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Juvenile Delinquency: Causes and Control

Seventh Edition

Robert Agnew

Available: November 2022

ISBN: 9780197653203

Online Resource

Retail Price to Students: $0.01

Written by one of the field's most acclaimed scholars, Juvenile Delinquency emphasizes four key theories in the field, and provides students with a framework on analyzing and applying these theories to real world situations. Its remarkably clear and conversational writing style--along with its numerous examples and pedagogical tools--captures student's attention and promotes active learning.


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: What is the nature and extent of delinquency? What are the causes of delinquency? What strategies should we employ to control delinquency? Compared to other textbooks on the market, this book is written in a more conversational style. And compared to other textbooks, this book is more focused. Other textbooks attempt to cover all the major theories and areas of research at the risk of confusing and overwhelming students. In contrast, Agnew's Juvenile Delinquincy is more student and instructor friendly in its approach. For instance, rather than covering all the major theories (and numerous versions of each theory), Agnew synthesizes the best of current delinquency theories into “generic” theories representing strain, social learning, control, and labeling theories. The book then show how these theories can be used to interpret research on the causes of delinquency. In addition, the book promotes active learning. Agnew poses questions for students throughout the text and encourage them to apply the text materials to their own lives. This emphasis on application dramatically increases the students' understanding of the materials. Finally, Juvenile Delinquincy describes how criminologists know what they know. Students, then, are not asked to accept the findings of criminology on faith. They are given a sense of what the research process is like.

New to this Edition

  • Updated throughout in order to reflect the latest research and statistics.
  • Coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on youth behavior and the juvenile justice system.
  • Expanded coverage of public attitudes toward juvenile justice practices and the treatment of young offenders.
  • Additional special topic boxes covering the Homeboy Industries anti-gang program and the community-based Cure Violence program.
  • Many of the special topic boxes in the book identify informative and freely-available YouTube video clips, which instructors may wish to present in the classroom to facilitate further discussion.


  • More focused than other textbooks by synthesizing the best of current delinquency theories into "generic" theories representing strain, social learning, control, and labeling theories.
  • Promotes active learning by using the Socratic method and posing questions.

About the Author(s)

Robert Agnew is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Sociology Emeritus at Emory University, Fellow of the American Society of Criminology (ASC), recipient of ASC's Edwin H. Sutherland award, and past President of ASC. He is best known for the development of General Strain Theory. He has published over 150 articles and chapters and is author of seven books, including Pressured into Crime: An Overview of General Strain Theory (Oxford University Press), Why Do Criminals Offend? A General Theory of Crime and Delinquency (Oxford University Press), and Toward a Unified Criminology: Integrating Assumptions about Crime, People, and Society (NYU Press).

Timothy Brezina is Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University. His research interests include criminological theory, youth violence, desistance from crime, and human agency. His studies have appeared in Criminology, Justice Quarterly, the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, and other leading journals.

Table of Contents

    PART 1: The Nature and Extent of Delinquency

    1 What Is Delinquency and How Does It Differ from Adult Crime?

    2 How Is Delinquency Measured?

    3 How Much Delinquency Is There, and Is Delinquency Increasing?

    4 Who Is Most Likely to Engage in Delinquency?

    PART 2: The Causes of Delinquency: Theories

    5 What Is a Theory and How Do We Test Theories?

    6 Strain Theory

    7 Social Learning Theory

    8 Control Theory

    9 Labeling Theory

    10 The Life Course

    11 Is Delinquency More Likely in Certain Types of Situations?

    12 Group Differences in Delinquency

    PART 3: The Causes of Delinquency: Research

    13 Individual Traits

    14 The Family

    15 The School

    16 Delinquent Peers and Gangs

    17 Other Social Influences

    18 Pulling It All Together

    PART 4: The Control and Prevention of Delinquency

    19 Policies and Programs

    20 The Police

    21 Juvenile Court and Corrections

    22 The Juvenile Justice System

    23 The Strategies of Deterrence and Incapacitation

    24 The Strategies of Prevention and Rehabilitation

    25 What Should We Do to Reduce Delinquency?

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