Identifying Characteristics of Juvenile Delinquents --- Travis Case
Travis Case, Pastor/TeacherNorthgate Baptist Church

Identifying Characteristics
of Juvenile Delinquents


I. The Basic Problem of The Juvenile Delinquent Is Irresponsibility --- No Accountability --- "It's Not My Fault".

A. It is human nature to Blame Other People or Circumstances in order to divert attention from our own shortcomings.

1. A young child's natural inclination is to blame others --- "Now See What You Made Me Do."

2. This kind of blaming, which may include faulting inanimate objects, continues until the Age of Seven.

3. At the Age of Eight, the child is more inclined to Assume Responsibility for his behavior and suffer the consequences.

B. However, the Anti-social Youth has almost Unlimited Excuses --- they present themselves as Victims --- and often sound Convincing. --- (( More about this later ))

C. Many adults believe that children Become Delinquent through No Real Fault of Their Own.

1. They often look for explanations in factors that appear to lie Outside The Child's Control.

2. They will Not Acknowledge that even Very Young boys and girls may Choose to Lie, Fight, and Steal.

3. They remain All Too Ready To Accept Whatever Excuse The Child Offers.

a. Lies are regarded as Childish Exaggerations.

b. Fights are the results of unavoidable Squabbles and Overreaction.

c. Vandalism is regarded as Childish Pranks.

d. Disruptive Behavior in school is regarded as Mischief.

e. "They Will Grow Out Of It."

D. Coming Into Our Courts Every Day are savvy, street-wise anti-social boys and girls who Successfully Exploit the still widely held view --- "Children Who Commit Crimes Are Victims of Circumstance."

1. The anti-social child is often successful at convincing others that whatever the problem --- its source lies Outside Himself.

a. Poverty,

b. Racism,

c. Broken homes,

d. Child abuse,

e. Glorification of violence in the media,

f. Inadequate & deficient schools,

g. Unemployment,

h. Detrimental influence by peers,

i. Poor role models, etc.

2. Rather than having Fewer reasons to blame others, he has More.

E. Unemployment and Crime have long been Linked Together.

1. Almost any sociology textbook will assert that people turn to crime because they have been frustrated by a society that Denies Them Opportunities To Earn A Living.

2. A 1976 federal task force on Juvenile Delinquency said,

"The high correlations between participation in delinquent and criminal behavior and unemployment and under-employment suggest that inability to obtain work May, Indeed, Be A Major Factor in producing this behavior." --- Wrong!

F. It is true, unemployment can have a devastating effect on people --- however, the Causal Connection between unemployment and crime is Weak.

1. Economics Robert J. Samuelson states that a 1982 Drop In Crime during a period of Rising Unemployment

"constitutes one of those Massive, Unexpected Assaults On Conventional Wisdom that prompts a reconsideration of how society functions."

2. What we must do is look at the Personality of the individual --- How He Reacts to adversity, whether it is unemployment or anything else.

G. Growing Up In Poverty --- One Example: ---

A drug dealer reported that he and his eight siblings were raised in a poor rural area of West Virginia where his alcoholic father eked out a living as a tenant farmer. He said that a person would have to have lived exactly as he did to truly understand how terrible it felt to go to bed hungry, how mortified he was when classmates laughed at him because he wore ragged clothes, and how incredibly envious he felt of peers who owned things he could only dream about. As a child, he vowed that one day he would surround himself with luxury, which as a seller of narcotics he eventually was able to do. A background investigation conducted by a court official verified his statements about the grinding poverty of his youth. But the court official also learned that None Of The Offender's Eight Brothers And Sisters had either a criminal record or a history of drug abuse. All were employed at legitimate occupations; some were supporting families. Each of these individuals had been a victim in that, through no fault of his own, he had suffered extreme deprivation. But that Deprivation Did Not "Force Them" Into Crime.

H. Economic Adversity Affects Us All --- it comes down to how each person Chooses To Deal with adversity.

1. What a person's environment offers is Not Decisive in his becoming a criminal.

2. Money, recognition, and power are Not Enough To Make A Criminal Law-Abiding.

Many Rich People Are Criminals ...

I. Most Unemployed people are Not criminals.

1. Many criminals do Not Want to work.

2. Many complain that Without Skills they can't find employment --- but, Whose Choice Was It not to remain in school and acquire those skills?

3. In most areas, Jobs of some sort Are Available --- but irresponsible people find them Beneath Them.

( Job ----- Position ... )

J. Society has offered the criminal Countless Opportunities to "rehabilitate" himself and enter the mainstream of life.

1. Surprise has given way to Despair as the criminal Rejects the very opportunities that he rejected before --- (work, school, counseling, etc).

2. Or else, he shamelessly Exploits Them while continuing to commit crimes.

3. Such labor is not at all in line with their inflated notion of Their Deserved Station in life.

4. For many criminals, Work means to Sell Your Soul, to be Slave.

5. When they do work, they only stick with a job until they become Bored.

K. The criminal's Irresponsibility occurs as a Pattern Throughout His Life.

1. Deviousness and Exploitation of people at work.

2. Self-serving utilization of a job.

3. He Scorns hard workers with Modest aspirations.

4. It is Far More Gratifying for him to Steal a television from the stockroom than to Earn and Save enough money to Buy it.

L. Attempts to Improve The Environment, no matter how worthwhile, have Not Altered The Criminal's Personality.

M. The criminal believes that because he is Inherently More Capable than others, --- previous experience and training requirements should be waived in his case.

1. He is positive that his expertise and unique talents Distinguish Him From The Common Herd.

2. On the job, he maintains that His Way Is The Only Way.

3. He give Unsolicited Advice and Imposes His Opinions.

4. He is a Ruthless Critic of others.

5. He Bristles at anyone who offers even a Minor Suggestion To Him.

6. Co-workers resent his Dogmatism, Inflexibility, and Closed Mind.

N. However, some criminals are Smooth rather than contentious --- Devious rather than intimidating.

1. They Pretend to be interested in what others say.

2. Appearing to invite suggestions, they Inwardly Dismiss each idea without considering its merits.

3. They seem to take criticism in stride but ignore it and Spitefully make Mental Notes of who the critic was.

4. His method of operation Discourages Others from proposing innovative ideas and developing creative solutions.

O. People who are not criminals have some of the same personality flaws --- It Is A Matter of Degree.

P. How a person behaves is determined largely by How He Thinks.

1. We must see the Criminal as the problem, Not Society.

2. We must help the criminal Radically Alter his self-concept and his view of the world.

3. Giving a criminal a job does Not Change what he wants out of life.

4. He Cannot Comprehend his parents placing obligations ahead of convenience or pleasure --- Having A Good Time Is What Life Is All About.

II. The Juvenile Delinquent Is Selfish --- "Self-Centered" --- An Island Unto Himself.

A. The anti-social youth Expects the world to Revolve Around Him.

1. He demands and insists on having Things His Way --- he shows little concern about anything except what he wants at the moment.

2. He is Indifferent to the Desires and Needs of Others.

a. In Most cases when he considers other people's needs and feelings --- he is attempting to gain his parents' approval.

b. He learns that by taking other people's needs into account he more successfully satisfies his own desire for acceptance and love.

3. The anti-social child is Unresponsive To Others' Problems because they are usually Immaterial To His Own immediate objectives.

a. He does not want to put up with other people.

b. He has No Sense of Loyalty to others.

4. His notion of a "Friend" is someone who will do What He Wants.

a. There is No Mutuality in his relationships --- there is far more taking than giving.

b. If a friend demonstrates that he has a Mind of His Own --- he is of No Further Value.

B. He does Not develop a sense of "Community" or of "Interdependence".

1. He is Not A Team Player in the sense of Sharing and Cooperating.

a. His objective is to surpass or undercut everyone else.

b. He does not value others' ideas or suggestions or want to share equally in the responsibility for getting the job done.

2. To him, Cooperation is a form of Subordination.

a. Technically, he may be a member of a group, but he is Not An Integral Part of it.

b. He remains a Stranger to others, even to those who think they know him well.

3. He takes No Responsibility for the breakup of relationships.

C. He does Not Get To Know other people As People --- in most interactions, he seems to have An Angle.

1. He perceives a Parent as a rescuer or an individual from whom he gains concessions.

2. Otherwise, the parent is regarded as someone who is "on his back" --- nagging, interfering, and punishing.

3. Sentiment Does Not Deter such a person from inflicting additional Emotional Injury on the People Who Have Cared The Most.

4. "They say I put them through so much the last seven months, however, They Brought It on Themselves."

D. When he does something good (normal or unselfish behavior) he tries to Exact A Price.

1. Although he appears to care about what people think of him, --- he may have an Ulterior Motive.

2. His good behavior may represent only Token Compliance or constitute a Cynical Maneuver to Obligate you --- so that he can Take Advantage.

3. A clue that this is happening is that he constantly tries to Wrest Concessions from others for doing Merely What Is Expected.

4. "Now that I've done what you wanted, I want ..... He shamelessly Uses Others to achieve his own ends.

(( More about this later ))

E. He is a "Poor Sport" --- if others refuse to play by his rules, his response is either to quit or to make their lives miserable.

1. He strives to Control others in either a Coercive or Deceptive manner.

2. He is determined to Outmaneuver and overcome his peers rather than play with them in a cooperative manner.

3. Even as a toddler, he "Plays Along Side Others" ("parallel play") but not really "With" others.

F. Normal Teens --- although at times are moody, demanding, and inconsiderate --- generally are Concerned With Fairness.

1. They often are Amazingly Sensitive to others' feelings.

2. Despite intense disagreements with adults, they generally accept their guidance and live within the limits that are imposed.

G. However, the Anti-Social Teen --- Demands a reason for anything asked of him and then either Ignores the response or Ridicules it.

1. He emphasizes that it is others who must change, he says --- "I Ain't Gonna Change For Nobody."

2. He persists in acting as though Other People Exist Only To Gratify His Needs.

H. The Juvenile Delinquent "Uses" People ---

Life Is A One-Way Street.

I. The criminal Values people only insofar As They Bend To His Will.

1. He has been this way Since Childhood.

2. To him the world is a chessboard, with other people serving as pawns to Gratify His Desires.

3. The criminal believes that He Is Entitled to whatever he desires.

J. The criminal's attitude toward people is Temperamental --- dependent on whether they serve him.

1. One day he may regard a person as his Bosom Pal and the next as his Mortal Enemy.

2. Even his Appraisal of His Mother .....

a. So What if he has caused her years of heartache; he still expects her unswerving loyalty and devotion.

b. If she fails to comply with his demands, she is reviled.

K. A criminal does Not regard himself as Obligated To Anyone and Rarely Justifies His Actions To Himself.

1. Just the fact that He has Decided on a course of action Legitimizes It.

2. He expects to prevail in every situation --- he strives to gain the upper hand, but not through fair competition.

3. Intimidation is the criminal's other great weapon --- his Domineering manner.

4. From early in the day until bedtime, everything must suit the criminal.

L. The criminal seems Incapable of Real Love or real Attachment.

1. He does not develop a concept of what a love relationship entails.

2. He may be charming, but Rarely Tender or Considerate.

M. The criminal Expects family members to Anticipate His Desires and account to him for whatever they do.

1. He is the ultimate Male Chauvinist.

2. His wife is an Object, not a partner.

3. When his wife has had enough and decides to leave, he is Surprised, indignant, and angry

--- since he Regards Her As The Problem, he is at a loss to explain why she wants to separate.

III. Lying Is A Way of Life For The Juvenile Delinquent.

A. Chronic lying is a Pervasive Behavioral Pattern of the anti-social youngster.

1. Many of his lies seem to have No Purpose whatsoever.

2. The responsible person may tell a lie occasionally --- however, lying does not become a Way of Life for him.

B. In reality, Their Parents Yearn To Trust Them but find it Difficult after they have been lied to and exploited Repeatedly.

1. He Will Exploit And Betray Parental Trust And Then Angrily Berate His Parents For Not Trusting Him.

2. He will blame his mother or father rather than His Own lying or other completely irresponsible behavior.

C. Occasionally, the delinquent deliberately Set Out To Convince his parents that he is trustworthy.

1. This is a Con Job --- a front designed to lull his family into thinking that he is changing his ways.

2. If He succeeds --- he Perceives Their Trust And Kindness As Weakness (not as a sign of faith) and Exploits It.

D. He simply Cannot Be Counted On.

1. He will give his word in a convincing manner --- he will look you in the eye and solemnly make a promise .....

2. He leaves a Trail of Victims --- people who feel betrayed.

E. For the liar, there is Power In Lying --- by lying he Keeps Others In The Dark and thereby believes he has Gained The Upper Hand.




A Search For The Truth



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