Research Paper on African American Delinquency

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1007 Words
Date:  2022-05-12

Inadequate Opportunities and its Impact on African American Delinquency

The limited opportunities to participate in the labour market or meaningful income generation activities impede the smooth growth of African American youths into independent adults. Alexander (2010) brings forth a correlation between inadequate opportunities, poverty and juvenile felony by stating that the continued inadequacy in the number of opportunities among African American adolescents to create income or acquire good education aggravates their degree of poverty and eventually results in high crime rates committed by juveniles. Perhaps, the reorganization of the labour market and the collapse of social relations that are credited for a seamless socialization process and lifestyle trajectories are culpable for the above-mentioned situation.

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In 2009, a consortium made up of Georgetown University, the Centre for Juvenile Justice Reform, and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy held a conference to look into the connection between lack of opportunities and juvenile justice (Alexander, 2010). They inferred that insufficient opportunities and poverty among African American children instigated a low socio-economic status that prompted an inclination of juvenile demeanours towards offending and re-offending. Moreover, the lack of resources associated with this low socio-economic condition denotes that the underprivileged populaces cannot acquire quality legal support thus resulting in more penetration into corrective institutions. Even those acquitted from criminal allegations are further embedded into poverty owing to the impediments faced in securing employment. Eventually, frustration begins to creep in among youthful members from underprivileged populaces due to the limited real-life opportunities that are brought about by the incongruity associated with overemphasizing idealized or publicly acceptable objectives of achieving success without devising sufficient means to attain them. To encapsulate the above exposition, the unavailability of legal opportunities and a parallel availability of illegitimate opportunities inevitably amplify the possibility of deviant acts among African American youths (Alexander, 2010).

Family Dynamics and How it Influences African American Delinquency

Family dynamics overarch the dealings between members of a family in addition to the underlying connections within the family unit. Juvenile delinquency is partly attributed to poor parenting characterized by undesirable child-parent relations. Hoeve et al., (2009) identify four parenting approaches, that is, authoritative (great control and support), authoritarian (high control, minimal support), permissive (less control, great support) and neglecting (low control and support). In particular, the neglectful approach is connected to criminal behaviour. Even though single parenting styles, from a typological perspective, do not adequately account for family dynamics and interactional nature, the level of support and control exercised by single parents has an immeasurable effect on child development and adaptation (Hoeve et al., 2009).

Results from a study by Synder and Sickmund (2006) indicated that 52% of African American youths were brought up by their mothers in single-parent households. Moreover, a majority of the African American juvenile cases reported stem from single parenting behaviours coupled with negligence (Alexander, 2010). On the same note, teenagers from incarcerated parents are likely to indulge in felony due to the consequent adversity that results from the failure by their parents to obtain meaningful ways to earn a living. Meta-analytical findings from the research conducted by Hoeve et al., (2009) imply that children exposed to parental denunciation and hostility are at a higher risk of developing inaccurate depictions of their inner selves and their surroundings, which ultimately draws them into criminal acts. The predisposition of children towards aberrant behaviours owing to such negative elements of parent support and control mentioned above corroborate the significant link between parenting styles and delinquency among African Americans.

Educational Attainment and its Influences on African American Delinquency

While scholars are yet to create a direct contributory relation between academic achievements and juvenile crimes, poor educational outcomes have been attributed to negative children's actions (Katsiyannis et al., 2008). Furthermore, researchers have also deduced that recidivism is highly interrelated with low levels of educational success (Katsiyannis et al., 2008). A report by Morsy and Rothstein (2015) on the social shortcomings that suppress student's performances reveal disheartening findings that African American children have a high likelihood of dropping out of school and they record lower test scores than their White and Hispanic counterparts. Such attributes induce greater behavioural and psychological challenges such as violence and delinquency.

In the poor suburbs whose main residents are African Americans, juvenile crime rates are on the rise. (Alexander, 2010) acknowledges that young offenders mostly spawn from street families that are characterized by low academic attainments and socio-economic environments. Moreover, children from these backgrounds have to tolerate the pressure of learning in ineffective educational systems where their morals and cognitive capabilities cannot be adequately nurtured and developed. Consequently, the lack of a solid academic foundation that is heightened by their less-educated parents inculcates the sense that education is not a necessity. Idleness will begin creeping into these children's lives thus rendering them susceptible to influence by their peers into criminal activities (Morsy & Rothstein, 2015). In addition, the inaccessibility to quality education jeopardizes the ability of African American youths to achieve their long-term life objectives through lawful means. Therefore, the possibility of indulging in delinquent activities becomes inevitable. For that reason, it is necessary to institute vibrant educational programmes that facilitate the engagement of students in constructive self-appraisal activities and develop behavioural management skills to avert the temptations of involving themselves in crime.


Alexander Jr, R. (2010). The Impact of Poverty on African American Children in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems. In Forum on Public Policy Online (Vol. 2010, No. 4). Oxford Round Table. 406 West Florida Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801.

Hoeve, M., Dubas, J. S., Eichelsheim, V. I., Van Der Laan, P. H., Smeenk, W., & Gerris, J. R. (2009). The relationship between parenting and delinquency: A meta-analysis. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 37(6), 749-775.Katsiyannis, A., Ryan, J. B., Zhang, D., & Spann, A. (2008). Juvenile delinquency and recidivism: The impact of academic achievement. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 24(2), 177-196.

Morsy, L., & Rothstein, R. (2015). Five Social Disadvantages That Depress Student Performance: Why Schools Alone Can't Close Achievement Gaps. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved 13 April 2018, from

Snyder, H. N., & Sickmund, M. (2006). Juvenile offenders and victims: 2006 national report. Office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

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