Free Essay About Data Analysis: Adolescent Risk Behavior By Family Income Level
Adolescents are among the most prone segment of society to be affected by socio-economic factors when it comes to crime and delinquency. Developed in the 1940s by criminologists most notably by Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay, the theory of social disorganization suggests that the more impoverished the community is, the more prone adolescents are in that particular community to develop delinquent behavior . In reference to the data provided by The Hamilton Project regarding the adolescent risk behavior by family income level, it is quite noticeable that the use of marijuana and other narcotic substances does not vary much between youths from low income families, middle income families and high income families. Although it is quite noticeable how in the ‘use of other drugs’ category, youths from high-income families have a slight lead. Most likely, this lead can be attributed to the ability of youths from high-income families to afford other more expensive drugs than the marijuana as compared to low and middle-income youths. Perhaps the ability to afford drugs in bulk is the reason why youths from high-income families have higher tendency to sell drugs as youths from low and middle-income families who would rather use than sell it themselves.
While there is no significant difference in terms of drug use and selling, there is a stark contrast when it comes to violent behavior among adolescents from different socio-economic groups. In the category of ‘attacking someone or getting into a fight,’ it appears that there is a huge difference between adolescents from low-income, middle-income and high-income families. Adolescents that come from low-income families are seen as more violent than adolescents from middle and high-income families. Most likely, the stark difference can be attributed to the theory of social organization that links socio-economic factors to juvenile delinquencies. As observed by Shaw and McKay, people or specifically adolescents who live in slums are more prone to exhibit delinquent behaviors than in well-off neighborhoods. In studying the socioeconomic factor of delinquency, scholars found that there is a “low number of professional and skilled workers and a low percentage of people with advanced education in high-delinquency areas”, which posits that the theory of social disorganization applies to the huge difference in violent behaviors of adolescents of different economic groups. Similarly, gang behavior is observed to be more frequent among adolescents in low-income families as compared to middle and high-income families. In studying gang behavior, scholars found that adolescents are quite prone to become involved in such activities because they relish the feeling of thrill and excitement associated with gang activities such as conflict, hunting and pursuit . Also associated with gang activities are delinquent behaviors such as stealing and gun possession. As observed in the Hamilton Project data, adolescents from low-income families are more prone of such behaviors.
It can be deduced based on the data and supported by delinquency theories that young people from low income families are more prone to delinquent behaviors than adolescents from middle and high-income families. It can further be deduced that the socioeconomic status of adolescents are indeed affecting their tendency to become delinquent and commit crimes. As observed, poverty makes poor adolescents less likely to use drugs as compared with adolescents from middle and high-income families but they are more violent and could resort to gang membership and engage in delinquent behavior more than the other socioeconomic group.
Miller, J.M. 21st Century Criminology: A Reference Handbook, Social Disorganization Theory. 2009. February 2015 <http://www.sagepub.com/schram/study/materials/reference/90851_08.2r.pdf>.
The Hamilton Project. "Adolescent Risk Behavior by Family Income Level." 2009.
Wood, J., & Alleyne, E. Street gang theory and research: Where are we now and where do we go from here? 2010. January 2015 <http://www.goccp.maryland.gov/msac/documents/gang-studies/gang-involvement-theory/Wood-Alleyne-2010.pdf>.