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2
Juvenile delinquency
Juvenile delinquency, also known as juvenile offending, or youth crime, is participation
in illegal behavior by minors (juveniles) (individuals younger than the statutory age of majority).
Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile
detention centers, and courts. A juvenile delinquent is a person who is typically under the age
of 18 and commits an act that otherwise would have been charged as a crime if they were an
adult. Depending on the type and severity of the offense committed, it is possible for persons
under 18 to be charged and tried as adults.
In recent years, the average age for first arrest has dropped significantly, and younger
boys and girls are committing crimes. Between 60-80% percent of adolescents, and pre-
adolescents engage in some form of juvenile offense. These can range from status
offenses (such as underage smoking), to property crimes and violent crimes. The percent of
teens who offend is so high that it would seem to be a cause for worry. However, juvenile
offending can be considered normative adolescent behavior. This is because most teens tend to
offend by committing non-violent crimes, only once or a few times, and only during
adolescence. It is when adolescents offend repeatedly or violently that their offending is likely
to continue beyond adolescence, and become increasingly violent. It is also likely that if this is
the case, they began offending and displaying antisocial behavior even before reaching
adolescence.
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