Young people become delinquents when they engage in criminal activities and become a threat to the society because of the impact of their behavior on the community. Delinquency ranges from missing school to committing serious crimes such as burglary or violent acts of crime. The change in behavior despite being exposed to a controlled environment both at home and school is largely influenced by a wide range of issues that influence their overall perspectives towards life and society. For instance, when young people experience extreme bouts of poverty, they may be compelled to engage in criminal activities to survive the adverse effects of poor economic conditions. Many scholars have developed theories to understand juvenile delinquency and enable different stakeholders to respond to the challenging behavioral change that influences various outcomes in the world today.
It should be noted that early studies on juvenile delinquency focused on establishing a connection between the criminal behavior manifested by the young people and the economic attitude that influence their thought process towards the criminal involvement and execution. The classical theories were economic in nature and sought to demonstrate the motive of juvenile delinquency and its impact on the perspectives of young people towards certain aspects of life and society (Kennedy, Detullio, & Millen, 2020). However, sociological theories of juvenile delinquency identify the impact of societal aspects that affect human behavior and their role in promoting juvenile delinquency in the contemporary world. From this realization, people can understand the approaches that should be used to create favorable conditions that influence outcomes in the contemporary society and their role in creating a series of additional problems that contribute towards the realization of the unwanted outcomes in the community.
According to this sociological model developed by Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay in 1942, a person’s immediate environment influences their perspectives towards crime. Growing around the projects exposed one to various aspects of crime, which provided young people with a strong urge to belong in their surroundings while overlooking any approaches that could enable them to break from the yoke of crime (Wickes, 2017). While other theorists focused on a person’s inability to make informed decisions that could prevent them from engaging in crime, Shaw and McKay’s model explores the impact of the different neighborhoods and their contribution towards juvenile delinquency. On many instances, peer pressure emanates from the neighborhood where a person is considered unfit if they fail to accomplish certain goals within a certain framework. For instance, many young people in the projects had a criminal history before attaining the age of 18 because of the strong urge that compelled them to overlook other aspects of existence by preferring crime.
In Shaw and McKay’s model of social disorganization, the authors realized that juvenile delinquency declined as one moved from the city towards other locations. After diving Chicago into five zones with the city being the central loop, the scholars discovered that crime was heavenly concentrated in the loop, which had high levels of delinquency compared to the other four zones. The first zone comprised of the region with the highest property value, Zone II was the transition region, while Zone III and Zone IV were suburban residential areas (Bunting & Stamatel, 2019). It should be noted that Zone II was the most affected by crime because of its ability to accommodate gambling, prostitution, and other vices, which promoted juvenile delinquency. Surprisingly, Zone I and II had the highest rate of juvenile delinquency, which demonstrated the impact of urban areas, before exposing individuals to a declining juvenile delinquency levels as one moved to other zones within the mapped regions.
It should be noted that the numerous infrastructural facilities in Zone II such as stockyards and industries made the region appealing for residents because of their connectivity to other regions in their surroundings. Compared to Zones III and IV, which were marked for residential, Zone II provided cheaper housing options that attracted many people with low-income towards the zones dedicated for industrial activities. Regardless of the racial background and income levels, juvenile delinquency was stable in Zones III and IV because of the measures put in place to protect individuals from any exploitative practices that hinder individuals from accomplishing their desired goals and objectives (Kubrin & Mioduszewski, 2019). When people move towards the unmarked areas and settle there, they create a certain level of social disorganization, which promotes juvenile delinquency among other criminal activities. In the same vein, juvenile delinquency creates cultural conflicts, which hinder individuals from accomplishing their desired goals and objectives, a move that ends up affecting the social perspectives of young people towards law and order.
Different scholars have developed theories to understand juvenile delinquency and enable different stakeholders to respond to the challenging behavioral change that influences various outcomes in the world today. Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay in social disorganization theory explore the impact of a person’s neighborhood on their views towards crime. In their theory, Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay mapped Chicago into five zones that categorized the different regions according to their functions. From their analysis, crime levels were rampant in the first and the second zone because of the ability of individuals to shift from one zone to another to fulfill certain aspects that influence the changing needs of young people towards their involvement in juvenile delinquency.
Bunting, A. M., & Stamatel, J. (2019). Exploring geospatial characteristics of hashtag activism in Ferguson, Missouri: An application of social disorganization theory. Geoforum, 104, 55-62.
Kennedy, T. D., Detullio, D., & Millen, D. H. (2020). Theories of Juvenile Delinquency. In Juvenile Delinquency (pp. 1-32). Springer, Cham.
Kubrin, C. E., & Mioduszewski, M. D. (2019). Social Disorganization Theory: Past, Present and Future. In Handbook on Crime and Deviance (pp. 197-211). Springer, Cham.
Wickes, R. (2017). Social disorganization theory: Its history and relevance to crime prevention. Preventing crime and violence, 57-66.