Juvenile Delinquency Theory

1480 Words 6 Pages
I. Identifications
1. Labeling theory maintains that how a child is socially perceived affects his or her behavior. A sociological take on self-fulfilling prophecy, the theory holds that if a child is labeled a delinquent, he is more likely to act like one, helping explain the impact a child’s involvement in the juvenile justice system (Class Notes 2/23/16; Mahan: Short Assignment 3). For example, if a juvenile delinquent internalizes a negative label and then views it as part of his identity—rather than reject the label and stop his criminal activity as intended—he will likely continue to commit crime (Mahan: Short Assignment 3). Therefore, labeling theory can help explain recidivism rates in the juvenile justice system.
2. Risk and protective
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Walter Reckless’s containment theory maintains that internal and external influences “push and pull” youth’s behavior toward delinquency (Class Notes 2/23/16). The theory holds that juveniles are pulled toward delinquency by external factors, such as poverty and delinquent peers, and pushed toward delinquency by internal factors, such as hostility and frustration (Class Notes 2/23/16). Conversely, it also holds that the way to reduce delinquent tendencies rests on containing those internal and external pushes and pulls. External containment includes having a role model, while internal containment includes having a drive to succeed in school (Class Notes 2/23/16). Because internal factors are harder to control, the theory holds that a lack of internal containment has the most influence on juvenile delinquency (McNamara 2014: p. …show more content…
Structural explanations of gang violence address organizational patterns within a society that can lead to gang involvement, often focusing on how “material circumstances drive behavior” (Class Notes 2/25/16; Mahan: Short Assignment 3). According to structural explanations, gang members want to achieve socially acceptable goals but don’t have the means to do so, causing them to resort to crime in order to achieve the success they crave (McNamara 2014: pp. 94-95; Mahan: Short Assignment 3). Therefore, gang violence results from structural inequalities within a society, i.e. social stratification. Job training programs would be an intervention based on a structural understanding of gang violence. In contrast, cultural explanations of gang violence focus on how the ideas, attitudes and behaviors of people within a society affect crime/gang participation (Class Notes 2/25/16; Mahan: Short Assignment 3). According to this explanation, differences in delinquency rates and gang involvement are mainly affected by a group’s cultural beliefs and practices, meaning gang violence results from a community’s emphasis on respect, power and gang affiliation. (Mahan: Short Assignment 3). Mentoring programs, an intervention reflecting a cultural understanding of gang violence, often focus on replacing the cultural value of gang participation with a value on civic engagement (Mahan: Short Assignment

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