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Juvenile Delinquency

Causes and Control

Sixth Edition

Robert Agnew and Timothy Brezina

Publication Date - November 2017

ISBN: 9780190641610

636 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $149.99

The clearest overview of theory and research, enhanced by strong pedagogy and solid coverage of key concepts


Now in its sixth edition, Juvenile Delinquency: Causes and Control offers a clear and concise overview of the latest theories and research on the causes and control of delinquency. The text is organized around three major questions in the field: What is the nature and extent of delinquency? What are the causes of delinquency? and What strategies should we employ to control delinquency? These thought-provoking questions draw students into the text, challenging them to use major theories to explain the basic facts about delinquency, to understand the research on its causes, and to develop and evaluate programs and policies for its control.

New to this Edition

  • Updated throughout in order to reflect the latest research
  • More emphasis on the interplay of risk factors, with examples and illustrations showing how they often work together in producing delinquency
  • New coverage of trauma, trauma-informed practice in juvenile justice, and cross-national differences in juvenile justice
  • Expanded coverage of police-community relations, "civil citation" diversion programs, Supreme Court decisions, children's exposure to violence, and concentrated poverty
  • Additional special-topics boxes that discuss and analyze current events, controversies, and case studies

About the Author(s)

Robert Agnew is Fellow of the American Society of Criminology (ASC), recipient of ASC's Edwin H. Sutherland award, and past President of the ASC. He is best known for the development of General Strain Theory. He is the author of several books, including Pressured into Crime: An Overview of General Strain Theory (2005) and Why Do Criminals Offend? A General Theory of Crime and Delinquency (2004), both published by Oxford University Press.

Timothy Brezina is Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University. His research interests include criminological theory, youth violence, and youth mentoring. His studies have appeared in Criminology, Justice Quarterly, the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, and other leading journals. He is currently evaluating an innovative Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program for at-risk youth.


"This is a thorough and comprehensive text that covers theoretical bases, interpersonal and intrapersonal contributions to the delinquency problem, the juvenile justice system, and juvenile rehabilitation and corrections."--Whitney M. Gass, Southern Arkansas University

"Juvenile Delinquency provides a comprehensive, well-written overview of the juvenile justice system and explanations for juvenile delinquency. The text eloquently merges historical and contemporary issues of juvenile justice and presents them in a manner that undergraduate students can easily comprehend."--Chenelle A. Jones, Ohio Dominican University

"This text stands out because it presents very complex, often confusing and contradictory data simply and in an easy-to-read format."--W. Mark Franks, University of Mississippi

Table of Contents

    Each chapter end with Test Your Knowledge of this Chapter, Thought and Discussion Questions, Key Terms, and Endnotes sections.
    1. What Is Delinquency and How Does It Differ from Adult Crime
    Juvenile Delinquents Are Viewed Differently than Adult Criminals
    Juvenile Delinquents Are Treated Differently than Adult Criminals
    Special Laws for Juveniles: Status Offenses
    A Special Court for Juveniles: Juvenile Court
    Special Correctional Programs for Juveniles
    How Can We Explain the Invention of Juvenile Delinquency?
    Changing Conception of Children
    Major Social Changes, Especially the Growth of Urban Slums
    Gender, Race, and the Invention of Delinquency
    Our View and Treatment of Juvenile Offenders Continues to Evolve
    "Getting Tough" with Juvenile Offenders (Late 1980s through the Early 2000s)
    Retreating from the Get-Tough Approach (Since the Early 2000s)
    Teaching Aids
    Web-Based Exercises
    Controversial Case
    2. How Is Delinquency Measured?
    Official Statistics--Especially Arrest Data from the Police
    Problems with Arrest Data
    Self-Report Data
    How Do We Know that Juveniles Are Telling the Truth?
    Problems with Many Self-Report Surveys
    Recent Self-Report Surveys Have Made Much Progress in Overcoming the Preceding Problems
    Victimization Data
    Problems with Victimization Data
    Teaching Aids
    A Challenge
    Practical Advice: Three Things to Beware of When Others Discuss the Extent of and Trends in Delinquency (and a Challenge)
    Web-Based Exercise: Measuring the Extent of Rape
    Answers to the Challenge
    3. How Much Delinquency Is There, and Is Delinquency Increasing?
    How Much Delinquency Is There?
    How Many Juveniles Are Arrested, and What Are They Arrested For?
    How Much Self-Reported Delinquency Is There?
    How Many Juveniles Are Victimized, and How Many Victimizations Are Committed by Juveniles?
    Is Juvenile Delinquency Increasing?
    Are Juvenile Arrests Increasing?
    Is Self-Reported Delinquency Increasing?
    Are Victimizations Committed by Juveniles Increasing?
    How Can We Explain the Dramatic Decline in Serious Crime Since the Mid-1990s?
    Teaching Aids
    Exercise: The Extent of and Trends in Campus Crime
    Web-Based Exercise: Finding the Latest Information on the Extent of and Trends in Crime and Delinquency
    4. Who Is Most Likely to Engage in Delinquency?
    Is Social Class Related to Delinquency?
    Early Studies Based on Arrest Data
    Early Self-Report Studies
    Criticisms of the Early Self-Report Studies
    The Later Self-Report Studies
    Are Race and Ethnicity Related to Delinquency?
    Arrest Data
    Criticisms of Arrest Data
    Self-Report Data
    Victimization Data
    Is Race Related to Delinquency?
    Are Race Differences in Serious Delinquency Explained by Social Class?
    Is Age Related to Delinquency?
    Is Gender Related to Delinquency?
    Arrest Data
    Self-Report Data
    Are There Different Types of Delinquents?
    An Overview of the Research on the Different Types of Delinquents
    What Are the Different Types of Delinquents?
    Teaching Aids
    Exercise 1: Perceptions of Race and Crime
    Exercise 2: Why Do Asian Americans Have Lower Crime Rates?
    Exercise 3: Explaining the Association Between Gender and Crime
    Exercise 4: Girls' Delinquency
    5. What Is a Theory and How Do We Test Theories?
    What Is a Theory?
    What Are the Basic Parts of a Theory?
    Why Is It Important to Study Theories of Delinquency?
    How Do We Test Theories of Delinquency (or Determine Whether Some Factor Causes Delinquency)?
    The Scientific Method
    Carefully Define Your Independent and Dependent Variables
    Decide How to Gather Data to Test Your Belief or Theory
    Develop Measures of Your Independent and Dependent Variables
    Select a Sample of Juveniles to Survey
    Analyze the Data You Have Collected
    Teaching Aids
    Some Challenges
    Web-Based Resources for Your Criminological Research Project
    Answers to the Challenges
    6. Strain Theory
    What Are the Major Types of Strain?
    The Failure to Achieve Your Goals
    Loss of Positive Stimuli/Presentation of Negative Stimuli
    What Impact Does Strain Have on the Juvenile?
    Why Are Some Juveniles More Likely to Cope with Strain Through Delinquency?
    Teaching Aids
    Case Studies
    Web-Based Exercise: Applying Strain Theory
    7. Social Learning Theory
    Juveniles Learn to Engage in Delinquency from Others
    The Differential Reinforcement of Delinquency
    The Frequency, Amount, and Relative Probability of Reinforcement
    Positive and Negative Reinforcement
    The Sources of Reinforcement and Punishment
    Some Individuals Are More Likely to Be Reinforced for Delinquency than Others
    Intermittent Reinforcement
    Discriminative Stimuli
    Research on the Reinforcement and Punishment of Delinquency
    Beliefs Favorable to Delinquency
    Generally Approve of Minor Delinquency
    Conditionally Approve of Delinquency, Including Some Serious Delinquency
    General Values Conducive to Delinquency
    Where Do the Beliefs Favorable to Delinquency Come From?
    The Imitation of Delinquent Models
    Teaching Aids
    Controversial Cases
    Web-Based Exercise: Learning to Hate
    8. Control Theory
    Why Do Juveniles Conform (and Sometimes Deviate)?
    How Is Control Theory Similar to and Different from Social Learning Theory?
    What Are the Major Types of Control (or Restraints to Delinquency)?
    Direct Control
    Stake in Conformity
    Teaching Aids
    Controversial Issue: The Nature of Human Nature
    Controversial Methods for Increasing Direct Control
    Web-Based Exercise: Where Do Theories Come From?
    9. Labeling Theory
    Background on Labeling Theory
    How Do Others React to the Juvenile's Delinquency?
    Harsh/Rejecting Reaction
    Failure to Respond to the Juvenile's Delinquency
    "Condemn the Delinquency but Accept the Juvenile" Reaction
    Why Does the Harsh/Rejecting Reaction Lead to Further Delinquency?
    Reduces Control
    Increases Strain
    Increases the Social Learning of Delinquency
    Creates a Delinquent Self-Concept
    What Determines Whether Juveniles Experience the Harsh/Rejecting Reaction?
    Are Some Juveniles More Likely than Others to Respond to the Harsh/Rejecting Reaction with Further Delinquency?
    The Evidence on Labeling Theory
    Teaching Aids
    Controversial Issue #1: Going Too Far? Zero-Tolerance Policies in the Nation's Schools
    Controversial Issue #2: Is It Sometimes Best to Ignore Delinquency?
    Web-Based Exercise: Applying Labeling Theory (Race and Labeling)
    10. The Life Course
    Why Do Most Individuals Increase Their Levels of Offending During Adolescence?
    The Biological and Social Changes Associated with Adolescence
    A Reduction in Control
    An Increase in the Social Learning for Crime
    An Increase in Strain
    Why Do a Small Percentage of Individuals Offend at High Rates over Much of Their Lives?
    Traits Conducive to Crime
    Poor Parenting
    High Rates of Offending over the Life Course
    Teaching Aids
    Web-Based Exercise: Comparing Adult and Juvenile Offenders
    Controversial Issue: An Evolutionary Theory of Adolescence-Limited Offending
    11. Is Delinquency More Likely in Certain Types of Situations?
    What Types of Situations Are Most Conducive to Delinquency?
    Strain Theory: Situational Strains
    Strain Theory: Situational Factors that Increase the Likelihood of Delinquent Coping
    Social Learning and Control Theories: The Benefits and Costs of Delinquency
    Attractive Targets
    The Absence of Capable Guardians
    The Presence of Delinquent Peers
    What Factors Influence the Likelihood that Predisposed Offenders Will Encounter Situations Conducive to Delinquency?
    The Nature of the Individual's Routine Activities
    Factors Influencing Routine Activities
    Teaching Aids
    Applying the Research: Examining the Routine Activities of College Students
    Web-Based Exercise: Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
    12. Group Differences in Delinquency
    Why Are Crime Rates Higher in Some Communities than in Others?
    What Are the Characteristics of High-Crime Neighborhoods and Cities?
    Are Communities with Characteristics Conducive to Crime Becoming More Common?
    Why Are Deprived Communities Higher in Crime?
    Deprived Communities Are Higher in Strain
    Deprived Communities Are Lower in Control
    Deprived Communities Foster the Social Learning of Crime
    Community Crime Rates Reduce Control, Foster the Social Learning of Crime, and Increase Strain
    Overview of the Leading Theories of Delinquency
    Teaching Aids
    Exercise: Increasing Community Control
    Exercise: Explaining Other Group Differences in Crime
    Web-Based Exercise: Societal Differences in Crime and Delinquency
    13. Individual Traits
    Are Juveniles with Certain Traits More Likely to Engage in Delinquency?
    Low Verbal IQ
    Low Self-Control
    Why Are Some Individuals More Likely than Others to Possess These Traits?
    Biological Influences on Traits
    Environmental Influences on Traits
    Is Mental Illness Related to Violence?
    Teaching Aids
    Controversial Issue: Should Delinquents Be Held Responsible for Their Behavior?
    Web-Based Exercise: Programs for Mentally Ill Offenders
    14. The Family
    The Effect of the Family on Delinquency
    Family Structure
    Are Juveniles from Single-Parent Homes More Delinquent?
    Does the Mother's Employment Outside the Home Increase Delinquency?
    Does Placing Juveniles in Childcare Facilities Increase the Likelihood of Delinquency?
    Are Teenage Parents More Likely to Have Delinquent Children?
    Are Juveniles from Large Families More Delinquent?
    Parental and Sibling Crime/Deviance
    Are Juveniles with Criminal or Deviant Parents and Siblings More Likely to Be Delinquent?
    The Quality of Family Relationships
    Are Juveniles Who Have Warm or Close Relationships with Their Parents Less Delinquent?
    Parental Socialization
    What Should Parents Do to Teach Their Children to Avoid Delinquency?
    What Should Parents Do to Teach Their Children to Engage in Conventional Behavior?
    Why Do Some Parents Employ Poor Parenting Practices?
    A Note on Genes, Parenting, and Delinquency
    Teaching Aids
    Exercise: Putting Your Knowledge to Use
    Web-Based Exercise: An Inside Look at a Troubled Family
    15. The School
    What School Experiences Contribute to Delinquency?
    Do School Experiences Cause Delinquency?
    Why Do Some Juveniles Have Negative School Experiences?
    School Characteristics and Delinquency
    How Much Delinquency Occurs at School?
    How Can We Explain School Differences in Delinquency?
    Teaching Aids
    Applying Theories and Research
    Web-Based Exercise: More Information on School Violence, Including Bullying
    16. Delinquent Peers and Gangs
    What Impact Do Delinquent Peers Have on Delinquency?
    Under What Conditions Are Delinquent Peers Most Likely to Cause Delinquency?
    What Are Delinquent Peer Groups Like?
    Why Are Individuals in Delinquent Groups More Likely to Engage in Delinquency?
    Why Are Some Juveniles More Likely than Others to Get Involved with Delinquent Peers?
    What Impact Do Gangs Have on Delinquency?
    What Is a Street Gang?
    How Common Are Gangs?
    Are Gangs Becoming More Common?
    What Effect Do Gangs Have on Crime and Delinquency?
    What Are the Characteristics of Gang Members?
    How Are Gangs Organized or Structured?
    What Are Female Gangs Like?
    Why Do Some Juveniles Join Gangs?
    Why Do Some Communities Develop Gangs?
    How Can We Explain Long-Term Trends in Gang Activity?
    Teaching Aids
    Controversial Issue: What Is a Gang?
    Web-Based Exercise: An Examination of Two Major Gangs
    17. Other Social Influences
    Does Religion Reduce Delinquency?
    The Evidence
    Does Work Reduce Delinquency Among Juveniles Attending School?
    The Evidence
    Does Mass Media Violence Cause Violence Among Juveniles?
    TV and Movie Violence
    Violent Video Games
    Music with Violent Themes
    Does Media Violence Affect Some Juveniles More than Others?
    Does Social Media Engagement Increase the Risk of Delinquent Behavior?
    The Evidence
    Do Drugs Increase the Likelihood of Delinquency?
    Reasons that Drugs May Affect Delinquency
    The Evidence
    Do Guns Increase the Likelihood of Delinquency?
    How Common Is Gun Ownership and Possession Among Juveniles?
    Do Guns Contribute to Delinquency?
    Do Guns Prevent More Crime than They Contribute To?
    Teaching Aids
    Controversial Issue: Should Marijuana Be Legalized?
    Web-Based Exercise: Guns Across the Globe
    18. Pulling It All Together
    A Brief Review of the Theories and Research on the Causes of Delinquency
    A General Theory of Delinquency
    The Major Direct Causes of Delinquency and Why They Cause It
    How All These Clusters Are Related
    How Biological Factors and the Larger Social Environment Affect the Clusters
    Explaining Group Differences In Delinquency
    Using the General Theory to Explain Why Males Have Higher Rates of Delinquency than Females
    The Special Role of Sexual Abuse in Explaining Serious Female Offending
    An Overview of the General Theory of Delinquency
    Teaching Aids
    Web-Based Exercise: Applying the General Theory
    19. Policies and Programs
    The Experimental Model for Determining Program Effectiveness
    The Importance of Doing Randomized Experiments
    Problems in Doing Randomized Experiments
    What If One Is Not Able to Do a Randomized Experiment?
    Why Are Some Programs Ineffective at Reducing Delinquency?
    Teaching Aids
    Web-Based Exercise: The Importance (and Sometimes Neglect) of Good Evaluation Research
    Some Challenges
    Answers to Challenges
    20. The Police
    How Do the Police Operate?
    Preventive Patrol Is the Major Type of Policing
    The Police Spend Only a Small Amount of Their Time Dealing with Crime
    Policing Is Primarily Reactive in Nature
    When the Police Do Discover or Hear About a Crime, They Usually Do Not Catch the Offender
    If the Police Do Catch a Suspect, They Usually Do Not Arrest the Person
    How Effective Is Preventive Patrol?
    How Can the Police Increase Their Effectiveness?
    Will Hiring More Police Reduce Delinquency?
    Will Police Crackdowns Reduce Delinquency?
    Will Community Policing Reduce Delinquency?
    Teaching Aids
    Web-Based Exercises
    21. Juvenile Court and Corrections
    What Happens When Juveniles Are Sent to Juvenile Court?
    What Are the Major Goals of Juvenile Court?
    How Many Cases Does Juvenile Court Handle, and What Types Does the Court Deal With?
    What Are the Major Stages in the Juvenile Court Process?
    Juvenile Corrections: What Happens to Juveniles Who Receive a Disposition or Sentence from the Court?
    Formal Probation
    Intermediate Sanctions
    A Renewed Focus on Rehabilitation
    Out-of-Home Placements
    Aftercare Services
    An Overview of the Juvenile Justice Process
    Teaching Aids
    Controversial Issue
    Web-Based Resources and Activities
    22. The Juvenile Justice System
    Does the Juvenile Justice System Discriminate Against African Americans?
    The Extent of Discrimination Varies Across Police Departments and Juvenile Courts
    The Extent of Discrimination May Vary by Type of Crime
    Small Amounts of Discrimination at Different Points in the Juvenile Justice Process Can Have a Large Overall Effect
    Racial Discrimination May Be Direct or Indirect
    What Can Be Done to Address the Overrepresentation of Minorities in the Juvenile Justice System?
    Does the Juvenile Justice System Discriminate Against the Poor and Against Males or Females?
    Teaching Aids
    Controversial Issue
    Race and Experiences with the Police
    Web-Based Exercise: The Disproportionate Minority Contact Initiative
    23. The Strategies of Deterrence and Incapacitation
    Are the Juvenile Court and Correctional System Tough Enough in Dealing with Offenders, Especially Serious
    Efforts to Get Tough with Serious Offenders
    Some Get-Tough Measures
    How Effective Are Get-Tough Measures, and What Can Be Done to Increase Their Effectiveness?
    Specific Deterrence
    General Deterrence
    Incapacitation: Will Locking Up Delinquents Reduce Delinquency?
    Teaching Aids
    Controversial Issue: Life Without Parole for Juvenile Offenders?
    Web-Based Exercise: Restorative Justice in Practice
    24. The Strategies of Prevention and Rehabilitation
    A Brief History of Prevention and Rehabilitation
    How Effective Are Prevention and Rehabilitation Programs?
    General Characteristics of Effective Prevention and Rehabilitation Programs
    What Are the Characteristics of Successful Prevention/Rehabilitation Programs in Different Areas?
    Programs Focusing on the Early Family Environment
    Parent Training Programs
    Programs Focusing on School Factors
    Programs Focusing on Individual Traits
    Programs Focusing on Delinquent Peers and Gangs
    Selected Other Prevention and Rehabilitation Programs
    The Critical Role of Larger Social Forces in Preventing Delinquency
    Teaching Aids
    Web-Based Exercise: Finding the Latest Information on Programs and Practices for Reducing Delinquency
    Exercise: Extend Your Knowledge of Rehabilitation and Prevention Programs
    25. What Should We Do to Reduce Delinquency?
    We Should Place More Emphasis on Prevention and Rehabilitation
    We Should Hold Juveniles Accountable for Their Behavior and Protect the Community
    Teaching Aids
    Exercise: What Should We Do to Reduce Delinquency?
    Web-Based Exercise: Interested in a Career in Criminology/Corrections?
    Photo Credits
    Author Index
    Subject Index

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