Juvenile Justice and Delinquency

This course examines the historical precedents and philosophical reasons for treating juveniles differently from adults. We will review empirical evidence about child development that can illuminate the reasons for their special status within the system. We will also study the major theories that have been proposed as explanations of delinquent behavior. Finally, we take a detailed overview of the juvenile justice system, from its beginnings to the current state of the institution.


The depiction of juveniles projected on TV and in movies are a better barometer of what the culture thinks of kids than what kids think of themselves. In modern movies adults are sometimes clueless, sometimes the enemy, but most often are not in the picture at all.

It has been suggested that aggression is learned primarily through imitation (modeling) and sustained through various forms of intermittent reinforcement. It is argued that visual media are especially influential since they (1) teach actual methods of aggression, (2) often show few of the normal social restraints in expressing aggression, (3) desensitize viewers to violence through repeated exposure, and (4) teach methods of rationalizing and excusing personal responsibility for aggression.

This raises the question, "Are delinquents influenced by the depiction of juveniles in films and on TV?" Here are some student reviews of various teen movies and TV programs. What conclusions can you draw?

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