What Challenges Are Boys Facing, and What Opportunities Exist To Address Those Challenges? Fact Sheet: Juvenile Delinquency*. What Factors Increase or Decrease Boys' Risk of Juvenile Delinquency?


As juvenile arrest rates have declined over the past several decades, researchers have learned valuable lessons about boys’ and girls’ risk factors — those traits and life experiences that can jeopardize a person’s healthy development — and protective factors — the characteristics and life experiences that can increase a boy’s likelihood of positive outcomes.

Individual risk factors for juvenile delinquency include:

  • Early aggressive behavior(17)
  • Restlessness and concentration problems(18)
  • Substance abuse(19)
  • Association with antisocial peers(20)
  • Participation in unstructured leisure activities(21)

Ways families, schools, and communities can aggravate the risk of juvenile delinquency:

  • Childhood maltreatment(22)
  • Ineffective or dysfunctional parenting(23)
  • Parental criminality(24)
  • Truancy and dropping out of school(25)
  • Exposure to community violence(26)
  • Poverty(27)

Factors that help protect young people from the risk of juvenile delinquency include:

  • Strong feelings of accountability or perceived risk of punishment for misbehavior(28),(29)
  • Attachments to family or family support(30),(31)
  • Parental monitoring(32)
  • Positive social activities(33)
  • High academic achievement or school connectedness(34),(35)
  • Low neighborhood crime rate(36)

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