Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure and Family: Perspectives of Male Adolescents Who Engage in Delinquent Activity as Leisure

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure and Family: Perspectives of Male Adolescents Who Engage in Delinquent Activity as Leisure

Article excerpt


Acts of delinquency are often detrimental to both the individual and to society. Impacts on the individual relate to quality of life and the economic, social, and psychological costs associated with involvement in the justice system. Impacts on society have to do with the psychological and economic costs associated with personal safety, the protection of one's property, and the operation ofjustice and rehabilitation systems. As high as they may seem, the current statistics on delinquency show only the tip of the iceberg, with many such activities never being reported. Also, first time offenders are frequently given alternative sentencing, and many offenders are never apprehended (Rogers & Mavs, 1987).

Only recently have motivations such as the pursuit of fun, thrills, and excitement been recognized as acceptable explanations for involvement in delinquent behavior (Agnew, 1990). Understanding the nature of delinquent experiences and the youth who engage in them is closely related to the original mission of the recreation and parks profession (Addams, 1909).

Existing leisure theory, particularly that in North America, focuses primarily upon experiences which are generally considered to be socially acceptable (Gunter & Gunter, 1980; Kelly, 1978; Neulinger, 1974; Samdahl, 1988). Little research has been conducted on activities seen as delinquent that are engaged in as leisure, or on adolescents who participate in such experiences. Cultural background, relationships with family members, dy@ namics of the family unit, and the nature of the social and economic environment in which the individual was raised are central to understanding adolescent behavior. An increased understanding of these and other contributing factors could prove valuable in understanding socially acceptable as well as delinquent forms of adolescent leisure behavior.

This study looked at young male adolescents who engaged in delinquent activities as their leisure. In particular, this paper will report data related to the nature of the families of these adolescents and the relationships that existed between these youth and their families. In order to understand the leisure choices of individuals, it is often necessary to look beyond the activity. In our society, the family is generally considered to be the primary socializing agent. As such, understanding the family dynamic is important in order to gain a better understanding of adolescents who make leisure choices that are detrimental to themselves and others. Research of this nature is not prevalent within the existing leisure literature.

The data reported in this paper were collected as part of a larger study of delinquent youth leisure that investigated why certain adolescents choose to engage in delinquent activities for fun, thrills, and excitement (Robertson, 1993). Results from the larger study indicated that participants considered their delinquent involvement to be leisure for them. Achieving a rush, release of stress, and the need for social connection were the primary motivations for engagement in delinquent activity@

Literature Review

Negative Leisure

Many authors have associated leisure with such benefits as the development of the body, mind, and spirit; learning, growth and expression; rest and restoration; and discovering life in its entirety (Dumazedier, 1967; Godbey, 1990; Kaplan, 1960; Kelly, 1983; Lee, 1964; Nash, 1960; Neulinger, 1974). When leisure, or more often recreation, has been linked to delinquency in the literature, it has been in a therapeutic context, with the hope that, through channeling delinquents into socially acceptable forms of leisure pursuits, the aforementioned benefits can be realized (Flynn, 1974; Kraus, 1973; Purdy & Richard, 1983; Seagrave, 1984; Teoff, 1972). This literature does not address the possibility that individuals may realize benefits through leisure activities that are not generally considered to be socially acceptable. …

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