Asolescent Delinquency Essay Research Paper During 1991

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Asolescent Delinquency Essay, Research Paper During 1991, alone, adolescents under the age of eighteen made up 17.2 percent of all arrests for violent crimes (Salts, Lindholm, Goddard, & Duncan, 1995). Watts & Ellis (1993) found that antecedents to drug and alcohol use/abuse happens before the adolescent reaches high school. So, what factors drive adolescents to act out in such delinquent behaviors as skipping school, threatening fellow adolescents with guns or other weapons, and drug and alcohol use? This is a very interesting question that seems to have a lot of research to help in trying to answer it. The variety of explanations for such delinquent behaviors as listed above include lack of family structure, relational problems with peers, environmental influences,

as well as many more. Some researchers have attempted to explore adolescent delinquency with such theories as Coercion Theory and Classic Strain Theory. According to Cashwell & Vacc (1996), Coercion Theory suggests that the family environment of an adolescent influences their interpersonal style, which will then reflect on their selection of peers. Agnew & Brezina (1997) found Classic Strain Theory to imply that the central goal for adolescents, or the population in general, in the United States is financial success and/or the attainment of middle-class status. Even though there are some differences between races in research of adolescent delinquency, I will only be focusing on research that pertains to white adolescents. I will, however, highlight some differences

between the sexes (male and female only) and ages of the adolescents. In attempts to try and understand factors that lead adolescents to delinquent behavior, some researchers have looked at the family structure and functioning. Cashwell & Vacc (1996) found that the largest direct effect on adolescent delinquency is low family cohesion. Family cohesion is the degree to which members are emotionally separate from or involved with the family (Burr, Day, & Bahr, 1993). This study found that adolescents who live in a cohesive family environment are less likely to be involved with delinquent peers (Cashwell & Vacc, 1996). Another study found that higher levels of family conflict are predictive of greater levels of violence in the adolescent (Salts et al., 1995). Researchers

in this study also found that the time adolescents spend away from home and their family, the higher the levels of delinquency (Salts et al., 1995). Finally, Rowe & Flannery (1994) found a direct positive correlation between levels of parental affection and spontaneity that is linked with delinquency. The second factor pointing to adolescent delinquency is relational problems with peers. A particular study done by Agnew & Brezina (1997) predicted that problems with peers would affect female delinquency more so than male delinquency. However, the data that they collected in their study showed little evidence to support this hypothesis. They did find, however, that females who spend adequate amounts of time with boys are more likely to be involved in delinquency (Agnew

& Brezina, 1997). These girls, who spend so much time with male peer groups, are introduced to the more delinquent behaviors of males, and therefore, have more opportunity to engage in these acts of deviance (Agnew & Brezina, 1997). Poor peer relations were also found to be the biggest predictor of fighting among females (Agnew & Brezina, 1997). According to this same study, males having same and opposite sex friends also have slightly higher levels of delinquency (Agnew & Brezina, 1997). Another study conducted by Rowe & Flannery (1994), found that more positive peer relations were linked to higher levels of delinquency. Why would positive peer relations motivate adolescents to more delinquent activity? This particular study found that adolescents, who spend