Adolescence is the phase that occurs between childhood and maturity. This is the phase when pubescence begins, about get downing at the age of 12 through 18. These kids, besides known as striplings or juveniles, at this point experience physical and hormonal alterations to their organic structure that consequences as, but non limited to, voice alterations, hair growing, musculus development and tallness. During this period of alteration, juveniles besides experience the demand to be independent and be more interested and influenced by equal groups.

Juvenile delinquency is defined by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary as the behavior by a juvenile characterized by antisocial behaviour that is beyond parental control and hence capable to legal action ( 2010 ) . As stated in several surveies, delinquency additions aggressively within the age scope of 12 to 14 old ages, and extremums between 17 and 19 old ages, so easy decreases from so on ( Ezinga, et al 2008 ) . Although there are several theories that may explicate the ground of juvenile delinquency, there is no concrete reply as to why delinquency is found in the early old ages of adolescence.

Juvenile delinquency elevated as a national job in the fiftiess that resulted in of import determinations by the Supreme Court in the sixtiess and 1970ss which addressed the rights of juveniles ( Peak, 2006 ) . A recent opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 banned the decease punishment for wrongdoers under the age of 18 old ages old. In the instance of Roper v. Simmons, the instance revolved around a 17 twelvemonth old juvenile who murdered an aged adult female during the class of a burglary ( Aronson, 2007 ) . Harmonizing Aronson, the cardinal component of Simmons ‘ defence was new encephalon imagination grounds that suggest the stripling encephalon is non as development of that of grownup ‘s encephalon ( 2007 ) .

Moral Reasoning

Harmonizing to Lawrence Kohlberg ‘s theory of moral logical thinking development, there are three degrees of moral concluding – pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional degrees ( Chen, 2007 ) . The pre-conventional degree is the turning away of penalty and seeking domination. The conventional degree is when persons seek the blessing of others by following the jurisprudence and duties, whereas the post-conventional degree is the person is the pursuit of impartial involvements and set uping of self-chosen moral rules ( Chen, 2007 ) .

Moral logical thinking is a good documented nexus associated with juvenile delinquent behaviour. A survey conducted by Kohlberg in 1984, show that juvenile delinquents have lower moral degrees of concluding compared to non-delinquent juveniles ( Leenders, et Al, 2005 ; Palmer, et Al, 2001 ) . Juvenile delinquents are alleged to maps at Kohlbergian Stage 1 and 2 ( Immature Stages ) , than non-delinquents ( Leenders, et Al, 2005 ; Palmer, et Al, 2001 ) . Several surveies show that there are links of low moral logical thinking due to dysfunctional household life and parental instruction. Kohlberg and other research workers found that there are links of juvenile delinquency due to the effect of being caught and being institutionalized. Juveniles reach low degrees of moral competency as a arrested development consequence due institutionalization ( Brugman, et Al, 2004 ) . Moral competency is the highest phase of moral logical thinking, whereas practical logical thinking is what action a individual would make in a certain state of affairs and why. Harmonizing to Kohlberg and his co-workers, both moral competency and the contextual lesson atmosphere are of import in foretelling behaviour ( Brugman, et Al, 2004 ) . Brugman and Aleva in 2004 conducted a survey of 64 male juveniles in a high-security detainment centre to find whether the hold in moral competency is achieved due to the cause of the discourtesy, institutionalization, or both, utilizing 81 non-delinquent pupils for comparing. The research workers found that there is a low moral competency in the juvenile delinquents compared to the non-delinquents. However, the low degree lesson ambiance was non found in the establishment, and hence was found that the low moral competency was found prior to the detainment ( e.g. after the committedness of the offense ) .

On the contrast,

A survey conducted by Palmer and Hollin amongst high school pupils between the ages of 12 to 18 showed that the consistence of rearing subject and moral logical thinking

Harmonizing to Kambam and Thompson, cognitive capacities shape the decision-making procedure and psychosocial immatureness may impact decision-making results in more elusive, but non needfully less of import, ways by act uponing values and penchants that impact cost-benefit analyses in doing picks ( 2009 ) .

As first defined by Festinger, cognitive disagreement is the interior province that comes away as a consequence of incompatibilities between a individual ‘s actions, beliefs, attitudes or feelings ( Leenders, et Al, 2005 ) . The more inordinate the cognitive disagreement, an person is more likely to cut down it by altering one ‘s behaviour and mentality.

Cognitive Procedures

Harmonizing to Lopez and Emmer, surveies conducted by Moffitt in 1993 and him and his co-workers in 1996, propose that a sublease of life-course persistent wrongdoers have neurological damages predisposing them to information-processing jobs that may in portion explain their terrible behavior upset type behaviours ( 2000 ) .

“ Hot knowledge ” is defined as believing under the influence of high degrees of stimulation, rousing, and in state of affairss with high emotions ( Aronson, 2007 ; Kambam, et Al, 2009 ) . “ Cold knowledge ” is defined as thought in low degrees of stimulation, rousing and state of affairss of low emotions ( Aronson, 2007 ; Kambam, et Al, 2009 ) .

In a survey conducted by Steinberg ( 2008 ) province that:

Brain parts involved in the socio-emotional system include the limbic and paralimbic parts, peculiarly the amygdale, nucleus accumbens, orbitofrontal cerebral mantle, median prefrontal cerebral mantle, and superior temporal sulcus. Steinberg postulates that developmental alterations in encephalon dopaminergic systems during pubescence, ( e.g. the disappearing of Dopastat autoreceptors in the prefrontal cerebral mantle ) consequence in reduced inhibitory control of Dopastat release. Because of the increased sensitiveness of the dopaminergic system, stimuli that may non hold been honoring or reenforcing antecedently are more likely to go so during adolescence. The diminution in risk-taking behaviours that occur during adolescence and maturity is chiefly the effect of the continued development of the cognitive-control system, than the socio-emotional system.

In laic public footings, striplings are more likely to prosecute in “ hot knowledge ” or unprompted and risk-taking behaviours, due to their cognitive development ( e.g. encephalon development ) . And although striplings are more prone to Acts of the Apostless of impulsivity, these behaviours are more likely to be increased by equal influences and are less likely to do reasonable determinations under nerve-racking state of affairss.

The grounds in the Roper v. Simmons instance, argued that the encephalon construction and map have non yet matured to the degree found in a normal population of grownups and that there are limited apprehension when persons cross the threshold of encephalon development when persons know right from incorrect and how to do sound determinations ( Aronson, 2007 ) . However, as pointed out by Aronson, since the encephalon continue to develop good into the mid-thirtiess, when is the encephalon developed plenty to warrant a finding of full legal blameworthiness of a offense ( 2007 ) .

Leenders and Brugman ‘s survey on

Lopez interviewed 24 male juveniles in a residential intervention centre and a halfway house to detect the grounds and constituents why juveniles commit offenses. The information aggregation was a one to one hr and a half recorded interview with each juvenile. The consequence of the survey showed that there are three offense contexts ; the emotion-driven assault, the belief-driven assault, and the mixed-motive mixed-crime contexts ( Lopez, et Al, 2000 ) . The emotion-driven assaults were conducted as a manner of the juvenile ‘s header mechanism. The belief-driven assaults were performed as a self-preservation ( e.g. contending ) . The mixed-motive mixed-crime was the consequences that did non suit the other contexts. Although there where contexts, there was no specific ground as to why juveniles committed the offenses.

Moral Reasoning vs. Cognitive Positions

Moral concluding seem to be based on societal acquisition, may it be through peer interactions or parental raising. Cognitive positions thin towards the biological positions, that the encephalon has non reached the “ normal ” size that of an grownup encephalon, and hence could non do the same sound determinations of grownups. However, as pointed out by Aronson and other life scientists, the encephalon does non discontinue to turn until the age of 30. Will it be safe to presume that diverting to offense during adolescence would be “ all right ” in society because the encephalon is still “ turning ” ? With that premise, the encephalon development position could open legal branchings in condemnable instances non merely in juvenile delinquents, but besides in the person ‘s mid-twentiess and mid-thirtiess.


The land theory conducted by Lopez, et Al, to analyze the justification of juvenile delinquent behaviours is subjective, at best. Lopez used a qualitative survey, of which the research worker had interviewed 24 stripling males in a residential intervention centre and a halfway house, of both were referred by the Texas Youth Commission ( Lopez, et Al, 2000 ) . Although the research worker used the land theory methodological analysis, a valid qualitative attack used for explorative research, the research worker chose the participants by the degree of resonance established by the research worker with the juveniles, verbal abilities, and willingness to unwrap personal information. This process is skewed due to the sensitivity of the research worker. There may be a race prejudice and/or personality struggle that is non addressed in the survey and may hold skewed the consequences of the survey. By in big, the survey did non show the grounds why juveniles did the offenses that they did, but merely outlined three offense contexts.