As the world is growing and developing, delinquent and criminal behavior among young people also increase at the same pace and it has become more and more complex and confusing. In this coursework, this issue is examined, some basic assumption relating to juvenile delinquency are presented, followed by a description of various factors underlying and causes that are contributing to this phenomenon. Effective approaches and measures for preventing juvenile delinquency and solutions and restorative justice to both perpetrators and victims are suggested. Some regional variations and comparative facts among different countries are highlighted. This coursework ends with a case study and concludes with a summary and recommendations for future actions.

        Juvenile delinquencies have been increasing recently as evidenced by newspaper reports and raise a lot of concern among the parents, public, government, as well as the law enforcement officers. This issue shall not be neglected as youth and adolescences are the national assets and they are the leaders of our country in the future.

        In general, juvenile delinquency refers to the antisocial or criminal activity of minors and which violates the law or commits a status offense (Joseph, 1995). The upper legal age for juvenile may be varied depends on different states and countries, or even gender. In Malaysia, the legal juvenile age is 21 years old and below, according to the Prison Act 1995. However, serious crimes and repeated offenses can result in sentencing juvenile offenders to prison.

        Juvenile delinquency can be divided into two categories, first is acts or omissions which are prohibited by law under the respective legal system, and another one is acts which are known as status offense (Hussin, 2005). The acts that are prohibited by law under the respective legal system are those that is being exposed to moral danger such as girl’s involvement in prostitution, drugs consuming, robbery and etc. In true context, if these activities are committed by adults, it is considered as a crime and may be sentenced to prison. A ‘status offense’ is the illegal behavior of a minor although that same behavior would not be criminal if committed by an adult. Such offenses include sexual behavior, alcohol consumption, running away, and truancy (Rose, 2000).

Juvenile Delinquency in Malaysia

        In Malaysia, the statistics recorded that there were 14691 juveniles who were arrested for the committing offences through the year 2002 until November 2004, i.e. the average of 420 cases per month and 14 cases per day. Last year, 3629 students aged between 13 and 18, were arrested for various crimes – 388 more compared to 2007.

        Statistics above shows the seriousness of delinquent in Malaysia and apparently it is consistently on the rise from time to time. Moreover, the actual number of cases is estimated to be much higher than reported. Although much has been said and debated, it has not received its due attention.


Some Regional Aspects of Delinquency

        Some aspects of juvenile delinquency are universal as it will be the same whichever country it is, others may be vary from one region to another. As a rule, it is very important to understand the cultural contexts in understanding the causes of juvenile delinquency, and also develop culturally appropriate measures to deal with it.

         In Africa, the mains reason of juvenile delinquency will be hunger, poverty, mal-nutrition, and also unemployment. Every year, there will be about 790,000 people enter the labor market, but there are only 60,000 jobs generated by the economy. One half of the Africans are living in poverty, and many of the urban poor lives in slum and squatter settlements with overcrowded, unhealthy housing and lacking of basic services. This is the place where a lot of youth and children stays and it leads to several juvenile crime such as theft, robbery, smuggling, prostitution, the abuse of narcotic substance, and drug trafficking.

        In Asian countries, Juvenile delinquencies are largely urban phenomena. According to the statistic, as is true elsewhere, young people constitute the most criminally active segment of the population. The most serious crime that is commit by youth of the region are the rise in the number of violent acts, the increase in drug-related offences, and the marked growth in female juvenile delinquency. The financial crisis that hit some of the Asian countries in the late 1990s created economic stagnation and contraction, leading to large-scale youth unemployment. For a lot of young people, this meant a loss of identity and the opportunity for self-actualization.

        Some countries that is located near or within the ‘Golden Crescent’ or the ‘Golden Triangle’, the two major narcotics-producing areas in Asia, are facing great difficulty as traffickers actively involve adolescents and youth in serving this industry, and many of them become addicted to drugs because of their low prices and easy availability. Another major problem is human trafficking.

        In Latin America, the main reason for juvenile delinquency is linked to the problem of debt crisis in the region, evidenced by the extremely high unemployment rates prevailing within this group. Juvenile delinquency is particularly acute and is often associated with the problem of homelessness among children and adolescents.

Causes of Juvenile Delinquency


Family Issues

The number of single parents is a factor which has shown to have an influence on the proportions of teen crimes. The family character is a strong example of responsibility, loyalty, honesty, and commitment. The number of single parents out there is on a rise. Situations may vary from separation, divorce, to children born out of marriage. Studies have shown that broken homes often influence teenage crimes.

The children who receive suitable parental supervision are less likely to engage in criminal activities. Family settings dysfunctional characterized by conflict, inadequate parental control, integration, and premature autonomy are closely associated with juvenile delinquency. Families that have few opportunities for legitimate employment and face a higher risk of social exclusion are overrepresented among offenders for the children. The countries in transition are facing particular challenges in this respect with the associated insecurity. These are contributing to increase in the numbers of children and juveniles neglected by their parents and suffering abuse and violence at home.

The family as a social institution is currently undergoing substantial changes, for example, the increase in one parent families and non-marital unions. The fathers in low income families can lead children to seek patterns of masculinity in delinquent groups of peers and often feel excluded. They may choose to join a juvenile delinquent group to raise their self-esteem and improve their status. These groups provide equal opportunities to everyone, favorably distinguishing themselves from school and family where positions of authority are occupied by adults. They have the opportunity to study delinquent behavior, and the possibility of their engaging in adult crime becomes more real when young people are exposed to the influence of adult offenders. The “criminalization” of the family also has an impact on the choice of delinquent trajectories.

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A study carried out in prisons in the United States reveals that families involved in criminal activities tend to push their younger members towards violating the law. More than two-thirds of those interviewed had relatives who were incarcerated; for 25 per cent it was a father and for another 25 per cent a brother or sister.

Peer influence

Peer relation is a subject that is famous for receiving much blame from parents with juvenile delinquents. Many parents feel that their children never ...

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