December 1, 2022
“He was a good kid. I don’t know what happened.”
“She just started acting out.”
“I always knew this was coming.”
These are the kinds of things you hear from parents, teachers, and others when minors get charged with crimes. They make juvenile crime sound unstoppable. Inevitable. Inexplicable.
It’s usually not, though, and whether you are attempting to prevent your child from going down this path or working to fight charges they’re already facing, it helps to understand what factors are typically involved with minors commit crimes.
In this post, we’re going to cover common risk factors of juvenile delinquency.
Colorado Juvenile Delinquency Explained
Juveniles are individuals who have not yet attained the statutory age of majority, which is 18 in Colorado. A juvenile delinquent in Colorado is, therefore, any person below the age of 18 years who does anything that would have otherwise been charged as a crime if that individual were an adult.
Juvenile crimes range from status offenses, like underage drinking, to violent crimes and property crimes. Based on the type, nature, and severity of the offense, there are times when a juvenile will be charged and treated as an adult.
Risk Factors for Juvenile Delinquency in Colorado
Type of Parenting Style
One of the biggest predictors of juvenile crime is the parenting style used to bring up the child. Examples of parenting styles that are likely to lead to juvenile delinquency include:
- Neglectful parenting – where the parent does not monitor and does not know about their child’s activities
- Indulgent parenting – where the parent enables dysfunctional behavior
- Authoritarian parenting – where the parent engages in harsh discipline with his/her children, but the discipline is solely justified by what the parent says.
Peer Group Association
Antisocial peer groups (such as youth gangs) are often to blame for criminal behavior among adolescents. A teenager may fall in with the wrong crowd that encourages them to take part in criminal activities in order for him/her to become part of that crowd.
Related, peer rejection may also play a role in juvenile delinquency. Teens who are rejected by their peers for one reason or the other may react violently or aggressively. Rejected teens are also more likely to gravitate towards deviant behavior and antisocial peer groups, both of which may lead them into crime.
Failing Family Structures
Familial factors that often have a role in juvenile delinquency include:
- Poor parental supervision
- Poor discipline methods, especially where the parent is too harsh on the child
- Parental conflict
- Parent separation
- Criminal parents and/or siblings
- Parental abuse
- Parental neglect
- Poor parent-child relationship
The Child’s Personality
Children who have behavioral problems may progress to antisocial behavior that leads to crime and violence. Some of the psychological and behavioral risk factors that often lead to juvenile delinquency include:
- Low intelligence
- ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
- Lack of empathy
- Inability to delay gratification
- Poor emotional control
- Cruelty to animals
- Conduct disorders, such as truancy
- Anxiety and depression
Low Socioeconomic Status
Poverty and financial hardship may push a teenager into crime. There have also been reports of teens joining youth gangs that promise to cushion them from financial difficulties. Teenage girls with unintended pregnancies have often turned to prostitution for money.
Knowing what causes crime among minors helps both parents and the community keep their children out of trouble. Additionally, with love and proper legal representation, coupled with the right intervention, structure, and guidance, it’s possible to help minors who have made questionable choices and get the court to focus on true rehabilitation rather than punishment.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.