Juvenile delinquency is the involvement of minors in criminal activities. Juvenile criminal behavior is still a big challenge in the USA even with the reduction of the country crime rates. Annually, about two million minor offenders are arrested in the USA. About 120,000 out of these cases involve violent crimes. According to Frontline PBS, about 50% of juvenile crimes go unreported. The involvement of young people in criminal activities has remained constant since 1980s. Different authorities should come up with strategic ways of helping the juveniles who are at risk of committing crimes. These strategies should assist keep them from getting involved in criminal activities. They should also instigate proper moral and social behavior to the young people. This can only be achieved when the juvenile justice specialists and investigators achieve a better understanding of the factors that lead to juvenile criminal acts.
This study will determine the most predominant motives for juvenile crime. It will also try to achieve a link between individual causes and the resultant criminal behavior. The study will use the official decision by a juvenile court as the operational definition. Minor offenders whose hearings take place in adult criminal courts will not be included in the study. The design used to create the intervention programs must be neither too strong nor too weak. The very strong designs may result in ineffective or ambiguous outcomes while weak designs may be difficult to implement. Some previous studies have explained minor offences to be a result of a single factor. In their description, a minor offender does so as a result of one factor only such as peer pressure, insufficiency or influence from the social setting. However, this cannot be the case. Juvenile delinquency can only be attributed to the interaction of several factors. This study will focus on different factors that can cause juvenile criminal behavior.
The study will use the self-report method in data collection. The individual respondents will give an account of their own report of doing certain acts within six months. Some of the acts to be investigated include, theft of things worth below $10, things worth between $10 and $100 and theft of items valued above $100. In addition to these, they will also respond to queries about stealing car keys or cars, fraud involving checks or credit cards, dropping out of school, drug abuse or involvement in the sale of drugs among other questions. These acts can be categorized as violent and non-violent criminal acts. The factors to be analyzed as the causes of the criminal behavior include attitude and hopelessness, educational accomplishment, supervision and reinforcement by the parents, communication between the juvenile criminal and parents, the family economic and social status, condition of their house and peer influence. The juveniles and parents or guardians will respond to the issues accordingly. The responses based on these queries will assist in the explanation for different reasons that lead to criminal behavior among minors. These factors will form the independent variables of the study. The incidence of the criminal behavior will form the dependent variable.
The respondents will be chosen from high school minors from the community of study. The selected areas must vary in socioeconomic status. This will provide diversity in the study, hence, enhancing the viability of the study results. With permission from the school authorities, the interviewers will provide prospective respondents with their contacts as well as some incentives. The interviewees will also answer demographic questions to record their background, age, socioeconomic status and incidence of delinquent actions. The recruitment will include the respondents who will report involvement in criminal activities within the last 6 months. At least 20% of African American and 23% of Hispanic youth should be chosen for the study. The study should also strive to have gender equality among the respondents.
Assessment of Independent and Dependent Variables
The interviewers shall visit the homes of the respondents after they come back from school for interview sessions. The interviews shall include asking confidential questions to the juvenile respondent as well as the parents. In order to enhance confidentiality and increase honesty, the interview room will have the interviewer and the interviewee only. Dependent variable measurements will include the responses given to the incidence of 30 types of criminal behaviors. They must be done within the last 6 months before the study. The independent variables will include the parents responses to a 15 questions measure of hyper behavior. The study will use Beck Depression Inventory of thirty questions to measure the attitude and depression. The minors educational achievement recording will use the response given by the student or parent. Additionally, with the minor and parents permission, the academic results can be collected from the school. Supervision of the minor by the parents will depend on the response given by the parents and the juvenile. The rating of 0-3 will depend on the frequency of occurrence.
Some questions such as the parents awareness of their childs whereabouts will help in the inquiry. The measure of parental reinforcement will depend on responses by the parents and minors. In addition, several other questions will assess how communication takes place between the parents and their child. In assessing socioeconomic status of the respondents, the study will use the Hollingshead index. This index bases its scores on the parents level of education, the reputation of their occupation and other issues that the parents will raise. In a case where both parents participate, the one with a higher score and higher education will respond in the study. The condition of the structures around the home and house, repairs and cleanliness will assist in assessment of housing. Peer pressure and influence evaluation will use the participants response. In addition, the involvement of the participants friends in criminal behaviors will also be used.
The multivariate regression analysis will be used for evaluation of the collected information. This assessment will show the connection between individual variables. It will also assist in comparing the results based on different groupings such as gender, socioeconomic status and localities. The data can be used in plotting graphs that will assist in comparing different variables. There is an expectation that the variables will show some level of correlation. For example, low levels of socioeconomic status could be a cause for juvenile criminal behavior. The same applies to negative peer pressure. The students who focus on their studies and associate very little with their peers, who commit criminal activities, may show decreased delinquent behavior. This analysis will assist in identification of risk factors as well as the protective strategies. The results should be recorded and safely kept for reference in future studies. The results can also be used by researchers and professionals in creating strategies to enable young people avoid criminal activities. They will also form a way of assisting the parents create a better relationship with their teen children. However, this field requires additional study and analysis in order to have a significant reduction on the rate of juvenile delinquency. The study will, however, create a better understanding of the relationship between individual causes of juvenile crimes.