Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Environmental and Individual Factors in Adolescent Anti-Sociality: A Structural Model of Mexican Teenagers

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Environmental and Individual Factors in Adolescent Anti-Sociality: A Structural Model of Mexican Teenagers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Juvenile delinquency has increased dramatically around the world. According to the United Nations World Youth Report, (2003) in Europe, juvenile delinquency has expanded by approximately 50 %, from the middle 1980s and late 1990s, to present day. In America, Chile reported an increase of 398% from 1995 to 2000 (Fundación Paz Ciudadana, 2003), and criminality in México increased 26% from 1977 to 2007 (that is, before the eruption of the Mexican Drug War, which substantially increased general and youth delinquency). Juvenile delinquency represents 12% of the total law transgression events in Spain (Morant Vidal, 2003). Canada reported that the peak age in all crimes is 17 years old, where the rate is 14, 000 events per 100, 000 inhabitants (Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2009). Sixteen percent of the violent crime arrests and 26 percent of property crime arrests in 2008 were committed by juveniles in the United States (Puzzanchera, 2009). In France, between 20 and 22 % of offenses were perpetrated by youths (De la Rosa Cortina, 2011). In Greece, a slight increase in juvenile delinquency has been noted (Georgoulas, 2009). In Mexico, the growing involvement of juveniles in acts of drug trafficking and drug-related delinquent behaviors (homicide, kidnapping, extortion, etc.) associated with organized crime has become more than evident. A popular theory establishes that young people are recruited by drug cartels to commit crimes, partly because most of them cannot be judged as adults if arrested by the authorities (Ogaz-Palm, 2011). Finding an inclusive set of the causes of this phenomenon and by what means it can be reduced is an imperative for society and communities around the world. These data seem to indicate that youths' involvement in crime has significantly increased, and it constitutes a serious concern for society, authorities and governments.

Antisocial behavior is defined as conduct that breaks the social contracts of a community. This type of a behavior defies the basic social structure, destroying the fundamental norms of society (Silva, 2003); it is also defined as behavior that violates social norms (Vallés, 2009). Crime and delinquency refer to all conduct prohibited by law (Quinsey, Skilling, Lalumiere, & Craig, 2002). Juvenile delinquents are those individuals under the legal age of majority who commit actions that violate the law (Burfeind & Jeglum, 2006). Antisociality, in turn, can be defined as the tendency to engage in antisocial and delinquent behavior. Quinsey, Skilling, Lalumiere, and Craig (2002) indicate that antisociality is the "individual characteristics that increase the likelihood of antisocial behavior." A number of theoretical frameworks have been considered in trying to understand what factors drive and maintain antisocial actions in young people. There are a variety of causal factors, but they can be synthesized into two inclusive categories: environmental (contextual) and personal (ontogenetic and biological).

The inclusion of both contextual and personal factors in explanatory models of human behavior is an important feature of Systems Theory (ST). ST is a holistic theoretical framework that focuses on the relationship between individuals and their environment (Ford & Lerner, 1992). A system is a complex set of interacting elements maintained by their interrelationships. Within this perspective, behavior is more than the sum of the interacting elements, and any action is perceived as having multiple causes influencing other conduct (Henggeler, Shoenwald, Borduin, Rowland, & Cunningham, 1998). Individuals are entities that actively renovate their environment while simultaneously being influenced by their context. Thus, ST offers an inclusive and powerful approach to the study of every instance of human conduct, including criminal behavior. Another holistic theoretical approach aimed at explaining behavior with an inclusive personenvironment perspective is Bronfenbrenner's (1987) Ecological Theory. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.