Over 90 percent of juvenile delinquents are boys

Lack of parental discipline is main cause of juvenile delinquency, study finds.

311_crack square (photo credit: Illustrative photo: Ariel Jerozolimski)
311_crack square
(photo credit: Illustrative photo: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Failure by Israeli parents to adequately discipline their children is the main cause of juvenile delinquency, according to a new study published Wednesday by the Meyers- JDC-Brookdale Institute in cooperation with the Welfare and Social Services Ministry’s Youth Probation Service Planning and Research Division.
Based on information provided by some 430 youth probation officers, the study found that almost half (49 percent) of juvenile delinquents referred to the officers showed a deep lack of respect for authority and displayed minimal personal boundaries. Also, 45% had great difficulty controlling their anger.
In addition, 44% were shown to be struggling academically and 29% had faced difficulties staying enrolled in a formal framework. The study also revealed that a significant number of youngsters had problems connecting with their parents, and 26% had suffered a traumatic event within the family.
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said in a statement Wednesday that the key to successfully rehabilitating this troubled group of youths was by “strengthening the entire family unit and encouraging parental responsibility.”
“Parents have a significant role in preventing their children from breaking the law,” he stated, adding, “In recent years, the office’s policy has been to focus on treatment for the entire family, with an emphasis on strengthening the unit and improving relations between parents and their children.”
According to the study, the average age of minors referred to the Youth Probation Service was 15.7 years, and the majority of the teens were boys.
Fewer than 10% were girls.
In addition, most of those who had committed criminal offenses were Israeli-born Jews (64%), with only 17% coming from the Arab community and 19% being immigrants – 11% from the former Soviet Union, 4% from Ethiopia and the rest from other countries.
The majority of those referred to the service were identified as secular (61%), with 29% being traditional and 10% religious or haredi.
Learning disabilities such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) were understood as being highly present among 58% of the juveniles, and 35% admitted to either having rejected one of their parents or being in constant conflict with them.
A large majority derived from single-parent families – 33% compared to 10% of all children in the country – and roughly 60% of the minors lived in large families with four or more children, compared to 17% of all children in the country.
About 60% of the youths lived in families that had experienced a divorce or separation of parents, the death of a sibling, prolonged hospitalization or serious illness of a parent, or unemployment of parents within the last three years. It was also noted that 28% of the teens had at least one parent or sibling involved in crime, and among 17% there was a history of gambling, drugs or alcohol abuse by another family member.
“We run a variety of programs for these youths, including a restorative justice program that allows the boy and his family to meet with his victim in order to offer some type of compensation and various mentoring programs in immigrant populations,” commented ministry Director-General Nahum Itzkovitz.
The Youth Probation Service aims to treat and rehabilitate minors aged 12-18 who are suspected of committing crimes. Juvenile probation officers are trained social workers authorized by law to work with children in the midst of legal proceedings and act by assisting the police and the courts.