Factors influencing the length and intensity of juvenile offending
The length and intensity of juvenile offending are some of the issues of prominent interest in the efforts of criminologists to understand the motivations of crime. The aspect of length of juvenile offending refers to the duration of time or span of the phase in which the juvenile engages in crime, while the aspect of intensity refers to the frequency and severity of the crimes that the individual commits. The factors that underlie both of these aspects in juvenile offending have a close relationship with one another. Bartollas and Schmalleger (2016) identify the age of onset, type of crime, age, and the socioeconomic circumstances of juveniles as the most important factors that influence the intensity of juvenile offending. On the other hand, the age of onset, hostile or unfavorable social circumstances in school, family, and the neighborhood, membership to minority groups, and the nature of crime (non-violent or violent) are the major factors that influence the length of juvenile offending.
From both the length and intensity aspects, the age of onset is an important factor in juvenile offending. Bartollas and Schmalleger (2016) observe that offending at an early age was a critical predictor of both the intensity and length of juvenile offending. The persistence in offending among juveniles (the length of offending) relates to the stage at which the juveniles experienced vulnerabilities at an individual level. Risks that center on individual vulnerabilities that are evident in early childhood are likely to promote persistent offending (a long phase in juvenile offending), while those that center on individual vulnerabilities in later life (such as psychosocial challenges limited to adolescence) are likely to promote a limited phase of juvenile offending. A short spell of offending relates to the difficult experiences of adolescents in terms of challenges in coping with the behavior of deviant peers and frustrations with adolescent maturity. In contrast, a longer spell of offending relates with adverse psychosocial experiences early in childhood (Bartollas & Schmalleger, 2016).
The social experiences of individuals are an important factor in the length and intensity of juvenile offending (Pieszko, 2016). Persistent (chronic) offenders are typically of a low non-verbal IQ, have a convicted sibling, have a conviction prior to age 13, have “troublesome” ratings in schools between 8-10 years, perform poorly in school, and live in an environment of low family income. The institutionalization of juveniles promotes serious compromises in different domains of life in adulthood, thereby promoting a long spell of crime (Bartollas & Schmalleger, 2016). This is because institutionalization predicts unstable, premature, unsatisfied, and precarious conditions in multiple domains of an individual’s life.
Several observations are clear from the chapter. The age of onset is the best and strongest predictor of both the length (continuity) and intensity of juvenile offending. Studies have illustrated that the incidence of arrests of juveniles increases at age 13, peaking at the age of 17. This finding indicates that age is an important factor underlying the aspect of intensity in juvenile offending (Bartollas & Schmalleger, 2016). A mixture of factors in the childhoods of individuals are important contributors to the continuity of offending. As noted above, the prevalence of psychosocial challenges in childhood is a significant factor predicting a long spell of offending among juveniles. In contrast, psychosocial challenges limited to the adolescent stage of life are predictive of a shorter spell of offending among juveniles. The chapter also yielded observations that juvenile offenders who engage in violent crimes and those who have convictions early in their lives are likely to have long careers in crime (Bartollas & Schmalleger, 2016).
Bartollas, C., & Schmalleger, F. (2016). Juvenile delinquency (Second edition). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education
Pieszko, G. (2016). The influence of socio-economic factors on crime. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 21(9): 18-21. Retrieved from: http://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Vol.%2021%20Issue9/Version-6/C2109061821.pdf