skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 78058 Find in a Library
Title: Causes and Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (From Social System and Legal Process, P 322-341, 1978, Harry M Johnson, ed. - See NCJ-78053)
Author(s): T Hirschi
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 20
Sponsoring Agency: Jossey-Bass Publishers
San Francisco, CA 94103-1741
Sale Source: Jossey-Bass Publishers
989 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-1741
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Concepts of the causes and prevention of juvenile delinquency are discussed.
Abstract: Causes of delinquency are often interpreted as motives propelling the individual to commit crimes. Such interpretations suggest that once a cause has exerted its influence, not much can be done to prevent the consequent behavior. Many social scientists, convinced that deterrence can be effective, have concluded that the concept of causation is inappropriate to the study of delinquency and that the search for causes should be abandoned. Still, factors that influence delinquent behavior can and have been discovered, but that adolescents exposed to such causes are amenable to restriction, supervision, and the threat of punishment is also apparent. Thus, the 'interpretation' of causes as supplying the motive for delinquency is the root of the problem. An alternative interpretation is that the traditional causes of delinquency do not directly produce delinquency, but rather affect the system of internal and external control governing behavior. Under such a view, delinquent behavior is viewed as desire-fulfilling behavior uncontrolled or tempered by an internalized value system or perception of consequences that would cause the individual to restrain potential delinquent behavior. The absence of such controlling factors is frequently due to poor attachment to family and significant others, failure in school, reinforcement of uncontrolled behavior by the peer group or gang, the emergence of a belief system that rationalizes delinquent behavior, and a general breakdown in the application of effective influences that would prepare the adolescent to assume the law-abiding responsibilities of adulthood. It follows that delinquent behavior may be prevented by correcting influences that undermine the controlling impact of internal and external behavioral factors, by providing the benefits of delinquent behavior in other ways, and by adding extraordinary or more certain penalties for delinquent behavior. Seventeen references are listed. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Juvenile delinquency factors; Juvenile delinquency prevention; Social control theory
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.