NHCC Childhood and Delinquency Discussion




Childhood and Delinquency

Assignment One

5 Points

Read the following vignette and answer all 6 questions. Submit them to me in the Dropbox.

After doing that, copy and post your answers to questions 3, 4, and 6 to the appropriate discussion area for Chapter 1, Assignment 1. Read through your classmates responses and respond to two.

Deviance or Conformity?

I grew up in an agricultural valley of Central California and attended a small-town high school. It was a quiet rural environment characterized by close-knit informal relationships where nearly everyone knew a great deal about everyone else–including such details as family and marriage connections, religious and political persuasions, number of acres owned by each family, and any past scandals.

Nothing really exciting ever seemed to happen in our community. The business district of the town was just three blocks long and included a post office, grocery store, feed store, hardware store, and tow gasoline service stations. Church, school and Grange activities apparently satisfied the social needs of the community (the pool hall having been successfully closed by local ministers as a corrupting influence on the youth). My home town enjoyed a reputation as a very law-abiding place and the one elderly police officer had little difficulty in keeping the peace.

However, there was one night of every year when the high school boys of our town abruptly changed the usual pattern of their behavior, rampaged through the town, and broke a dozen laws. Everyone in the community knew when it was about to happen because considerable preparation always preceded this deviant behavior. During September and October of each year, the high school boys collected surplus and spoiled fruit, vegetables, and eggs. The activity came to a climax on Halloween night when about 75 youths drove pickup trucks, loaded with their overripe “ammunition,” onto the deserted Main Street of the town. Then and there, for several hours, bands of beer-saturated boys fought pitched battles with rotten produce. Other citizens seldom dared venture onto Main Street during this yearly melee. Even the old policeman was strangely absent. Any unwary motorists who did blunder into the area on Halloween night had their automobiles pelted and smeared with tomatoes and eggs.

The boys carried out many mischievous pranks. For example, one year they discovered a loaded manure spreader parked nearby and after hooking it up to an old car, spread several inches of manure up and down the three blocks of Main Street. As usual, the following day two county sheriff’s deputies arrived early at our high school with a truckload of rakes and shovels. All of the boys were dismissed from school for the day to clean up the town. Then our little community returned to its usual pattern of peaceful and predictable behavior–until the next Halloween.


  1. Were the high school boys violating any societal norms?
  2. List as many laws and regulations as you can that may have been violated.
  3. In your opinion, and in the judgement of their community, were the high school boys “juvenile delinquents”? Why or why not?
  4. Did their “deviant” behavior serve any positive functions for the community? Explain
  5. Which perspective does this illustrate? Positivistic or Humanistic? Explain
  6. Should law enforcement officers and the community been more punitive. Read the following section, which is taken from your text. Answer the following questions and post them to the appropriate Dropbox.Choose two of your answers from questions 3, 5 or 6 and post them to the appropriate discussion area; then respond to two of your classmates’ responses. You will receive an additional 3 points for the discussion.

    You have just been appointed by the governor as a chairperson of a newly formed group charged with overhauling the state’s juvenile justice system. One primary concern is the treatment of status offenders–kids who have been picked up and charged with being runaways, sexually active, truant from school, or unmanageable at home. Under existing status offense statutes, these youth can be sent to juvenile court and stand trial for their misbehaviors. If the allegations against them are proven valid, they may be removed from the home and placed in foster care or even in a state or private custodial institution.Recently, a great deal of media attention has been given to the plight of runaway children who live on the streets, take drugs, and engage in prostitution. At an open hearing, advocates of the current system argue that many families cannot provide the care and control needed to keep kids out of trouble and that the state must maintain control of at-risk youth.They contend that any status offenders have histories of drug and delinquency problems and are little different from kids arrested on criminal charges; control by the juvenile court is necessary if the youths are ever to get needed treatment.Another vocal group argues that it is a mistake for a system that deals with criminal youth also to handle troubled adolescents, whose problems usually are the result of child-abuse and neglect. They believe that the current statute should be amended to give the state’s department of social welfare (DSW) jurisdiction over all non-criminal youths who are in need of assistance. These opponents of the current law point out that, even though status offenders and delinquents are held in separate facilities, those who run away or are unmanageable can be transferred to more secure correctional facilities that house criminal youths. Furthermore, the current court-based process, where troubled youths are involved with lawyers, trials, and court proceedings, helps convince them that they are “bad kids” and social outcasts.


    1. Define a status offender.
    2. Define a juvenile delinquent.
    3. Do you believe that status offenders should be treated differently than juvenile delinquents? Are status offenders a “ different type” of criminal than other juvenile offenders? (i.e. violent offenders, drug) Explain your reasoning.
    4. Is it fair to institutionalize a minor simply for being truant or running away from home?
    5. Are behavioral problems better handled by a social service or mental health agency than a juvenile court?
    6. How does the juvenile justice system rationalize its involvement with status offenders?
    7. Explain the “debate” over the future of the status offense concept. What are the issues with regard to the status offense concept? What are the two sides?
    8. Why is this debate of importance to the field of juvenile justice?
      1. What are its implications?
    9. What recommendations would you make to the governor? You have been appointed to write a definition of delinquency for the state legislature. You can either propose a new definition or rely on the existing definition.


      1. Do a search and see if you can find what Minnesota’s statue is on juvenile delinquency.
        1. Cite your source(s). Can you find a federal statute? Cite source
      2. What is your definition?
      3. Justify it–in other words why is it best and why should it be accepted?
      4. Is it difficult to define the concept of “juvenile delinquency”?
      5. Discuss the historical conditions that led up to the creation of childhood as a separate status. Be sure to discuss how and why this was important in the field of juvenile justice
      6. Describe the historical developments that led to reforms, and that helped with the development of the juvenile justice system.
      7. Why was the development of the Illinois Juvenile Court Act of 1899 so important? What were some of its provisions?
      8. Explain the philosophy of the early juvenile court. What was the importance of parens patriae?
      9. Explain “due process” and discuss how its introduction into the juvenile court has influenced the philosophy and operation of the court.
      10. What role has the federal government played in the juvenile justice system.

        of Juvenile Delinquency

        Assignment One

        12 PointsAfter completing the assignment, put it in the Dropbox.Go to these web sites and scout around:www.fbi.gov search for uniform crime reportshttp://www.ojjdp.gov/www.albany.edu/sourcebookwww.ncjj.org /After looking at the various websites answer the following.


        1. Identity each web site and summarize –what information is available there?
        2. What did you find interesting or surprising?
        3. Using the OJJDP website—(ojjdp.ncjrs from above ) Click on the Research and Statistics tab; then click on Statistics; scroll down to Frequently Asked Questions and click on Juvenile Population Characteristics. There are a number of topics in that link—from this discuss what the juvenile population characteristics are, including a)How many juveniles there are; b) living arrangements; c) poverty; d) teen mothers; e) education. List at least two items from each of those areas.
        4. Scroll down the same page to Offending by Juveniles — List 4 facts you find at this site. Be specific.
        5. Scroll down further to Law Enforcement and Juvenile Crime. Look at Juvenile Arrests; what did you find?
        6. Using your text, discuss racial differences in arrest data.
          1. What factors account for this?
        7. What are the strengths and limitations of each of the following data types:
          1. Self-Report
          2. UCR data.
          3. NCVS data
        8. What does the dark figure of crime refer to?
        9. Using your text, explain the relationship between economic status, age and delinquent behavior Answer the following questions and submit them in the Dropbox.The youthful chronic offender is a concern to the public.


          1. What is a youthful chronic offender?
          2. What causes chronic offending?
          3. What does research show us about the effect of arrest and juvenile court experience on this group?
          4. If you were a policy maker, what would your recommendations be to deal with this group?


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