An Introduction to the Sociology of Juvenile Delinquency

By David Musick

Subjects: Sociology
Paperback : 9780791423523, 348 pages, February 1995
Hardcover : 9780791423516, 348 pages, February 1995

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Table of contents



Part 1.   Concepts, Definitions, and Links to the Past

Chapter 1  A Conceptual and Historical Basis for Studying Juvenile Delinquency

Basic Types of Problem Children

Other Important Types of Problem Children

Basic Types of Parent-Child Relationships

Childhood in Preindustrial Italy, France, and England


Chapter 2  Children's Law and Juvenile Courts in the United States

Children's Law in Colonial America

Nineteenth-Century Children's Law

Twentieth-Century Children's Law

Legal Changes Inspired by Discovery of Child Neglect and Abuse

Midcentury Reduction of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction

Legislative Attempts to Get Tough on Crime

Late-Century News about Abuse and Neglect

Recent Court Decisions Affecting Children


Part 2.   Measuring Delinquincy

Chapter 3.   Measuring Delinquency

Uniform Crime Reports

Overview of Juvenile Arrests

A Note on Juvenile Violence

Victimization Surveys

Children's Self-Reports


Part 3.   Explaining Delinquincy

Chapter 4.   Clinical and Observational Ideas about American Delinquency

Clinical Ideas

Observational Ideas

Gangs and Delinquency


Chapter 5  Micro Delinquency Theories



Free Will

Physical Type Theories

Modern Positivism




Chapter 6  Macro and Mid-Range Delinquency Theories


Conflict versus Consensus Theory

Macro Consensus Theories

Macro Conflict Theories

Midrange Consensus Theories

Midrange Conflict Theories

Summary: Integrating and Evaluating Delinquency Theories

Part 4.   Delinquincy and Social Organization

Chapter 7  Kinship Networks, Family Life, and Delinquency


Kinship Norms and Delinquency

Rapid Social Change and Delinquency

Delinquency and Family Environment


Chapter 8  Schools and Delinquency


Student Characteristics and Delinquency

Crime in American Schools


Chapter 9  Police Organizations and Gangs


History and Structure of Community-Level Police Organizations

Modern American Youth Gangs and Their Members

Hate Gangs

Gangs and the Police

Police Options with Juveniles


Chapter 10  Courts and Delinquency


Characteristics of Cases Handled by Juvenile Courts

Juvenile Court Process


Disposition Options


Part 5. Prevention and Correction of Delinquincy

Chapter 11  Community-Based Efforts to Prevent and Correct Delinquency


Types of Community-based Prevention and Corrections Programs


Chapter 12  Incarceration and Parole of Juveniles


Types of Juvenile Incarceratories



Chapter 13  Epilogue

References and Bibliography

Name Index

Subject Index

This basic overview of juvenile delinquency in the United States emphasizes the connection between delinquency and other problems faced by "at risk" children in America.


This is a challenging book that makes no attempts to oversimplify and trivialize the highly complex subject of juvenile delinquency. Its approach is both conceptual and historical. It includes information not only about delinquents but also about other types of problem children. By doing so, the broader social environment of delinquency is better understood, and delinquency can be put into a more general conceptual context. Fundamental concepts, interpretive perspectives and methodologies that are used to describe and analyze juvenile delinquency and related children's problems are presented.

David Musick is Professor of Sociology at the University of Northern Colorado. He is coauthor of Oppression: A Socio-History of Black/White Relations in America, and American Dilemmas.


"Musick has written a refreshing, genuinely new text that provides exceptionally clear guidance through the historical, legal, and analytical complexities of defining and explaining delinquency. The book is extremely interesting to read, largely because of the fascinating account of the history of European and American perceptions and treatment of 'problem children. '

"This is the most useful general text on delinquency I have seen because of the clarity with which issues of explanation, method, and policy are sorted out. The use of graph models, charts, and tables to highlight and summarize is superb. Anyone thinking of doing a study, teaching a course, or formulating a policy regarding delinquency should begin with a careful reading of Musick's book. " — Austin T. Turk, University of California, Riverside