Many juveniles commit offenses, such as theft, disorderly conduct, and vandalism, under the influence of drugs or alcohol or being a part of the gang. These offenses might be related to substance abuse or peer pressure.
Why Do Juveniles Become Substance Abusers?
- Juveniles living in urban areas, particularly in low-income neighborhoods with ample opportunities to buy drugs, are more susceptible to becoming substance abusers. This, in turn, leads to crime for bringing in money to purchase drugs. Juveniles who live in affluent areas can also become involved in substance abuse.
- The risk of becoming a substance abuser increases if the juvenile lives in a dysfunctional family with conflict, low interaction, low parental support, or in a family where parents are involved in drug use. Juveniles may use drugs to forget about problems, to relieve boredom, and to counteract feelings of loneliness or low self-esteem.
- Juveniles are more likely to use drugs if their friends do, in order to get acceptance from their peer group.
Why Do Juveniles Join Gangs?
- Juveniles could join gangs for their own protection. Often, these youths have low self-esteem, are in trouble in school, and have few friends outside of the gang. In addition, the gang serves as an alternative way to obtain recognition and status.
- Living in disorganized and poverty-ridden neighborhoods, where crime and violence occur every day, or in a home with a dysfunctional, abusive, or economically deprived family increases the juveniles’ risk of joining gangs.
- Some youths are attracted to gangs because of their personality or temperament.
Question to consider: What types of prevention programs are there to address these issues? See the next lecture some examples.