What Is the Solution to Juvenile Delinquency?

Encouraging kids in extracurricular activities helps them learn about teamwork.
A therapist working with a juvenile delinquent.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 13 April 2014
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Juvenile delinquency is a problem that only affects not just one particular society; delinquent youth can be found around the globe. There are many theories about the best solutions to curb the negative behaviors of these individuals, including enrollment in extracurricular activities, juvenile rehabilitation, and changing the family structure. Many people, however, recognize that there is not likely to be a single correct answer. Changing the prevalence of troubled and troublemaking youth will likely require a combination of solutions.

In many instances, delinquency rates are extremely high among minorities, and there are several theories as to why this may be. Some suggest it is because the majority of society has generally negative or stereotypical attitudes toward these youth that the youth can detect. Others suggest it is because minority youth are not widely exposed to positive role models that they can relate to.

These theories show why many believe that a key element in solving juvenile delinquency is for community members to take an interest in the problem. Individuals may be able to play a vital role by displaying positive and concerned attitudes towards youth in their communities. It is also believed that prominent minorities can make a major difference by interacting with young people. Furthermore, it can help if education is balanced to show the relevance and contributions of minority cultures.


There are many reasons why some people reject theories that connect the demise of the traditional family and juvenile delinquency. For example, single mothers may take it as a lack of acknowledgment for their efforts. Homosexuals may claim that the theory is faith-based discrimination. Studies and statistics, however, have repeatedly been used to show that when children are members of a traditional family, delinquency tends to be less prevalent.

Young people are gaining an increasing amount of liberty in many places, and this is often highlighted as a contributing factor in delinquency problems. Instead of leaving young and impressionable minds to their own devices, it often suggested that youth should be subjected to more structure. One way that this can be done is by enrolling them in extracurricular activities. Doing so can keep youth away from negative peers and teach them valuable characteristics such as commitment and teamwork.

Juvenile delinquency may also be solved by rehabilitation. It has been noted that many of the methods that are labeled as "rehabilitation" are actually punishment, and if these methods were changed to those that attempt to address the problems with more personalized measures, it is believed that the success rate would increase. For example, incarcerating juveniles is denounced by many who believe that removing children from their families and treating them like prisoners is counterproductive. Counseling, psychological evaluations, and activity-based rehabilitation programs are often suggested as better alternatives.


Discuss this Article

Post 12

@pastanaga - I think that kind of condition is very rare though and I would really hate for young people who are simply confused or going through a stage or whatever to be tarred with the same brush.

Besides, who knows how that kind of person is created? Perhaps if the home lives of children are made into better, brighter places we wouldn't have people like that in the world.

Post 11

@Ana1234 - While I think for the most part you're correct, I do have to respectfully disagree that there are no bad people. There are some people who are just bad. You can call it mental illness if you want.

For example, the two kids who committed the Columbine shootings. I know that's an extreme example, but there has been some very interesting research about them and what has turned out is that one of them was basically a psychopath. Like many famous serial killers he was charismatic enough to have the other kid (who was basically a normal kid, just really depressed and bitter) under his sway.

In fact, I've heard it said that Columbine or something similar was almost inevitable, given the history and writings of this particular person. He was simply not well in the head. Or, in laymen's terms, a bad person. You can send someone like that to the best juvenile delinquency treatment facilities and it won't help.

Post 10

@chivebasil - Most gangs are a mixture, I think. I tend to think of gangs as being a symptom of juvenile delinquency rather than the cause, but I suppose in a lot of cases the existence of a gang nearby will have a negative impact on a young person's life.

I personally think there are no bad people. There are desperate people, angry people, sad people and so forth, but no bad ones. Most juvenile delinquency programs seem to work towards punishing or scaring kids straight, rather than nurturing the good in them so that they won't want to be delinquent anymore. And I think that's a shame. It comes from people thinking more about revenge than about actually making sure the problem goes away.

Post 9

What is the link between juvenile delinquency and gangs? Are most gangs composed of young people, or do they have older members?

Post 8

I have read a lot on this issue and most of the solutions seem to boil down to one simple idea - keep the kids busy. Idle hands are the devil's playground whether you are young or old. Bored kids get into trouble.

So if you send them to school, then have them play sports, then have family activities and as much structured time as possible, they have less energy and ability to do things they shouldn't. I know it sounds unscientific, but isn't this the common sense solution that we all know deep down is the right one?

Post 6

Perhaps we are all missing a crucial point here. As a history major I've read articles outlining ideas for juvenile delinquency rehabilitation that were written about ancient Greece! Did you know that young men in those days stole chariots and went 'joyriding' in them?

A certain amount of deviance is entirely natural and normal, it's human nature!

Post 5

@Bakersdozen - I can see your argument. But what about those who are in the system, therefore already labelled as juvenile delinquents, before they would even become eligible for military service?

I can imagine that it would be quite a task for those in charge to manage that on top of everything else. Then there's the high risk that the same kids would end up in military prisons for refusing to follow orders.

In my opinion we need to give youngsters some kind of investment in the society they live in. Too many are marginalised, destined to grow up amongst inequality, poverty and unemployment.

Post 3

I have to disagree with the idea that homosexual parents have a higher rate of juvenile delinquency with their children than ‘traditional’ families. A report published in the journal Pediatrics discussed studies that showed teens raised in lesbian homes not only were less likely to have behavioral problems than a number of their peers, but also scored higher on certain tests measuring confidence and self-esteem.

Post 2

What about bringing back some form of military service? If you look at juvenile delinquency statistics for countries which still have this program in place, you'd be convinced that it's the best option.

I agree that the justice system isn't going to produce reformed citizens, so the best idea is to head them off at the pass before they get to that point.

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