Legal Guide

Major Causes Of Juvenile Delinquency and Ways to Help

Some teenagers turn to a life of crime, but why? Research shows that many young people turn to crime in their youth because of issues in their lives.

Please keep reading to learn why adolescents may get involved in criminal activity and how it can potentially be prevented.

Family Problems

The family, especially the parents, plays a critical role in how children develop. Unfortunately, some young people may turn to criminal activity because of a lack of parental or family involvement in their lives.

As a result, the young person gets arrested and may need a juvenile criminal defense attorney to fight the charges.

There are a rising number of lower-income immigrants coming to the United States. While the vast majority don’t commit crimes and live honestly, they may need to work long hours to make ends meet. This can leave teenagers without the supervision and structure to stay out of trouble.

Also, teenagers who don’t have active parental role models may lack the moral and social training to understand right from wrong. Inadequate moral and social values can cause teens to have poor interactions with their peers, making them less likely to obey laws.

If grandparents are responsible for raising the teen, it can be difficult for them to effectively watch them, so their energies are directed toward unhealthy activities.

In cases where the teen is subject to verbal or physical abuse, they might act out and illegally hurt others – violence, theft, vandalism, substance abuse, and more.


If young people don’t live in a stable home, they may live on the streets, where they may turn to gang activity to survive. This dangerous activity gives them companionship and a sense of family that they don’t receive at home.

Some states don’t allow criminal prosecution of minors until they are 14, which can lead to ‘impunity syndrome.’ This means the teen or child knows they won’t be punished for committing crimes, so they reoffend several times.

Adults may use this situation to their benefit; there are many cases of adult criminals using minors to commit crimes, so there is no punishment.

Violence Leads To Violence

Many of the nation’s most violent offenders were verbally, physically, and/or sexually abused as children and teenagers. People who have experienced violence at a young age are much more likely to commit it themselves later.

Children who have been abused may turn to bully or criminal behavior to show they are stronger than others.

Psychological Problems

Some teenagers experience mental health problems for various reasons, such as low income, uncaring parents, inferiority complex, family inattention, and more.

These triggers can lead to anxiety, depression, aggression, and frustration, each leading to criminal behavior.

Some of the ways that stakeholders can prevent juvenile crimes in at-risk populations include:

Intervene Early

Research shows the best way to stop juveniles from becoming career criminals is to get involved in their lives early. Crime prevention programs for young people, which may include after-school activities and mentoring, can reduce the chances that children will get involved in crime.

Youth Development

Youth development programs focus on employment, relationships, education, health, community, and creativity. Programs that center on these factors should involve learning/doing as well as fostering attaching/belonging.

Get Teens Active In Positive Programs

Teens who lack positive role models at home need to be engaged early to get them focused on positive behaviors. Some of the programs that may help include:

  • Bullying prevention
  • Mentoring
  • After-school sports
  • Conflict resolution and violence prevention
  • Social competence curricula

The good news is that many juvenile crimes can be prevented if early intervention occurs in the lives of at-risk youth.

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