Delinquency in Three Cultures

By Carl M. Rosenquist; Edwin I. Megargee | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY

Police and FBI statistics are notoriously unreliable sources of data on crime rates. A change in the method of reporting data, a crackdown by a new administrator, or expanded facilities in the local detention center can all contribute to spurious increases in the number of reported crimes. Even allowing for such inaccuracies, however, there can be little doubt that the incidence of detected crimes by juveniles has been steadily rising in the last decade and has outstripped the increase in the juvenile population ( Wirt & Briggs, 1965).

This growth in the rate, as well as the absolute number, of crimes has been accompanied by considerable public concern and the demand for new programs of prevention and treatment. However, it is difficult to alter or prevent a phenomenon that we do not understand; since most scholars agree that our understanding of juvenile delinquency is still less than perfect, it is obvious that additional research is necessary. This was recognized explicitly by the Ninetieth Congress in the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act of 1967: ". . . to support the research for knowledge about delinquency in order to develop methods for and the capability of dealing with and preventing it."

Few dispute the notion that knowledge is desirable. However, when we ask what sorts of knowledge are most desirable, we are clearly inviting an argument. Nevertheless, by adopting some procedures and rejecting others, every empirical investigator makes implicit value judgments about the sorts of knowledge that he feels

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