Category Archives: sociology

children having an activity together

Juvenile Justice Programs, Practices, & Policies

In this post, we will look at juvenile justice programs, practices, and policies. Each of these terms plays a different role within the juvenile justice system.


A program in juvenile justice is a designed package that has clear procedures for delivery, has manuals and provides technical assistance. In addition, the outcome is commonly related to some sort of change such as recidivism. Two commonly implemented programs are multisystemic therapy and functional family therapy.


Another key aspect of a program within juvenile justice is recidivism. Programs are generally designed for specific use through the use of a logic model. A logic model is a visual depiction that shows the relationship among the resources, activities, outcomes, and outputs of a program. In other forms of social science research, the logic model is called a conceptual framework however these two concepts are not exactly the same. Logic models depict relationships while conceptual frameworks are a proposed theory that is attempting explain why certain outcomes take place.


PRactices in juvenile justice are not as clearly defined as programs are. In general, practices in juvenile justice are essentially programs that are more flexible in their application and use. For example, the design may not be as rigorous and the instructions made not be as detailed.

Due to their more flexible nature practices are often more general in nature and can thus be applied in different situations. To make things more confusing some programs are considered practices if they are more flexible than highly controlled programs. One common practice is the Treatment in Secure Corrections for Serious Juvenile Offenders.


Policies are regulations that apply to the general population. Policies generally lack empirical evidence for their usefulness in supporting youth. However, policies do provide guidance and structure which shows that they serve a different role than what is found with programs and practices.

Evaluating Programs and Practices

There are times when programs and practices are evaluated for their usefulness. Below are some commonly used ways to evaluate programs and practices.

One way to evaluate a program is the quality of the evidence or data. For example, randomized controlled experiments are considered the gold standard. Therefore, other methods of collecting data such as quasi-experiments and surveys will affect the perceived quality of a program.

A second criterion is looking at the quality and extensiveness of the research of the program. What this means is the quality and quantity of research that has assessed the value of a program. If a program has multiple studies that are a witness to its worthiness and these studies are of high quality it raises the value of this program.

A third criterion is the expected impact of a program. By expected impact, it is meant the effect size. The effect size is something that is extracted in the data analysis aspect of a study and helps to provide a number of the impact of a study. Programs with stronger effect sizes are seen as better.

Finally, another criterion for program/practice quality is the adoption rate. In other words, how many other people are using the program/practice? Tracking adoption is higher but there are program registries that have vetted programs and recommend them. Examples of program registries include crimesolutions and blueprints. Both of these registries have graded programs and provide links to studies about the programs.


Programs, practices, and policies all play a critical role in helping youth in the juvenile justice system. People who work within this system need to be aware of the meaning of these terms as well as how to judge good from bad programs. 

a person holding a the law book

Types of Justice in the Classroom

Justice can look many different ways. In this post, we will look at three different forms of justice procedural, substantive, and negotiated. In particular, we will look at how these different forms of justice work within the classroom.

Procedural Justice

Procedural justice means that the disciplinary power of the teacher is only used within the constraints of the policies and rules of the school. For example, most schools do not allow corporal punishment. What this means is that a teacher who makes the decision to spank a student has violated what is considered to be an acceptable process for discipline within that school.


Procedural justice also has to do with maintaining fairness. In other words, rules cannot be randomly enforced based on a teacher’s mood. When teachers are not consistent in the application and enforcement of rules it gives the appearance of unfairness and injustice to the students. When this happens it can trigger even more undesirable behavior from students.

However, everyone has their moments of inconsistencies, including teachers. Therefore, when a teacher makes a mistake in procedural justice it is wise to acknowledge the mistake and make efforts to correct the misstep. Doing this will help students to maintain faith in a system that when it makes mistakes it tries to correct them.

Substantive Justice

Substantive justice is the unequal impact enforcing rules has on different groups. A common example of substantive justice in the classroom is the disproportional amount of trouble males and minorities get into within the classroom.

Dealing with race and gender are both highly controversial topics. Therefore, teachers must be careful to be aware of these two demographic traits of their students. The perception of differences in justice due to substantive differences in demographic traits could lead to serious accusations and headaches.

Negotiated Justice

Negotiated justice is the process of how justice is discovered and carried out. A practical example would be a court trial. During the trial, the truth is sought so that justice can be delivered. In the classroom, there are many different ways in which teachers uncover what to do when it is time to administer justice.

For example, in some classes, a teacher will have both parties sit down and discuss what happened. In other classes, the students may be sent to the office to work out their disagreement. If the teacher witnessed what happened, there may be no questioning at all.

The ultimate point here is that a teacher needs to be aware of how they go about determining guilt and innocence in their classroom. At times, the emotions of teachers will overwhelm them and they may make just or unjust decisions without knowing how they made their decision. Naturally, we want to avoid unjust decisions but no matter what decision was made it is important to be aware of how the decision was developed.


Teachers must be careful with how they deal with justice in their classrooms. There is always a danger of being accused of oppression when you have power and authority over others. Awareness is at least one way that this problem can be avoided.

Early Views on Criminology

In this post, we will look at some late 19th and early 20th-century views on criminology. In particular, we will look at the functionalist perspective and the Chicago School.

Functionalist Perspective

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) was a major contributor to the functionalist perspective of criminology. This approach looks at crime in terms of the values and mores of society. For example, in most societies, certain values are preferred over others such as beliefs about roles in a family or about music and respect. In a similar line of thought, values of justice are preferred over values that encourage crime. What this means is that what is good is preferred over what is bad as defined by a group of people.


Deviance, as defined as breaking the rules and values of a society, serves an important function of defining what is right and wrong. Deviant behavior is an example of what is not acceptable and by seeing this negative behavior good is defined. For example, most cultures believe stealing is wrong and this behavior defines that asking for something and or giving something willingly is good.

Another tenet of the functionalist perspective is that fighting deviance helps to strengthen the cohesion and unity of a society. There are many examples of horrendous crime happening that galvanizes a community to pass laws to fight such abhorrent behavior. In other words, after something terrible happens society will rise up to make sure it never happens again and this only happens because deviant behavior had taken place.

On the flip side, if deviance is tolerated long enough it can help to establish no social norms. Many ideas that are supported and championed today were at one time or another considered deviant behavior. Views on reproductive rights, sexuality, and gender roles have faced tremendous pressure to change. Other proponents of behaviors that were once considered deviant have rallied to press their views into the forefront and place people who do not share their views on the defensive.

Chicago School and Crime

Another view of criminology that was developed around the same time as Durkheim’s work is the Chicago School perspective. This view was developed and encouraged by Robert Ezra Park (1964-1944). What was truly unique about this approach was its focus specifically on city life and crime that happens there.

Park explained that crime is worst in cities because of the structure of society. Cities encourage a higher degree of anonymity which can convince people they can get away with something without damaging any of their relationships. In addition, cities are more tolerant of diversity and thus deviance.

Park also shared the idea that crime can be found in certain areas of a city. This idea is based on how cities were designed. Certain parts of town were zoned in certain ways and industrial areas often will have more crime than suburban areas.

Crime is also considered a learned behavior. This idea was surprising for its time because many during Park’s era believed that people had a genetic predisposition to crime. For Park to place the blame on learning from others was a unique view.

Lastly, Park believe that agencies were the best defense against crime. For example, developing and funding government departments that deal with criminal behavior may be supported be Park.


The two views on criminology shared in this post provide insights into how researchers in the past viewed crime and its factors. Naturally, no single theory explains everything about a phenomenon. However, examining different theories helps a reader to understand the field of their studies.

police officer putting handcuffs on another person

Common Juvenile Dispositions and the Classroom

A disposition is the “punishment” for a youth who is found to be a delinquent which means that they committed some sort of criminal offense. In this post, we will look at several common dispositions and how they may affect the student and teacher. The ordering of these dispositions is generally from having the least impact on the student-teacher to the most impactful on the learning of the youth.

Low Impact

Low-impact dispositions do not affect the youth’s ability to study and continue to live a normal life.

Informal consent decree. An informal consent decree involves a youth and their parents agreeing to some form of a treatment program. If they agree to treatment there is no official disposition hearing which implies no formal record. However, the type of treatment agreed to can have varying impacts on the youth and their classroom experience. In general, the impact on learning is low because the judge and prosecutor were willing to accept this form of punishment for the youth’s actions.


Mandatory school attendance. This disposition is the result of truancy. If a child is not going to school such a requirement as going to class will make a positive impact in terms of getting the student back on track academically. Unfortunately, going to school and learning can be different things for students. In addition, it is possible that a student who is forced to go to school could be disruptive as well.

Financial restitution/Fines. Some courts require monetary compensation to the victim and or the state for whatever offense was committed. Generally, this will not impact the learning of the youth. exceptions might be if the financial compensation compels the youth to seek employment that affects their ability to study.

Medium Impact

The next few examples are examples that have a medium influence on the youth’s ability to study. This may be because of scheduling conflicts and or time commitments that may influence time for study.

Probation. Probation involves placing a youth under the supervision of an adult. The probation officer gives the youth certain rules to obey as a condition of the probation. The challenge when it comes to learning is that at times the youth may have to miss school for probation meetings and or the probation officer may want to speak with the teachers of the youth.

Home Detention. Home detention requires that the youth be at home at certain times. Normally, school is allowed, however, the problem is how the probation officer knows where the youth is and this often involves the use of an electronic monitoring device. This device often goes around the ankle. They can be disruptive if other students want to look at the device on the youth’s leg. This can lead to a group of kids gathering around and staring and laughing at the youth with the device on. In other words, if the student lets everyone know there wearing the device it could lead to disruptions in class until the novelty wears off.

Community service. Community service involves work in the community as restitution. Such a punishment is not too disruptive. However, the time given to community service will detract from the time given to study.

Outpatient psychotherapy. This treatment is for youth with clear psychological disorders. For youth with mental health issues, school is often not a problem given the other challenges in life. In addition, the teacher also needs to be careful not to destabilize the youth through insensitive actions.

Drug and alcohol treatment. Like psychotherapy, a youth who needs drug and alcohol treatment probably is not in a position to focus on their studies.

High Impact

All of the examples in this section involve the youth being removed from their home. As such, the child may no longer even be enrolled in the school that they use to attend.

Commitment to residential community program. Commitment to a residential community program involves the youth being removed from the home but placed in a community program that should be close to home. How close depends on the available services. A youth from a rural setting will potentially be further from home than an urban youth. In other cases, it is possible that the youth will no longer be in attendance at their regular school.

Commitment to secure treatment. Secure treatment is a euphemism for a child being placed essentially in prison. In other words, their freedom has been taken from them for a period of time. In such a situation, a student will no longer continue in their prior academic efforts until they complete their sentence. While committed, the youth will participate in academic work provided by the facility.

Foster home placement. Placement in a foster home involves the child being removed from their own home into the home of strangers who are supposed to provide a family environment for the youth. Off course, this is highly disruptive and can involve the child moving anywhere in the state of their residency. As such, this can be highly difficult for the education and learning of the youth.


When youth make mistakes there are often punishments involved. The example shared here are just some of the ways a youth can have their freedoms at least partially altered because of bad choices. Naturally, the choices students make can also have impacts on their learning and interaction with their teacher.

hallway with window

Child Savers

During the 19th century in the United States that was a huge influx of people into urban areas in search of jobs and other opportunities. With this change in how people lived, there was a change in the family as well. Before the growth of urban centers, parents and children were all together in a rural setting in a farm-like community and this helped to monitor and control a child’s behavior. Now, parents often would have to leave their children unattended for long periods while they worked. Children who are left unattended tend to get into trouble. Over time and with years of neglect continuing some of these youth became delinquents. Once children began to turn to crime the local government began to step in and try and deal with this problem.

One solution that was tried was developed by a group of juvenile reformers from the Child Saving movement. In this post, we will look at the history and beliefs of the members of this movement.

Child Saving Movement

The Child Saving Movement wanted the government to monitor and control the activities of wayward youth. As mentioned before, this used to be a responsibility of the family but there was a breakdown in the family as a result of living in the new conditions of dense city life.

To help delinquent youths proponents of the Child Saving movement developed the House of Refuge, which was an early form of a reform school. Wayward youth were sent here for status offenses to major crimes. Before this youth were often sent to adult prisons for the offenses they committed.

The House of Refuge was funded primarily privately. However, the irony of the House of Refuge is that funding came from the state of New York, and this funding involved taxes collected from bars, theaters, and even circuses. In other words, venues that contributed to delinquency were used to reform students who were delinquents.

The House of Refuge was opened in 1825 with only 6 youths. Within the first ten years, the facility would serve 1600 youths. Both boys and girls were housed at the facility. Boys were taught blue-collar skills such as skills found in woodshop. Female residents were taught skills related to the home such as cooking and sewing.

The original location of the House of Refuge was in the city. However, with time the facility was moved to a rural location. In all, the House of Refuge would last about 100 years well into the early 20th century. Among the main criticism of this approach was that the facility was trying to play the role of the parent through the use of strict discipline and long work hours.


There are strengths and weaknesses to all forms of reform for young people who become delinquents. There is always something wrong and something that is done well by most movements. What all reform movements have in common is a desire to help young people and to make society safer. Sometimes it might be better to focus on this rather than on the failures of various movements such as the Child Savers.

young troubled woman using laptop at home

School Failure and Delinquency

School failure is a big problem in education today. In addition, school failure has also been examined in the context of delinquency. In this post, we will look at school failure and delinquency.


School failure is the opposite of school success. Essentially, school failure is the inability of a student to have academic success in the classroom. The concern with school failure in this post is that it is often associated with delinquent behavior. In other words, kids who struggle academically are often kids who are struggling behaviorally as well.


There are several ways in which school failure and delinquency are related. For example, school failure may cause delinquency. As a young person becomes frustrated with their school they may choose to become delinquent to win praise and acceptance that they are unable to achieve through academics.

Another view of school failure and delinquency focuses on the emotional aspect. For some kids, school failure causes emotional distress and this may cause delinquency. As the student loses control of their emotions they make poor decisions in terms of behavior.

A final view on school failure point to a cause that is above school failure and delinquency. From this view, the real problem is socioeconomic issues such as poverty, family issues, or some other disruption to the student’s life. These instabilities make it difficult for the youth to function in an academic setting like a school.

Other Variables Associated with School Failure

There are also several other variables and concepts that have been linked with school failure. Tracking involves placing students in classes based on ability or test scores. For example, all of the high achievers are in one class and the struggling kids are in a different class. Such an approach is highly detrimental to the weaker students because they know when they are being tracked and this can lead to self-esteem issues and indifference.

Some students truly do not like school and or their teachers. Alienation is defined as the inability to see the relevance or importance of schools. Education pays dividends over time. For people who have a shorter vision of themselves, spending years in school learning various facts and figures is meaningless. Delinquent behavior provides the immediate results that young people often want.

The consequences of school failure can be tremendous. Dropouts make less money than peers who finish K12 and people who go to college. Furthermore, dropouts are often trapped in the lowest-earning jobs that are available. Therefore, it is not in a child’s best interest to fail in school.


School failure is a sign that a child needs help. The cause could be one that was explained here or a different one. Either way, teachers need to be willing to support students who are struggling academically as this can lead to delinquency.

human fist

General Theory of Crime and the Classroom

The General Theory of Crime (GTC) was developed by Gottfredson and Hirschi. This theory attempts to explain criminal or delinquent behavior in terms of criminal offender traits, criminal opportunity, and the act of committing a crime. In this post, we will look at each of these components in terms of how they help to explain delinquent behavior within the context of teaching.

Criminal Offender

The ideas associated with criminal offenders focus on personality and social connections. Insights into personality play an important part in the GTC framework. Impulse control is one main component of GTC. Impulsive people are often more short-sighted and prone to risk-taking. What this means is that they may be more prone to delinquent behavior because they lack the foresight of the consequences of their actions. Impulsive behavior is also something teachers struggle with when dealing with children who frequently make poor choices due to impulsive actions.


Another component that is highly related to impulsiveness is self-control. In other words, individuals who struggle to control themselves may be more likely to commit a crime. The authors of GTC explain that low self-control can be caused by poor management and or criminal parent(s), lack of supervision, and or self-centeredness. Again, the ideas here are similar to the causes of misbehavior in the classroom. It appears that excellent parenting is a primary tool for alleviating delinquent behavior in the classroom.

Another main cause of low self-control is a weak or a lack of social bonds between a youth and friends and family. When youths are attached and committed to the people around them it discourages poor behavior because people generally don’t want to hurt the people they are close to. The same idea applies in the classroom and is one reason why developing relationships with students and parents is often emphasized. Students with strong relationships often do not want to misbehave.

Criminal Opportunity

Criminal opportunity is essentially the openings that a delinquent finds to commit a crime. Often, an individual is more likely to commit a crime when there is a lack of supervision and there are easy targets or potential victims around. Naturally, this is what happens in the classroom when students are always looking for opportunities when the teacher is not looking so they can make poor choices.

What this implies is that students need large amounts of attention to maintain proper behavior. Sadly, many students and delinquents come from homes that lack the one-on-one attention they need.

Criminal Act

The criminal act is self-explanatory. Examples of criminal acts can be any action that breaks the law. Unlike adults, there are additional offenses that youths can commit and these are status offenses. Status offenses are acts that are legal for adults but illegal for minors such as smoking and drinking.

All of these criminal acts are the result of a combination of impulse control, self-control, social relationships, and opportunity in the context of GTC.


Of course, no single theory can explain everything about any behavior. There are differences in behavior based on race, gender, and other factors when it comes to crime. Despite this, the GTC provides a simplistic overview into what motives criminal behavior.

tattooed ethnic man with friends

Developmental Theory

Developmental theory was developed by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck back in the 1930s. With this theory, the authors try to explain the dynamics, in terms of the activity level, of a youth in delinquent behaviors. In other words, developmental theory explains delinquent behavior over time rather than why a youth is misbehaving at a given moment. We will look at the concepts of this theory along with its application in the educational setting.


One of the core tenets of developmental theory is the idea that chaos leads to delinquency. When there is a breakdown in the home through divorce or there is death or loss of a job, any of these adverse childhood experiences can lead to delinquency. Even something as mundane as moving can lead to poor behavioral choices. All of the examples above are examples of problem behavior syndrome which is a term used to describe negative events in a young person’s life.


Naturally, this can spill over into the classroom when students are having negative experiences in their personal life it can lead to behavioral problems in school. One danger to be aware of is antisocial behavior. The danger with antisocial behavior is that it is of link with persistent delinquent behavior.

There are also life experiences that can reduce delinquent behavior. Often these are events associated with maturity such as marriage, having children, starting a career, etc. Essentially what happens is that as the youth matures and becomes invested in something or someone the payoff for delinquent behavior is not worth the risk. Another way to view this is that these life experiences are associated with maturity and impulsive behavior naturally declines with age.

Paths to Delinquency

Developmental theory also addresses various pathways to delinquency. There are at least three and they are authority conflict, covert, and overt. Authority conflict is when a youth defies and avoids authority. Most teachers have dealt with students who simply refuse to comply and or avoid dealing with the teacher altogether. In such instances, the youth is heading towards delinquency through conflict with authority.

The covert pathway involves passive-aggressive behavior that is delinquent in nature. By covert, it includes behavior in which the authority and or the victim is unaware of what happened. For example, a student steals something without the other person being aware. With time, covert actions can lead to more serious offenses like breaking into homes.

The overt pathway is minor aggressions that eventually become violent. For example, a youth starts out by pushing other students which could one day lead to assault.

Types of Delinquents

The overall pattern of delinquency of youth varies. Life course persisters start young and continue into adulthood. Adolescent-limited defenders start young and stop once they mature. Other kids do not begin to misbehave until their teen years and they either stop once they mature or continue with poor behavioral choices.

Teachers have also experienced all of these various types of delinquents. Some kids start young while others do not. Some kids stop while others do not. The age at which a youth begins delinquency and whether or not they stop is at least partially related to the tenets that were discussed above.


As educators, we need to be aware of problem behavior syndrome and the negative experiences that kids are having outside the classroom because this may partially explain their behavior in class. In addition, we also need to be aware of how long the child has been delinquent as this can provide insight into what to do to help them.

photography of person peeking

Deterrence and the Classroom

Deterrence theory is a theory found within criminology that states that policies that encourage fear, high risk, and punishment will discourage delinquent behavior. Without knowing it, many teachers support this view in their classroom management philosophy.

In this post, we will look at deterrence theory as defined in criminal justice while providing applications of this approach in the classroom with teachers. For our purpose, there is general deterrence, which is the heart of deterrence and then there are several variations of general deterrence.

General Deterrence

General deterrence believes that harsh punishment will reduce crime in society or poor behavior in the classroom. Examples of general deterrence would be mandatory sentences, three-strike laws, etc. In schools, it is common to see zero-tolerance policies for specific behaviors such as drug use.


Despite the best efforts of advocates of general deterrence crime and poor behavior persists. This is due in part to the underlying assumption that delinquents and students are rational individuals who weigh the pros and cons of their actions before doing them. Frequently this is not the case students and people frequently do not think things throw before doing them and this is especially the case when emotions are involved or substance abuse.

In addition, people are often convinced that the odds of getting caught are low and thus they can get away with it. Statistical this is correct as the majority of crimes go unsolved. However, in the context of education, it is generally hard to get away with misbehavior because there are usually only 30-40 suspects when something happens in the classroom.

Lastly, general deterrence when it is working well can overwhelm the system as more and more people are arrested and or placed in a facility. As people are caught it simply strains the system rather than stops crime. In the school, if enough students are breaking strict rules it can strain the administration as they try to process all the kids who are causing problems. This simply moves the chaos from the classroom to the office.

Variations of Deterrence

There are several variations of the implementation of deterrence as well. Specific deterrence focuses on making punishment so horrible that the offenders change their behavior. As already mentioned this often does not work and can harden the youth to resist. In addition, if offenders or bad students are labeled because of their mistakes they may commit themselves to live up to the label or reputation that they have now.

Incapacitation is an implementation strategy that focuses on incarcerating delinquents. The thought is that if the youth is locked up they cannot terrorize the community. In schools, this strategy might manifest itself through suspending and or expelling rowdy students. Within the context of juvenile justice, this approach often does not work due to restrictions on resources and the problem that youth who are locked up are often corrupted within the facilities. For schools, students who are removed simply fall behind academically, and when this happens simply will continue to disrupt the learning experience.

Lastly, situational crime prevention involves removing opportunities and increasing the risk of committing a crime. For example, many homes now have cameras which naturally discourage crime because of the threat of being caught. Within schools, the use of cameras has become ubiquitous as well. This approach leads to the protection of potential victims, increases the effort to get away with delinquency, and prevents any excuses because of the silent witness of video recording.


Deterrence is a view that promotes a tough approach to dealing with disobedience. As with any approach, this style works in some cases and not in others. Since there is no single solution to the problem of delinquency deterrence should be viewed as one of many tools that can be used.

selective focus photography of child s hand

Physiological and Neurological Theories on Delinquency

This post will look at physical and mental reasons for delinquent behavior. The ideas presented here can be useful for teachers who also deal with youths who participate in delinquent behavior.


The biosocial theory of crime is in many ways a spin on the nature vs nurture debate. Supporters of biosocial theory believe that a combination of personality (nature) and environment (nurture) influence delinquent behavior. Such a premise seems reasonable as people have natural talent but they also develop skills and traits based on the environment in which they grow up as a child and beyond. Teachers are aware of this because of the classroom environment that they establish as they train children.

Concerning nurture, genetics have been studied to understand delinquent behavior. Researchers have found strong relationships between parents and children, twins, and siblings in terms of associating with delinquent behaviors. In other words, crime often runs in the family. Of course, there are many instances of people choosing to take their life in a different direction from the example that was set by relatives. Again, many teachers have seen good kids come from bad families and vice versa. Often it seems there is no way to know how a child will turn out when you meet them.

Several factors are related to biosocial theory in terms of the nurture aspects. For example, there have been biochemical arguments made that state that chemical imbalances brought on by a poor diet can contribute to delinquent behavior. These imbalances can cause hormonal issues as well and this can be critically important due to the natural hormonal changes of teenagers. However, it must be mentioned that many people suffer from biochemical imbalances and never commit crimes. Therefore, there must be something else going on to attribute delinquent behavior to.

Many of the ideas related to diet are also related to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If students are not getting enough to eat then studying is almost impossible. The need to provide for these biochemical concerns is perhaps one reason for the school meal programs that are ubiquitous today.

Other Theories

One other theory of delinquent behavior is arousal theory. This theory essentially states that some youth commit crimes for thrill-seeking reasons. In other words, they commit crimes for fun. Teenagers often are seeking new experiences as they push the boundaries of what they’re capable of. In addition, this would also help to explain why kids in stable, comfortable homes act out and make poor choices. Most young people want to have fun and the thrill of crime is one avenue for them to achieve this.

Another theory is tied to evolution. The evolutionary theory of delinquency states that impulsive men are often more successful in reproducing with multiple women due in part to their impulsive and often aggressive behavior. As such, these traits of aggression and unpredictability are passed on to the next generation and this process is repeated. Over time, this leads to a population becoming more and more willing to committ acts of violence and crime

The evolutionary theory is interesting but seems difficult to prove conclusively as there may be no known way to test this experimentally. In many ways, this is another variation of focusing on nature as the cause of delinquent behavior


The takeaway for teachers is that there are multiple reasons why a youth may become a delinquent. In addition, given the multitude of explanations, it appears that there is not a great deal of agreement on what motivates youth to participate in delinquent acts.

houses near concrete road

Focal Concerns and the Classroom

Focal concerns is a theory developed by Walter Miller in the late 1950s that tries to explain cultural deviance among criminals and delinquents. Miller’s work was focused specifically on cultural deviance among the poor. In his work, he found several cultural values of the poor that he believes contribute to violent and illegal behavior. Below is a list of the focal concerns he found

  • Trouble
  •  Toughness
  •  Smartness
  •  Excitement
  •  Fate
  •  Autonomy

These concerns may not only explain criminal behavior but may be useful in understanding misbehavior in the classroom as well.


According to Miller, among the lower class, the ability to cause and deal with trouble is an important value or focal concern. Drug use, alcohol abuse, and promiscuity are all ways of making trouble. Dealing with trouble is also valued. For example, being able to handle one’s self in a physical altercation or deceive someone are ways of garnering respect.

Within the classroom, there are always students who pride themselves on causing trouble. TO frustrate the teacher and other students is a form of prestige and pride for the problem student. Therefore, what a teacher needs to do is remove the honor of causing trouble for a student who is seeking the prestige of causing trouble. For example, a teacher who does not get upset when a student’s poor behavior is denying that student the prestige of angering the teacher. In the field of behavioral psychology, this is called extinction.


Toughness is focused on physical prowess and emotional control. In general, this focal concern is focused on males. Male members of the lower class who can attain physical strength along with some degree of stoicism garner more respect than males who cannot do this.

The same idea applies in the classroom. At least on the surface, many disruptive male students want to show how strong and un-feminine they are. A student might demonstrate their toughness by how they respond to discipline. By laughing or appearing in different the student is exerting indifference and perhaps flippancy in the face of extreme punishment.


Smartness relates to knowing how to survive on the streets. This is more of a passive-aggressive skill in that it is defined as being able to outsmart or out-con an individual rather than face them head-on in a confrontation. For example, a delinquent might be tough but stupid, and vice versa. Smartness is a skill of deception rather than raw power.

Smartness in the classroom might be a student who is skilled at getting away with something or who knows how to do the minimum while still getting the grades they want. A student with smartness is annoying to a teacher, especially one who wants to teach the student a lesson.


Excitement, according to Miller, is a desire for fun. Excitement is not a focal concern of just the lower class but perhaps of people in general. It seems that everybody wants to have a good time. Perhaps the difference might be in how the lower class has fun compared to other socioeconomic groups.

All kids want to have fun but the difference for the disruptive student is how much fun they want to have. Often difficult students have a higher need for fun compared to other students which are why they are causing problems in the classroom. The problems and fights with the teacher are fun for some students.


Fate is a superstitious view of the world. For example, some are lucky and some are not. There is no rhyme or reason to the world in terms of success. There is little concern for fairness in this supposed fundamental belief of criminals and the poor.

Fate is an idea that students of users when they get caught doing something inappropriate. They will blame their downfall not on the evil act they committed but on the fact that the teacher got lucky when they caught the,. This is a way of excusing poor behavior as acceptable.


Autonomy is not independence from bad luck but rather an independence from those with authority. Autonomy essentially means not having to obey anybody especially individuals outside of the local hierarchy. Therefore, resisting the police is a way to protect one’s autonomy

In the classroom, students are frequently concerned with having some sort of autonomy. When students break rules it is because he or she wants to do something instead of following rules. One strategy to deal with this is to use reverse psychology on the student and respect their autonomy. Autonomy is not bad but misguided. Giving the student choice for good and bad behavior is a way to encourage cooperation while still respecting the need for autonomy.


Miller’s works are considered outdated today. This is because of the push and desire for racial and gender equality and that poverty cannot be attributed to socioeconomic status. Whatever the case focal concerns provide another avenue for encouraging childhood disobedience.

people standing in front of store during night time

Brief History of Status Offenses in the US

Status offenses are behaviors and or conduct that is illegal for a child because they are considered underage. In this post, we will look at examples of status offenses as well as the history and development of the concept of status offenses.


Examples of status offenses in the US include alcohol and drug consumption, truancy, running away, curfew violations, sexual activity, profanity use, and disobedience to parents. These are all actions that are not illegal for adults to do. It is obvious that an adult can run away if they so choose, use profanity, and or disobey their parents.


However, even among adults, there can be consequences for these actions. For example, alcohol and drug consumption may be legal for adults but losing control can impact friends, family, and job performance which could lead to major problems. In addition, using profanity at the wrong time can lead to social consequences. Truancy from the job could also lead to termination. In other words, even though adults have free reign to perform status offenses there could be problems with these behaviors that may not involve the law.

History of Status Offenses

In the US, it was common at one time to place status offenders in orphanages or some other residential setting. Laws were even passed to deal with rebellious children. For example, Massachusetts passed a law in 1646 that could give a rebellious child the death penalty for defying their parents.

Status offenders normally are not petitioned to a juvenile court unless the parents are unable to deal with the child. This is in line with the state serving as a parental figure or parens patriae. Parents themselves can petition their own children to juvenile court if the behavior is out of control.

Children who are only status offenders are referred to by various names depending on the state. Some of the acronyms are “children in need of supervision” (CHINS), “minors in need of supervision” (MINS), or “youth in need of supervision” (YINS) among several others. The reason behind this labeling is so that status offenders are not associated with juvenile delinquents. In addition, status offenders are generally treated less harshly than juvenile delinquents due to the nature of the behaviors they are accused of committing.

There have been pushes to make changes to status offenses. Some do not believe that youths should have to obey laws that adults do not have to obey. Others have pushed for reform in the language that defines status offenses. At one time, there were demands that status offenders should not be placed in secure facilities given the nature of their crimes.

For the Teacher

As a teacher, it is important to know that most youths are guilty of status offenses. As such, those who are taken to juvenile court are probably in poor family situations in which the behavior attracts the police and or was in the wrong place at the wrong time. At most schools today you will find status offenses taking place. It would be difficult to find a school in which drug use, profanity, sexual activity, and more are not happening.

The general point is that for the teacher, status offenses may indicate an unstable home environment. If a student is in this situation the teacher needs to provide whatever support they can that is reasonable to help this student so that they do not drop out and or fall behind academically.


Mistakes are what people do. Children are no exception. However, due to their age and inexperience, young people have additional rules and laws they have to follow for their own safety. Status offenses are additional restraints placed on youth because of their youth. When children break the rules there is a chance that they can be brought before a juvenile court.

master showing apprentice how handling detail

Historical Ways of Supporting Children

Today there is a huge industry that looks to support children from unfortunate backgrounds. These can be kids who come from broken homes, have learning disabilities, and or from a generally poor background. Whatever the case, these problems have been around in one way or another for a long time. In this post, we will look at how such unfortunate were supported in the past.

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, families in Europe were primarily patriarchal in nature. The father had a great degree of authority over his family. Among the poor, most children had to endure harsh discipline and no real sense of childhood. As soon as possible a child was expected to work and help the family. Boys would learn blue-collar skills such as farming or blacksmith while girls would learn domestic skills such as cooking and caring for children.


Among the wealthy things were slightly better. Wealthy children received a superior education being able to study such things as the classics and Latin. Boys of the upper class would focus on warfare while girls would continue to develop domestic skills. One thing the rich had in common with the poor was harsh discipline.

Things Begin to Change

During the Enlightenment, there are some changes to the structure of the family. The extended family gave way to the nuclear family. Schools become more common and even higher education becomes something that the middle class can take advantage of.

Various thought leaders (could philosophers in those days) began to share new views on child-rearing. Rousseau, Lock, and Voltaire all spoke of “childhood” as a unique part of life and how there should be more leniency in disciplining children. The ideas of childhood being a separate part of life and the need for different methods of disciplining children would influence reforms in juvenile justice.

Supporting Unfortunate Children

During this same time of the Enlightenment, there were several efforts to support poor or disadvantaged children. England had poor laws which allowed a family to care for a neglected child and teach them a trade. The neglected child had no choice and had to work for this family. An entire industry sprang up to identify children who were neglected. Naturally, there were times when this system was abused by the family and even by the children at times.

Another similar way of supporting children was apprenticeships. It’s hard to tell the difference between poor laws and apprenticeships. The main difference may be that apprenticeships were available to anybody and not just poor children.

Both poor laws and apprenticeships were used in Europe and the USA. Such a system helps to keep kids off the street and gives them a skill by which they can support themselves and maybe a family one day. Eventually, this system of supporting young people would give way as many master craftsmen were put out of business by the rise of factories which negated the need for an apprentice. Children could skip this process and go straight to the factories to work and this is what happen for several decades before laws were passed to require school attendance.


Children will always make mistakes and challenge authority. However, the blatant disrespect of today was not found in the past. The harsh discipline that children experienced during the Middle Ages helped to temper disrespectful behavior. Of course, children were still found to commit crimes and hurt each other but the contempt for authority was not as strong as is found today.

a person in orange shirt with tattooed arms

Probation Services for Juveniles

Probation is a form of supervision for juveniles who are not required to stay in detention. When a youth is on probation they are supervised by an individual called a probation officer in most instances. The probation officer will do what is called a social history investigation in which they learn about the background of the youth who is on probation. The investigation can include such information as the crimes the youth committed, a list of friends and relatives, and demographic information.

Probation can serve many different purposes. For youths who did something wrong but it is not considered that serious by the local authorities, probation is the punishment for a crime committed. Probation is also for youths who may be facing a more serious punishment but are out on “bail” while they await their fate. Probation can also serve as a form of parole in some situations for youths who are being released from “prison” for whatever offense they committed. When a youth is released to a probation officer’s supervision this is also called aftercare.


While the youth is on probation certain rules have to be followed. Some of these rules include curfews, restrictions on travel, school attendance, and attending meetings with the probation officer. Failure to comply with these rules could lead to a warrant being issued for the arrest of the youth and possible placement in detention.

School is where teachers may be involved. It is not unheard of for probation officers to visit schools and talk to teachers. The probation officer may ask about attendance and or about academic progress as the are metrics for determining if the youth is cooperating or not.

Certain additional actions may be required as well. For example, at times youth are required to do community service, provide restitution to whoever was the victim of their crimes, and or undergo counseling. What forms of actions the youth has to perform really depends on the scope of the crimes they are accused of.

Philosophies on Supervision

Different states and people within juvenile justice have varying views on the role of probation. Some see probation as being a balanced approach between punishment and restorative views. In the minds of people who believe in a balanced approach, they are looking for probation to provide competency development, acountability, and community safety. An important function in a balanced approach would be community service as it holds a youth responsibility while also restoring community relationships.

Others hold to a punitive model, in this approach the goal is to punish the offender. Such a get-tough approach could involve the probation officer and even police coming to the youth’s home and explaining the rules of probation along with the consequences. The probation team may even search the home of the youth looking for violations of probation. Naturally, this approach often builds animosity between the youth and the probation officer.

Another view is called restorative justice. This approach involves a focus on repairing relationships within the community through mediation and meetings between the victim and perpetrator. The real goal of this approach is to empower the local community to deal with the inappropriate behavior of their youth. As such, this is often a team of probation and local community leaders who work together to help young people who have made mistakes. This approach sounds good on paper but the decline in community responsibility over the years makes it difficult to implement.


Probation has been around for over 100 years and is not going anywhere anytime soon. As such, there is a place for all of these approaches yet none have been consistently found to be superior to any other. Therefore, different approaches are appropriate for different situations.


Juvenile Facilities

Teachers may have to deal with students who have made major mistakes and are sent away for breaking the law. This post will provide insights into youths who are sent to these training schools because of mistakes they have made. Teachers, who have to deal with this have to be aware of the challenges of this young person as their life is put on hold for several months if not years.

State Training Schools

State training schools are the juvenile name for prison. Essentially, delinquents are sent her after their petition is found true (found guilty) and their disposition (sentencing) calls for this. Often these schools are built like adult prisons but sometimes a cottage system approach is used in which there is a form of dormitory style of living. The approach depends on the philosophy of the state of incarceration.


Within training schools, there is often an emphasis on academic and or vocational training. Other programs available can be remedial academic skills, life skills, and behavioral subjects such as anger management, drug abuse, and other programs. The primary goal is always to empower the delinquent to not return to the system by breaking the law again.

Some schools also place a strong emphasis on behavior modification. This can involve some sort of point system for desired behaviors. Examples include lining up properly, getting out of bed on time, etc. These points can be used for various privileges such as phone calls, watching tv, or some other desirable opportunity.

Profile of Typical Resident

Delinquents who are placed in state training schools often have certain characteristics. For example, mental health is a major concern. Approximately 70% of youths in the juvenile justice system have mental health concerns. Examples include depression, anger, and anxiety, to name a few. These problems are further exacerbated for students placed in a training school as placement in such a facility is usually due to serious infractions of the law.

The challenges with mental health can lead to serious repercussions such as suicide. The majority of juvenile suicides in confinement happen inside training schools. The most common method is hanging.

Youths who experience residential placement are also at a higher risk of victimization from other youths in the facility. Youths in placement fear such things as being attacked by other youths or even by staff members. Sexual assault is another concern of youth that can be perpetrated by other youths or staff members. Victimization can be further complicated by racial tension. Youths from different ethnicities will target and attack one another.

A unique problem of training schools is a lack of heterosexual physical contact. Researchers have found that youths will temporarily switch to same-sex companionship while at the training school to deal with this situation. Naturally, this is a controversial topic but there is some evidence to support this has happened in the past.


There have been calls to close down training schools. The argument is that they are an outdated form of helping delinquents who need intervention. However, there is room in the system for a variety of ways to help delinquents learn from their mistakes. Training schools are one method that is appropriate in some situations. It is equally harmful to remove training schools just as it is to send every youth to one of these whose mistakes warrant such an intervention.

brown wooden gavel on brown wooden table

Juvenile Court Process

In this post, we will examine the juvenile court process. This process is involved when young people commit crimes and they have to experience “the system” while legal experts try to work out what is best for those involved.

There are different ways to split up the process and explain it. However, for our purposes, we will divide the process into the following steps

  • Detention
  • Intake Decision
  • Adujdication and diposition

Each of the above bullets are explained below.


When a youth is accused of committing a crime and is detained by police one of the first questions to answer is where to keep them. The answer to this question is the first step in the juvenile court process and is called detention.


Essentially there are two choices, the youth stays in a government facility, which is called custody, or they stay at home. Approximately 1/4 of delinquents stay in custody and the rest and sent home. The decision for detention is the equivalent of a bail decision for an adult.

The people in charge of determining the type of detention are the probation officer and or prosecutors and the decision is made at a detention hearing. If a child is detained it is the equivalent of being sent to jail. Initially, the child will probably be kept in a county-run facility and this will change when the legal process is complete.

Once in detention, there are two common types and these are secure and non-secure. A secure facility is again more akin to jail. A non-secure facility is similar to a group home. There are no locks and the youth could run away with ease if they desired. Where a child is placed depends on the severity of the crime they are accused of.

Once a child is placed in a facility state governments usually offer some sort of treatment while sorting out the legal process. Examples include behavior modification, working towards a GED, and or vocational training. Any or all of these may be available in addition to other forms of treatment not mentioned.

Intake decision

Once the detention decision is made the next step in the process is called the intake decision. At this stage, the probation officer and or prosecutors decide if they will file a petition, which is the equivalent of pressing charges. Whether a petition is filed or not depends on the amount of evidence and consideration of what is best for all parties involved.

If a crime is serious enough it can be transferred or waived to adult court. The criteria for sending a youth to adult court varies from state to state but most if not all states have a process for doing this. Normally, only serious crimes are moved to adult court such as murder.

A child may not face a petition if the probation officer and or prosecutors choose a different route to complete the legal process. Another way to complete this process is called an informal adjustment. An informal adjustment is dealing with the accusations against the youth without a petition. For example, if a kid is caught making graffiti an informal adjustment may be that the child agrees to pay for the damages and repaint the wall.

Adjudication & Disposition

Once the court proceedings are complete the petition is found to be true or not true, which is the equivalent of guilty or not guilty. When the petition is found to be true another term for this is adjudicated.

Once adjudicated the youth then faces a disposition, which is the equivalent of sentencing. At this step of the process, the youth receives their “punishment.” The child could be committed to a state-run facility which is essentially prison, they could be placed on probation or a host of other options.

An interesting note, Plea bargains are also common among juveniles accused of crimes but jury trials are not. The reason for this is philosophical as many believe that juvenile court should be different from adult court due to the accused individual’s age.


The juvenile court process is unique. Hopefully, a young person never has to be involved in this system. However, for those who do make mistakes, this system is in place to try and help those involved.

man in black shirt and gray denim pants sitting on gray padded bench

Routine Activities and Rational Choice in the Classroom

Students and delinquents have many things in common. One thing they have in common is making poor decisions. This post will examine some theories of how youth and delinquents make choices. In particular, we will look at two theories found in the field of criminology and apply them to the classroom these theories are

  • Routine activities
  • Rational choice

Routine Activities

A theory on explaining poor decision-making is explained from the routine activities perspective. This theory states that it is normal behavior that contrivutes to criminal behavior for delinquents and perhaps bad behavior in the classroom.

According to this theory, several criteria help to predict a youth’s actions and they are.

  • The quality of the target- An easier target is more inviting than a difficult one
  • Level of motivation-If a youth is looking for trouble they can generally find it
  • Lack of supervision-If there are no authority figures nearby making a poor choice is easier.

In the classroom, these dynamics interact frequently. Disruptive students will look for other students who are easy to sway to join them and or are easy to pick on which is an example of quality. In terms of motivation, most teachers would agree a child can find a way to get into trouble if this is what they desire. Lastly, supervision is one of the main components of difficult behavior in the classroom. Some kids are impulsive and the level of supervision makes no difference. However, many kids will wait for when they believe they can get away with what they want to do.


The natural extension of routine activities perspective in terms of preventing poor behavior is to neutralize the three criteria listed above. For example, if a disruptive student cannot find quality targets it may help to eliminate poor behavior. One way teachers do this is by moving a difficult student to another part of the classroom or outside the class. When targets are gone behavior should hopefully be appropriate.

Motivation is the second criterion and this can be neutralized through appropriate disci[pline. For example, a behavioral approach would provide the appropriate reinforcement and punishment that will modify the behavior and or the motivation. When there is no longer a desire to act inappropriately because the stimulus is negative the poor actions of the youth may cease.

The last criterion was supervision. It is difficult to always have eyes on students. However, it is often more beneficial for students to think that the teacher is watching them at all times. The technical term for this is withitness which is an awareness of what is happening in the classroom at all times. Developing this ability takes experience but a teacher can never get into the “zone” when teaching because the students will notice the absentmindedness and move to make poor choices.

Rational Choice Theory

Rational choice theory is another view on decision-making. In this theory, delinquents decide to commit crimes based on opportunity and reward vs cost. These two criteria sound similar to the routine activities approach. However, rational choice theory takes into account that delinquents do not always plan their behavior carefully and that sometimes they are spontaneous in what they do. In other words, to assume completely random behavior and totally well-thought-out behavior from youth is unreasonable. Rather youths actions are somewhere between the two extremes of impulsiveness and calculation

In the classroom, this has played out before. Disruptive students look for opportunities and may consider the risk-reward factor. However, just as rational choice states students will not consider all the consequences of their actions.


What these two theories have in common is opportunity. Movement is one way opportunity arises. For example, if the teacher moves to the other side of the room it will provide an opportunity for a student to cause problems. The same if a victim walks into the wrong part of town. As people move around it provides and removes opportunities for criminal behavior or poor behavior in the classroom.

Off course, no single theory or several theories can explain everything about a phenomenon. The same idea applies in this context of trying to understand why youth and delinquents make poor choices.

eggs in tray on white surface

Interpersonal Maturity Levels and Delinquency

This post will look at a theory on development that is not often covered in teacher preparation courses. The theory we will look at is called Interpersonal Maturity levels and was developed in 1957 by Sullivan, Grant, and Grant in 1957. This continuum of maturity was developed primarily to explain delinquency. We will look at this theory within the context of delinquency and extend its use to the classroom.

Defining Interpersonal MAturity LEvels

  1. Level 1-A persons can discriminate between themselves and someone else
  2. Level 2-A person separates between persons and objects
  3. Level 3-Begin to learn rules and move within an environment
  4. Level 4-Begin to see things from another person’s perspective
  5. Level 5-Begins to notice patterns in behavior and roles in a society
  6. Level 6-Learn the difference between who they are and the function(s) they play
  7. Level 7-Learns and implements various methods for dealing with the world

Levels 1-3 are often related to babies and small children and don’t apply to delinquents. Delinquents are often found to be somewhere between levels 2 through 4. Level 4 is especially telling because it indicates a lack of empathy for others. Another important point is that youths who commit crimes are unsurprisingly not fully developed regarding their understanding of interpersonal relationships. They do not see how their actions are detrimental to other people.

The Classroom

Teachers may encounter these various levels of interpersonal maturity as well. Students who only care about themselves and their own pleasure are probably at lower levels of interpersonal maturity. Students struggling with their various societal roles and overcoming these challenges are probably at a higher level. Teachers need to be able to support students at different levels of interpersonal maturity to the benefit of the student and other students in the classroom.


Lower-level students will need to develop an awareness of the perspective of others. This could be achieved by asking them questions about how others perceive their actions. In addition, asking them reflective questions about their impulsive actions could help them become more mindful of the people around them.

Students who are more mature in terms of interpersonal relations need more help finding practical answer’s to life’s problems. Perhaps for them, modeling could be a good tool. Given that teachers are usually older and have more experience than their students, the teacher can offer life advice and share with the students how they faced similar life challenges at their age.


No theory explains everything about a phenomenon. INterpersonal maturity plays a role in delinquent behavior. The ideas presented here help people to understand why young people choose to disobey. Since teachers deal with delinquent young people, it is possible that this theory’s ideas can help them understand we kids disobey in the classroom.

a person in orange shirt with tattooed arms

Early Developments in Juvenile Justice

A history of the development of various juvenile justice facilities will be conducted in this post. Understanding the development of how leaders have addressed crime by young people will help current practitioners and educators to learn the lessons of the past.

Brief History

For most of human history, children were held to the same standard of behavior as adults. This was especially true if a child survived infancy and reached age 5 or 6. The reasons are severalfold. For example, there was a great deal of infanticide in some cultures in the past because of the burden of child-rearing. Abandonment was another strategy parents used to get rid of children. Parents would leave their baby at a hospital or church. At this time, killing a baby was acceptable.


Once a child reached the age of 5 or 6 and began to lose their baby teeth, they would be viewed as little adults. Children from lower-class families would enter trades as apprentices. As they grew, sometimes children made mistakes with the law. If this happened, children had no special consideration and were held to the same laws and punishments as adults. The idea of childhood emerged in the 16th or 17th century.

Institutions for Juveniles

With the rise in the view that adults and children are different came the idea that youths need to be dealt with separately from the adult population of criminals. For example, London developed the Bridewell Institution in 1555 to address children beggers. At this institution, students were trained in developing skills they could use once released. The motivation was that youths needed a change in their environment to change their behavior.

The next major step in developing institutions for juveniles was houses of refuge. These were established in the United States in the 1820s. The goal was to pull kids out of a negative crime environment into a positive environment for them. Kids were given apprenticeships as a way to develop job skills.

Despite the attempts of the houses, there were problems. Kids were abused in their apprenticeships. There was constant overcrowding. Lastly, these institutions developed spaces to keep adult and juvenile offenders. Mixing populations is generally frowned upon.

In response to the problems at Bridewell, Massachusetts opened the Lyman School for Boys around 1848. The main innovation of this group was the abolishment of mixing adults and children in the same population. The motivation behind this was again to avoid mixing the populations.

By the mid-1800s, new ideas began to emerge. One example is the cottage. The idea was to place juveniles with surrogate parents in the countryside. This experience was meant to copy the traditional family life with the same ideas of love ad discipline. With time these cottages became overcrowded as the delinquent population grew.

Around the same time (1840’s), probation developed. Probation served as a way to collect information on youth and to provide alternative ways to help youths. Originally, probation was developed for adults but was adopted by juvenile justice to help young people.


One lesson that can be gleaned from this article is that the problems continue to be the same. Crime, overcrowding, and supporting youths are all problems one finds today. Therefore, looking at the past will often reveal today’s problems.


Juvenile Justice System for Teachers

The juvenile justice system has its origins dating back to the early 20th century in the US. There are several differences between how states deal with juveniles who commit crimes and adults who commit crimes. We will explore some of the reasons for these differences below and look at the major structures of the juvenile justice system. There are times in which teachers may have to deal with students who have had experiences with law enforcement. Therefore, educators need to be familiar.

Brain Development

A major difference between adults and juveniles is brain development. The mind of a teenager is still under construction, and this process may last into their late twenties. With the lack of reasoning skills and experience combined with a fully functional body, young people can sometimes make poor choices.

A major concern of law enforcement agencies focusing on youth is that young people do not get stuck in the system. For this reason, extra is taken to ensure a poor decision at 15 does not become a curse for the offender’s life.


One advantage to the lack of being fully developed mentally for youth offenders is that it is still easier to turn their lives around. A hardened criminal in his 30s is likelier to stay that way than a 15-year-old kid who did something stupid on a dare. Given their youth, it is easier to guide them in the right direction if proper intervention is taken.

Therefore, a young person’s lack of experience and maturity can be a blessing and a curse. In terms of pros, if a juvenile makes a mistake, it is easier to get their life back on track. However, in terms of cons, the lack of experience means they may not think things through before making a poor life-altering choice.

The System

If a child is accused of a crime, they must be provided with the following information

  • The charges against them
  • Fifth amendment rights
  • Right to a lawyer (for free if necessary)
  • Right to confront witnesses

All of the above are similar to the rights of adults. In addition, juveniles cannot be tried twice for the same crime.

The language used in the juvenile system is slightly different from the adult system. Below are some examples.

  • The word “guilty” or “convicted” is not used; instead, the word “responsible” is
  • There are no “indictments”; rather, the word “petition” is used
  • Juveniles do not plead guilty or not guilty instead, they admit or deny the petition
  • The phrase “found guilty” is not used; instead, the phrase “petition found true” is
  • There are no “trials”; instead, they are called “adjudication.”
  • Juveniles are not “sentenced”; instead, there is a “disposition.”

These terms are used to reduce the risk of the youth being labeled as a criminal. For teachers, these terms are somewhat confusing but it is important to understand them in order to communicate with law enforcement agents.

When a youth is arrested, they are taken to a detention center (jail) for youth offenders. It varies from state to state, but generally, there must be a hearing to determine if the youth needs to stay in the detention center or can go home within 48 hours of their arrival. During this time, the youth will have various forms completed and work with an intake officer who can make recommendations to the judge about what to do with the child. Often, suppose the offense is not serious, and the child is not a repeat offender. In that case, they will be released to their parents until the prosecutor decides whether to file a petition.

If the offense was small, a petition is never filed, which is an example of an informal way of handling the situation. The intake officer or a counselor will deal with the infraction through other means such as community service. Another option is a diversion program. Diversion programs are services offered to the child in place of going to a youth facility (juvenile prison). The goal is always to keep kids out of the system as much as possible. In all of these examples, the youth must admit the wrong they committed to avoid a formal petition.

If a petition is filed formally, the process is similar to an adult trial. If the youth is found responsible, there must be a disposition to determine the punishment. The youth could be placed in the youth facility, moved to foster care, or face various forms of psychological testing to determine what mental health interventions are needed. Lastly, probation is also offered in which a juvenile is supervised by a probation officer for a set period of time. If the juvenile breaks any probation expectations, they could face a warrant for their arrest.

If the offense a child commits is serious enough, they can be tried as an adult. Examples include murder, rape, kidnapping, and other serious offenses. Often multiple crimes are committed at once, pushing the offense into adult court. For example, a male commits kidnapping and rape against the same person. Generally, the minimum age for trying someone as an adult is 14.


When young people make mistakes, teachers need to be able to support them by making adjustments to the academic expectations when possible. Students on probation or facing a judge have much larger problems than they are facing in comparison to learning algebra or writing an essay. In addition, the teachers may need to work with the probation officers to provide evidence the youth is meeting the judge’s expectations.

flight nature fashion man

Alternative Views on Criminology

Some views on dealing with crime are sometimes considered fringe by people. Two examples of this are left realism and peacemaking theory. In this post, we will take a look at each of these approaches to criminology.

Left Realists

Left realists disagree with how people who are more conservative than them on crime issues address and handle crime. Specific examples of what left realists disagree with are longer prison sentences for offenders and reducing social programs. In addition, left realists also disagree with people on the same side of the political spectrum in terms of seeing the problems in a Marxist’s critical criminology worldview.


Left realists agree that criminals should be held accountable for their actions. However, it is also important to recognize the oppression of society as found in the current government structure and economic forces. Furthermore, legal realists are concerned for the poor because they often live in high-crime neighborhoods and are thus more commonly found victims.

Left realists are pragmatists who do not see law enforcement as oppressors but still want to adhere to some of the ideas of social justice. For example, a left realist would encourage civilian oversight of the police. This includes the community in the workings of law enforcement without removing the presence of law enforcement in the community.

Peacemaking Theory

Peacemaking theory is based on the ideas of love and compassion as found in many different religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. Proponents of this theory believe that love and forgiveness are tools for overcoming crime in society.

For example, to lock someone behind bars for committing a crime, the system makes the same mistake as the prisoner. Instead of justice, society should try connecting with communities and working towards restoration. Violence causes violence is a core tenet of peacemaking theory.

Defining the police is an idea that is based on peacemaking theory. The idea is that since the police practice violence, it is actually causing violence. Therefore, if the police are defunded or eliminated, it will lead to a decline in criminal behavior, and everyone will be safe. That is also why such ideas as having unarmed community peace officers was encouraged as a form of reform because officers with guns cannot commit the same level of violent acts as armed officers.

One of the most common criticisms of peacemaking theory is that it is idealistic and naive. Generally, it takes a two-way relationship to encourage love. The problem is that criminals are often not loving and compassionate. The evidence for this is due to how they rob, steal, and kill their fellow man. Police officers seem to show much more compassion and love when they defend the powerless against criminal behavior.

Non-violent behavior is an excellent strategy in non-violent situations. However, suppose a criminal is a threat to society. In that case, the threat should more than likely be neutralized, if necessary, by violent means to show compassion and care to the innocent people who may suffer from the criminal’s behavior.


The ideas found here may be considered unusual, but this does not imply that they cannot be useful. What determines what is appropriate is the context and situation a person faces. There are times when compassion may reach a criminal, and there are also times when force is most appropriate. The real goal is to have options in the table so the system can choose what is best for that particular situation. No single-size approach or theory will work in every single situation because people are different.

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Critical Criminology

Critical criminology, is an umbrella term for theories related to crime that challenge traditional power structures. Without making sweeping generalizations, whenever the word critical is involved in discussing belief systems it normally implies a examining and attempt to breakdown societal structures.

Critical criminonolgy, as with almost all critical studies, is rooted in the writings of Karl Marx. Marx challenged that the working class should over through the owners of production. This idea of challenging the system has been expanded in many different directions such as Queer studies (challenging power structures concerning sexuality), critical race studies (challenging power structures concerning race), critical pedagogy (challenging to power structures within education), fat studies (challenging power structures concerning obesity), to even radical femnism (challenging power structures in relation to the role of women in society). What all these different critical studies have in common is that the haves use their power to control society around

Labeling Theory

Critical criminonlgy focuses on the power structure between the haves and haves not in relation to the justice system. For example, labeling theory suggest that people in power decide what is considered acceptable behavior in order to control others. An example that took place before labeling theory was developed but provides a strong illustration is prohibition. With one stroke of the pen, the government was able to suddenly make millions of criminals overnight. Bootleggers were deemed troubemakers and some faced consequences if caught.

When people are labeled criminals it can make them a criminal in a form of self-fulfiling prophecy. ONce labeled, a person may begin to commit more crimes because of there label and thus are rejecting the society that has labeled them a criminal. This is one reason why at the juvenile level the terms used for dealing with young people are different in the legal and there is often an effort to seal recorded so that the youth does not pick up a label that could be detrimental to their adult life

As fascinating as labeling theory is it is not without its critics. Critical theories in general have a cosnipritoral air to them. In other words, almost anybody who is a part of the system in a successful manner is looking to hold down and destroy minorities. THis is an oversimplification at the least. In all societies you will find people in privilege position who help and also harm minorities. IN addition, many of the laws on the books are laws that society agrees with such as laws against murder, rape, robbery, etc. Although a disproportionate group of people are arrested for these crimes it does not suggest that these laws were developed to arrest one race or class of people.

Critical Feminist THeory

Critical eminest theory holds the view that men oppress women and that men abuse their power to hold women down. From a crime perspective, women are frequently the victims of crime at the hands of men because of patriarchal norms in society. ONce women have equal access to jobs and education there will be a decline in violent crimes against women.

Some proponents of critical feminst theory also claim that the patriarchal system has held women back from committing crimes. The claim is that because women were trapped in the home with family they lacked the opportunity to comitt crime. In addition, men and women are socialized differently as children. Men are trained to be aggressive and domineering while women are often taught to be submissive. THis in part according to critical feminest are some fo the reasons why men commit why more crimes than women.

Whether this is reasonable or not there is evidence that as society achieves the equality that critical feminst desire there has been a corresponding rise in the crime rate of women. It is difficult to say if this is something that should be celebrated.


Critical studies is looking to explain the oppression found in sooeity through examining the difference in power that is found between group. In general, oppression is primarily caused by differences in power. Despite the fact that there has always been found differences in power in most societies throughout human history critical studies holds fast to this idea as the main cause of suffering in the world today. Within critical criminology the focus is placed upon the difference in power in relation to law and justice.

Critical criminology is an umbrella term for theories related to crime that challenge traditional power structures. Without making sweeping generalizations, whenever the word critical is involved in discussing belief systems, it normally implies an examination and attempts to break down societal structures.

Critical criminology, as with almost all critical studies, is rooted in the writings of Karl Marx. Marx challenged that the working class should overthrow the owners of production. This idea of challenging the system has been expanded in many different directions, such as Queer studies (challenging power structures concerning sexuality), critical race studies (challenging power structures concerning race), critical pedagogy (challenging power structures within education), fat studies (challenging power structures concerning obesity), to even radical feminism (challenging power structures concerning the role of women in society). All these different critical studies have in common that the haves use their power to control society.

Labeling Theory

Critical criminology focuses on the power structure between the haves and haves, not concerning the justice system. For example, labeling theory suggests that people in power decide what is considered acceptable behavior to control others. An example that took place before labeling theory was developed but provided a strong illustration is prohibition. With one stroke of the pen, the government suddenly made millions of criminals overnight. Bootleggers were deemed troublemakers, and some faced the consequences if caught.


When people are labeled criminals, it can make them a criminal in the form of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once labeled, a person may begin to commit more crimes because of their label and thus are rejecting the society that has labeled them a criminal. This is one reason why at the juvenile level, the terms used for dealing with young people are different from the legal, and there is often an effort to seal recorded so that the youth does not pick up a label that could be detrimental to their adult life.

As fascinating as labeling theory is, it is not without its critics. Critical theories, in general, have a conspiratorial air to them. In other words, almost anybody who successfully participates in the system is looking to hold down and destroy minorities. This is an oversimplification, at the least. In all societies, you will find people in privileged positions who help and also harm minorities. In addition, many of the laws on the books are ones that society agrees with, such as laws against murder, rape, robbery, etc. Although a disproportionate group of people is arrested for these crimes, it does not suggest that these laws were developed to arrest one race or class of people.

Critical Feminist THeory

Critical feminist theory holds the view that men oppress women and that men abuse their power to hold women down. From a crime perspective, women are frequently the victims of crime at the hands of men because of patriarchal norms in society. Once women have equal access to jobs and education, there will be a decline in violent crimes against women.

Some proponents of critical feminist theory also claim that the patriarchal system has held women back from committing crimes. The claim is that because women were trapped in the home with family, they lacked the opportunity to commit crime. In addition, men and women are socialized differently as children. Men are trained to be aggressive and domineering, while women are often taught to be submissive. This, in part, according to critical feminists, are some of the reasons why men commit why more crimes than women.

Whether this is reasonable or not, there is evidence that as society achieves the equality that critical feminists desire, there has been a corresponding rise in the crime rate of women. It is difficult to say if this is something that should be celebrated.


Critical studies look to explain the oppression found in society by examining the difference in power between groups. In general, oppression is primarily caused by differences in power. Even though there have always been differences in power in most societies throughout human history, critical studies hold fast to this idea as the main cause of suffering in the world today. Within critical criminology, the focus is placed on the difference in power concerning law and justice.

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Social Theories and Criminal Behavior

This post will look at various social theories that try to explain criminal behavior. In addition, when possible, we will tie these theories to the classroom context.

Differential Association Theory

Differential association theory states that children learn their values from close family and friends. Of course, this can be good or bad. If the family are law-abiding, productive members of society, the child may absorb these traits. However, if the child comes from a home of drugs and violence, they may absorb these norms of disruption.


Whether the behaviors the child absorbs are positive or negative, the child will make excuses or justifications for their adopted behaviors. For example, a drug-dealing child may justify their behavior because they are trying to make a little money, and it is not a big deal if people do drugs a little here and there. The straight-A student will justify their behavior by stating they have a chance at going to a good college and finding a good-paying job. IN other words, rationalization can be used to justify positive and negative behaviors.

Neutralization Theory

Developed in the 1950s, neutralization theory states that criminals go back and forth between criminal behavior and obeying the law. For example, a drug dealer may legally choose to buy food from the grocery store. IN other words, even though this person has no respect for law and order, he may choose to buy groceries legally. It may appear contradictory that a criminal would buy groceries legally when they are a drug dealer, but the catch is that neutralization theory states that crooks mistakenly believe they are normal members of society.

The neutralizing of this theory happens when the perpetrators of crime deny their criminal behavior in one of five ways.

  • Denies responsibility
  • Denies harm
  • Denies the Victim
  • condemns people of power
  • Appeals to a higher authority

Many of the bullets above are self-explanatory. Denying responsibility is claiming that whatever happened was an accident. For example, someone steals some money and says it wasn’t their fault. Denying harm is excusing criminal behavior because of a false perception it doesn’t hurt. For example, saying stealing a little bit is okay if it’s not too much. Denying the victim is rationalizing that the victim deserved what happened to them.

Condemning people of power is seeing all people of authority as corrupt. This neutralization technique has been popular in the media and protesting as of late to justify destructive behavior and emotional outbursts. Lastly, appealing to a higher authority is the claim that a person makes that they committed a crime for some greater good. For example, a man is stealing money from a company to help his family.

These are all excuses that students generally make when they break the rules and or classroom policies. They will deny responsibility, deny harm, deny the victim, attack the teacher, and blame friends.

Containment Theory

Containment theory states that external and internal pressures can lead a person towards crime or breaking the rules and containments that pressure an individual to not go in that direction. External pressures can include such things as friends and media, which have a negative influence on the individual. Internal pressures are often personality traits that are considered negative such as a lack of self-esteem.

Containments restrain negative behaviors and can be external or internal. External containment is essentially the opposite of external pressures and can include good friends, strong family, and positive media choices. Internal containments are also personality traits and can include strong self-esteem rather than weak.

Again the ideas of containment theory seem to mirror what happens in the classroom. Children with many negative external pressures and few containments will generally cause more disruption. Naturally, it is not this simple in the real world, but this theory provides a platform for trying to explain poor behavior.

Social Bond Theory

Social bonds are relationships that restrain someone from criminal behavior. This theory is similar to the containment theory, but nevertheless, it has four components

  • Attachment
  • Commitment
  • Involvement
  • Belief

People attached to a family, friends, and or institution, such as the church, have positive roles in their life that make it harder to commit crimes. Commitment is how invested a person is in society. People with something to lose will generally be less likely to commit crimes. For example, people who have good jobs and families will often commit fewer crimes than single unemployed ma. The difference is not just financial but the fact that the person with a good job has more to lose from criminal behavior.

Involvement is time spent in community development. Community involvement develops relationships, and these social relationships restrain criminal behavior. Lastly, beliefs are associated with attitude. Each of these components aligns well with students and their tendency to break the rules in the classroom.


Why people break laws and or rules will never be fully explained. People will always find ways to do what they want. The ideas presented here are just another way to explain unacceptable behavior. For the teacher, these theories can provide insights into students’ motivations for obeying the rules.

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Theories on Society’s Role in Crime

In this post, we will look at theories that attempt to explain the role of society in motivation for committing crime. These theories are some of the older foundational theories commonly found in an introductory text to the subject.

Social Disorganization Theory

Social disorganization theory was developed within the Chicago School of criminology in the 1920s. The major contributors were Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay. The main contribution of this theory was identifying the relationship between crime and the neighborhood. More crime will occur in neighborhoods with abandoned buildings, lousy schools, and high unemployment.

When schools are poor and buildings are abandoned, the families with the means will leave. The danger of families leaving the neighborhood is that it weakens social ties within the community, which can limit crime. In other words, when there is a physical decline in the neighborhood, there is a corresponding social decline in the neighborhood.


Social disorganization theory is still influential in policy-making today. For example, gentrification is an attempt to revive rundown neighborhoods. Although this practice is highly controversial, it is an attempt to organize an area considered disorganized by some.

Anomie Theory

Robert Merton developed Anomie theory in 1938. This theory states that there is a difference between what a person wants and what they can achieve. This difference is anomie or a strain on the person. When people fail to achieve what they want by proper means, they will turn to crime to achieve these things instead.

The dilemma, according to Merton, is that society imposes an expectation of material wealth on people. To compound this problem, only certain maneuvers are approved for an individual to make money. For example, we have all heard the story of going to college, getting a good job, working hard for 35 years, and retiring. For some people, this route does not work, and thus they look for shortcuts to achieve what they want.

Examining the life of many criminals proves Merton’s theory. The person who grows up poor has few opportunities to get ahead the traditional way and thus turns to crime. Obviously, the person wasn’t stupid because building a drug cartel is not easy. However, Merton’s theory breaks down when one realizes that despite crime being higher among the poor, the typical poor person does not commit crimes. Therefore, like most theories, Merton’s theory does not explain all criminal behavior.

Anomie theory can also be applied to social classes beyond the poor. For example, many white-collar crimes are committed by people already considered successful financially. The problems these people thought they had was that they needed even more money for an even more lavish lifestyle or perhaps for the challenge of acquiring wealth.

Sometimes strains can be external. For example, parents lose their jobs, pushing them and their children into crime. Drugs and alcohol can also introduce strains into a situation, pushing people into making poor choices. Another application of anomie theory is the role of certain social institutions. For example, religious practice has been found to help people to focus on other things besides wealth. If the local church has lost its influence, it may no longer serve as a conduit to encourage people to think beyond money.


Crime has and will always be a problem. THeories will try to explain crime, but no single theory can explain every motivation for crime. What this means is that there is no single answer for preventing crime. Therefore, a multitude of theories with a multitude of solutions may be a necessary approach to addressing this issue

person wearing black watch holding brown wooden table

Theories on Crime and Student Misbehavior

In this post, we will look at on theory used in criminal justice to explain criminal behavior. However, we will also see how this theory applies in the classroom context. However, first, we will look at ta foundational theory related to this topic called Classical Theory.

Classical Theory

The ideas of classical theory were formed in part by Cesare Beccaria in his 1764 essay On Crimes and Punishments. In this essay, Beccaria makes several arguments against how criminal justice took place in the 18th century. At that time, a judgment could be arbitrary, was not done fairly by class, and had harsh punishments for various minor crimes.


This criticism supported banning torture, clearly delineating laws, and educating the public about those laws. The additional influence of this movement is the development of the US Constitution’s 8th amendment, which bans cruel and unusual punishment. To make this as simple as possible classical theory calls for punishments that fit the crime. How this applies varies, but it is a core principle. In addition, this idea has been discussed in classroom management. Teachers have to ensure that students’ discipline is not excessive or too weak.

Rational Choice Theory

Rational theory posits that criminals think about their actions and weigh the pros and cons of their decisions. This does not suggest that the criminal makes the best decision, but it does imply a thought process and thus allows for people should be held responsible for the results of this process.

Like any other theory, rational choice explains criminal behavior sometimes. Some criminals think things through before committing a crime, while others have no plan or thought behind their actions. This is true, especially in situations involving drugs and alcohol and domestic disputes, which are often dangerous. In addition, we have all had to weigh whether doing something questionable is okay. Another name for this experience is called temptation.

In the classroom, students always make choices involving a thought process and/or their emotions. Often for kids, the question is whether o, not they can get away with the behavior. Students will often play games of probability, rolling the dice to see if they can get away with breaking the rules. However, due to their inexperience, they often miscalculate or, in some cases, they really don’t care what will happen if they are wrong.

Crime Detterants and Rational Choice

For people in the criminal justice field and teachers in the classroom, supporters of rational choice theory believe that harsh punishments deter crime or poor behavior. Both teachers and criminal justice professionals can rely on the disappointment of family and friends and a general sense of right and wrong when they appeal to students committing crimes. Such arguments are examples that come from a position of rational choice.

Another application of rational choice theory is harsh punishments. The thinking goes that if the punishment is cruel enough, thinking people will choose to not break the law or violate the rule in the case of the students. However, people still commit horrific crimes despite being fully aware of the consequences. This idea does not always work, but it sometimes does.


People will make bad choices throughout their life the question why? Classical theory and rational choice theory show humans as thinking, rational animals. This is not incorrect but is also not the full answer. Therefore, it’s important to continue exploring this phenomenon to benefit those affected by crime or poor student behavior.

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Factors Leading to Crime

Studies of the demographics of convicted criminals have led to several insights into traits that put a person at a higher risk of committing crimes. IN this post, we will look at various demographic traits that put a young person at risk of committing crimes.


Young adults ages 18-21 are leaders statistically in acts of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Since people have a tendency to commit crimes against peers, teenagers and Young adults are victims of crimes at a disproportionate rate. People ages 12-24 make up 22% of the population yet commit 35% of the murders and 49% of all victims of serious violent crimes. In other words, not only are young people generally more dangerous, but they are also at a higher risk of suffering from a violent crime.


There has been speculation as to why young people are more prone to criminal behavior. Among some of the ideas are the lack of experience and the inability to weigh the consequences of poor choices. In addition, young people often have the freedom of adulthood without the corresponding responsibilities such as career and family. Lastly, given their inexperience, young adults are still determining their own limits and the limits of the society in which they live.


When it comes to crime, men are the primary perpetrators. For example, 74% of all arrests were men in 2019. The only crime in which women outperform men in terms of arrest is prostitution, in which 67% of the arrest are women while 33% are men. The only category in which there is any balance in terms of arrest are several white-collar crimes such as fraud (60% men vs. 40% female) and embezzlement (51% male vs. 49% female).

The reason for this difference is not clear. Traditionally, men have been more physically aggressive and less risk-averse than women. In addition, there are known hormonal differences between men and women as well when examining things such as testosterone and estrogen. For students, this implies that a young person is likelier to be without a father than a mother. This can have consequences regarding behavior and a general need for attention.


An individual’s economic situation is yet another factor in criminal behavior. About 76% of men and 85% of women in prison made less than $38000 per year before being sent to prison. Anything below $32000 is considered poor. Keep in mind that it is difficult to track the income of criminals and that the cutoff is being pulled to the right by the occasional drug kingpin and white-collar crook.

The poor are also victims of crime at a higher rate, with about 63% of violent crimes being perpetrated against poor and low-income people. A tanking economy and job loss can sometimes motivate undesirable behavior that could also have legal ramifications for people. This is important because adult criminals often have children who go through the school system without parental support.


Race is another controversial factor in terms of criminal behavior. Among juveniles, blacks comprise 34% of all arrests. Half of all violent crimes are committed by blacks, even though blacks make up about 12% of the population.

Many contests such numbers and blame such behavior as racial profiling by the police. However, explaining any behavior or number with one factor is never simple or easy. AS such, it is not completely clear why there is such a disparity in criminal behavior based on race. Relating this to students may imply that students of color may need more assistance from teachers as they are more likely to have committed or know somebody who has committed a crime.


High school dropouts are ten times more likely to go to prison when compared to college grads. Furthermore, states with higher levels of educational attainment have corresponding lower levels of crime. Generally, more education implies better jobs for people.

For students, opening their eyes to the benefits of education can keep them off the streets. In addition, some young people may be at a higher risk if they come from a home that does not value education.


Lastly, religion plays a role in preventing crime. Adolescents who attend a religious service weekly have lower rates of shoplifting, assault, and theft when compared to students who never attend a religious service. With religious activity comes a decrease in criminal activity.

One theory behind this is the hellfire hypothesis which implies that people avoid various criminal activities for fear of angering whatever higher power they follow. IT should also be noted that many religions discourage criminal behavior while encouraging respect for local authorities.


The traits shared here are not self-fulfilling prophecies. Young people do not have to commit crimes, nor do men or people who did not attend college. On the other hand, being older, female, or religious does not mean that a person is not capable of breaking the law. Trends found in data are different from individual choice.

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Juveniles and Property Crimes

Property crimes are a common form of delinquency among young people. Theft, in general, leads to over 80,000 arrests each year. Theft can cover many crimes such as car stealing or taking items from another person’s home. In this post, we will examine some common ways young people are involved in property crimes.


Shoplifting is a common crime among youth but not as common as one would think. Approximately 25% of all shoplifters are juveniles, meaning most shoplifters are not children. However, about 47% of high school students have admitted to shoplifting something within the past year. This implies that juveniles are not caught at the same rate at which they steal and that juveniles are better at getting away with shoplifting than adults. Shoplifters are rarely caught, with only 5-10% being apprehended.


When people, including juveniles, are caught shoplifting, they often share such excuses as “it was an accident” or “the item is actually mine.” Of course, this doesn’t work, and now the youth is facing some consequences. Usually, the punishment is not that serious. In some states, small-time shoplifting is not enforced. In other states, the penalty can be a fine and or time spent in jail.

Auto Theft

Stealing cars is another common property theft crime for youths. In 2019, about 13,000 juveniles were arrested for auto theft. Juvenile often steals cars for rather superficial reasons. For example, it is common for young people to steal cars for the adrenaline rush of committing a crime. Another common reason is just for a joy ride. In other words, young people often steal cars for fun.

This is not to say that there is never a financial motivation for stealing cars. Adults often steal cars for momentary gain through selling the car and or the parts that make up the car. For whatever reason, the penalties for auto theft can range from up to two years in prison and or up to $10,000 in fines.


In 2019, 31,000 juveniles committed vandalism. Unlike the other examples of property crimes mentioned earlier, there appears to be no financial motivation for committing vandalism. Youths often vandalize property to express themselves, boredom, as a form of expression, and to join a gang or peer pressure.

Vandalism can lead to fines and or up to one year in jail. Vandalism can be classified as a felony if the act is serious enough.

General causes of property crime

The root causes of property crime are often the same as the root cause of most problems. Family issues are one of the main factors for crime. Youths from broken homes are missing the care and attention they need to make wise choices.

Another common cause of property crime is drug use. For example, a young person may turn to theft to fund a drug habit. In either case, there are motivating factors for the poor decision-making of many youth offenders.


Property crimes are one of many crimes that plague society today. People have their motivation for doing this even if committing propriety crimes is not the best decision. The unfortunate consequences can and do, at times, complicate a person’s life going forward.

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Causes of Youth Violence

It is not a secret that sometimes youths make poor decisions, leading to them committing acts of violence. According to the CDC, acts of violence committed by youth cost over $100 billion annually. One example of violence committed by youth is simple assault which makes up over 40% of crimes committed by juveniles. Other crimes committed by young people include larceny, aggravated assault, vandalism, robbery, motor vehicle theft, and homicide. Given the nature of these crimes, we will look at some of the causes of youth violence.


A major factor in youth violence is drugs. Approximately 80% of minors in the juvenile justice system in the US committed their crime while under the influence of drugs or admitted to having a drug problem. In addition, between 1.9 and 2.4 million minors in the juvenile justice system have a drug problem.

Experts call this relationship between drugs and crime a psychopharmacological relationship because drug use was a factor in criminal behavior. Other crimes associated with drugs include:

  • The manufacturing of drugs.
  • Theft of drugs.
  • Scams.
  • Disputes over drugs.
  • The use of illegal drugs.

Among the legal charges, a youth can face from drugs includes drug possession, drug trafficking, and drug manufacturing. If they remain on a young person’s record, any of these charges can have long-term implications for education and job opportunities in the future. This all assumes that a juvenile does not lose their life from an overdose or experience related to drug behavior.

Family problems

Problems within the family can also lead to youth violence. Today, many homes no longer fit a traditional pattern of married biological parents supporting children. In addition, sexual abuse to about 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls in the USA. Furthermore, 90% of the victims experience this trauma at the hand of someone they knew.


The signs of sexual abuse are difficult to tell among teenagers as they vary wildly at this age. However, some things to look for are changes in behavior and emotions. The trauma they have experienced in their personal life could lead to poor choices in behavior outside of the home.

Single-parent homes can also lead to poor choices. For example, one study found that a 10 percent rise in the number of youths living in a single-parent home leads to a 17 percent jump in crime caused by juveniles. In general, as the family breakdown, there is an increase in the crimes committed by young people.

Mental Health

Mental health is another factor in criminal behavior among young people. About 65% of juveniles arrested for a crime have a mental health issue. About 1 in 7 of all young people, in general, have a mental health issue. Given the impulsive nature of teenagers, it should be no surprise how mental health issues can make things even worst.

Of course, the concepts influence each other. Drug abuse can lead to mental health issues, and mental health issues can lead to drug use. Crime can lead to drug use and or mental health issues and vice versa. Sexual abuse can lead to drug use and or health issues. These ideas are interconnected, but you have to decide what you are looking for when developing a model.


Young people face many challenges today. From broken homes to threats to their physical being to challenges with mental health, young people have to be vigilant. If a youth goes down the path of violence, it is always important to see what factors lead to such a faithful decision.

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Juveniles & Homicide

Homicide is the blanket term for the taking of life and encompasses both murder and manslaughter. Murder is, unfortunately, a crime that young people commit and is the taking of another person’s life with preplanned malice. In other words, murder is when a person plans to take another person’s life and successfully does it. IN contrast, manslaughter is taking a person’s life with no original intention of doing this.


Though it varies by state, murder can be broken down into first, and second-degree murder with capital and felony murder variants. First-degree murder is the intentional killing of another person. An example of this would be gang members eliminating an enemy.


Second-degree murder is the unplanned death of another person in which the perpetrator shows little or no regard for life. For example, shooting a gun into a crowd that causes death could be considered second-degree in many places, even if on accident. Felony murder is death that occurs when committing another felony, such as robbing a bank. The thief may not have planned to kill anybody, but there are consequences for this if it happens.

Lastly, capital murder is murder that can lead the murderer to lose their own life at the hand of the state and thus involves the death penalty. Examples of capital murder could be multiple murders at once, murder of a child, or murder of a law enforcement agent.

The penalties for juveniles who commit first-degree murder can go to life in prison without parole, but the death penalty cannot be imposed in many states. For second-degree murder, the penalty can be 15 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole.


Manslaughter is the accidental loss of life. The person who took life did not intend to do this. Drunk driving is a common reason for manslaughter to happen. In some places, manslaughter and second-degree murder are the same. Many of the same penalties may apply.

Negligent homicide involves a person who needed to be aware of the danger they were in but did not know this, and there was a loss of life. For example, a person driving drunk and who doesn’t run red lights or speed could still be found guilty of negligent homicide if someone dies while they are driving.


Among juveniles in 2019, about 900 homicides were committed. The most common age at which juveniles commit homicide is the age of 16 & 17. To put this into perspective, juveniles committed almost 700,000 crimes. We don’t want to make light of this, but homicide among youths is highly uncommon if these statistics are correct.


Homicide brings a lot of pain into the world today, unlike other crimes, such as theft, where the guilty party can restore what was lost. Homicide means the loss of a life that can never be repaid no matter what true remorse the guilty party shows. Therefore, respecting life is something that young people must learn so that they will not intentionally or unintentionally take life.

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Measuring Crime

A specific field in which statistics is used is the field of crime. IN this post, we will look at how researchers attempt to measure crime. Primarily we will look at issues with data collection and one of the main agencies for consolidating data regarding crime.

Data Collection

A major challenge in measuring crime is that not all crimes are reported. It is common for rape victims to avoid reporting what happened to them. Criminals are also usually reluctant to report crimes that happen to them. Petty and property crimes are also underreported. As such, the collected data does not fully represent crime in the actual world.


One source for criminal statistics is the Uniform Crime Report (UCR). Compiled by the FBI since 1930, the UCR gathers data from over 90% of all of the various police agencies in the USA. This report contains data from Part 1 crimes, which are generally serious crimes, including some of the following.

  • Murder, manslaughter
  • Forcible rape
  • Robbery, burglary
  • Arson
  • Various forms of theft (larceny, motor vehicle)
  • Gambling

Another hurdle to crime reporting to the UCR is that each agency must report the most single crime for each instance of criminal activity. For example, if multiple crimes are committed by one person in one instance, only the most serious offense is reported.

Arrests are also reported to the UCR. Collecting data on arrests helps agencies calculate a clearance rate and the percentage of crimes that lead to an arrest.

There can also be issues after a criminal is caught and does time. FOr example, in one county, a juvenile may commit a crime and get probation, but in another county, they may have to do time behind bars. This is partly due to various philosophies of judges and probation officers in dealing with crime. This makes a difference in criminal punishment based on philosophy rather than something less subjective.

Consumers of Crime Statistics

Policymakers often use the collection of criminal statistics to determine various laws and funding they want to provide to law enforcement agencies. One common problem is that consumers of crime statistics are not aware of the context in which the data is collected, leading to faulty conclusions.

For example, back in the 1990s, there was a dip in criminal behavior. A group of experts concluded that this dip in criminal behavior was due to changes in access to birth control in the 1970s. The thinking went that the birth of unwanted children in the 1970s prevented the birth of criminals who would have been terrorizing society in the 1990s.

The example above may be considered an extreme example, but this can happen when people place their interpretation on data without having a deeper understanding of how that data was collected. Given that crime statistics are not 100% reliable, strong conclusions should be guarded.


Despite these challenges, data on crime is needed. What is really important is that people avoid jumping to strong conclusions based on data known to have issues. Some insight into criminal behavior is better than none, but care and restraint are needed in the conclusions.

man in gray long sleeve shirt sitting on brown wooden chair

Crime Types and Students

Young people sometimes make mistakes and violate the laws of a country. Natural, this leads to consequences that vary based on the transgression. This post will look at various categories and types of laws.

Categories of Criminal Behavior

There are two broad categories where we can place crimes that young people commit. These categories are

  • Mala in see
  • Malum in prohibitum

Mala in se is Latin for “wrong by itself,” and these are crimes that people instinctively know are wrong. Examples are robbery, murder, and other acts viewed as heinous. However, people’s views on morality vary widely. Therefore, one basis for what is considered “instinctively wrong” is English and US Common Law.


Common law was developed through decisions made in the court system over hundreds of years. The opinions of judges became precedent for future decisions. Through this process, an idea of what and wrong has been developed, which is used now to determine when crimes fall in the category of mala in se.

The second category of crimes is malum in prohibitum, which translates from the Latin as “wrong when prohibited.” These crimes are not necessarily morally evil but are actions that need to be regulated. Examples of laws that fall within malum in prohibitum include laws related to various licenses people may need (driving, fishing, hunting, etc.), gambling, alcohol, and drug use. Again, many may disagree if these crimes are less harmful, but this is the example given.

Students have and will commit both categories of crime in the examples above. Students will willfully commit crimes obviously while also breaking laws that regulate less offensive behavior.

Types of Laws

After categories, laws are sometimes classified by type. Civil laws include property laws, contract laws, tort laws, and more. Civil laws often involve private parties, do not include the loss of freedom for the defendant, involve the defendant paying money if they lose in many situations, and do not have the same constitutional protections found in criminal cases.

On the other hand, criminal cases usually involve the government bringing formal charges against someone. There is a risk of the defendant losing their from if they lose, and the defendant has certain constitutional rights protecting them. Criminal law also requires actions and behaviors. In other words, the accused must be accused of doing something and not just thinking about it. For example, suppose a person sneezes while driving and someone is hurt in the accident. In that case, there is a chance that the sneezer will not be guilty of a crime because it is impossible to control when you sneeze.

Quality of Mind

The state of mind is also another significant factor in determining an individual’s guilt. There are four ways a person can commit a crime: intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, and negligently. AN intentional act means somebody committed a crime on purpose. Knowingly is obvious and states that a person was aware that what they were doing was a crime, such as breaking into a house and making jewelry.

Recklessness involves a person acting in such a way that is an obvious danger and a disregard for acceptable standards. For example, many people define driving 100 mph in a school zone as reckless. Lastly, negligence is when someone ignores an obvious danger when performing a certain activity, such as driving 100 mph and then hitting and killing someone.

Young people can be found in any state of mind mentioned above. Youths can be international, or they can be reckless or negligent, etc. We all make mistakes, but the stakes are much higher at the criminal level.


Young people will continue to make decisions that strongly impact their lives. Committing crimes is one thing that can have a lasting impact. Youths and teachers need to work together for the young people to develop decision-making skills that will allow them to avoid criminal acts.

bird s eye view of group of people

Crowds and Theories on Collective Behavior

This post will look at various types of crowds that we often find ourselves a part of at different times. In addition, we will look at two theories that attempt to explain the collective behavior that happens when crowds form.


A crowd is a group of people who are close to each other. There are several types of crowds. A casual crowd is a group of people who are together but not really interacting with each such as what one would find in a shopping mall. In the shopping mall, there are lots of people, but the interaction among the people is often limited to small groups.

A conventional crowd is a group of people who come together for a scheduled event. A common example of a conventional crowd would be people coming together for a religious service. In such an environment, the people have a general-purpose. There is generally more interaction because of the unity that a religious experience can often bring people.


An expressive crowd is a crowd that is together for an emotional purpose. Examples of expressive crowds can include such things as weddings and funerals. Lastly, an acting crowd is a crowd that comes together for a specific purpose or goal, such as a sporting event. Of course, these categories are artificial, and maybe an event may not fit neatly in anyone exclusively, but they do provide a way to organize large groups of people.

When people find themselves in crowds, they often exhibit the group’s norms, which is called collective behavior. For example, a perfectly rational individual will begin to act emotionally in a charismatic religious experience or will become violent within the context of a riot.

Emergent Theory

Several theories have attempted to explain how norms in crowds develop. Emergent norm theory states that people react to the crowd they are in with their own norms, which change as the crowd responds to different stimuli. For example, suppose people are angry and frustrated with the government. In that case, the group may believe that breaking and burning things is acceptable. Outsiders consider this lawbreaking, but for the people within the crowd, this is justifiable behavior in the face of injustice. In other words, the emergent theory attempts to explain that the behavior of a crowd is not irrational and unpredictable but rather a logical response to the current situation.

An example of such behavior can be found in the protesting in the US. People got together and began to break into buildings and steal and destroy property. Things individuals would have never done by themselves were brazenly done in a justified manner due to the perception of injustice.

Value-Added Theory

Value-added theory states that several conditions must be present for collective behavior as found in a crowd can take place.

  1. The first is structural conduciveness which means that people are aware of a problem and begin to gather together.
  2. The second is a structural strain which is people developing frustration over the unsolved problem.
  3. Third is growth and spread of disbelief which means the problem is clearly defined and blame is placed on an individual or group.
  4. The fourth condition is called precipitating factors, which is a trigger event that leads to collective behavior.
  5. The fifth condition is mobilization which involves the emergence of leaders to guide the crowd.
  6. The final condition is social control, and this involves the process of ending the collective behavior.

The protesting that has taken place in the US can also be explained from the perspective of value-added theory. A group of people gather together over a perceived injustice, they begin to get angry, they blame the people in positions of power, some starts to break, burn or steal something, more people follow this example and chaos breaks out, only after a time are the authorities able to end the carnage.

These conditions do not have to happen linearly, but most must be present for collective behavior to begin. For example, leaders can emerge at the beginning rather than the fifth condition.


The theories above try to explain from different viewpoints a phenomenon that most of us have experienced: the loss of self when moving in a crowd. The behavior of such crowds does not have to be negative, but it is negative behavior that is easier to notice compared to positive action. In whatever case, these theories do provide some insight into what can be a blessing or a curse.

cn tower in toronto

Demographic Theories

People have tried to explain population growth and decline for centuries. A major topic of controversy today is how to deal with an ever-increasing population. This post will look at several theories that try to address population growth.

Malthusian Theory

Thomas Malthus is famous for claiming that the Earth would lose its ability to sustain an ever-growing population. In his theory, Malthus claims three factors would limit the growth of humans on Earth. These three factors are war, famine, and disease. Malthus defined these three factors as “positive checks” because they increase mortality.

Malthus also defined “preventive checks” or factors that reduced fertility. These factors were birth control and celibacy. As resources were depleted, Malthus theorized that they would begin to fight wars, generally leading to famine and disease. As the fighting over resources continued, people would limit the children they have or even forgo marriage and having children together.


Malthus’s predictions turned out to be incorrect. There have been technological improvements that he could never have foreseen. These improvements in technology have not only increased food production but have also included treatments for diseases that used to kill.

However, Malthus was correct about preventive checks. In the western world and some parts of Asia (Japan, China, Singapore, and Thailand). Fertility rates have plummeted as people focus on careers and other things rather than raising a family. The general trend of the world is an increase in people, but this may change with time.

Zero Population Growth

A variation on Malthus theory was developed by Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich states that the environment and not food supply is the factor that determines the planet’s population. As more and more people abuse the environment, it endangers the human population.

Ehrlich’s solution to this problem is zero population growth which, as its name implies, that the number of births equals the number of deaths. No practical way has been found to do this, but this demographic theory is often associated with conspiracy theories of how the elite wants to limit population growth.

Cornucopian Theory

The opposite of Malthus and Ehrlich’s position would be cornucopian theory. This theory posits that human ingenuity can resolve whatever problems humans face. It is possible to cite human ingenuity examples that develop after a crisis, such as vaccinations. However, often by the time the breakthrough is implemented, the catastrophe has already done significant damage has already been done.

Not even the Black Death of the medieval period completely wiped out humanity. The cornucopian theory is always correct until something happens on Earth that wipes out human existence.

Demographic Transition Theory

Demographic transition theory takes a modeling approach to demographic change. Population growth follows four predictable stages in this theory, as explained below.

Stage 1: Births, deaths, and infant mortality are high with low life expectancy.

Stage 2: Birth rates are high while infant mortality and death drops with an increase in life expectancy

Stage 3: Birthrates decline for the first time while death rates continue their decline, life expectancy continues to increase

Stage 4: Birth and death rates keep falling, life expectancy peaks, the population stabilizes, and may start to decline.

These stages are often associated with industrialization. Many countries enter stage 2 when they begin to industrialize. A fully developed country is often found in stage 3, while a post-industrial country could be found in stage 4.


The question that perhaps everyone is wondering is perhaps how much more can the population grow on this planet? It may be impossible to know for sure. Every time it appears the Earth has reached its limit, new resources are discovered, and there is a boost in technology that makes it easier to continue life with whatever resources are available. A question such as this is one that experts will wrestle with for a long time.

tax documents on the table

Types of Government

In this post, we will look at different types of government.


Anarchy is defined as an absence of government. In practice, anarchies are for the short-term because eventually, from the chaos of a lack of government comes some sort of structure, whether it’s a dictator or king or some other form of government. There is always some ambitious, strong man looking to fill a power vacuum in a place of chaos.

Often after revolutions, there is a state of anarchy. The French Revolution was one example of chaos being the order until Robespierre came to power. The Russian Revolution of the early 20th century is yet another example. In both examples, there was a short period of chaos followed by a strong totalitarian reaction.


Monarchy is a government in which one person is in charge until they die or give up power. Often, the role of a monarch is hereditary but necessarily always. There is also a common claim of divine or supernatural approval. This was often the case in Europe, where monarchs frequently courted papal approval of their rule.


There are generally two types of monarchs. Absolute monarchs have complete power to do as they see fit. This still of government is rare because people generally do not appreciate being under the whim of anybody to such a degree. Many kings from medieval Europe were absolute monarchs.

The challenge of being an absolute monarch is not when things are going well. When there is peace and everybody is happy, the monarch gets all the credit because they are absolutely in charge. However, when things fall apart, the monarch also gets all the blame because they are absolutely in charge.

In addition, people, whether a monarch or not, can be capricious and unpredictable. If the monarch shows inconsistencies or weaknesses, people may try to remove them to protect themselves and their gains within the country. For example, Henry VI of England was removed several times because of the weakness of his character and mental instability. In other words, having this level of power is not as great as it seems.

Another form of monarchy is a constitutional monarchy. In this form of government, the monarch’s power is limited by the constitution. You would think that having a constitution limiting a monarch’s power would irritate them, and it has in some instances. However, the benefit of a constitution is that giving up some power can help a monarch stay in the position of privilege that they have because everything that goes wrong is not completely their fault. Many monarchies today are constitutional monarchies such as Great Britain, and often these monarchs are above politics, which makes it difficult to complain about them as they stay out of governmental decision-making for the most part.

However, even giving up power can lead to a monarchy being removed. Louis XVI of France and Czar Nicholas II of Russia both made reforms before being overthrown. On the other hand, the British monarchy has been stable for decades. therefore, there is no single strategy that can protect a government


Oligarch is government by a small elite. OFten these elites are rather sneaky and work behind the scenes. One reason for this is they do not want to be held responsible if something goes wrong. AS such, it is hard to tell when a country’s government is an oligarchy.

Members of an oligarchy tend to excel at one aspect of society or another. For example, they may be wealthy businessmen, military strongmen, or clergy members. Due to its mysterious nature, it is difficult for others to rise to membership in this exclusive and secretive club.


Dictatorship is power held by a single person. A dictator is different from a monarch because their power is not hereditary, and dictators often arise from a revolution to overthrow another government, so they avoid the word king even if they have the same powers. In other words, they are a king, but that word is not socially acceptable.

Dictators are normally charismatic leaders who rise to power on the back of the people. Once in place, they are looking to find ways to stay in power and are often worst than the people they overthrew. Pol pot of Cambodia killed millions of his own people, Hitler of Germany killed millions of Jews, Idi Amin ran his country into the ground. Each of these totalitarian dictators sought to control as much of the lives of the people under them as they could.


The most popular form of government is democracy. Democracy involves giving all citizens an equal voice in the government. These citizens then elect leaders to represent their interest in the government. In practice, this sounds great, but sometimes it can be frustrating.

People looking for a positi0n of power know that perception is more important than truth. As a result, it is common for politicians in democracies to try and find ways to manipulate their constituencies. Outlandish claims are made in the media; overt and covert lying occurs. All this is done in the name of democracy.

However, this only happens because the citizens often neglect to educate themselves about what is going on. Therefore, people cast votes for controversial topics they have not thoroughly investigated. The point here is not to criticize any position but to wonder if people have really thought about the position they support instead of the one they do not support.


Every form of government has its strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, there is no real benefit in raising one form over another. This is because governments are built upon people. If the people or not good, it doesn’t matter how good the government is.

gray concrete building

Authority Types

Various countries and governments have developed different forms of authority to maintain power and stability. This post will look at three common forms of authority found throughout the world.

Traditional Authority

As its name implies, traditional authority relies on tradition to maintain its power. Examples of traditional authority usually include monarchies such as those found in Europe at one time. People support the leader because this support has been given for a long time.

The actual leader often does not have power beyond people’s respect for them. The leader can often have a figurehead-type status while others exercise overt power. For example, it is common in many countries with traditional authority to have the monarch avoid politics and serve a ceremonial role.


A variation of traditional authority is called patrimonialism. Patrimonialism is a strong-man character who has a strong administration and military support. Some may see this as a form of military-backed dictatorship. The people under the supreme leader only have their privileges through their obedience and loyalty to the supreme leader.

Charismatic Authority

Charismatic authority generally involves an individual who gains power through the strength of their personality more than on any other single reason. Often this will happen during a time of crisis in which people are looking for help and or protection. One example of this would be Napolean Bonaparte, who rose to power in France after the French Revolution.

However, charismatic leaders often do not last long. There may be several reasons for this. The crisis may worsen, the leader’s shortcomings become more apparent over time, or someone even more popular arises to threaten the leader. These are not the only reasons, but they play a part in the demise of charismatic leaders. For example, Napolean’s shortcomings as a general were the primary reason for his downfall. Though one of the greatest generals ever, he was not perfect, and often leaders are expected to never fail.

Rational-Legal Authority

Rational-legal authority emphasizes laws, rules, regulations, and the office of authority rather than the individual person. Countries with constitutions are often inspired by rational-legal authority. For example, the United States is a strong example of rational-legal authority. They have a constitution and a new president every 4 to 8 years. The power lies within the office, and there is no idea of a single absolute authority but rather an emphasis on “we the people.”

With the focus on laws, all the lawmakers have to do is make illegal things legal and legal things illegal, and there will not be as much push-back from the people because they believe in the rule of law. Examples of this from the United States can include any controversial topic such as sexuality, taxes, reproductive rights, etc. Each of these examples involves actions that were legal, then illegal, or vice versa. In summary, whoever defines the laws appears to have the power in a rational-legal framework.


Countries require leadership, and leaders can have various forms of authority. The examples provided here are just some of the commonly seen options. Naturally, it would be an oversimplification to think that leaders and countries could not mix the examples above. For example, Cesar was charismatic and spent a lot of time passing various laws. The real point here is to be aware of these various styles.

family walking on path

Family Stages and School

Family is a term that is used but not necessarily agreed upon. In this post, we will look at views on family and the stages of family. Understanding the stages of family life will help teachers try to help parents.

Defining Marriage & Family

Family often begins with marriage, and defining marriage has been controversial for years now. Traditional marriage in the West generally involves people of the opposite sex who have some sort of a public ceremony. A family that is formed through marriage is called a family of procreation. Marriage can also be more complex. Some support having multiple partners, which is called polygamy or polyandry (multiple wives or husbands).


Despite being around since the beginning of time, people do not agree on what family is. One definition sees family as the blood relations a person has. However, many people do not grow up with blood relatives and thus may see adoptive parents or friends as family. Sociologists try to deal with this by speaking about a family of orientation which is the family in which one is born or raised.

Stages of a Family

There are seven common stages that a family goes through. Stage 1 is the marriage family and is usually childless. The couple is essentially newlyweds and has not had any children yet. Stage 2 is the procreation stage and involves having newborns to toddlers. This stage is a huge transition as the responsibility of parenthood has descended on a young couple.

Stage 3 is the preschooler family and goes from toddlers until 6 years of age. Generally, kids are not yet in school and spend most of their time at home or daycare. Stage 4 is the school-age family and goes from age 6-13. At this stage, children are in school, are more independent, and the parents can focus more on their jobs and career.

Stage 5 is the teenage family and goes from age 13-20. The children are adults who lack experience and need to be guided by their parents. As they push the limits, parents can begin to worry greatly about the young adults in their house. Stage 6 is the launching family and involves young adults leaving home. This can be extremely emotional as children leave home and parents have to deal with the separation from adult children. Lastly, stage 7 is the empty nest family, which is a family in which the children have grown up and moved away. Now that their children are adults, parents are left with a huge transition as they try to find other ways to invest their time.

Families and Education

The stages are useful but not always accurate. It is common to have children in various age categories simultaneously. For example, have a toddler and a teenager in the same house. Is such a family a preschooler or teenager family? It may not be clear, but perhaps the stage is tied to the individual child instead of the entire family.

For teachers, the stages of the family often involve them dealing with families from at least the stages 2-6. Parents will be in different stages with different children, which may impact whatever children the teacher is dealing with. For example, suppose a 10 year has an older sibling who is leaving for college. In that case, this could cause behavioral problems as the students struggle to accept this separation. In addition, if a 7-year-old now has a baby brother, this could also lead to problems as they adjust to less attention from their parents. These two examples don’t even consider the fracturing of a family through a divorce or the commonly found experience of single parents.


Teachers and families have to work together to help children. This is an idea that seems to have been forgotten over the years. With the challenges of moving through each stage of family life, teachers need to be aware and understand as they try to support the home.

crowd of people black and white photo

Terms Related to Social Stratification

Social stratification is the ranking of individuals using various factors such as wealth, income, education, etc. While I was preparing this post, I could not find any evidence of a classless society. In fact, some of the sources claimed that no such society as a classless one has existed. This implies that stratification is a natural part of human existence whether people like it or not.


What causes this is not always apparent. For some reason, people often like to exalt themselves and be above others. There is a tendency in some people to desire control and dominance. Sometimes people are chosen to be the leader or in a higher social position by others in the society. Leaders often fall into this category and can include politicians, clergy, and kings. Others gain a higher status through hard work, and people admire and appreciate this. For example, Napolean was able to rise through the ranks of the military due to his brilliant leadership and eventually became emperor.

There are also examples in history of people gaining power not just for selfish reasons but for personal protection from one’s enemies. Ceaser was truly driven by a desire to rule, but he also had enemies who were waiting for him to lose power so they could attack him through various legal means. Therefore, Ceasar looked for ways to maintain the leadership of provinces and be consul of Rome to maintain his legal immunity. Even when taking power, he generally would grant amnesty to enemies to avoid stirring up more enmity. However, as he became more powerful, he just became even scarier to the other elites who simply murdered him one day.

The best it appears people can hope for without being cynical is a world in which the elite and upper class refrain from abusing and mistreating the people below. There is also little historical evidence of elite restraint as there is almost no evidence of a classless society. Different people put in different amounts of work, and some find different ways to cheat their way, and thus there will always be differences between the ranking of people.

Caste System

There are several terms related to social stratification. The caste system is one. With the caste system, people are born into a certain level of society, and they are stuck there forever. There is no social mobility. Examples of this can be found in India, Feudal Japan, and Medieval Europe.

Marriages between caste are frowned upon or even illegal. For example, a friend from India told me how they got married. She was from the warrior caste, while her future husband was from the priestly caste. Since they were Christian, they did not think they were bound by the tradition of the caste system and for married. Being it was a Christian community, everyone was okay with it; however, several people were still worried that something “bad” might happen to the newlywed couple because of the country’s cultural background. India abolished the caste system, but its roots are still strong in some situations.

Class System and Meritocracy

The class system is a more flexible style of social stratification in which people belong to one of many different classes based on their wealth, education, etc. Examples of classes can include upper, middle, and lower classes. Unlike the caste system, which discourages marriage, the class system does not generally condemn marriages of people from different classes.

Meritocracy is social stratification based on effort. At best, meritocracy has been partially implemented in many places. No matter how hard humans try, people are just good at findings ways of getting through the system without equal work. This leads to frustration by those who “play by the rules.” Another problem is that some people will achieve a great deal in one area, but this area is not valued as important by society.

Highly educated people often have amazing expertise in minute details of life that are not generally valued by the larger society in terms of prestige and financial remuneration. This can lead to frustration and desires to challenge the social stratification. At times, some of the strongest proponents of a classless society are people who do not have the status they believe they deserve.


Stratification is always going to be a problem. This is because people will always find ways to move up the social hierarchy through honest hard work and abuse the system for personal gain. Unfortunately, people may lose status due to mistakes or injustice, and those who are higher up may mistreat those who are lower, which is not fair or right again.

Views on Societies

This post will look at society and terms related to it as defined from two schools of thought in society. This viewpoints are functionalism and conflict theory.


There are several terms used in the functionalist school for describing societies. For example, collective conscience is the beliefs that constitute a society. An example from the United States would be an emphasis on individualism and capitalism. These beliefs are a part of most Americans’ lives and serve as a common worldview for people from this country.


Social integration is the strength of the ties within a society or a social group. Some societies have stronger ties than others. Many factors can affect social integration, such as the size, similarities of the members, etc. For example, social integration is generally a problem in the US as there is a lot of infighting and discord that is not found in other societies.

There is also a concept called solidarity. Solidarity is a continuum with mechanical solidarity on one side and organic solidarity on the other. Mechanical solidarity has such characteristics as a strong collective conscience, high social integration, and a dedication to doing things the way they are for traditional reasons. This form of solidarity is common in pre-industrial societies where there is a low division of labor.

Organic solidarity is the opposite of mechanical. This means there is a low collective conscience and low social integration. This form of solidarity is common in industrial societies with a high degree of specialized labor. At extreme levels, organic solidarity can be a place for anomie or lawlessness. Anomie involves the rejection of societal norms, which leads to a loss of identity for members of that society.

Norms are often developed and encouraged through habitulization and institutionalization. Habitulization is learning norms through habit development through friends and family. Instititunilization is learning norms through the workplace or school. These norm-forming places are often attacked in societies that have organic solidarity.

Conflict Theory

Conflict theory views society as a place of alienation. Different people define Marx’s alineation in different ways. Some have called it a separation from what one does. Others have said that alineation is a lack of individual development. Karl Marx’s in his Communist Manifesto indicates that alienation can happen in several different ways.

One way alienation happens is through alienation from the product of one’s labor. A second is through the process of one’s labor. THird is from others, and the fourth is from self. All of these various forms of alienation happen in a factory setting for the most part and are found in an industrial society. In other words, alienation is similar to the traits found in an organic solidarity context.

To stop alienation, Marx essentially encourages revolution to overturn the bourgeoisie and their money so that the means of production belong to the people. People who did not agree with this position were accused of having a false consciousness or beliefs, not in their best interest. IN other words, proponents of Conflict theory imply that they know what is best for people.


Different experts choose to look at society using different viewpoints. Functionalist and conflict theorists have different opinions over the structure of societies. Agreeing is not the point but rather understanding how there is more than one way to see anything.

Defining Groups in the Classroom

The term group is a word that is used all the time in day-to-day conversation. In this post, we will look at what groups are along with various terms related to them.

Terms Related to Groups

A group involves at least two people who interact in some sort of meaningful way. Examples of a group can include a family, colleagues in a department, neighbors, etc. Keeping in mind that just because people are in the same place does not imply they are members of a group. For example, if people are at a mall, it is doubtful that they are members of one group. Rather, this is called an aggregate in that they are in the same place but not necessarily “together.”


Another term is “category.” A category is a group of people who share characteristics but do not interact with each other. An example would be the freshman class at a high school. They are all about the same age, but they probably do not know each other or work together.

Primary & Secondary Groups

Groups can also be defined in terms of primary and secondary, with the difference being in terms of the intimacy of the members’ relationships. A primary group is usually small and has a high degree of closeness and intimacy, such as in a family. A primary group might be a clique of friends that is especially common at the high school level in the classroom.

A secondary group is larger and not as intimate. The function of a secondary group is primarily instrumental or in terms of getting something done or achieved. Many groups formed at work are secondary in nature. In school, a secondary group might be a group formed to complete assignments. Generally, these students do not socialize or work together, but for the sake of the assignment, they do work together.

However, these definitions are superficial, and it is common for a group to perhaps serve in both roles and for people to move back and forth between these two groups over time. Another point is that if there are problems with these groups, there could be problems with the teacher’s performance and /or behavior.

In & Out Groups

Groups also are highly aware of who is in the group and not in the group. The in-group are members of the same group, while the out-group is essentially everyone else. At times this can be positive or negative. For example, members of a sports team may have negative attitudes towards other teams. Or, members of one race may have negative attitudes towards other races. However, teachers may have a sense of duty to help others as a member of the teaching profession.

Students are highly sensitive to including and excluding people at times. There is also pressure to be a part of some sort of group since out-group members can be bullied by members of in-groups. Sometimes the out-group members almost become a sort of “other,” which can be detrimental for both groups in terms of behavior.

A reference group is a group that a person compares themselves to. All ages, from teenager to adult, compare themselves with peers of the same age. This comparison helps people to determine what is and what is not acceptable behavior.


Groups are a part of everyone’s life. We all have to work and live in groups and deal with the challenges of dealing with people. As such, the intro to groups here provides some insights into the underlying characteristics of groups.

Socialization Agents

Socialization is the process in which people learn how to be members of a specific society. Several institutions play a critical role in the socialization of people, and these are the family, religion, schools, peers, job, and government. We will look at each below.


The family is perhaps the strongest socializing agent in a person’s life. The earliest knowledge about the world and how a child sees the world is shaped by the family initially. The family continues to influence the child throughout their lives by accepting or rejecting the child’s actions.


Different families also socialize their children in different ways. For example, worker-class families often emphasize obedience while middle and upper-class families focus on creativity and critical thinking. As such, these children from these different families are taught that different things are important.


Religion plays a critical role in socializing people. Even in families that do not encourage religion, they send a message that religion is not important. Often religion provides various ceremonies that are connected with the family. Examples can include weddings, funerals, and rites of passages ceremonies like Bar mitzvahs among Jews.

Religion also often provides a moral framework for a person. People learn right from wrong by going to church or reading the religious text of their religion. REligions also define roles for people in society, such as the role of the man and woman in marriage and the local leadership.


Outside the home, the place that may have the most influence on individuals and socialization may be the schools. Teachers serve as role models and surrogate parents through spending entire days with children. Students learn about the values of their society at school as well. Schools do not only teach subjects but also help to shape a student’s worldview.

One of the reasons for the huge debate over education in the US is what values should be taught in school. Many parents are pushing back against what schools want to do in the classroom because, fundamentally, the parents do not support the current form of socialization in schools today.

Peers are often met at school and also influence the socialization process. Peers teach people how to interact with members of their age group. Peers can be a positive or negative influence on socialization. However, at least among young people, friends are generally a negative influence. This leads to the point that the different agencies spoken of here often compete in terms of their influence over a person.

The government is also mentioned here because the government is often heavily influencing the school. Through policies government influences almost all aspects of a person’s life. Such things that are influenced by the government are schools, salaries, health, retirement, marriage, among other things.

Governments are also often involved in shaping the values of their citizens. This is done by encouraging patriotism and nativism. America is famous for supporting the American way and the American Dream among its people. In addition, democratic values are highly encouraged and even exported to other countries.


When people grow up, the workplace can also serve a role in socialization. Most workplaces and companies have a set of values that they want their employees to accept and model. There are also unwritten rules of interaction, such as dealing with superiors and how to deal with peers.

People also frequently change jobs, which means they accept and reject various values they have throughout their lives. For example, something that is acceptable in one company may be unacceptable in another. Sometimes the only way to learn this is to gain the approval or disapproval of others in the company.


Another powerful influence on socializing is media. People often decide what is right or wrong based on the media. Media has such influence on people’s lives now that there are accusations of “fake news” when views are shared that are not appreciated by one side or the other.

There is also the idea of “cancel culture,” which involves punishing someone by making them disappear from the internet for saying something that offends somebody. This is yet another example of socialization as it provides examples of things that should be said in the online context. This is even more amazing because people can be canceled for things they said before “cancel culture” even existed. In other words, a person needs to be perfect even before the standards change; otherwise, they will be held responsible for something they said even before saying such a thing was so offensive.


As long as people live among each other, socialization will be important. The examples provide here share a glimpse of the major agents in the socialization of people.