6 theories of Juvenile Delinquency

Content Outline 

  1. Introduction
  2. Theories of Delinquency
  3. Biogenic Theory 
  4. Psychogenic Theory
  5. Psychiatric Theory 
  6. Medico Biological Theory 
  7. The Classical Theory 
  8. Mutlicasual Theory 


In this blog, we are going to discuss 6 theories of juvenile delinquency in a comprehensive manner. Now the thinkers are focusing on juvenile conduct and juvenile legislation because they have come to a conclusion that delinquency and crime are interconnected to each other and could not be examined without an understanding of each other. Many opinions, reasons, and suggestions related to the cause of delinquency have been printed in various sources, but they have hardly ever been incorporated. Most of the theories regarding delinquency and crime suggest that they cannot be explained in terms of one single informal factor. According to the Sociogenic theory there exist a relationship between delinquency and the social structure of society. Some of the theories are briefly described below.

You can read-Role of the social worker in a correctional setting 

6Theories of Delinquency

1- Biogenic Theory  

The biogenic theory is based upon the conception that the natural body structure of criminals is generally different from normal human beings. The criminality in a human being is therefore a biological phenomenon, whose criminal tendency originates from his physical character. „Ceases Lambroso‟ is regarded as the founder of biogenic theory. He declared a criminal is to be originated from an atavistic phenomenon, a biological throwback that explains that the somatological characteristics of criminals resemble those of primitive men. Physical attributes separate the normal human being from the abnormal human being. Among the physical theories of delinquency, the most important aspect was phrenology. There arises a question in his mind, why people in the world had “such different faces and different natures; why one person is deceitful, another one is frank and a third one is virtuous”. When he tried to find out the answers of his questions, he set up a goal of his life to observe and study each and every head which he could find. After visiting various prisons and lunatic special homes to find the bumps and inequalities of the skulls, he came to a conclusion that there exists a relationship between head „Knobs‟ and character behavior, to which he gave different names. And after that the phrenology launched itself upon the world who is eagerly waiting to receive it. According to Cessare Lombroso, “there exists a group of criminals who are born for an evil cause, against whom all social remedies break as against a rock.” According to him, criminality is in-born of a human being. Lombroso said “a typical criminal has certain physical characteristics as low forehead, hairy body, red eyes, ear deformation, receding chin, big and protruding jaws, and an extreme sensitivity or non-sensitivity to pain”. 

2- Psychogenic Theory  

The psychogenic theory is based upon the emotional psychology of the delinquent. Hirschi stated that all theories are based on these aspects.

  1. Motivational theory, which describes that statutory desires that are in compliance with laws if not satisfied may diverge a person into deviant behavior.
  2. Control perspectives – a person is free to commit delinquency acts because his ties to the conventional are based on cultural deviance which says that deviant conforms to a set of standards not accepted by a larger or more powerful society.
Society itself results in delinquents and criminals. The sociological factors are responsible for an individual‟s behavior that either he avoids criminal practice or gets indulge into it depending upon their surrounding and social conditions.

Merton6 stressed the importance of „Anomic‟ according to him “anomic develops because of break-down in the relationship or absence of social norms and value”. Anomic is the breakdown between goals that place great stress on success and to which all groups in society are in doctrine without equivalent emphasis on institutional or legislative channels of access to these goals.

3-Psychiatric Theory 

Airchorn said that “there must be something in child himself which environment changes his behavior towards delinquency”. Delinquents behave in a way as they want to do because they are abnormal persons. 

4-Medico-Biological Theory

 “Medico biological” theory would include the genetic factors, substance balances within the organism and undoubtedly the impact of physical illness on his behavior. The biological justification, concerned primarily with inherited characteristics, has a famous historical example in the concern of Lamboreso9 with considerable physiological characteristics and such theories remains popular today in such instances as the recent studies concerning the „Y‟ chromosome. 

5-The classical Theory 

The Classical theorists on the assumption of free will stated that the criminal is morally responsible so he should therefore receive punishment according to that moral guilt. So, there were penalties according to the moral turpitude involved in the offense and crime.

6-Multi-causal Theory 

According to Abrahamsen, 10 “a criminal act is the sum of a person‟s criminalistics tendencies plus his total situation divided by the amount of his resistance.

You can also read- Role of the social worker in Juvenile Home


Thank You