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Chapter 3- Theories of Juvenile Delinquency

by: Jocelyn Rossell

Chapter 3- Theories of Juvenile Delinquency Soc 4511

Marketplace > Ohio State University > Sociology > Soc 4511 > Chapter 3 Theories of Juvenile Delinquency
Jocelyn Rossell
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Notes from lectures from Dana Haynie. 2/2/16 and 2/4/16
Juvenile Delinquency
Dana Haynie
Class Notes
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jocelyn Rossell on Monday February 8, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Soc 4511 at Ohio State University taught by Dana Haynie in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 58 views. For similar materials see Juvenile Delinquency in Sociology at Ohio State University.


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Date Created: 02/08/16
Chapter 3- Theories 02/09/2016 ▯ What causes theory?  Use theories to make predictions Theory: o Statement that explains relationship between abstract concepts in a meaningful way o Simplifies reality and organizes thinking o Tested using scientific methods  For class- focus is on the individual ▯ ▯ Individual Views of Delinquency  Theories that argue delinquency is caused by individual-level factors 1. Choice Theory i. Personal choices and decision making 2. Trait Theory i. Psychological or biological factors ▯ ▯ Choice Theory Delinquency is a rational choice made by a motivated offender who perceives that gains outweigh possible punishment or loss  Youth engage in delinquent behavior after weighing consequences and benefits of actions  Is drug dealing rational? – benefits, costs. Tends to be rational  Is cheating rational?- benefits, costs. Tends to be rational I. Premise is that individuals have free will- choose own destiny i. Expected utility- maximize profits and minimize losses, reduce risk ii. If given a chance or the right “opportunity”, any person will commit a crime iii. What affects “expected utility” outcome? o Probability of arrest/conviction o Severity of punishment o Expected reward (money, status, thrill, power) o Moral barriers  II. Rational Delinquent i. Choosing delinquency o Targets carefully selected o Behavior systematic and selective ii. What influences choice to commit crime? o Economic need o Problem solving o False expectations o Way crime happens, punishments o Opportunities available o Thrill o Status ▯ ▯ Routine Activities Theory Crime is a normal function of routine activities of modern living o Cohen & Felson  Lack of capable guardians o Officers o Homeowners o Security systems o Neighbors o Parents  Suitable Targets o Costly jewelry o Expensive cars o Easily transportable goods  Motivated Offenders o Teenage boys o Unemployed o Addict population  When these 3 things overlap= crime ▯ ▯ How should we deter crime? ▯ General Deterrence Theory o Focus on potential offenders o Threat of punishment will deter o The more swift, sever and certain the punishment, the greater deterrence effect o Crime control policies depends on fear of criminal penalties  Severity of punishment does not deter crime  Most offenders believe they have a small chance of being caught  Only 10% of all serious offenses result in apprehension  Capital punishment does not deter violence crime  Certainty of punishment more important  Issues with the theory  Youth unaware of criminal code and likely punishment  Experience with justice system may defuse the threat of punishment  Little stake in society- have less to loose  Specific Deterrence o Targets convicted offenders o If punished severely, they will not repeat crime o Learn from their mistakes  Issues with the theory  About 2/3 of all convicted felons are rearrested (recidivism)  Criminals who receive probation are less likely to recidivate than those sent to prison  Problems with choice theory?  Removes focus from social problems  Assumes all crime is rational  Overlooks how social context affects decisions  Can’t explain variation in crime rates among groups ▯ ▯ Situational Crime Prevention  Look at disputation where victimization re-occurs o Hot dots- types of individuals/groups of individuals who are repeatedly victimized  Drug addicts, drug dealers o Hot products- types of property that are repeatedly victimized; consumer items most attractive to thieves  Jewelry, valued items o Hot spots- specific locations/small areas that suffer large amounts of crime  Neighborhood, street, block o Hot target- types of places that are frequently victimized. Not necessarily same area  Bars, stores, alleys  These four things are used to help officers ▯ ▯ Reduce opportunity to commit criminal acts Increase efforts o Target hardening- stronger glass Increase Risks o Prevention surveillance Reduce Rewards o Removable car radios, car tracking systems, not leaving bags in car ▯ ▯ ▯ Trait Theories Focus: individual’s personal traits explain crime o Criminals have abnormal traits  Influence behavior choices o focus on treatment of abnormal trait o delinquent actions impulsive or instinctual rather than rational choices Origins in Lombroso’s study of criminals (1935-1909) o Criminals have similar facial features o Identify criminals by evaluating their jawlines, teeth, nose, and skull shape o Criminals have physical anomalies that make them similar to primitive ancestors o Certain people are born criminal-based on how they look Mug Shot Study o 2006- analyzed data from federally sponsored survey of 15,000 high school students. 2 researchers concluded that unattractive individuals commit more crime ▯ ▯ ▯ ▯ Biosocial Theories of Delinquency ▯ 1. Modern Biosocial Theory Interplay between biology, environment, and antisocial behavior I. Biochemical Factors i. Prenatal Care  Exposure to damaging chemicals can cause prenatal damage and antisocial behavior  Zika Virus II. Abnormal Body Chemistry i. Diets ii. Video- hearing: violence epidemic linked to diet III. Hormones i. Changes in hormone levels ▯ 2. Neurological Dysfunction i. Damage to the brain may cause delinquency ii. Link between learning disabilities and delinquency  Susceptibility to rationale  School failure rationale  3. Genetic Influences o Genetic makeup of parents is passed onto children  Antisocial behavior is inherited o Genetic abnormality is linked to variety of antisocial behavior ▯ ▯ ▯ ▯ Psychological Theory Psychodynamic o Cause: Intrapsychic Processes  Unconscious conflicts  Childhood traumas  Family abuse  Neurosis  Psychosis  Behavioral o Personality is learned throughout life during interaction with others o Cause: Learning Processes  Past experiences  Stimuli  Rewards and Punishments o Social Learning Theory:  Behavior is modeled through observation either directly through contact or indirectly through media  Cognitive o Cause: Information Processing  Thinking  Problem solving  Script  Moral development ▯


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