents

An Important Message for Instructors
An Overview of This Book

Part 1. The Nature and Extent of Delinquency

1. What Is Delinquency and How Does It Differ from Adult Crime?
Juvenile Delinquents Are Viewed Differently than Adult Criminals
Juvenile Delinquents Are Treated Differently than Adult Criminals
Special Laws for Juveniles: Status Offenses
A Special Court for Juveniles: Juvenile Court
Special Correctional Programs for Juveniles
How Can We Explain the Invention of Juvenile Delinquency?
Changing Conception of Children
Major Social Changes, Especially the Growth of Urban Slums
Gender, Race, and the Invention of Delinquency
Our View and Treatment of Juvenile Offenders Continues to Evolve
"Getting Tough" with Juvenile Offenders (Late 1980s through the Early 2000s)
Retreating from the Get-Tough Approach (Since the Early 2000s)

2 How Is Delinquency Measured?
Official Statistics-Especially Arrest Data from the Police
Problems with Arrest Data
Self-Report Data
How Do We Know That Juveniles Are Telling the Truth?
Problems with Many Self-Report Surveys
Several Recent Self-Report Surveys Have Made Much Progress in Overcoming the Preceding Problems
Victimization Data
Problems with Victimization Data

3 How Much Delinquency Is There and Is Delinquency Increasing?
How Much Delinquency Is There?
How Many Juveniles Are Arrested and What Are They Arrested For?
How Much Self-Reported Delinquency Is There?
How Many Juveniles Are Victimized and How Many Victimizations Are Committed by Juveniles?
Is Juvenile Delinquency Increasing?
Are Juvenile Arrests Increasing?
Is Self-Reported Delinquency Increasing?
Are Victimizations Committed by Juveniles Increasing?

4. Who Is Most Likely to Engage in Delinquency?
Is Social Class Related to Delinquency?
Early Studies Based on Arrest Data
Early Self-Report Studies
Criticisms of the Early Self-Report Studies
The Later Self-Report Studies
Are Race and Ethnicity Related to Delinquency?
Arrest Data
Criticisms of Arrest Data
Self-Report Data
Victimization Data
Is Race Related to Delinquency?
Are Race Differences in Serious Delinquency Explained by Social Class?
Is Age Related to Delinquency?
Is Gender Related to Delinquency?
Arrest Data
Self-Report Data
Are There Different Types of Delinquents?
An Overview of the Research on the Different Types of Delinquents
What Are the Different Types of Delinquents?

Part 2. The Causes of Delinquency: Theories

5. What Is a Theory and How Do We Test Theories?
What Is a Theory?
What Are the Basic Parts of a Theory?
Why Is It Important to Study Theories of Delinquency?
How Do We Test Theories of Delinquency (or Determine Whether Some Factor Causes Delinquency)?
The Scientific Method
Carefully Define Your Independent and Dependent Variables
Decide How to Gather Data to Test Your Belief or Theory
Develop Measures of Your Independent and Dependent Variables
Select a Sample of Juveniles to Survey
Analyze the Data You Have Collected

6. Strain Theory
What Are the Major Types of Strain?
The Failure to Achieve Your Goals
Loss of Positive Stimuli/Presentation of Negative Stimuli
What Impact Does Strain Have on the Juvenile?
Why Are Some Juveniles More Likely to Cope with Strain Through Delinquency?

7. Social Learning Theory
Juveniles Learn to Engage in Delinquency from Others
The Differential Reinforcement of Delinquency
The Frequency, Amount, and Relative Probability of Reinforcement
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
The Sources of Reinforcement and Punishment
Some Individuals Are More Likely to Be Reinforced for Delinquency than Others
Intermittent Reinforcement
Discriminative Stimuli
Research on the Reinforcement and Punishment of Delinquency
Beliefs Favorable to Delinquency
Generally Approve of Minor Delinquency
Conditionally Approve of Delinquency, Including Some Serious Delinquency
General Values Conducive to Delinquency
Where Do the Beliefs Favorable to Delinquency Come From?
The Imitation of Delinquent Models

8. Control Theory
Why Do Juveniles Conform (and Sometimes Deviate)?
How Is Control Theory Similar to and Different from Social Learning Theory?
What Are the Major Types of Control (or Restraints to Delinquency)?
Direct Control
Stake in Conformity

9. Labeling Theory
Background on Labeling Theory
How Do Others React to the Juvenile's Delinquency?
Harsh/Rejecting Reaction
Failure to Respond to the Juvenile's Delinquency
"Condemn the Delinquency but Accept the Juvenile" Reaction
Why Does the Harsh/Rejecting Reaction Lead to Further Delinquency?
Reduces Control
Increases Strain
Increases the Social Learning of Delinquency
Creates a Delinquent Self-Concept
What Determines Whether Juveniles Experience the Harsh/Rejecting Reaction?
Are Some Juveniles More Likely than Others to Respond to the Harsh/Rejecting Reaction with Further Delinquency?
The Evidence on Labeling Theory

10. The Life Course
Why Do Most Individuals Increase Their Levels of Offending During Adolescence?
The Biological and Social Changes Associated with Adolescence
A Reduction in Control
An Increase in the Social Learning for Crime
An Increase in Strain
Why Do a Small Percentage of Individuals Offend at High Rates over Much of Their Lives?
Traits Conducive to Crime
Poor Parenting
High Rates of Offending over the Life Course

11. Is Delinquency More Likely in Certain Types of Situations?
What Types of Situations Are Most Conducive to Delinquency?
Strain Theory: Situational Strains
Strain Theory: Situational Factors That Increase the Likelihood of Delinquent Coping
Social Learning and Control Theories: The Benefits and Costs of Delinquency
Attractive Targets
Question for discussion
The Absence of Capable Guardians
The Presence of Delinquent Peers
What Factors Influence the Likelihood That Predisposed Offenders Will Encounter Situations Conducive to Delinquency?
The Nature of the Individual's Routine Activities
Factors Influencing Routine Activities

12. Group Differences in Delinquency
Why Are Crime Rates Higher in Some Communities than in Others?
What Are the Characteristics of High-Crime Neighborhoods and Cities?
Are Communities with Characteristics Conducive to Crime Becoming More Common?
Why Are Deprived Communities Higher in Crime?
Deprived Communities Are Higher in Strain
Deprived Communities Are Lower in Control
Deprived Communities Foster the Social Learning of Crime
Community Crime Rates Reduce Control, Foster the Social Learning of Crime, and Increase Strain
Overview of the Leading Theories of Delinquency

Part 3. The Causes of Delinquency: Research

13. Individual Traits
Are Juveniles with Certain Traits More Likely to Engage in Delinquency?
Low Verbal IQ
Low Self-Control
Why Are Some Individuals More Likely than Others to Possess These Traits?
Biological Influences on Traits
Environmental Influences on Traits
Is Mental Illness Related to Violence?

14. The Family
The Effect of the Family on Delinquency
Family Structure
Are Juveniles from Broken Homes More Delinquent?
Does the Mother's Employment Outside the Home Increase Delinquency?
Does Placing Juveniles in Child-Care Facilities Increase the Likelihood of Delinquency?
Are Teenage Parents More Likely to Have Delinquent Children?
Are Juveniles from Large Families More Delinquent?
Parental and Sibling Crime/Deviance
Are Juveniles with Criminal or Deviant Parents and Siblings More Likely to Be Delinquent?
The Quality of Family Relationships
Are Juveniles With Warm or Close Relationships with Their Parents Less Delinquent?
Parental Socialization
What Should Parents Do to Teach Their Children to Avoid Delinquency?
What Should Parents Do to Teach Their Children to Engage in Conventional Behavior?

15. The School
What School Experiences Contribute to Delinquency?
Do School Experiences Cause Delinquency?
Why Do Some Juveniles Have Negative School Experiences?
School Characteristics and Delinquency
How Much Delinquency Occurs at School?
How Can We Explain School Differences in Delinquency?

16. Delinquent Peers and Gangs
What Impact Do Delinquent Peers Have on Delinquency?
Under What Conditions Are Delinquent Peers Most Likely to Cause Delinquency?
What Are Delinquent Peer Groups Like?
Why Are Individuals in Delinquent Groups More Likely to Engage in Delinquency?
Why Are Some Juveniles More Likely than Others to Get Involved with Delinquent Peers?
What Impact Do Gangs Have on Delinquency?
What Is a Street Gang?
How Common Are Gangs?
Are Gangs Becoming More Common?
What Effect Do Gangs Have on Crime and Delinquency?
What Are the Characteristics of Gang Members?
How Are Gangs Organized or Structured?
What Are Female Gangs Like?
Why Do Some Juveniles Join Gangs?
Why Do Some Communities Develop Gangs?
How Can We Explain Trends in Gang Activity Since the 1970s?

17. Other Social Influences
Does Religion Reduce Delinquency?
The Evidence
Does Work Reduce Delinquency Among Juveniles Attending School?
The Evidence
Does Mass Media Violence Cause Violence Among Juveniles?
TV and Movie Violence
Violent Video Games
Music with Violent Themes
Does Social Media Engagement Increase the Risk of Delinquent Behavior? The Evidence Summary
Do Drugs Increase the Likelihood of Delinquency?
Reasons That Drugs May Affect Delinquency
The Evidence
Do Guns Increase the Likelihood of Delinquency?
How Common Is Gun Ownership and Possession Among Juveniles?
Do Guns Contribute to Delinquency?
Do Guns Prevent More Crime than They Contribute To?

18. Pulling It All Together
A Brief Review of the Theories and Research on the Causes of Delinquency
A General Theory of Delinquency
The Major Direct Causes of Individual Delinquency and the Reasons Why These Causes Affect Delinquency
How These Clusters Are Related to One Another
Biological Factors and the Larger Social Environment Affect the Clusters
Explaining Patterns of Offending over the Life Course and Group Differences in Delinquency
Using the General Theory to Explain Why Males Have Higher Rates of Delinquency than Females
The Special Role of Sexual Abuse in Explaining Serious Female Offending
An Overview of the General Theory of Delinquency

Part 4. The Control and Prevention of Delinquency
19. Policies and Programs
The Experimental Model for Determining Program Effectiveness
The Importance of Doing Randomized Experiments
Problems in Doing Randomized Experiments
What If One Is Not Able to Do a Randomized Experiment?
Why Are Some Programs Ineffective at Reducing Delinquency?

20. The Police
How Do the Police Operate?
Preventive Patrol Is the Major Type of Policing
The Police Spend Only a Small Amount of Their Time Dealing with Crime
The Police Are Primarily Reactive in Nature
When the Police Do Discover or Hear About a Crime, They Usually Do Not Catch the Offender
If the Police Do Catch the Offender, They Usually Do Not Arrest the Person
How Effective Is Preventive Patrol?
How Can the Police Increase Their Effectiveness?
Will Hiring More Police Reduce Delinquency?
Will Police Crackdowns Reduce Delinquency?
Will Community Policing Reduce Delinquency?

21. Juvenile Court and Corrections
What Happens When Juveniles Are Sent to Juvenile Court?
What Are the Major Goals of Juvenile Court?
How Many and What Types of Cases Are Handled by Juvenile Court?
What Are the Major Stages in the Juvenile Court Process?
Juvenile Corrections: What Happens to Juveniles Who Receive a Disposition or Sentence from the Court?
Regular Probation
Intermediate Sanctions
A Renewed Focus on Rehabilitation Out-of-Home Placements
Aftercare Services
An Overview of the Juvenile Justice Process

22. The Juvenile Justice System
Does the Juvenile Justice System Discriminate Against African Americans?
The Extent of Discrimination Varies Across Police Departments and Juvenile Courts
The Extent of Discrimination May Vary by Type of Crime
Small Amounts of Discrimination at Different Points in the Juvenile Justice Process Can Have a Large Overall Effect
Racial Discrimination May Be Direct or Indirect
What Can Be Done to Address the Over-Representation of Minorities in the Juvenile Justice System?
Does the Juvenile Justice System Discriminate Against the Poor and Against Males or Females?

23. The Strategies of Deterrence and Incapacitation
Are the Juvenile Court and Correctional System Tough Enough in Dealing with Offenders, Especially Serious Offenders?
Efforts to Get Tough with Serious Offenders
Get-Tough Efforts
How Effective Are These Get-Tough Measures, and What Can Be Done to Increase Their Effectiveness?
Specific Deterrence
General Deterrence
Incapacitation: Will Locking Up Delinquents Reduce Delinquency?

24. The Strategies of Prevention and Rehabilitation
A Brief History of Prevention and Rehabilitation
How Effective Are Prevention and Rehabilitation Programs?
General Characteristics of Effective Prevention and Rehabilitation Programs
What Are the Characteristics of Successful Prevention/Rehabilitation Programs in Different Areas?
Programs Focusing on the Early Family Environment
Parent Training Programs
Programs Focusing on School Factors
Programs Focusing on Individual Traits
Programs Focusing on Delinquent Peers and Gangs
Selected Other Prevention and Rehabilitation Programs
The Critical Role of Larger Social Forces in Preventing Delinquency

25. What Should We Do to Reduce Delinquency?
We Should Place More Emphasis on Prevention and Rehabilitation
We Should Hold Juveniles Accountable for Their Behavior and Protect the Community

Photo Credits
Author Index
Subject Index

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