The relationship between poverty and juvenile delinquency

Poverty: Key factor contributing to high juvenile delinquency rates | SecureTeen Parenting Products

the relationship between poverty and juvenile delinquency

mented, but the processes that account for the relations between poverty and children's further mentioned that the issue of juvenile delinquency in Malaysia is. concentration of low-income families in high-poverty, high-crime . is complicated by possible correlation between neighborhood characteristics (X-int and Y-int). Title, Relationship between poverty and juvenile delinquency. Author, Danielle Y. Barrows. Department, Social Sciences. Major, Criminology. Date,

It has long been known that most adult criminals were involved in delinquent behavior as children and adolescents; most delinquent children and adolescents, however, do not grow up to be adult criminals Robins, Similarly, most serious, chronically delinquent children and adolescents experience a number of risk factors at various levels, but most children and adolescents with risk factors do not become serious, chronic delinquents.

Furthermore, any individual factor contributes only a small part to the increase in risk. It is, however, widely recognized that the more risk factors a child or adolescent experiences, the higher their risk for delinquent behavior. Page 67 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice. The National Academies Press. Some studies focus on behavior that meets diagnostic criteria for conduct disorder or other antisocial behavior disorders; others look at aggressive behavior, or lying, or shoplifting; still others rely on juvenile court referral or arrest as the outcome of interest.

Furthermore, different risk factors and different outcomes may be more salient at some stages of child and adolescent development than at others. Much of the literature that has examined risk factors for delinquency is based on longitudinal studies, primarily of white males. Some of the samples were specifically chosen from high-risk environments.

Is there a link between youth poverty and crime? The answers may surprise you

Care must be taken in generalizing this literature to girls and minorities and to general populations. Nevertheless, over the past 20 years, much has been learned about risks for antisocial and delinquent behavior. This chapter is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of all the literature on risk factors. Rather it focuses on factors that are most relevant to prevention efforts.

For reviews of risk factor literature, see, for example, Hawkins et al. The chapter discusses risk factors for offending, beginning with risks at the individual level, including biological, psychological, behavioral, and cognitive factors. Social-level risk factors are discussed next; these include family and peer relationships. Finally, community-level risk factors, including school and neighborhood attributes, are examined.

Although individual, social, and community-level factors interact, each level is discussed separately for clarity. These individual factors include age, gender, complications during pregnancy and delivery, impulsivity, aggressiveness, and substance use. Some factors operate before birth prenatal or close to, during, and shortly after birth perinatal ; some can be identified in early childhood; and other factors may not be evident until late childhood or during adolescence.

To fully appreciate the development of these individual characteristics and their relations to delinquency, one needs to study the development of the individual in interaction with the environment. In order to simplify presentation of the research, however, this section deals only with individual factors. Age Studies of criminal activity by age consistently find that rates of offending begin to rise in preadolescence or early adolescence, reach a peak in Page 68 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Some lawbreaking experience at some time during adolescence is nearly universal in American children, although much of this behavior is reasonably mild and temporary.

Although the exact age of onset, peak, and age of desistance varies by offense, the general pattern has been remarkably consistent over time, in different countries, and for official and self-reported data. For example, Farringtonain a longitudinal study of a sample of boys in London the Cambridge Longitudinal Studyfound an eightfold increase in the number of different boys convicted of delinquent behavior from age 10 to age 17, followed by a decrease to a quarter of the maximum level by age The number of self-reported offenses in the same sample also peaked between ages 15 and 18, then dropped sharply by age In a longitudinal study of boys in inner-city Pittsburgh just over half the sample was black and just under half was whitethe percentage of boys who self-reported serious delinquent behavior rose from 5 percent at age 6 to about 18 percent for whites and 27 percent for blacks at age 16 Loeber et al.

A longitudinal study of a representative sample from high-risk neighborhoods in Denver also found a growth in the self-reported prevalence of serious violence from age 10 through late adolescence Kelley et al. Females in the Denver sample exhibited a peak in serious violence in midadolescence, but prevalence continued to increase through age 19 for the boys.

The study is continuing to follow these boys to see if their prevalence drops in early adulthood. Much research has concentrated on the onset of delinquency, examining risk factors for onset, and differences between those who begin offending early prior to adolescence versus those who begin offending in midadolescence.

There have been suggestions that early-onset delinquents are more likely than later-onset delinquents to be more serious and persistent offenders e.

There is evidence, however, that predictors associated with onset do not predict persistence particularly well Farrington and Hawkins, There are also important problems with the choice of statistical models to create categories of developmental trajectories Nagin and Tremblay, Research by Nagin and Tremblay found no evidence of late-onset physical aggression.

Physical aggression was highest at age 6 the earliest age for which data were collected for this study and declined into adolescence. The available data on very young children indicates that frequency of physical aggression reaches a peak around age 2 and then slowly declines up to adolescence Restoin et al. Page 69 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Sampson and Laub found that marital attachment and job stability significantly reduced deviant behavior in adulthood. Farrington and West found that offenders and nonoffenders were equally likely to get married, but those who got married and lived with their spouse decreased their offending more than those who remained single or who did not live with their spouse.

They also found that offending increased after separation from a spouse. Similarly, Horney et al.

the relationship between poverty and juvenile delinquency

Within marriages, only good marriages predicted reduction in crime, and these had an increasing effect over time Laub et al. Warr also found that offending decreased after marriage but attributed the decrease to a reduction in the time spent with peers and a reduction in the number of deviant peers following marriage rather than to increased attachment to conventional society through marriage. Brannigan points out that crime is highest when males have the fewest resources, and it lasts longest in those with the fewest investments in society job, wife, children.

Crime is not an effective strategy for getting resources. There is evidence that chronic offenders gain fewer resources than nonoffenders, after the adolescent period Moffitt, The evidence for desistance in girls is not clear.

the relationship between poverty and juvenile delinquency

One review of the literature suggests that 25 to 50 percent of antisocial girls commit crimes as adults Pajer, There is also some evidence that women are less likely to be recidivists, and that they end their criminal careers earlier than men Kelley et al. However, the sexes appear to become more similar with time in rates of all but violent crimes.

There is a suggestion that women who persist in crime past adolescence may be more disturbed than men who persist Jordan et al. Prenatal and Perinatal Factors Several studies have found an association between prenatal and perinatal complications and later delinquent or criminal behavior Kandel et Page 70 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Prenatal and perinatal risk factors represent a host of latent and manifest conditions that influence subsequent development.

Under the heading of prenatal factors, one finds a broad variety of conditions that occurs before birth through the seventh month of gestation Kopp and Krakow, Similarly, perinatal factors include conditions as varied as apnea of prematurity poor breathing to severe respiratory distress syndrome. The former condition is relatively benign, while the latter is often life-threatening.

Although they are risk factors, low birthweight and premature birth do not necessarily presage problems in development. Prenatal and perinatal risk factors may compromise the nervous system, creating vulnerabilities in the child that can lead to abnormal behavior. Children with prenatal and perinatal complications who live in impoverished, deviant, or abusive environments face added difficulties.

According to three major large-scale, long-term studies: These and other studies have been unable to identify specific mechanisms to account for the fact that the number of prenatal and perinatal abnormalities tend to correlate with the probability that a child will become a criminal. In addition to the lack of specificity regarding the predictors and the mechanisms of risk, similar measures predict learning disabilities, mental retardation, minimal brain dysfunction, and others Towbin, An association between perinatal risk factors and violent offending is particularly strong among offenders whose parents are mentally ill or very poor Raine et al.

Most measures indicate that males are more likely to commit crimes. They are also more vulnerable to prenatal and perinatal stress, as is shown through studies of negative outcomes, including death Davis and Emory, ; Emory et al. Hyperactivity, attention problems, and impulsiveness in children have been found to be associated with delinquency. These behaviors can be assessed very early in life and are associated with certain prenatal and perinatal histories DiPietro et al.

For example, exposure to environmental toxins, such as prenatal lead exposure at very low levels, tends to adversely affect neonatal motor and attentional performance Emory et al. Hyperactivity and aggression are associated with prenatal alcohol exposure Brown et al.

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Prenatal exposure to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and nicotine appear to have similar effects. Each tends to be associated with hyperactivity, attention deficit, and impulsiveness Karr-Morse and Wiley, Individual Capabilities, Competencies, and Characteristics In recent investigations, observable behaviors, such as duration of attention to a toy and compliance with mother's instructions not to touch an object, that are particularly relevant to later misbehavior are observable in the first year of life Kochanska et al.

However, the ability to predict behavior at later ages in adolescence and adulthood from such traits early in life is not yet known. Aggressive behavior is nevertheless one of the more stable dimensions, and significant stability may be seen from toddlerhood to adulthood Tremblay, The social behaviors that developmentalists study during childhood can be divided into two broad categories: Prosocial behaviors include helping, sharing, and cooperation, while antisocial behaviors include different forms of oppositional and aggressive behavior.

The development of empathy, guilt feelings, social cognition, and moral reasoning are generally considered important emotional and cognitive correlates of social development.

Impulsivity and hyperactivity have both been associated with later antisocial behavior Rutter et al. The social behavior characteristics that best predict delinquent behavior, however, are physical aggression and oppositionality Lahey et al.

Most children start manifesting these behaviors between the end of the first and second years. The peak level in frequency of physical aggression is generally reached between 24 and 36 months, an age at which the consequences of the aggression are generally relatively minor Goodenough, ; Sand, ; Tremblay et al. By entry into kindergarten, the majority of children have learned to use other means than physical aggression to get what they want and to solve conflicts.

  • Poverty: Key factor contributing to high juvenile delinquency rates
  • Poverty: Key factor contributing to high juvenile delinquency rates

Those who have not learned, who are oppositional and show few prosocial behaviors toward peers, are at high risk of being rejected by their peers, of failing in school, and eventually of getting involved in serious delinquency Farrington and Wikstrom, ; Huesmann et al.

Page 72 Share Cite Suggested Citation: A number of longitudinal studies have shown that children who are behaviorally inhibited shy, anxious are less at risk of juvenile delinquency, while children who tend to be fearless, those who are impulsive, and those who have difficulty delaying gratification are more at risk of delinquent behavior Blumstein et al.

A large number of studies report that delinquents have a lower verbal IQ compared with nondelinquents, as well as lower school achievement Fergusson and Horwood, ; Maguin and Loeber, ; Moffitt, Antisocial youth also tend to show cognitive deficits in the areas of executive functions 1 Moffitt et al.

The association between cognitive deficits and delinquency remains after controlling for social class and race Moffitt, ; Lynam et al. Few studies, however, have assessed cognitive functioning during the preschool years or followed the children into adolescence to understand the long-term link between early cognitive deficits and juvenile delinquency.

The studies that did look at children 's early cognitive development have shown that poor language performance by the second year after birth, poor fine motor skills by the third year, and low IQ by kindergarten were all associated with later antisocial behavior Kopp and Krakow, ; Stattin and Klackenberg-Larsson, ; White et al.

Stattin and Klackenberg-Larsson found that the association between poor early language performance and later criminal behavior remained significant even after controlling for socioeconomic status. Epidemiological studies have found a correlation between language delay and aggressive behavior Richman et al. Language delays may contribute to poor peer relations that, in turn, result in aggression Campbell, a.

The long-term impact of cognitively oriented preschool programs on the reduction of antisocial behavior is a more direct indication that fostering early cognitive development can play an important role in the prevention of juvenile delinquency Schweinhart et al. It is important to note that since poor cognitive abilities and problem behaviors in the preschool years also 1 Executive functions refer to a variety of independent skills that are necessary for purposeful, goal-directed activity.

Executive functions require generating and maintaining appropriate mental representations, monitoring the flow of information, and modifying problem-solving strategies in order to keep behavior directed toward the goal.

the relationship between poverty and juvenile delinquency

Page 73 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Several mental health disorders of childhood have been found to put children at risk for future delinquent behavior. Conduct disorder is often diagnosed when a child is troublesome and breaking rules or norms but not necessarily doing illegal behavior, especially at younger ages. This behavior may include lying, bullying, cruelty to animals, fighting, and truancy.

Poverty + Lack of Education (opportunity/pressure) = Delinquency.

Most adolescents in U. Many adolescents, in the period during which they engage in these behaviors, are likely to meet formal criteria for conduct disorder. Behavior characterized by willful disobedience and defiance is considered a different disorder oppositional defiant disorderbut often occurs in conjunction with conduct disorder and may precede it.

Several prospective longitudinal studies have found that children with attention and hyperactivity problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, show high levels of antisocial and aggressive behavior Campbell, b; Hechtman et al.

Early hyperactivity and attention problems without concurrent aggression, however, appear not to be related to later aggressive behavior Loeber, ; Magnusson and Bergman, ; Nagin and Tremblay,although a few studies do report such relationships Gittelman et al. Another disorder that is often associated with antisocial behavior and conduct disorder is major depressive disorder, particularly in girls Kovacs, ; Offord et al. In girls, conduct disorder may be a kind of manifestation of the hopelessness, frustration, and low self-esteem that often characterizes major depression.

For juveniles as well as adults, the use of drugs and alcohol is common among offenders.

the relationship between poverty and juvenile delinquency

Inabout half of juvenile arrestees in the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program tested positive for at least one drug. Data on adults are collected in 35 cities altogether.

Page 74 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Of course, drug use is a criminal offense on its own, and for juveniles, alcohol use is also a status delinquent offense. A number of studies have consistently found that as the seriousness of offending goes up, so does the seriousness of drug use as measured both by frequency of use and type of drug see Huizinga and Jakob-Chien, In the longitudinal studies of causes and correlates of delinquency in Denver, Pittsburgh, and Rochester see Thornberry et al.

In addition, about three-quarters of drug users in each sample were also involved in serious delinquency Huizinga and Jakob-Chien, Similarly, in the Denver Youth Survey, serious offenders had the highest prevalence and frequency of use of alcohol and marijuana of all youth in the study.

Nevertheless, only about one-third of serious delinquents were problem drug users Huizinga and Jakob-Chien, Although there appears to be a relationship between alcohol and drug use and criminal delinquency, not all delinquents use alcohol or drugs, nor do all alcohol and drug users commit delinquent acts other than the alcohol or drug use itself. Those who are both serious delinquents and serious drug users may be involved in a great deal of crime, however.

Neverthless, it would be premature to conclude that serious drug use causes serious crime McCord, Whatever characteristics individuals have, resulting personalities and behavior are influenced by the social environments in which they are raised.

Characteristics of individuals always develop in social contexts. Family interactions are most important during early childhood, but they can have long-lasting effects. In early adolescence, relationships with peers take on greater importance. This section will first consider factors within the family that have been found to be associated with the development of delinquency and then consider peer influences on delinquent behavior.

Note that issues concerning poverty and race are dealt with under the community factors section of this chapter. Chapter 7 deals specifically with issues concerning race. And they are the most frequent victims of violence and sexual violence. Young people, poverty and crime But the report offers no data to suggest that they are also committing more crimes. Not only does the report find no evidence of this: According to the Youth Justice Board, the number of those aged up to years-old who were sentenced almost halved from over 90, to less than 50,step-by-step, year-by-year, over exactly the same period covered in the EHRC report.

Understanding the relationship between being without work or living in poverty and crime has been the focus of a century of research. The economic causes of crime thesis is strongly contestedand the extremes of poverty and unemployment in the EHRC report are a powerful empirical stress test of its credibility.

If either extreme were prone to triggering crime, it would have done so over this period. Not only did this not occur: To supporters of the thesis and some agnostics this is a paradox. More unemployment and poverty coincided with less crime. Can we believe the data?

To explain this, one approach is to look at the data available to the EHRC on unemployment as it drew up its report. But there are significant issues with the crime figures, too. First, the report pays no attention to the incremental removal of welfare benefits for to year-olds, as the age thresholds at which they were entitled to benefits incrementally shifted upwards. Third, it ignores the unreliability of data regarding the numbers of young people not in education, employment or training NEET: Young people easily disappear below the radar for all statistical purposes, and go uncounted as the extent of their contact with official agencies declines, partly due to local authority budget cuts.