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Adolescent Mental Health - Delinquency

NCJ Number
J McCord
Date Published
Research related to identification of delinquents, causes of delinquency, and effective intervention to stop delinquency is reviewed in this paper.
In summary, the review indicates that adolescent problems appear to be concentrated among those disadvantaged in a variety of ways. Further, the reviewed literature indicates that biases in the justice system tend to exaggerate representation of minority groups and members of the lower class as criminals. Whereas the evidence about who is delinquent leads to reasonably clear conclusions, the evidence about why there is delinquency has largely failed to support previously entertained beliefs. Theories of status-frustration, labeling theory, and Freudian theory have been shown inadequate in accounting for and explaining crime and aggressive behavior. On the other hand, among the studies reviewed, a variety of measures of parental rejection and parental aggression appear to be consistent in showing a positive correlation with crime. Caution has been recommended in interpreting these relationships. It is concluded that (1) perhaps the most significant result of recent research has been the discovery that programs designed to help adolescents actually risk damaging those they are designed to serve, and (2) well-considered professional opinions should not be substituted for pilot programs and mandatory evaluations as preliminary steps for instituting larger projects designed to help adolescents. (Author/RH) (Resources in Education (ERIC) abstract)