Sociologists, in an attempt to explain and point out the reasons behind delinquency, have concluded that there are connections between specific youth behaviors with the home environment, family background, the neighborhood, associations, and many other aspects that together, or separately affect the formative years of young people’s social environment. Delinquent children usually come from a background of difficult circumstances. Parental alcoholism, poverty, breakdown of family, abusive conditions in the home, death of parents during armed conflicts or drug overdose, and the HIV/AIDS scourge, and etc. are some of the various reasons that can leave children virtually orphaned.
One or both parents may be physically present, but because of irresponsibility on their part (if even one of them is addicted to drugs or alcoholic), a child may grow developing certain ways and attitudes that are directly/indirectly caused by the parent/s addiction or drug-related behavior. In this case, true delinquency lies on the parents; and the children are, in a way, orphaned or unaccompanied, and without any means of subsistence which, in the first place, the parents’ fundamental responsibility to provide. Generally, and increasingly, these children are born and/or raised without a father.
They are first in the line of those who are at greatest risk of falling into juvenile delinquency. Without noticing it as it is typical of any youth to be lacking in prudence, with newly embraced group, the gang, a corresponding subculture starts to assimilate them, and before long, they start to engage in activities of adult criminal groups. It is usually after being engaged in criminal activities for an extended period of time with its accompanying consequences (such as ending up in prison or rehabilitation institutions for drug addicts) that delinquents realize they are into a very dangerous zone.
A large portion of all juvenile violations (between two-thirds and three-quarters) are perpetrated by youths who are members of certain gangs (Venkatesh, 1997). Unlike in school and their family, these have no strict rules to be followed except loyalty to the group. It gives young people esteem when they somehow feel they are the “rule” in themselves. This is the lure of gangs. It gives the promise of fulfillment to would be delinquents. Popularity, access to the powerful figures on the streets, freedom to express one’s self, as well as easy flow of money (if the gang is also involved in some illegal activities such as drug dealings, which is common in most gangs) are seemingly within grasp of anybody who just have the guts to dare (OJJDP, Mar. 2003).
Children who are well taken care of by their parents and are thus adequately supervised are at less odds to be involved in criminal activities. Studies have proven that. A dysfunctional family, on the other hand, which is commonly characterized by regular conflicts, parental negligence, poor communication because of absorption to outside activities by parents, are always assumed to be the breeding ground for delinquents (Venkatesh, 1997).
Studies on Risk versus Protective Factors
An insightful paper prepared by Resnick describes the theoretical viewpoint that risk and protective factors are two things that may “mirror” each other. Risk factors like low academic performance increases the possibility of child or youth’s involvement in activities that may harm themselves and others while protective factors such as high academic performance increases the likelihood also of the individual committing aggression against another.
These factors reside in an individual and that a disproportion of one especially the “risk factors” over the other indicates a caution or warning; the person may traverse in a direction which may foster a tendency to exhibit aggression or violent behavior. In the study, identifying these balance or imbalance within individuals may help reduce the occurrence of school violence by early detection of symptoms thus, interventions may be employed coming from various strategic points like the home, and the school and the community (Resnick, 2004).
According to the Laub (1998), the home and the school are milieus that importantly direct the development of aggression or violence. Aggression at home significantly reflects what may eventually occur as aggression or violence in school, though not always. Male students attack peers or other male students. In addition, teachers are hurt either by verbal abuse, physical injury or threats of aggression. Fights that commonly occur in the campuses relate to “possession of toys, equipment and/or territory, about retaliation, & rules of games” (Laub, 1998).
Nature of Violence or Aggression
“From very early, the oxygen of the criminal’s life is to seek excitement by doing the forbidden.”-S.Samenow
A radical turn from the contemporary to classical rationalizations on violent behavior equivalent to possessing a criminal mind, Stanton Samenow offered a quite “sweeping” point of view based on what he calls “errors of thinking.” Whereas years spent in studying and treating adolescence clinical disorders, he had leaned upon the understanding that adolescents, criminal behavior and/or violence in general have social determinants as a major factor, this change of mind was brought about by a collaborative work with another practitioner Dr. Yochelson (Genre,http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/samenow.htm).
An elevated fear on the occurrence of violence in school is expectedly high not only because of what happened in Virginia Tech recently; this is because other forms of aggression or violent acts committed by students have not changed instead, increased in number among campuses today. In an excellent study by Jaana, the author specifically isolated these acts as becoming the source of fear for the average students to experience anytime during their school lives.
The study reveals that suburban schools are also profiled as becoming unsafe these days. These violent activities can be in the form of physical attack for no apparent reason or provocation, fights without using any weapon, pilfering, breaking and entering school property, and vandalism. In addition, victimization occurs, in the manner of students stealing property of another (e.g., books etc.), being threatened because of racial or cultural difference, bullying, and threats of injury to teachers and not only to students among others (Jaana, 2001 in http://www.ncdjjdp.org/cpsv/Acrobatfiles/statistics_2008.pdf).
Genre, C.T. 2007. “Stanton Samenow:The Criminalpersonality). Retrieved May 6, 2008
Laub, J.H., & Lauritsen, J.L. (1998). The Interdependence of School Violence with Neighborhood and Family Conditions. In D.S. Elliott, B. Hamburg, & K.R. Williams (Editors), Violence in American Schools: A New Perspective, (pp. 127- 155). New York, NY:Cambridge University Press. Retrieved May 6, 2008from the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence
Jaana, 2001 in Selected School and Youth violence statistics. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP).Retrieved May 6, 2008. http://www.ncdjjdp.org/cpsv/Acrobatfiles/statistics_2007.pdf
Venkatesh, S. ‘The social organization of street gang activity in an urban ghetto,’ American Journal of Sociology, vol. 103, No. 1, July 1997, pp. 82-111.
Yochelson, Samuel & Stanton Samenow. The Criminal Personality. N.Y.: Jason Aronsen, 1976, 1977, 1986._____Accessed Retrieved May 6, 2008. <http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_final_report.pd f).
____The Challenge of School Violence. Constitutional Rights Foundations. Retrieved May 6, 2008 <http://www.crf-usa.org/violence/school.html>
____ Youth Act. “Other factors that contribute to school violence.” Retrieved May 6, 2008< http://www.youthact.org/gunviolence/otherfactors.html>
_______ 2007. Selected School and Youth violence statistics. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP). Retrieved May 6, 2008 http://www.ncdjjdp.org/cpsv/Acrobatfiles/statistics_2007.pdf
_______OJJDP, Mar. 2003. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime. <http://:www.cato.org/testimony/ct-wc67.html.> Retrieved May 6, 2008.