Gender and family affect minors and their delinquency in many different ways. Both are factors that begin in the early learning stages in a minors life and continue on into adulthood. With gender, the difference between males and females is the socialization, cognition and behavioral development. Much like family, the gender aspect of delinquency will begin to take hold in the early learning stages of life. But, with family, the members of the family, the accepted behavior in the family, and the way a child is raised is all going to affect the minor and their delinquency. Although, gender and family can begin affecting a child early on in life, how they learn, and in which capacity they learn behavior, is what will play the biggest role in their delinquency.
There are many roles that factor into the gender differences between males and females and their ability or capacity to become delinquent. Socialization, personality, and cognitive development is different in regards to males and females. For instance; socially, females are more likely to sustain relationships, and be non-aggressive, whereas, a male is independent, aggressive and may show anger more than females. (Siegel, Welsh, 2005) In regards to delinquency, females are more likely to offend in an non-aggressive manner like running away, and dodging school. Whereas, a male is more likely to be involved in aggressive crimes like assaults, or murders. A female involved in delinquent behaviors may be deemed as one who has psychological issues like mood disorders, or schizophrenia. (Siegel, Welsh, 2005)
Unlike the male who commits the same status offenses and may not be considered delinquent at all. The reason being is that girls are held to a different standard than what males are. They are also widely affected by experiences in life and, females are more likely to have been a victim of abuse of some sort. Those type of experiences are handled differently between a males and a females. Not only do they handle the situations differently mentally, but the families and who they are raised by will react differently as well. Which is where the gender and family aspects of delinquency connect.
The family of a child (whether they are male or female) plays a life-long impacting role on the life of that child. The arrangement or variety of family members, the behaviors that are deemed acceptable, as well as, the environment for which a child is raised is all how the family affects the child. In the United States today, most children live in a single parent home, while also, dealing with a frequent number of family disruptions. (Siegel, Welsh, 2005) The family members present in a child’s life can affect the minor tremendously. Especially because, most single family homes consist of mothers and their children. These children need positive male role models as well as a mother who does not work 3 jobs 6 days a week. Whether the family has always been a single parent family, or if it became that, it will affect the delinquency in a minor. The need for a “reliable source of emotional and economic support” (Siegel, Welsh, 2005) is incredibly important for children and will affect them not only as a minor but as an adult too. The family and how the household is ran affects the delinquency of a minor tremendously. Without the proper guidance, love and support children will always run astray. Children need that dependency and discipline in their lives. Some children may also live in psychically, mentally, or sexually abuse homes, all of which produces delinquent behaviors. The family factor can remain the same, escalate or even deescalate dependent upon the child’s life and surroundings over an extended period of time.
Members of the juvenile justice system view males and females differently, there is no doubt about it. When dealing with females it is more common to see underlying factors such as abuse, or psychological disorders as reasons towards the delinquent behaviors. Whereas, with males there generally is not any underlying factors (there are specially circumstances) but more or less, delinquent acts being committed as a test of their adulthood or manhood. But, according to Siegel, and Welsh in the book Juvenile delinquency: The core, female offenders are categorized into two groups: “girls who momentarily stray from the “good girl” path and are therefore deserving of solicitous, humanitarian treatment, and dangerously wayward girls who have serious problems and must therefore be kept under strict control lest they stray further.”
The different treatment is aimed more at females than males, mostly because females are viewed to be different than males. There is a certain level of maturity that a (juvenile) female is expected to meet regardless if they know it or not. Unfortunately in regards to the law, no it is not fair. Males should be held up to the same expectations that a female is. Although, punishments could definitely be different between male and female juveniles, the description of delinquency should not be different because of gender. Unfortunately there is benefits to being a minor female in the eyes of the juvenile justice system and society, and yet there is not. A female may be deemed a delinquent for minor criminal activities whereas a male would be looked upon as one who is “just being a boy”. While also a female can be given a break faster than a male considering their home life and mental issues. Its a double standard really.
Because, family and gender plays such large parts in the delinquency of a minor, it is safe to say that it should be considered whenever a minor is entered into the juvenile justice system. Social, cognitive, and behavioral development as well as family life, the members of family, and how a child is raised all go hand in hand in regards to a minor becoming a delinquent. That goes for both males and females. There really is no sure way to ensure a minor does not become delinquent. Only steps that can be taken to avoid it from happening. These steps begin in the very early stages of development and continue to be taken throughout the child’s entire life.
Positive role models, a good home life, and as much time as possible with the parent’s can all help the process along into the right direction.
Siegel, L. J., Welsh, B. C., 2005, Juvenile Delinquency: The core, Chapter 6 Gender and Delinquency file:///C:/Users/Guest/Downloads/cjs240_week3_reading2.pdf
Siegel, L. J., Welsh, B, C., 2005, Juvenile Delinquency: The core, Chapter 7 The Family and Delinquency file:///C:/Users/Guest/Downloads/cjs240_week3_reading3.pdf