Juvenile delinquency can affect a person’s life well into adulthood depending on the seriousness of the crimes committed. Certain risk factors point to an increased likelihood that a young person will become involved in the criminal justice system at some point. While these risk factors are not a definitive indication of future wrongdoing, adolescents and teens who face numerous risk factors have a greater chance of delinquency.
Peer risk factors
Being surrounded by peers who also partake in illicit behaviors greatly increases a teen’s chance of experiencing delinquency. Kids who are bullied or otherwise isolated from peers also face a greater chance.
Family risk factors
There are many family factors that increase the risk of delinquency. Poverty, abuse, divorce, exposure to violence in the home, limited parental involvement, larger families, and parents with mental or psychological issues all contribute to lawless behavior in juveniles.
Individual risk factors
Hyperactivity in childhood is also associated with higher risk, as are problems with cognitive development. Antisocial behaviors and emotional issues, including problems regulating impulse control and behavior, are also thought to play a role in higher juvenile delinquency rates.
Even when the above risk factors are present in the life of a juvenile, certain protective factors can mitigate the chance of delinquency. For example, kids who use their time wisely, by participating in clubs or activities and have positive associations with peers, are less likely to partake in wrongdoing. When it comes to family issues, children need a positive adult presence in their lives, whether that is a family member or guardian. It is also important for schools and communities to provide a safe, secure environment for kids.