Chapter 1 – Childhood and Delinquency
Key Terms, Concepts, & Checkpoints
According to Erik Erikson, ego identity is formed when persons develop a firm sense of who they are and what they stand for.
According to Erik Erikson, role diffusion occurs when youths spread themselves too thin, experience personal uncertainty, and place themselves at the mercy of leaders who promise to give them a sense of identity they cannot develop for themselves.
Young people who are extremely vulnerable to the negative consequences of school failure, substance abuse, and early sexuality.
LO1 – Be familiar with the risks faced by youth in American culture.
– The problems of American youth have become a national concern and an important subject of academic study.
– There are more than 75 million youths in the United States, and the number is expected to rise.
– American youth are under a great deal of stress. They face poverty, family problems, urban decay, inadequate education, teen pregnancy, and social conflict.
– Kids take risks that get them in trouble.
Participation in illegal behavior by a minor who falls under a statutory age limit.
chronic juvenile offenders
Also known as chronic delinquent offenders, chronic delinquents, or chronic recidivists;
Youths who have been arrested four or more times during their minority and perpetuate a striking majority of serious criminal acts. This small group, known as the “chronic 6 percent,” is believed to engage in a significant portion of all delinquent behavior; these youths do not age out of crime but continue their criminal behavior into adulthood.
juvenile justice system
The segment of the justice system, including law enforcement officers, the courts, and correctional agencies, that is designed to treat youthful offenders.
A family style wherein the father is the final authority on all family matters and exercises complete control over his wife and children.
English statutes that allowed the courts to appoint overseers for destitute and neglected children, allowing placement of these children as servants in the homes of the affluent.
Court proceedings created in fifteenth-century England to oversee the lives of highborn minors who were orphaned or otherwise could not care for themselves.
The power of the state to act on behalf of the child and provide care and protection equivalent to that of a parent.
LO2 – Develop an understanding of the history of childhood.
– The concept of a separate status of childhood has developed slowly over the centuries.
– Early family life was controlled by parents. Punishment was severe and children were expected to take on adult roles early in their lives.
– With the start of the seventeenth century came greater recognition of the needs of children. In Great Britain, the chancery court movement, the Poor Laws, and apprenticeship programs greatly affected the lives of children.
– In colonial America, many of the characteristics of English family living were adopted.
– In the nineteenth century, neglected, delinquent, and dependent or runaway children were treated no differently than criminal defendants. Children were often charged and convicted of crimes.
Nineteenth-century reformers who developed programs for troubled youth and influenced legislation creating the juvenile justice system; today some critics view them as being more concerned with control of the poor than with their welfare.
House of Refuge
A care facility developed by the child savers to protect potential criminal youths by taking them off the street and providing a family-like environment.
Children’s Aid Society
Child-saving organization that took children from the streets of large cities and placed them with farm families on the prairie.
A practice of the Children’s Aid Society in which urban youths were sent west for adoption with local farm couples.
LO3 – Be able to discuss development of the juvenile justice system.
– The movement to treat children in trouble with the law as a separate category began in the nineteenth century.
– Urbanization created a growing number of at-risk youth in the nation’s cities.
– The child savers sought to control children of the lower classes.
– The House of Refuge was developed to care for unwanted or abandoned youth.
– Some critics now believe the child savers were motivated by self-interest and not benevolence.
– Charles Loring Brace created the Children’s Aid Society to place urban kids with farm families.
Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA)
Unit in the U.S. Department of Justice established by the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to administer grants and provide guidance for crime prevention policy and programs.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
Branch of the U.S. Justice Department charged with shaping national juvenile justice policy through disbursement of federal aid and research funds.
LO4 – Trace the history and purpose of the juvenile court.
– The juvenile court movement spread rapidly around the nation.
– Separate courts and correctional systems were created for youths. However, children were not given the same legal rights as adults.
– Reformers helped bring due process rights to minors and create specialized family courts.
– Federal commissions focused attention on juvenile justice and helped revise the system.
Juvenile who has been adjudicated by a judicial officer of a juvenile court as having committed a delinquent act.
best interests of the child
A philosophical viewpoint that encourages the state to take control of wayward children and provide care, custody, and treatment to remedy delinquent behavior.
need for treatment
The criteria on which juvenile sentencing is based. Ideally, juveniles are treated according to their need for treatment and not for the seriousness of the delinquent act they committed.
Also known as bindover or removal;
Transferring legal jurisdiction over the most serious and experienced juvenile offenders to the adult court for criminal prosecution.
A child who is subject to state authority by reason of having committed an act forbidden to youth and illegal solely because the child is underage.
Concept Summary 1.1 – Treatment of Juveniles
Act – Burglary, shoplifting, robber
Injured party – Crime victim
Philosophy – Parens patriae
Legal status – Can be detained in secure confinement
Is there resulting stigma? – Yes
Act – Truancy, running away, disobedient
Injured party – Themselves, their family
Philosophy – Best interests of the child
Legal status – Must be kept in nonsecure shelter
Is there resulting stigma? – Yes
LO5 – Be able to describe the differences between delinquency and status offending.
– The separate status of juvenile delinquency is based on the parens patriae philosophy, which holds that children have the right to care and custody and that if parents are not capable of providing that care, the state must step in to take control.
– Delinquents are given greater legal protection than adult criminals and are shielded from stigma and labels.
– More serious juvenile cases may be waived to the adult court.
– Juvenile courts also have jurisdiction over noncriminal status offenders.
– Status offenses are illegal only because of the minority status of the offender.
Chapter 2 – The Nature and Extent of Delinquency
Key Terms, Concepts, & Checkpoints
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Arm of the U.S. Department of Justice that investigates violations of federal law, gathers crime statistics, runs a comprehensive crime laboratory, and helps train local law enforcement officers.
Uniform Crime Report (UCR)
Compiled by the FBI, the UCR is the most widely used source of national crime and delinquency statistics.
Part I offenses
Offenses including homicide and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, arson, and motor vehicle theft. Recorded by local law enforcement officers, these crimes are tallied quarterly and sent to the FBI for inclusion in the UCR.
Part II offenses
All crimes other than Part I offenses. Recorded by local law enforcement officers, arrests for these crimes are tallied quarterly and sent to the FBI for inclusion in the UCR.
Analyzing the relationship between two or more independent variables (such as murder convictions and death sentence) while controlling for the influence of a dependent variable (such as race).
Selecting a limited number of people for study as representative of a larger group.
All people who share a particular characteristic, such as all high school students or all police officers.
A research approach that requires subjects to reveal their own participation in delinquent or criminal acts.
Concept Summary 2.1 – Data Collection Methods
Uniform Crime Report:
– Data are collected from records from police departments across the nation, crimes reported to police, and arrests.
– Strengths of the UCR are that it measures homicides and arrests and that it is a consistent, national sample.
– Weaknesses of the UCR are that it omits crimes not reported to police, omits most drug usage, and contains reporting errors.
National Crime Victimization Survey:
– Data are collected from a large national survey.
– Strengths of the NCVS are that it includes crimes not reported to the police, uses careful sampling techniques, and is a yearly survey.
– Weaknesses of the NCVS are that it relies on victims’ memory and honesty and that it omits substance abuse.
– Data are collected from local surveys.
– Strengths of self-report surveys are that they include unreported crimes, substance abuse, and offenders’ personal information.
– Weaknesses of self-report surveys are that they rely on the honesty of offenders and omit offenders who refuse or are unable, as a consequence of incarceration, to participate (and who therefore may be the most deviant).
LO1 – Be familiar with the various ways to gather data on delinquency.
– The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report is an annual tally of crime reported to local police departments; it is the nation’s official crime data.
– Self-report surveys ask respondents about their criminal activity.
– They are useful in measuring crimes such as drug usage that are rarely reported to police.
– Self-reports show that a significant number of kids engage in criminal acts, far more than is measured by the arrest data.
– The National Crime Victimization Survey collects data from a large national survey in order to make estimates of the annual number of criminal victimizations.
dark figures of crime
Incidents of crime and delinquency that go undetected by police.
LO2 – Recognize the trends in the delinquency rate and the factors that influence and shape its direction.
– Crime rates peaked in the early 1990s and have been in decline ever since.
– During the past decade, the number of youths arrested for delinquent behavior has also declined, including a significant decrease in those arrested for violent offenses.
– Even the teen murder rate has undergone a particularly steep decline.
– A number of factors influence delinquency trends, including the economy, drug use, availability of guns, and crime control policies.
– Two controversial issues are immigration and abortion. Research indicates that both may have helped drive down the delinquency rate.
racial threat theory
As the size of the African American population increases, the amount of social control imposed against African Americans by police grows proportionately.
Also known as desistance from crime or spontaneous remission;
The tendency for youths to reduce the frequency of their offending behavior as they age. Aging out is thought to occur among all groups of offenders.
age of onset
Age at which youths begin their delinquent careers. Early onset is believed to be linked with chronic offending patterns.
LO3 – List and discuss the social and personal correlates of delinquency.
– Official arrest statistics, victim data, and self-reports indicate that males are significantly more delinquent than females. In recent years, however, the female delinquency rate appears to be increasing faster than that for males.
– Although the true association between class and delinquency is still unknown, the official data tell us that delinquency rates are highest in areas with high rates of poverty.
– African American youths are arrested for a disproportionate number of delinquent acts, such as robbery and assault, whereas European American youths are arrested for a disproportionate share of arson and alcohol-related violations.
– One view is that institutional racism, such as police profiling, accounts for the racial differences in the delinquency rate. A second view is that racial differences in the delinquency rate are a function of living in a racially segregated society.
– Kids who engage in the most serious forms of delinquency are more likely to be members of the lower class.
– Delinquency rates decline with age. As youthful offenders mature, the likelihood that they will commit offenses declines.
Someone who has been arrested five times or more before age 18.
continuity of crime
The idea that chronic juvenile offenders are likely to continue violating the law as adults.
LO4 – Discuss the concept of the chronic offender.
– Chronic offenders commit a significant portion of all delinquent acts.
– Age of onset has an important effect on a delinquent career.
– Those who demonstrate antisocial tendencies at a very early age are more likely to commit more crimes for a longer duration.
The number of people who are victims of criminal acts.
LO5 – Be familiar with the factors that predict teen victimization.
– The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) samples estimate the total number of criminal incidents, including those not reported to police.
– Males are more often the victims of delinquency than females.
– Younger people are more often targets than older people.
– African American rates of violent victimization are much higher than European American rates. Crime victimization tends to be intraracial.
– Self-report data show that a significant number of adolescents become crime victims. The NCVS may underreport juvenile victimization.
Chapter 3 – Individual Views of Delinquency: Choice and Trait
Key Terms, Concepts, & Checkpoints
Holds that youths will engage in delinquent and criminal behavior after weighing the consequences and benefits of their actions. Delinquent behavior is a rational choice made by a motivated offender who perceives that the chances of gain outweigh any possible punishment or loss.
Holds that youths engage in delinquent or criminal behavior due to aberrant physical or psychological traits that govern behavioral choices. Delinquent actions are impulsive or instinctual rather than rational choices.
The view that youths are in charge of their own destinies and are free to make personal behavior choices unencumbered by environmental factors.
Holds that decisions to violate the law are weighed against possible punishments and to deter crime the pain of punishment must outweigh the benefit of illegal gain. Led to graduated punishments based on seriousness of the crime (let the punishment fit the crime).
routine activities theory
The view that crime is a normal function of the routine activities of modern living. Offenses can be expected if there is a motivated offender and a suitable target that is not protected by capable guardians.
Violent crimes against persons and crimes in which an offender attempts to steal an object directly from its holder.
LO1 – Know the principles of choice theory and routine activities theory.
– Choice theory suggests that young offenders choose to engage in antisocial activity because they believe their actions will be beneficial and profitable.
– Choice theory assumes that people have free will to choose their behavior.
– Kids who violate the law are motivated by personal needs such as greed, revenge, survival, and hedonism.
– The decision to violate the law comes after a careful weighing of the benefits and costs of criminal behaviors. Punishment should be only severe enough to deter a particular offense.
– Routine activities theory suggests that delinquent acts are a function of motivated offenders, lack of capable guardians, and availability of suitable targets.
Crime control policies that depend on the fear of criminal penalties, such as long prison sentences for violent crimes. The aim is to convince law violators that the pain outweighs the benefit of criminal activity.
Sending convicted offenders to secure incarceration facilities so that punishment is severe enough to convince them not to repeat their criminal activity.
Committing criminal acts in groups.
situational crime prevention
A crime prevention method that relies on reducing the opportunity to commit criminal acts by making them more difficult to perform, reducing their reward, and increasing their risks.
A particular location or address that is the site of repeated and frequent criminal activity.
A law enforcement operation that is designed to reduce or eliminate a particular criminal activity through the application of aggressive police tactics, usually involving a larger than usual contingent of police officers.
Concept Summary 3.1 – Delinquency Prevention Methods
– Central Premise: Kids will avoid delinquency if they fear punishment.
– Technique: Make punishment swift, severe, and certain.
– Central Premise: Delinquents who are punished severely will not repeat their detention.
– Technique: Use harsh punishments, such as a stay in secure offenses.
Situational crime prevention
– Central Premise: Make delinquency more difficult and less profitable.
– Technique: Harden targets, use prevention surveillance, street lighting.
LO2 – Compare the principles of general deterrence, specific deterrence, and situational crime prevention.
– General deterrence models are based on the fear of punishment. If punishments are severe, swift, and certain, then would-be delinquents would choose not to risk breaking the law.
– Specific deterrence aims at reducing crime through the application of severe punishments. Once offenders experience these punishments, they will be unwilling to repeat their delinquent activities.
– Situational crime prevention efforts are designed to reduce or redirect crime by making it more difficult to profit from illegal acts.
The idea that delinquents manifest physical anomalies that make them biologically and physiologically similar to our primitive ancestors, savage throwbacks to an earlier stage of human evolution.
***LO3 – Trace the history and development of trait theory.
– The first attempts to discover why delinquent tendencies develop focused on the physical makeup of offenders.
– Biological traits present at birth were thought to predetermine whether people would live a life of crime.
– The origin of this school of thought is generally credited to the Italian physician Cesare Lombroso.
– These early views portrayed delinquent behavior as a function of a single factor or trait, such as body build or defective intelligence.
The view that both thought and behavior have biological and social bases.
minimal brain dysfunction (MBD)
Damage to the brain itself that causes antisocial behavior injurious to the individual’s lifestyle and social adjustment.
learning disabilities (LD)
Neurological dysfunctions that prevent an individual from learning to his or her potential.
Concept Summary 3.2 – Biological Views of Delinquency
– Major Premise: Delinquency, especially violence, is a function of diet, vitamin intake, hormonal imbalance, or food allergies.
– Focus: Explains irrational violence. Shows how the environment interacts with personal traits to influence behavior.
– Major Premise: Delinquents often suffer brain impairment, as measured by the EEG. ADHD and minimal brain dysfunction are related to antisocial behavior.
– Focus: Explains the relationship between child abuse and delinquency. May be used to clarify the link between school problems and delinquency.
– Major Premise: Criminal traits and predispositions are inherited. The criminality of parents can predict the delinquency of children.
– Focus: Explains why only a small percentage of youth in a high-crime area become chronic offenders.
LO4 – Be familiar with the branches and substance of biological trait theory.
– There is a suspected relationship between antisocial behavior and biochemical makeup.
– One view is that body chemistry can govern behavior and personality, including levels of aggression and depression.
– Overexposure to particular environmental contaminants puts kids at risk for antisocial behavior.
– There is also evidence that diet may influence behavior through its impact on body chemistry.
– Hormonal levels are another area of biochemical research.
– Another focus of biosocial theory is the neurological–brain and nervous system–structure of offenders.
– Biosocial theorists also study the genetic makeup of delinquents.
Branch of psychology that holds that the human personality is controlled by unconscious mental processes developed early in childhood.
A psychological condition producing mood swings between wild elation and deep depression.
Bowlby’s view that the ability to have an emotional bond to another person has important lasting psychological implications for normal development from childhood into adulthood.
Psychological state, identified by Erikson, in which youths face inner turmoil and uncertainty about life roles.
Branch of psychology concerned with the study of observable behavior rather than unconscious processes; focuses on particular stimuli and responses to them.
social learning theory
The view that behavior is modeled through observation, either directly through intimate contact with others or indirectly through media. Interactions that are rewarded are copied, whereas those that are punished are avoided.
The branch of psychology that studies the perception of reality and the mental processes required to understand the world we live in.
Impulsive behavior without the ability to examine motives and behavior.
A personality trait marked by unfounded anxiety, tension, and emotional instability.
Also known as sociopathic or antisocial personality;
A person lacking in warmth, exhibiting inappropriate behavior responses, and unable to learn from experience. The condition is defined by persistent violations of social norms, including lying, stealing, truancy, inconsistent work behavior, and traffic arrests.
The view that intelligence is inherited and is a function of genetic makeup.
The view that intelligence is determined by environmental stimulation and socialization.
Concept Summary 3.3 – Psychological Views of Delinquency
– Major Premise: The development of the unconscious personality early in childhood influences behavior for the rest of a person’s life. Criminals have weak egos and damaged personalities.
– Focus: Explains the onset of delinquency and why crime and drug abuse cut across class lines.
– Major Premise: People commit crime when they model their behavior after others they see being rewarded for the same acts. Behavior is reinforced by rewards and extinguished by punishment.
– Focus: Explains the role of significant others in the delinquency process. Shows how family life and media can influence crime and violence.
– Major Premise: Individual reasoning processes influence behavior. Reasoning is influenced by the way people perceive their environment.
– Focus: Shows why criminal behavior patterns change over time as people mature and develop their reasoning powers. May explain the aging-out process.
LO5 – Know the various psychological theories of delinquency.
– According to psychodynamic theory, unconscious motivations developed early in childhood propel some people into destructive or illegal behavior.
– Behaviorists view aggression as a learned behavior.
– Some learning is direct and experiential while other types are observational, such as watching TV and movies. A link between media and violence has not been proven, but there is some evidence linking observing violent media with aggressive behavior.
– Cognitive theory stresses knowing and perception. Some adolescents have a warped view of the world.
– There is evidence that kids with abnormal or antisocial personalities are delinquency prone.
– Although some experts find a link between intelligence and delinquency, others dispute any linkage between IQ level and law-violating behaviors.
Chapter 4 – Sociological Views of Delinquency
Key Terms, Concepts, & Checkpoints
LO1 – Be familiar with the association between social conditions and crime.
– Poor kids are more likely to commit crimes, because they are unable to achieve monetary or social success in any other way.
– Some kids lack the social support and economic resources familiar to more affluent members of society.
– Harm caused by residence in a deteriorated inner-city area, wracked by poverty, decay, fear, and despair, extends from an increase in poor health to higher risk of criminal victimization.
– Children are hit especially hard by poverty.
– The burdens of underclass life are often felt most acutely by minority group members.
– Latino and African American children are more likely to be poor than Asian and white children.
culture of poverty
The view that lower-class people form a separate culture with their own values and norms, which are sometimes in conflict with conventional society.
Group of urban poor whose members have little chance of upward mobility or improvement.
According to William Julius Wilson, those people who are left out of the economic mainstream and reduced to living in the most deteriorated inner-city areas.
***social structure theories
Those theories that suggest that social and economic forces operating in deteriorated lower-class areas, including disorganization, stress, and cultural deviance, push residents into criminal behavior patterns.
Shaw and McKay’s work in Chicago;
Neighborhood or area marked by culture conflict, lack of cohesiveness, a transient population, and insufficient social organizations. These problems are reflected in the problems at schools in these areas.
Area undergoing a shift in population and structure, usually from middle-class residential to lower-class mixed use.
The process of passing on deviant traditions and delinquent values from one generation to the next.
Ability of social institutions to influence human behavior. The justice system is the primary agency of formal social control.
Condition that exists when people of wealth and poverty live in close proximity to one another. The relatively deprived are apt to have feelings of anger and hostility, which may produce criminal behavior.
The process of transforming a lower-class area into a middle-class enclave through property rehabilitation.
A process in which mutual trust and a willingness to intervene in the supervision of children and help maintain public order create a sense of well-being in a neighborhood and help control antisocial activities.
LO2 – Describe the principles of social disorganization theory.
– The social structure view is that position in the socioeconomic structure influences the chances of becoming a delinquent.
– Poor kids are more likely to commit crimes, because they are unable to achieve monetary or social success in any other way.
– Kids who live in socially disorganized areas commit crime because the forces of social control have broken down.
– Social disorganization theory focuses on the conditions within the urban environment that affect delinquency rates, such as socioeconomic conditions.
– Delinquency rates are sensitive to the destructive social forces operating in lower-class urban neighborhoods.
– Poverty undermines the basic stabilizing forces of the community–family, school, peers, and neighbors– rendering them weakened, attenuated, and ineffective.
– The ability of the community to control its inhabitants–to assert informal social control–is damaged and frayed.
– Contemporary social disorganization theorists have found an association between delinquency rates and community deterioration: disorder, poverty, alienation, disassociation, and fear of delinquency.
A condition caused by the failure to achieve one’s social goals.
Normlessness produced by rapidly shifting moral values; according to Merton, anomie occurs when personal goals cannot be achieved using available means.
general strain theory
Links delinquency to the strain of being locked out of the economic mainstream, which creates the anger and frustration that lead to delinquent acts.
negative affective states
Anger, depression, disappointment, fear, and other adverse emotions that derive from strain.
cultural deviance theory
Links delinquent acts to the formation of independent subcultures with a unique set of values that clash with the mainstream culture.
When the values of a subculture clash with those of the dominant culture.
***LO3 – Define the concepts of anomie and strain and how they are applied to the study of delinquency.
– Anomie describes a society in which rules of behavior have broken down during periods of rapid social change or social crisis.
– Strain occurs when kids feel frustrated about their place in the social structure.
– Strain can also be produced by negative life events.
– Sociologist Robert Agnew’s general strain theory explains why individuals who feel stress and strain are more likely to engage in delinquent acts.
– Delinquency is the direct result of negative affective states–the anger, frustration, and adverse emotions that kids feel in the wake of negative and destructive social relationships.
– Cultural deviance theories hold that a unique value system develops in lower-class areas; lower-class kids approve of behaviors such as being tough and having street smarts.
The process of learning the values and norms of the society or the subculture to which the individual belongs.
Parents are said to have parental efficacy when they are supportive and effectively control their children in a noncoercive fashion.
social learning theories
Posit that delinquency is learned through close relationships with others; children are born good and learn to be bad from others.
differential association theory
Asserts that criminal behavior is learned primarily in interpersonal groups and that youths will become delinquent if definitions they learn in those groups that are favorable to violating the law exceed definitions favorable to obeying the law.
social control theories
Posit that delinquency results from a weakened commitment to the major social institutions (family, peers, and school); lack of such commitment allows youths to exercise antisocial behavioral choices.
Ties a person to the institutions and processes of society; elements of the bond include attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief.
***LO4 – Be familiar with the concepts of social process and socialization and the theories that hold they are the key to understanding delinquent behavior.
– Some experts believe that delinquency is a function of socialization.
– Socialization involves the interactions people have with various organizations, institutions, and social processes of society.
– People from all walks of life have the potential to become delinquents if they maintain destructive social relationships with families, schools, peers, and neighbors.
– Social learning theory stresses that kids learn both how to commit crimes and the attitudes needed to support the behavior.
– People learn criminal behaviors just as they learn conventional behaviors. Social learning theories suggest that delinquency is learned in a process that is similar to learning any other human behavior.
– Social control theories analyze the failure of society to control antisocial tendencies.
– All youths have the potential to become delinquents, but their bonds to conventional society prevent them from violating the law.
– Travis Hirschi links the onset of delinquency to the weakening of the ties that bind people to society.
People who have been negatively labeled as a result of their participation, or alleged participation, in deviant or outlawed behaviors.
Posits that society creates deviance through a system of social control agencies that designate (or label) certain individuals as delinquent, thereby stigmatizing them and encouraging them to accept this negative personal identity.
The process by which a person who has been negatively labeled accepts the label as a personal role or identity.
Deviant behavior patterns that are a response to an earlier labeling experience; youths act out those social roles even if they were falsely bestowed.
LO5 – Explain how the labeling process is related to delinquent careers.
– Labeling theory (also known as social reaction theory) maintains that negative labels produce delinquent careers.
– Labels create expectations that the labeled person will act in a certain way; labeled people are always watched and suspected.
– Becoming stigmatized, or labeled, by agents of social control creates and sustains delinquent careers.
– Kids whose deviant behavior is detected and punished will develop negative labels that can follow them throughout life.
– The labeling process transforms the youngsters’ identity.
– Labels and stigma lock offenders forever into a delinquent way of life.
The view that intergroup conflict, born out of the unequal distribution of wealth and power, is the root cause of delinquency.
Concept Summary 4.1 – Social Theory
– Core Premise: Crime is a product of transitional neighborhoods that manifest social disorganization and value conflict. The conflicts and problems of urban social life and communities, including fear, unemployment, deterioration, and siege mentality, influence crime rates.
– Strengths: Identifies why crime rates are highest in lower-class areas. Points out the factors that produce the delinquency.
– Core Premise: People who adopt the goals of society but lack the means to attain them seek alternatives, such as crime.
– Strengths: Points out how competition for success creates conflict and crime. Suggests that social conditions and not personality can account for crime. Can explain middle- and upper-class crime.
– Core Premise: Obedience to the norms of their lower-class culture puts people in conflict with the norms of the dominant culture.
– Strengths: Identifies the aspects of lower-class life that produce street crime. Creates the concept of culture conflict.
– Core Premise: People learn to commit delinquent acts through exposure to others who hold deviant values and engage in deviant behaviors.
– Strengths: Explains why some at-risk kids do not become delinquents. Accounts for the effects of parental deviance on kids.
– Core Premise: A person’s bond to society prevents him or her from violating social rules. If the bond weakens, the person is free to commit delinquent acts.
– Strengths: Explains the onset of delinquency; can apply to both middle- and lower-class crime. Explains its theoretical constructs adequately so they can be measured. Has been empirically tested.
– Core Premise: People enter into law-violating careers when they are labeled for their acts and organize their personalities around the labels.
– Strengths: Explains the role of society in creating deviance. Explains why some juvenile offenders do not become adult criminals. Develops concepts of criminal careers.
– Core Premise: Crime is a function of class conflict. The law is defined by people who hold social and political power. The capitalist system produces delinquency.
– Strengths: Accounts for class differentials in the delinquency rate. Shows how class conflict influences behavior.
Removing juveniles from adult jails and placing them in community-based programs to avoid the stigma attached to these facilities.
Nonpunitive strategies for dealing with juvenile offenders that make the justice system a healing process rather than a punishment process.
Chapter 5 – Developmental Views of Delinquency: Life Course, Latent Trait, and Trajectory
Key Terms, Concepts, & Checkpoints
The view that criminality is a dynamic process, influenced by social experiences as well as individual characteristics.
life course theory
A developmental theory that focuses on changes in behavior as people travel along the path of life and how these changes affect crime and delinquency.
latent trait theory
The view that delinquent behavior is controlled by a “master trait,” present at birth or soon after, that remains stable and unchanging throughout a person’s lifetime.
A natural inclination or personal trait that exists at birth or soon after and remains constant over the life course.
The view that there are multiple independent paths to a delinquent career and that there are different types and classes of offenders.
Concept Summary 5.1 – Three Developmental Theories
Latent Trait Theory
– People do not change, delinquent opportunities change; maturity brings fewer opportunities.
– People have a master trait: personality, intelligence, genetic makeup.
– Early social control and proper parenting can reduce delinquent propensity.
Life Course Theory
– People have multiple traits: social, psychological, economic.
– People change over the life course.
– Family, job, peers influence behavior.
– There is more than one path to a delinquent career.
– There are different types of offenders and offending.
– All focus on delinquent careers.
– Delinquency must be viewed as a path rather than an event.
– Delinquent careers are a passage.
– All integrate multiple factors.
– Latent trait: The unchanging propensity to crime controls antisocial behavior.
– Life course: People are constantly evolving.
– Trajectory: There is more than one path to crime.
LO1 – Distinguish among life course, latent trait, and trajectory theories.
– Life course theorists view criminality as a dynamic process influenced by a multitude of individual characteristics, traits, and social experiences.
– Life course theories look at such issues as the onset of crime, the escalation of offenses, the persistence of crime, and desistance from crime.
– Latent trait theorists believe that human development is controlled by a “master trait” that guides human development and gives some people an increased propensity to commit crime.
– Trajectory theory holds that there are multiple pathways to crime.
The view that kids who begin engaging in antisocial behaviors at a very early age are the ones most at risk for a delinquency career.
problem behavior syndrome (PBS)
A cluster of antisocial behaviors that may include family dysfunction, substance abuse, smoking, precocious sexuality and early pregnancy, educational underachievement, suicide attempts, sensation seeking, and unemployment, as well as delinquency.
LO2 – Know the principles of the life course approach to developmental theory.
– At an early age, people begin relationships and behaviors that will determine their adult life course.
– Some individuals are incapable of maturing in a reasonable and timely fashion.
– A positive life experience may help some criminals desist from crime for a while, but a negative experience may cause them to resume their criminal activities.
– As people mature, the factors that influence their behavior change. The social, physical, and environmental influences on their behavior are transformed.
– Crime is one of a group of interrelated antisocial behaviors that cluster together. People who suffer from one of these conditions typically exhibit many symptoms of the rest.
– Early onset of antisocial behavior predicts later and more serious criminality. Adolescent offenders whose criminal behavior persists into adulthood are likely to have begun their deviant careers at a very early (preschool) age.
Critical life events, such as career and marriage, which may enable adult offenders to desist from delinquency.
Positive relations with individuals and institutions, as in a successful marriage or a successful career, that support conventional behavior and inhibit deviant behavior.
LO3 – Articulate the principles of the various life course theories.
– The social development model (SDM) integrates social control, social learning, and structural models.
– According to interactional theory, the causes of crime are bidirectional. Weak bonds lead kids to acquire deviant peer relations and engage in delinquency; delinquency weakens conventional bonds and strengthens relations with deviant peers. According to age-graded theory (Sampson and Laub), building social capital and strong social bonds reduces the likelihood of long-term deviance. As people go through their life course, the factors that influence their behavior undergo change.
– A criminal career can be affected by events that occur later in life. When faced with personal crisis, offenders lack the social supports that can help them reject criminal solutions.
– Criminal careers are a dynamic process in which important life events can change the direction of a person’s behavior; these key events are called turning points.
***general theory of crime (GTC)
Gottfredson and Hirshi;
A developmental theory that modifies social control theory by integrating concepts from biosocial, psychological, routine activities, and rational choice theories.
Refers to a person’s ability to exercise restraint and control over his or her feelings, emotions, reactions, and behaviors.
Lacking in thought or deliberation in decision making. An impulsive person lacks close attention to details, has organizational problems, is distracted and forgetful.
LO4 – Be able to define the concept of the latent trait and assumptions of the general theory of crime.
– Latent trait theories assume that a physical or psychological trait makes some people delinquency prone.
– Opportunity to commit delinquency varies; latent traits remain stable.
– The general theory of crime says an impulsive personality is key.
– Impulsive people have low self-control and a weak bond to society.
– Impulsive people often cannot resist delinquent opportunities.
Differing paths, progressions, or lines of development.
***authority conflict pathway
Pathway to delinquent deviance that begins at an early age with stubborn behavior and leads to defiance and then to authority avoidance.
Pathway to a delinquent career that begins with minor underhanded behavior, leads to property damage, and eventually escalates to more serious forms of theft and fraud.
Pathway to a delinquent career that begins with minor aggression, leads to physical fighting, and eventually escalates to violent delinquency.
Moffitt—Two patterns of offending behaviors;
Kids who get into minor scrapes as youth but whose misbehavior ends when they enter adulthood.
***life course persisters
Moffitt—Two patterns of offending behaviors;
Delinquents who begin their offending career at a very early age and continue to offend well into adulthood.
Kids who are never involved in typical adolescent misbehaviors such as drinking, smoking, sex, or petty crimes.
LO5 – Know the principles of trajectory theory.
– There are different pathways to crime and different types of criminals.
– Some career criminals may specialize in violence and extortion; some may be involved in theft and fraud; some may engage in a variety of criminal acts.
– Some offenders may begin their careers early in life, whereas others are late bloomers who begin committing crime at about the time when most people desist.
– Adolescent-limited offenders begin offending late and age out of delinquency.
– Life course persistent offenders exhibit early onset of delinquency that persists into adulthood.