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Causes of delinquency as perceived by juveniles

Krause, J. (1977). Causes of delinquency as perceived by juveniles. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.


This study attempted to determine whether a juvenile delinquent’s explanation for the crime committed might be of value in designing preventive and remedial programs.


Three groups of Australian boys ages thirteen to fifteen were selected to answer a questionnaire about the delinquency of hypothetical male juveniles. They were not asked why they themselves committed crimes, since it was assumed that the process of projection would render the motives attributed to the hypothetical males similar to their own personal reasons. The boys were divided into three groups:


Group A

106 cases from a low delinquency area of Sydney.

Group B

110 cases from a high delinquency area of Sydney.

Group C

50 cases composed of juvenile offenders in a state correctional institution.



The three groups showed highly significant agreement on causes and rank order of causes. The main causes, in rank order, were

  • Peer influence.
  • Thrill-seeking.
  • Desire to prove oneself.
  • Boredom.
  • Material gain.
  • Monetary gain.
  • Being dared by peers.


  1. The causes of delinquency found in the study reflect the perceived needs of many children. Counselors, teachers, and youth leaders serve kids’ needs; therefore, the goals of youth work need to be adjusted to meet these needs.
  2. Youth workers must address the needs of groups of kids as well as individual children. Peer influence must be directed positively by helping youth build communities of trust committed to one another’s growth. Research such as this enables youth leaders to reach and listen to young people more effectively.