T he adolescent years are a transitional period for teenagers. They are learning and experiencing not only physically and psychologically but, as research now tells us, they are developing in their brain structure. During this time, adolescents often engage in experimentation with alcohol and drugs which can also have an effect on their functioning and development. Psychosocial aspects affecting adolescent decision-making come into play and can influence a decision whether to engage in criminal activity or not. This has become an area of interest for researchers; peer influence, attitude toward risk, future orientation and capacity for self-management are all aspects involved in the developing teen and intertwined with their behavior. Criminal behavior from teenagers can range from anti-social behaviors including bullying and making threats to shoplifting and thefts.
Understanding the Adolescent Brain and Legal Culpability
Why Do Teens Commit Crimes? | Synonym
A recent study conducted at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco showed that not all teenagers commit crimes, acts of violence, or drive impaired due to their adolescent brains. In some cases, it's higher poverty rates among the younger generation that leads to reckless behavior in teenagers. Males and his colleagues combed through over 54, homicide cases that occurred in California between and Data showed that 83 percent of gun murders among teenagers occur in populations with poverty levels at 20 percent or higher. While the overall peak age for homicide deaths is 19 years old, when researchers accounted for socioeconomic status, 19 only remained the peak age for poverty-stricken populations.
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Poverty And Teen Crime: Reckless Behavior Isn't Necessarily Caused By Adolescent Brain Development
The ruling, in Roper v. Simmons , was based partly on common sense and partly on research showing that the brain is still developing during adolescence, making young people especially vulnerable to impulsive behaviors. Over the last decade, seven states — Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire and South Carolina — have passed laws that channel most young offenders into juvenile courts, where they can receive counseling and support, instead of into adult courts and adult prisons, which are not equipped to deal with adolescents. This wise approach has bypassed New York, which is one of only two states — the other being North Carolina — that automatically try year-olds as adults.
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Though it has been suggested that spikes in crime rates for teens and young adults in the United States are a result of teens being biologically predisposed to risky, law-breaking behavior, a new study indicates that culture may play a role in shaping the criminal behavior of teenagers. In the United States, which tends to be more individualistic, for example, involvement in crime tends to peak in middle-to-late teens and then declines, says Darrell Steffensmeier, liberal arts research professor of sociology and criminology at Penn State. In Taiwan, which has more of a collectivist culture with less separation between generations, however, the crime rate does not dramatically peak at the same ages as it does in the US. Participation in most crimes in Taiwan tends to reach a high point in the late 20s or early 30s, he adds.