Teen-Age Lawbreakers

September 8, 1950

Report Outline
Delinquency Among American Adolescents
Treatment of Young Offenders in Courts
Institutional Treatment of Delinquents
Special Focus

Delinquency Among American Adolescents

Indications of a New Rise in Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency, a matter of perennial concern to the American people, appears again to be on the rise after a sharp decline during the years immediately following World War II. Some of the conditions that contributed to lawlessness among boys and girls during the war period are beginning to reappear and are certain to be intensified if the country becomes involved in a new all-out war.

Pitched battles between armed bands of boys and young men now duplicate the gang wars among older criminals during the 1920s. In New York City ten schoolboys have been killed during the last 12 months. Shooting forays among teen-age boys have occurred also in Maryland and Minnesota, and in California a long series of holdups and robberies was charged to a mixed gang of boys and girls. In Washington, D. C., the police recently reported emergence of a group of six-year-old delinquents. The capital's Criminal Justice Association has declared: “The problem of the youthful offender in the District of Columbia presents to the citizen one of the most significant challenges in the entire social field.”

Extent and Character of Offenses by Young People

No one knows the actual extent of offenses by young people in the United States. The number who get into trouble with the law is roughly indicated by two series of statistics, but neither can be used as much more than an index of probable trends. The Children's Bureau receives voluntary reports on delinquency cases disposed of by juvenile courts in jurisdictions covering about one-third of the population of the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation compiles age data on fingerprint cards which it receives for identification following arrests by local police. But F.B.I. records understate the number of youthful offenders, because not all fingerprints of arrested persons are sent in for identification and many persons taken into custody are not fingerprinted. The latter factor applies especially to juveniles, for in many areas law or public policy forbids fingerprinting of children.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Juveniles and the Justice System
Sep. 11, 2015  Reforming Juvenile Justice
Mar. 05, 2010  Youth Violence
Nov. 07, 2008  Juvenile Justice
Apr. 27, 2001  Kids in Prison
Mar. 15, 1996  Preventing Juvenile Crime
Feb. 25, 1994  Juvenile Justice
Jul. 17, 1987  Troubled Teenagers
Nov. 28, 1986  Juvenile Justice
Jul. 27, 1979  Juvenile Justice
Feb. 11, 1970  Juvenile Offenders
Jul. 17, 1957  Reform of Delinquents
Sep. 25, 1953  Youngsters in Trouble
Sep. 08, 1950  Teen-Age Lawbreakers
Feb. 23, 1943  Juvenile Delinquency
Crime and Law Enforcement
Juvenile Justice