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VICTIMS OF CHANGE - JUVENILE DELINQUENTS IN AMERICA SOCIETY

NCJ Number
37681
Author(s)
H FINESTONE
Date Published
1976
Length
252 pages
Annotation
A COMPREHENSIVE OVERVIEW OF THE ROOTS OF JUVENILE DELINQUENCY IN AMERICAN SOCIETY, THE HISTORY OF DELINQUENCY TREATMENT AND PREVENTION IN THE U.S.A., AND THE MAJOR THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES ON DELINQUENCY.
Abstract
JUVENILE DELINQUENCY, THE AUTHOR CONTENDS, HAS ITS ROOTS IN THE EXTENSIVE SOCIAL CHANGES WHICH TOOK PLACE IN AMERICA DURING THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. HE TRACES THE INITAL EFFORTS OF REFORMERS TO CONFRONT THIS PROBLEM, AND OUTLINES THE EMERGENCE OF A SEPARATE SYSTEM OF JUSTICE FOR JUVENILE DELINQUENTS. THE AUTHOR NOTES THAT AFTER THE TURN OF THE CENTURY, A THEORY OF JUVENILE DELINQUENCY EMERGED WHICH STATED THAT DELINQUENCY WAS CAUSED BY A BREAKDOWN OF CONTROL OVER YOUTHS BY THE TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS OF SOCIETY. THIS THEORY PROPOSED BY SHAW AND MCKAY, LED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF PROGRAMS WHICH 'REACHED OUT' TO YOUTHS TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO CONVENTIONAL INSTITUTIONS. THIS THEORY BECAME LESS APPROPRIATE DURING THE POST WORLD WAR II PERIOD, AND WAS REPLACED BY THE SUBCULTURAL THEORY WHICH HELD THAT DELINQUENCY WAS LARGELY THE RESULT OF STATUS-LINKED DEPRIVATION OF OPPORTUNITY. THE RESPONSE IN JUVENILE DELINQUENCY PROGRAMS WAS TO ATTEMPT TO OPEN CHANNELS OF UPWARD MOBILITY TO THE ADOLESCENTS TRAPPED IN URBAN POVERTY. FINALLY, BEGINNING IN THE EARLY 1960'S, MANY SOCIOLOGISTS BEGAN TO REJECT THE SUBCULTURAL THEORY. INSTEAD, THE LABELING THEORY OF DELINQUENCY WAS PROPOSED. THIS THEORY HELD THAT OFFFICIAL CONTROL AGENTS ATTEMPT TO RESOLVE CERTAIN CRISES AND CONFLICTS BY DEFINING THE ADOLESCENTS INVOLVED IN THESE ACTS AS DEVIANT. THUS, DELINQUENCY WAS SEEN AS THE RESULT OF THIS SOCIAL PROCESS OF LABELING. THE AUTHOR OBSERVES THAT THIS THEORY HAD LED TO INCREASED ACCOUNTABILITY OF DELINQUENCY CONTROL EFFORTS AND INCREASED COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN THE TREATMENT OF JUVENILES. IT IS CONCLUDED THAT SOCIAL SCIENTISTS MUST CONTINUE IN THIS PROCESS OF DEFINING DELINQUENCY FACTORS AND EXPLORING WAYS OF DEALING EFFECTIVELY WITH THE JUVENILE DELINQUENT.