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lindagray

​​​​​​​Juvenile delinquency (definition)

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Juvenile delinquency, also known as "juvenile offending", is the act of participating in unlawful behavior as minors (juveniles, i.e. individuals younger than the statutory age of majority). Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers and courts, with it being common that juvenile systems are treated as civil cases instead of criminal, or a hybrid thereof to avoid certain requirements required for criminal cases (typically the rights to a public trial or to a jury trial). A juvenile delinquent in the United States is a person who is typically below 18 (17 in Georgia, New York, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Texas, and Wisconsin) years of age and commits an act that otherwise would have been charged as a crime if they were an adult. Depending on the type and severity of the offense committed, it is possible for people under 18 to be charged and treated as adults.

In recent years a higher proportion of youth have experienced arrests by their early 20s than in the past, although some scholars have concluded this may reflect more aggressive criminal justice and zero-tolerance policies rather than changes in youth behavior. Juvenile crimes can range from status offenses (such as underage smoking/ drinking), to property crimes and violent crimes. Youth violence rates in the United States have dropped to approximately 12% of peak rates in 1993 according to official US government statistics, suggesting that most juvenile offending is non-violent.

However, juvenile offending can be considered to be normative adolescent behavior. This is because most teens tend to offend by committing non-violent crimes, only once or a few times, and only during adolescence. Repeated and/or violent offending is likely to lead to later and more violent offenses. When this happens, the offender often displayed antisocial behavior even before reaching adolescence.

Types
Juvenile delinquency, or offending, is often separated into three categories:

delinquency, crimes committed by minors, which are dealt with by the juvenile courts and justice system;

criminal behavior, crimes dealt with by the criminal justice system;

status offenses, offenses that are only classified as such because one is a minor, such as truancy, also dealt with by the juvenile courts.

According to the developmental research of Moffitt (2006), there are two different types of offenders that emerge in adolescence. One is the repeat offender, referred to as the life-course-persistent offender, who begins offending or showing antisocial/aggressive behavior in adolescence (or even in childhood) and continues into adulthood; and the age specific offender, referred to as the adolescence-limited offender, for whom juvenile offending or delinquency begins and ends during their period of adolescence. Because most teenagers tend to show some form of antisocial or delinquent behavior during adolescence, it is important to account for these behaviors in childhood in order to determine whether they will be life-course-persistent offenders or adolescence-limited offenders. Although adolescence-limited offenders tend to drop all criminal activity once they enter adulthood and show less pathology than life-course-persistent offenders, they still show more mental health, substance abuse, and financial problems, both in adolescence and adulthood, than those who were never delinquent.

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