Countless studies from respected sociologists, criminologists, and psychologists have suggested several theories as to why juvenile delinquency exists. The theory this paper uses to explain juvenile delinquency is the Marxist perspective of the Conflict Theory. What this paper seeks to achieve is to show how this theory is conceptualized, how it causes juvenile delinquency particularly for African Americans, statistics on African American juveniles, and why it could lead to a life of crime as juveniles transition into adulthood. In addition to this, the government will be examined on how it uses the legal system, law enforcement, and certain officials to control most of the population and contribute to this problem. Lastly, this paper will explore the possible benefits of implementing a living wage to solve juvenile delinquency among African Americans.
The Marxist perspective theory falls under Sociological Positivism. Bartollas and Miller (2013) posit that the Marxist perspective sees the government and the legal process as instruments that the elites, or bourgeoisie, use to control the masses. Furthermore, capitalism is the root cause that forces juveniles to commit crime. Consequently, the main reason for conflict relates to wealth. This is because the elites who make up a small portion of the population, control most of the wealth in the country (Turk, 1982). The working class, on the other hand, comprises the largest portion of the population and is continually exploited to the point of being forced to turn to crime to survive. Quinney (1977) states the Positivist view calls for treatment and rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents since youths’ behavior are not entirely their fault but because of control variables, such as class and power, struggle for resources.
According to Onwudiwe (2004), coercive forces against lower-class workers on their jobs cause negative effects such as stress, anger, and contempt, which they bring back home and ultimately affect their families, thus leading to juvenile delinquency. Jobs are the means used by the working class to acquire the basic necessary resources to survive--such as food, water, and shelter for their families. According to Quinney (1977), when the lower classes are unable to earn an honest day’s work or lose their jobs, after a period of time, they finally break down from the pressure and resort to crime to support themselves and their loved ones. Children, seeing the struggles of their parents, then follow in their footsteps leading to juvenile delinquency and later these same children, as adults, become more susceptible to crime.
Allen, Latessa, and Ponder (2010) state that a juvenile delinquent is a child that has committed a criminal act that if the same act were committed by an adult, that adult would be punished, but the child is rehabilitated instead. The child’s behavior, under the law, would subject that child to the juvenile court where the child would...