Causes and Impact of Juvenile Delinquency

Causes leading to Juvenile Delinquency in Pakistan

Socio-economic conditions

The role of socioeconomic conditions plays a pivotal role in the realm of juvenile justice, influencing the trajectory of young individuals within the legal system. Research consistently indicates a strong correlation between socioeconomic factors and juvenile delinquency, with individuals from economically disadvantaged backgrounds being more vulnerable to involvement in criminal activities. Limited access to quality education, economic opportunities, and stable family environments can exacerbate the risk of juvenile delinquency. Additionally, disparities in access to legal representation and resources further compound the challenges faced by economically disadvantaged youth within the juvenile justice system. Addressing socioeconomic inequalities is essential for fostering a more equitable juvenile justice system, as interventions that target the root causes of delinquency, such as poverty and lack of resources, can contribute to breaking the cycle of criminal behaviour and promoting positive outcomes for young individuals.

Peer Pressure and Social Influence

Peer pressure, or the influence from friends, is a big deal in how young people end up in the juvenile justice system. Teens often want to fit in and be liked by their peers, and this can lead them to make choices that might get them into trouble. Being pressured by friends to do things that are against the rules or even illegal is common. In the juvenile justice system, this can mean getting involved with gangs or doing things that land them in trouble with the law. To address this issue, it’s important to have programs that help young people resist negative influences, build strong friendships, and learn how to make better choices. By understanding and tackling peer pressure, we can help guide young individuals away from trouble and towards a more positive path.

Exposure to Malicious Online Platforms and Violent Online Gaming Applications

The role of online gaming in the context of juvenile justice is increasingly significant, as digital platforms become integral to the lives of young individuals. Online gaming can influence juvenile behaviour in both positive and negative ways. On one hand, it offers opportunities for social interaction, skill development, and even stress relief. However, excessive or inappropriate gaming can contribute to negative outcomes, such as increased aggression, reduced academic performance, and diminished social interactions outside the gaming environment. Additionally, online gaming platforms may expose juveniles to cyberbullying or facilitate connections with individuals involved in criminal activities. The immersive nature of some games and the potential for desensitisation to violence raise concerns about their impact on behaviour. To address these issues within the juvenile justice system, it is essential to consider online gaming habits as a potential contributing factor to delinquency. Implementing educational programs, fostering digital literacy, and promoting responsible gaming can contribute to a more informed and balanced approach that mitigates the negative influence of online gaming on juvenile behaviour.

Neglect in Households

House neglect and parental neglect are pivotal factors contributing to juvenile justice involvement. Inadequate living conditions and lack of essential care create an environment where young individuals face increased risks of delinquent behaviour. Neglectful households often expose juveniles to economic hardships and limited educational resources, setting the stage for a higher likelihood of involvement in criminal activities. Additionally, parental neglect, encompassing emotional and physical neglect, can leave children seeking support and belonging elsewhere, potentially leading to negative influences and delinquency. Addressing these issues within the juvenile justice system requires comprehensive interventions that focus on providing support to families facing neglect, ensuring access to education and social services, and implementing preventive measures to break the cycle of neglect and mitigate its impact on juvenile behaviour.

School Environment

The school environment plays a crucial role in shaping the behaviour of juveniles, significantly influencing the likelihood of juvenile delinquency. Positive school environments characterised by supportive teachers, engaging educational programs, and a strong sense of community contribute to the prevention of delinquent behaviours. In contrast, negative school atmospheres marked by bullying, lack of support, and academic challenges can heighten the risk of juvenile delinquency. A positive school environment not only promotes academic success but also addresses the social and emotional well-being of students, reducing the likelihood of engagement in destructive behaviours. Recognising the impact of the school environment on juvenile delinquency underscores the importance of implementing strategies that create inclusive, supportive, and educational settings to foster the positive development of young individuals and reduce the risk factors associated with delinquent behaviour.

Gaps in State Institutions and Legal System 

Gaps in the legal system related to juvenile justice are evident in inconsistent practices across jurisdictions, ranging from variations in the age of juvenile responsibility to disparities in sentencing guidelines. The lack of standardised procedures for determining when juveniles should be treated as adults in serious cases contributes to an uneven application of justice. Furthermore, there is a notable imbalance between punitive measures and rehabilitative efforts within the juvenile justice system, with a need for increased emphasis on prevention and early intervention programs. Inadequate resources allocated to address the root causes of juvenile delinquency and a lack of comprehensive protection for juveniles’ rights, including access to legal representation, also highlight areas requiring reform. Closing these gaps necessitates a concerted effort to establish uniform standards, prioritise rehabilitation, allocate resources for prevention, and ensure the equitable treatment of young individuals within the legal system. Generally probation officers deal with issues relevant to juveniles in courts however, presence of a qualified child’s rights activist is also necessary.

Impact of Juvenile Delinquency

The impact of juvenile delinquency on children is profound and far-reaching, affecting not only their immediate well-being but also their long-term prospects and society as a whole. These effects have various dimensions, including psychological, social, educational and legal consequences.

Psychological Impact


Children involved in delinquent behaviour, whether as perpetrators or victims, often experience significant psychological trauma. This trauma can manifest in various forms, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and behavioural disorders.

Personality Distortion

Juvenile delinquency can distort a child’s personality, leading to the development of antisocial traits, aggression, and low self-esteem. These distorted personality traits may persist into adulthood, impacting their ability to form healthy relationships and navigate society.

Emotional Instability

Children exposed to delinquency, whether through their own actions or those of their peers, may struggle with emotional instability. This instability can manifest as mood swings, impulsivity, and difficulty regulating emotions, which can hinder their social and academic development.

Limited Access to Mental Health Services

Juveniles in detention in different jails/industrial schools/borstal institutes have limited access to mental health services. Without proper support, juveniles may struggle to cope with the psychological stressors of incarceration.

Social Impact


Juvenile delinquents face stigma and social ostracisation, both within their communities and among their peers. This stigma can lead to feelings of alienation, isolation, and a lack of belonging, exacerbating their antisocial behaviour and hindering their rehabilitation.

Peer Influence

Children involved in delinquent behaviour are influenced by their peers, forming associations with other delinquents and engaging in risky behaviours to gain acceptance and validation. This peer influence can perpetuate cycles of delinquency and make it challenging for children to break free from negative social networks.

Family Dynamics

Juvenile delinquency can strain family dynamics, leading to conflict, breakdowns in communication, and a lack of parental supervision and support. Dysfunctional family environments characterised by neglect, abuse, or substance misuse can contribute to a child’s propensity for delinquent behaviour.

Educational Impact

Disruption of Education

Juvenile delinquency often disrupts a child’s education, leading to truancy, academic underachievement, and ultimately, school dropout. This disruption not only deprives children of valuable learning opportunities but also perpetuates cycles of poverty and social disadvantage.

Limited Opportunities

Children involved in delinquent behaviour may face limited educational opportunities due to expulsion, suspension, or placement in alternative schooling programs. These limitations can impede their academic and vocational aspirations, perpetuating socioeconomic disparities and hindering their future prospects.

Barriers to Reintegration

Reintegrating into mainstream education can be challenging for juvenile delinquents, as they may face discrimination, stigma, and a lack of support services. Without adequate educational support, these children are at greater risk of academic failure and disengagement from school, further perpetuating cycles of delinquency and social exclusion.

Legal Ramifications

Detention or Jail Terms

Juvenile delinquents may face detention or incarceration, either in juvenile detention centres or adult correctional facilities, depending on the severity of their offences and the legal jurisdiction. These experiences can have profound and long-lasting effects on a child’s psychological well-being, social development, and future prospects.

Criminal Records

Involvement in delinquent behaviour can result in the creation of a criminal record, which can have far-reaching consequences for a child’s future life, including finding an employment, international travel, admission in uA criminal record can perpetuate cycles of poverty and marginalisation, making it challenging for juvenile delinquents to reintegrate into society and lead law-abiding lives.

Legal Stigma

Even after serving their sentences, juvenile delinquents face social stigma which can impede their reintegration into society and perpetuate cycles of recidivism and social exclusion.

Abuse and Sexual Assault


Juveniles in detention are vulnerable to abuse, including physical and sexual assault, leading to physical injuries, psychological trauma, and long-term emotional distress.


Juvenile detainees are often reluctant to report instances of abuse due to fear of retaliation, stigma, or a lack of trust in authority figures and criminal justice system. As a result, incidents of abuse may go unreported and perpetrators may continue to victimise other detainees with impunity.

Risks of Habitual Delinquency

Criminal Socialisation

Detention in jail exposes juveniles to criminal socialisation, where they may form relationships with other delinquent youth and adopt antisocial attitudes and behaviours. These connections can perpetuate cycles of delinquency and increase the likelihood of recidivism upon release. Without adequate intervention and support, juvenile delinquents are at risk of becoming habitual offenders, engaging in a pattern of repeated criminal behaviour that escalates in severity over time.

Gang Involvement

Juvenile delinquents may become ensnared in gang activity, seeking belonging, protection, and identity in criminal organisations. Gang involvement further exacerbates the risks of delinquency, exposing children to violence, exploitation, and a heightened likelihood of incarceration or death.

Substance Abuse

Delinquent behaviour is often associated with substance abuse and addiction, as children may turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with trauma, peer pressure, or social alienation. Substance abuse further compounds the risks of delinquency, impairing judgment, increasing impulsivity, and heightening the likelihood of criminal behaviour.

Lack of Rehabilitation Programmes

Jails in Pakistan lack comprehensive rehabilitation programmes for juvenile offenders, without which juveniles may struggle to reintegrate into society and avoid further involvement in criminal activity.



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