Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Aggressive and Delinquent Behavior among High Risk Youth in Malaysia

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Aggressive and Delinquent Behavior among High Risk Youth in Malaysia

Article excerpt


Currently there is an alarming increase on youth involved in delinquency and criminal action in urban and sub urban areas of Malaysia. This paper aimed to measure the level of aggressive and delinquent behaviour, identify the most common delinquent behaviours, and examine the associations of aggressive and delinquent behaviour with demographic factors and individual characteristics among a sample of high risk Malaysian youth. The data used in this paper was obtained from a larger study designed to identify patterns of delinquent behaviour among teenagers and young people (15-40 years old). The results indicate that although the sample consisted of high risk youth, participants scored low in delinquent behaviour and moderate in aggressive behaviour. The findings also show significant associations between delinquent behaviour levels with both age and ethnicity; but no significant associations with gender or religion. Results indicate that common perceptions about at-risk youth may run contrary to reality; despite being at-risk, the respondents displayed lower-than-expected levels of delinquency, and moderate aggressive behaviour.

Keywords: aggressive behaviour, delinquent behaviour, risk, urban youth

1. Introduction

Aggressive behaviour is one of the components of the conduct disorder that consists of physical or verbal behaviour that harm or threaten with harming others (DSM-IV); and it can be self-protective or self-destructive (Ferris & Grisso, 1996). There are different types of aggressive behaviour; but commonly aggression categorized aggressive behaviour in terms of its function (Dodge & Schwartz, 1997; Feshbach, 1971). Thus the most predominant and influential classification is hostile aggression and instrumental aggression (Feshbach, 1970). Hostile aggression also called affective aggression; it is in nature uncontrolled, emotionally charged physical or verbal violence that causes physical injury or pain on the victim (Atkins & Stoff, 1993). In contrast, instrumental aggression or predatory aggressive behaviour is controlled and purposeful non-physical violence that damage the victim's relationships with others and/or social (Meloy, 1988; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Atkins & Stoff, 1993; Dodge, 1991; Feshbach, 1970). Research on children and adolescent aggressive behaviour have reported that while boys tend to engage in physical aggression (hostile aggression) girls are more likely to express aggression in a relational sense (instrumental aggression). That is girls tend to use their relationships to inflict harm, manipulate peers to harm others' feelings of social acceptance (e.g. social exclusion, rumours and slander) (Miller-Ott & Kelly, 2013; Basow, Cahill, Phelan, Longshore, & McGillicuddy-DeLisi, 2007; Hadley, 2003).

According to Liu (2005) studies have shown that childhood and adolescent aggressive behaviour is a strong predictor of delinquency (Farrington, 2001; Moffitt, 1993). While aggressive behaviour has been described as part and parcel of a behavioural disorder; delinquency is a legal concept used to describe diverse antisocial actions including theft, burglary, robbery, vandalism, drug use, and aggressive behaviour (Farrington, 1987). Delinquency is often used as a synonymous of antisocial behaviour which include lying, cheating, stealing, and committing antisocial acts, etc. (Achenbach, 1991; Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1983). In this article, delinquency is specifically used describe antisocial behaviours that are considered unlawful in Malaysia (e.g. using drugs; damaging public properties; hitting or physical assaulting others, driving without a license; carrying weapon; drinking alcohol; engaging in premarital sex, etc.)

Youth delinquency is also refers to as juvenile delinquency, juvenile offending or youth crime; and it has been defined as the participation in illegal behaviour by young people under the statutory age of majority (Siegel & Welsh, 2005), which in most countries is 19 years old. …

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