Juvenile delinquency refers to illegal behaviors of minors who fall below the statutory age limit. There are two categories of juvenile delinquency: criminal behaviors and status offences (Larry, 2012). The Strain Theory offers the best explanation for understanding juvenile delinquency. Agnew argues that juveniles might be directed into delinquency by the negative emotional reaction. He states that a juvenile treated the wrong way might get upset and consequently engage in criminal activities. Negative treatment from people in the society results in frustration and anger, which is a cause of individual deviance (Froggio, 2003).
The Strain Theory focuses on the pressure placed on the juvenile by the society to commit a crime. The pressure can be from the social class, the expectation for the future and association with criminals. For example, youth from a lower social class endure relative deprivation, monetary dissatisfaction and unemployment. These factors increase their involvement in criminal activities. Moreover, the failure of an individual to achieve positively valued goals increases the strain on juveniles. An example may be poor participation in school work. Furthermore, the need for autonomy among the juveniles can result in delinquency; this increases frustration among those who fail in achieving autonomy (Adams, 2003). Juveniles, specifically the males, involved in delinquent behaviors crave for respect and status. For example, they can abuse drugs so as to prove their masculinity.
The Strain Theory can be applied to developing programs that will prevent crimes, such as family-based programs, where parents can be shown how to correlate in a constructive manner with their children by reducing their amount of emotions (Hoffman, 2003). Initiating school and peer-based programs for the juveniles improves their performance in school and reduces the amount of strain that comes from peer interaction. Increasing social support of the juveniles and helping them to be assertive rather than aggressive may also help. Problem-solving training, anger control programs and social skills improving programs allow the juveniles effectively control their emotions and cope with others. There is a need for the government, educational institutions as well as those of social welfare and justice system to reduce the negative impact of the youth”s social environment. This would change the way the youths perceive their environment (Larry, 2012).
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