Juvenile Delinquency: Age 12–19

Peer pressure during adolescence is strong, sometimes so much so that teenagers engage in antisocial acts. Juvenile delinquency is the breaking of the law by minors. Two categories of delinquency are

  • Minors who commit crimes punishable by law (such as robbery).
  • Minors who commit offenses ordinarily not considered criminal for adults (such as truancy). Adolescents, especially males, are responsible for nearly half of crimes committed, especially against property.

The likelihood of a teenager becoming a juvenile delinquent is determined more by lack of parental supervision and discipline than socioeconomic status. Adolescent rebellion may grow out of tension between adolescents' desire for immediate gratification and parents' insistence on delayed gratification. Parents who are unwilling or unavailable to socialize younger children may be setting them up for problems later in adolescence.

While some offenders are sent to juvenile reform facilities, others are given lesser punishments, such as probation or community service. Still others are court‐mandated to seek mental health therapy. Fortunately, most juvenile delinquents eventually grow up to be law‐abiding and contributing citizens.