Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency

Delinquency is a concept that comes from the Latin delinquentÄ­a and that allows us to name the act of committing a crime or the quality of delinquent. To commit a crime is to commit a crime; that is, breaking the law. The concept of delinquency, therefore, refers to all crimes or people who break the law.

Juvenile, on the other hand, is that belonging to or related to youth. The term indicates the age between childhood and adulthood, a period that goes from 15 to 25 years according to the United Nations Organization (UN).

These two definitions allow us to approach the notion of juvenile delinquency, linked to crimes committed by young people. These are conducts contrary to the law to which, therefore, a punishment corresponds in accordance with the provisions of the law.

It is important to establish that there are a series of factors that can cause some minors and not others to fall into the field of juvenile delinquency. Among the most significant are living in a conflictive environment where delinquency is very common, abusing alcohol and drugs, having friends involved in “dark” areas, behavioral disorders, having severe depression…

All these circumstances and many more are what motivate many young people to fall into violent gangs, drug deals, robberies or any other type of criminal act. However, experts in the field do not hesitate to underline that among the reasons that most cause cases of this type are school absenteeism, unemployment, poverty or living in completely unstructured families.

When a crime committed by a young person occurs, it is usual for juvenile courts to be in charge of analyzing the case and establishing the appropriate sentence. In the case of Spain, for example, the usual thing is that, when he is considered guilty and always based on the seriousness of the matter, he can be interned for a certain time in a juvenile center, he has to pay an amount economically or even have to perform community services.

In order to prevent cases of juvenile delinquency from occurring, it is essential that the pertinent authorities take measures in educational matters, in family counseling and even in treatment of drug use.

Juvenile delinquency is a very important social problem. Young people represent the future of a country: if they turn to crime from an early age, it is very difficult to reincorporate them into the system. In addition, young offenders are often left out of education and the usual support for older people.

In the case of minors, most legislation prevents criminal punishment and has youth centers or institutes that aim at resocialization through education.

This legal impossibility of punishment means that many juvenile delinquents are used by adults, since they are aware that a minor cannot be imprisoned. That is why crimes committed by young people are usually the result of an intense debate that seeks to define how to help these young people and, in turn, how to prevent more victims of their criminal actions.

Juvenile Delinquency