The “Creation” of Childhood and Delinquency Early Conceptualizations of Childhood
“ The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awake. The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized, and sexually abused.” Lloyd DeMause., 1974:1
The growth in the U.S. juvenile population (ages 0 through 17) between 2000 and 2020 will be far greater for Hispanic (58 percent) and Asian (59 percent) juveniles than for Native American (16 percent), black (9 percent), or white (7 percent) juveniles.
The proportion of children under age 18 living in two-parent households declined between 1970 and 2002, regardless of race
The proportion of juvenile victimizations occurring outdoors remained relatively constant between 3 and 10 p.m.
The growth and decline in violent crime by juveniles between 1980 and 2003 are documented by both victim reports and arrests
Between 1994 and 2002, the number of murders involving a juvenile offender fell 65%, to its lowest level since 1984
One of every four violent crime victims known to law enforcement is a juvenile, and most of these victims are female. About one-third of juvenile violent crime victims known to law enforcement are under age 12.
Self-reports by juvenile offenders show that two-thirds of youth who report committing a crime at ages 16 or 17 do not report committing a crime at ages 18 and 19.
Unlike violent crimes, the timing of shoplifting by juveniles is similar on both school days and non-school days; however, the peak times are still between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
After many years of increases, the juvenile custody population declined in 2001 and again in 2003. The juvenile violent crime arrest rate in 2003 was below the levels of the 1980s.
Copyright 2006 National Center for Juvenile Justice 3700 S. Water Street, Suite 200 Pittsburgh, PA 15203-2363 Suggested Citation: Snyder, Howard N., and Sickmund, Melissa. 2006. Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. More information is available online. The full report, report chapters, and data files for the graphs can be downloaded from http://ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/ojstatbb/nr2006/index.html Additional statistics are available from OJJDP's Statistical Briefing Book, located at: http://ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/ojstatbb/index.html
MOST IMPORTANT U.S. Supreme Court case on juvenile procedure
The Legal Reform Years: The Juvenile Court After Gault The court’s ruling in Gault and other cases not only increased procedural formality in juvenile court cases, but also shifted the traditional focus from the “whole child” to the child’s act. From there, it was a short step to offense-based sentencing and punitive orientation.
The Legal Reform Years: The Juvenile Court After Gault Juvenile court procedures are still characterized by an informality that most people would find unacceptable if it were applied to adults in criminal court.
Adult/Juvenile Comparison ADULTS JUVENILES Comprehension of Miranda rights 23% --inadequate understanding 55% --inadequate understanding Understanding the Words 37% --did not understand words 63% --did not understand words Right to Counsel 15% --did not understand right 45% --did not understand right Knowing Extent of Rights -- 62% --thought punished if silent
Main proposition=an individual’s propensity to offend is dependent upon involvement in conventional activities
Informal social controls are the main focus of this theory
Although trajectories are influenced by early experiences, Sampson & Laub believe that social factors (specifically informal controls) can modify trajectories, reducing offending in adulthood—criminality is not solely defined by traits rooted in childhood
“ Turning points”=the mechanisms that alter the life course, changing a risk pathway to a more adaptive one
Life-course development is dynamic regardless of age
The role of transitions within life trajectories generates turning points or changes in one’s pathway
% Adopted Juveniles with Criminal Record Biological and adoptive parents NO CRIMINAL RECORD 13.5% BIOLOGICAL parents had criminal record 20% ADOPTIVE parents had criminal record 15% Biological and adoptive parents BOTH HAD CRIMINAL RECORDS 25%
Rate of delinquency greater for boys while in school than out of school
Delinquents who drop out have higher rate while in school than while out
743 10th grade boys
Data gathered from 10th-12th grade
“ Graduates” =those who graduated or were in school entire time
“ Dropouts” =those who left school in the study period
Delinquency measured by official contact
Testing the Theories: Thornberry et al. Study Hypotheses Strain Theory: Criminal behavior of dropouts should decline more sharply than that of graduates after leaving school, and rates for dropouts should converge quickly with those of graduates Control Theory: Natural decline during post-high school years should be more gradual for dropouts than graduates, and will not converge with decline for graduates Method Sample: 10% sample of Philadelphia Birth Cohort Study (N=567 boys) Variables: Dropping Out, Criminal Involvement (arrests), Race, Father’s Occupation, Marital Status, Employment Status
Testing the Theories: Thornberry et al. Study Findings
Social Correlates of Delinquency Social Class
Conducted interviews with 445 staff members in over 160 youth service agencies in 24 major cities
Asked them, “What is your conception of a gang?”
On bases of these responses, developed definition and list of key characteristics (see next slide)
Miller’s Characteristics and Definition of a Gang
Identification with a territory
Engaging in illegal activity
Definition (incorporating above):
“ A youth gang is a self-formed association of peers bound together by mutual interests, with identifiable leadership, well developed lines of authority, and other organizational features, who act in concert to achieve a specific purpose or purposes which generally include the conduct of illegal activity and control over a particular territory, facility, or type of enterprise.”
Ideally, officers should make decisions strictly on legally-relevant factors
The reality is that they must often use personal discretion
Because many of their decisions are “low visibility” there is great potential for bad decisions to be made
Factors Influencing Police Decision-Making Legal Factors Included here are such factors as seriousness of the crime, prior record of the juvenile, and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances Environmental Factors Such factors include the general community’s tolerance of youthful misbehavior; policies, practices and customs of the local police department; and alternatives to arrest Situational Factors Such factors include the attitude of the juvenile, attitude of the complainant, perceived willingness of parents to cooperate, etc. Biases and Prejudices Racial and gender prejudices; and organizational biases resulting from discriminatory police practices
Empirical Studies of Police Discrimination: Piliavin and Briar
For serious offenses, the nature of the offense itself was the primary factor in police disposition
For less serious offenses (90% of all police encounters) it was the officer’s assessment of the “character” of the offender.
This usually was assessed by demeanor (see table)
Empirical Studies of Police Discrimination: Black and Reiss
the “social distance” between offender and victim is greater
family situations--45% arrested
the complainant prefers arrest
preference unclear--16% arrested
prefered no arrest--0%
Found that an arrest is most likely when:
Suspect fails to show deference
“ very deferential”--22% arrested
“ civil”--16% arrested
“ antagonistic”--22% arrested
Official Reaction to Juvenile Delinquency Components of the Juvenile Justice System II: Pretrial
Elements Involved in Pretrial Detention Intake Diversion Adult Transfer Petition