Using Literature to Help Troubled Teenagers Cope with Family Issues

By Joan F. Kaywell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Delinquency and Family Conflict

Barbara L. Stanford& Roger D. Herring


INTRODUCTION

Although adolescents are becoming increasingly involved in delinquent activity, fortunately it is only a relatively small number of them who are serious or repeat offenders. Youth under the age of 21 account for about 30% of police arrests in the United States (U.S. Department of Justice, 1991). This number does not, however, reveal how many youth have committed crimes but have not been caught, how serious their crimes are, or whether many or few are responsible for them ( Henggeler, 1989).

The lay perception is that most of these crimes are committed by males with a childhood history of antisocial behavior. Indeed, teenage females accounted for 25% of all juvenile arrests in 1995 according to a study conducted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention analyzing female crime from the 1980s through 1995 ( Hedges, 1996). The same study, however, also revealed that for every 100,000 females (ages 10 to 17), 121 were arrested for a violent crime compared with 786 boys. Boys may commit more crimes, but the rate of female youth crime has grown faster than that of male arrests. Young women are joining male gangs as subsidiary members and also forming all-female gangs. With the teenage population expected to rise 17% in the next decade and the trends of juvenile delinquency expected to increase accordingly, the prevention and remediation of this population deserves national attention.

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I would like to thank my graduate students, Carmelita King, Malinda Pitts, and Derek Groff for assistance with the annotations.

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