It has long been a common observation that groups of teenagers are more likely to stir up trouble than a young person on his/her own. Scholars have different hypotheses about why this is, including the socialization and the opportunity hypothesis of delinquency. The more unstructured free time that young people have, the more likely they will pursue opportunities to misbehave. In addition, gender figures prominently in juvenile delinquency. Boys are involved in more delinquency in general than girls, and being friends with boys’ increases girls’ likelihood of being involved in delinquency.
The issues of what behaviors currently are labeled, or which ones should be labeled as delinquent, are important ones. As we see new forms of peer interaction and communication develop with young people’s “creative” use of technologies such as the Internet (Facebook, Instagram, MySpace, etc.) and the cell phone, the question about where adults should draw the line between youth fun and youth delinquency gets raised.
There are a couple of ways that scholars assume that peers matter to delinquency. The socialization hypothesis explains youth who socialize with friends who are highly delinquent will be more apt to be delinquent themselves. The opportunity hypothesis explains the idea that the most important factor that influences youth to engage in delinquency is not necessarily having friends that are highly delinquent, but instead, the amount of time that the youth spend with their friends away from parents, teachers, and other social control agents.
Q: In your opinion, which of the above hypothesis better explains the issue of juvenile delinquency as related to the influence of peers? Why? How do you explain the problem of youth gangs using these hypothesis as parameters to why young people join gangs? Explain in detail. In your opinion, which is more detrimental to a juvenile: (1) when law enforcement classify a youth group as a gang , or when peers classify themselves as a gang? Explain.