Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Peers and Delinquency
Most Americans are probably familiar with the concept of a delinquent “gang.” Most would probably picture a collection of young males who share a common territory, have some organizational structure (e.g., ranks like “warlord” or “lieutenant”), conduct initiation rites, and display common signs of membership (e.g., colors, “tats,” or “inks”). Most might also realize that gangs are responsible for only a small (though not trivial) fraction of crime in the United States. What many Americans might not realize, however, is that gangs exemplify one of the most consistently documented features of delinquent behavior. Most delinquent offenses are not committed by a lone offender but rather by a group of youths. To be sure, these groups are usually a far cry from large, organized gangs. Most are small, disorganized, and spontaneous groups that resemble childhood play groups. But they are groups nonetheless, and that means that all of the social Some ...