Child Delinquency

Welcome to the History of Child Delinquency!  Child delinquency is a growing phenomenon and many people do not know what to think about it quite yet.  The Bartol & Bartol (2011) textbook explains that the psychological definition of delinquency is a child’s engagement in extreme anti-social behavior. Children are supposed to be a sign of innocence and loyalty, yet they are killing other children and they are even killing their own parents.  What if the motive was a good one?  Would your view change?  What if a child was abused from infancy and then at the age of 16, they hit a breaking point and shot their abusive father?  Would you justify this as self-defense or would you call them a cold-blooded killer who developed some type of mental illness after years of abuse?

Many psychologists struggle with the continuous nature versus nurture debate when it comes to delinquency in children.  Some think it is biological, suggesting that the children were born with it and that they inherited some type of illness from their parents.  Others think that these delinquents are simply a product of their environment and that they act out and kill people due to the social pressures, abuse, and neglect they have faced the majority of their lives.  The third and most popular view of why children become delinquents is due to both nature and nurture.  Children might be born with an antisocial behavior or bipolar disorder, but the environment that they are in may also be increasing those illnesses.  Stress affects everything and if the child is under stress due to parental constrictions, school, neglect, or abuse, the mental disorders or illnesses that the child already has will be increased.

There have been theories developed on how to prevent child delinquency, but many people don’t know the real cause.  Every case is based on individual differences.  Some people believe there are signs that show that a child will be involved in criminal behavior in the future and some people have suggested certain methods to prevent that. This site will explain how the different views have changed over time and how people have perceived delinquency differently.

Bartol C. R., & Bartol A. M. (2011).  Criminal behavior: A psychological approach.                                                                          Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

–Sara Eutsler

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