Advances in Applied Sociology
2012. Vol.2, No.1, 66-72
Published Online March 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
A Study on the Effects of Family and Delinquent Peers on
Juvenile Delinquency in Turkey
Tülin Günşen İçli, Sevgi Çoban
Department of Sociology, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey
Email: {ticli, scoban}
Received January 18th, 2012; revised February 20th, 2012; accepted February 29th, 2012
The aim of this article is to explore the effects of peers and family on juvenile delinquency. Open-ended
and multiple choice questionnaires were applied to 1526 juveniles in two cities of Turkey; Ankara and Is-
tanbul. Consistent with the literature findings showed that the family has an indirect and partial effect on
juvenile’s tendency to commit crime because they cannot provide organized social networks, role models,
and social controls for their children. On the other hand, by developing a differential association with the
juvenile, by which violence and criminal acts are learned, legitimated, supported or encouraged; the peer
network has a direct and an incredible influence to initiate the juvenile into crime.
Keywords: Juvenile Delinquency; Turkey; Social Learning Theory; Differential Association
Theoretical Framework
Social learning theory is one of the theories that are referred
to explain criminal behavior, whose origins rooted in Gabriel
Tarde’s theory of imitation. This theory implies that individuals
learn certain behavioral patterns by imitating the others’ be-
Albert Bandura expands this perspective in a social context
and believes that people learn behavior through observing oth-
ers’ behaviors. Consequently, many modes of behavior are
learned by observation of other behavior models; and in this
way the individual has the knowledge of the ways of displaying
subsequent behaviors and thus this codified knowledge directs
individual in his/her subsequent behaviors (Bandura, 1977).
People’s environment or surroundings cause them to behave in
certain ways with their power to reinforce or discriminate, and
thus environment, individual, and behavior are interrelated (Or-
mrod, 1999: p. 2).
Social learning theories are based on the assumption that be-
havior is learned through some certain processes as observation,
imitation and behavior modeling (Ormrod, 1999: 1). Within this
context, they stress that primary groups and intimate/admiring
people are the key factors which compromise the individual’s
major source of reinforcements (Vito et al., 2007: p. 177). In
this way social learning theories highlight both the individual
and the social sources of behavior. So, the studies in the field of
criminal behavior are more likely to analyze the environment
where the crime is learned and criminal behavior than the
Differential Association Theory, developed by Edwin Suth-
erland in 1947, is one of the most prominent interactionist theo-
ries of deviance. And those social learning theories, which are
basically based on Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory,
broaden the framework of classical symbolic interactionist pa-
radigm, and presume that criminal behavior is learnt within the
interaction process with peer groups (Piquero et al., 2005: p.
252). This theory explains criminal behavior with respect to
definitions for law-breaking and these definitions refer to the
meanings derived from individuals’ experiences, forms of ap-
prehension, attitudes, values, and habitual ways of viewing the
world (Payne & Salotti 2007: p. 556). Definitions become fa-
vorable or unfavorable to law breaking according to the weight
granted definitions made by individuals. Weights are assigned
to individuals’ definitions in their associations with others, and
these associations vary in frequency, duration, priority, and
intensity. The earlier people are exposed to criminal norms of
conduct 1), the more often they are exposed to them; 2), the
longer those exposures last; 3), and the more strongly they are
attached to those who supply them with the definitions favor-
able to law violation; 4), the more likely they are to commit cri-
minal acts in case of having enough chance (Cullen & Agnew,
2003: p. 125).
Within this context it can be stated that differential associa-
tion is a group interaction process through which the individual
gets positive or negative response about the behavior he/she
displays. (Payne & Salotti, 2007: p. 556). In other words, dif-
ferential association represents groups which make a consensus
on definitions favorable to deviance (norm violations) and form
a subculture deviant of social norms. And in deviating from the
social norms, the individuals who get involved in these groups
turn into crime (Sutherland & Cressey, 1960: p. 132) since as
for this theory, criminality is learned through social interaction
with others, as well as through impersonal communication.
In addition to this, Sutherland’s theory asserts that criminal-
ity is the result of conflicting cultural norms. The fact that peo-
ple from high and low classes have different cultural and oper-
ant codes, does not mean that while high class neighborhoods
are organized and low class neighborhoods are disorganized or
pathological; but rather people from both classes are just dif-
ferent within their own integrity. However, it is proper to state
that high crime rates are generally resulted from these conflicts
in a given society. Thus, the concept of differential social or-
ganization allows us to adequately account for the associations
that people have without reference to individual differences.
Those mentioned differential associations are thus observable
among local organizations which are organized in accordance
with the individual’s social class, his/her family, religion, and
race (Matsueda & Heimer, 1987: p. 827). This fact, in turn,
leads to the idea that beliefs and reactions towards crime, differ
according to the quality of a given group in modern societies.
Although by focusing on the cultural aspects of crime, Suther-
land’s theory offers an explanation to white collar crimes, street
gangs, mafia or juvenile delinquency; it is critized by Burgess
and Akers (1966) for not being empirically operational. For
instance the definition of and the measuring techniques to be
used for these differential associations are not explicitly clari-
fied. Additionally, the assumption that learning criminal be-
havior embraces all of the mechanisms that are involved in any
other learning process, is criticized for not explaining essen-
tially how behavior is learned since it does not explicate those
mechanisms mentioned.
According to Burgess and Akers (1966), Sutherland’s dif-
ferential association theory, as being a social theory of crime,
says nothing about the mechanisms by which “definitions fa-
vorable” to crime are learned and thus makes it difficult to op-
erationalize the theory, except for looking at frequency, priority,
duration, and intensity. With the aim of making Sutherland’s
nine principles on learning criminal behavior testable, Robert
Burgess and Ronald Akers revised these principles by applying
the concept of operant conditioning (Adams, 1973: p. 460). By
revising Sutherland’s basic assumptions they developed the
notion of differential reinforcement which stresses the rein-
forcing effects of anticipated responses or punishments to
criminal behavior.
In Akers’ social learning version, individuals are neither
natural-born deviants nor inherently social; they are simply
neutral in learning behavioral models. The social context is thus
an extremely important component in determining the behavior
model that is chosen by the individual (Payne & Salotti, 2007:
p. 556). Behavior is strengthened when positive rewards are
gained (positive reinforcement) and it is weakened when it is
punished; and deviant behaviors are acquired in the same man-
ner when a person’s disorganized behaviors are reinforced,
praised and encouraged by his role models.
Burgess and Akers’ social learning model differs from the
differential association theory in two aspects. Firstly, Burgess
and Akers do not focus only on the primary groups as effective
sources to acquire some sets of behaviors but also they point
out that mass media, schools, and companies are also important
socialization agents in the acquisition of these sets. Second,
they suggest that positive consequences reinforce behavior by
making it more likely to be repeated in similar situations (İçli,
2007: p. 120).
In a general sense, in explaining juvenile delinquency, learn-
ing theories focus person’s parents and peer groups. There exist
basically two groups of research which study juvenile delin-
quency in relation to familial relations and peer groups. Among
the first group of these studies, juvenile delinquency is explored
in accordance with the weak social control mechanisms, negli-
gence and socio-demographic features of the family, frag-
mented family structure and poor parenting (Shavit & Rattner,
1988; Sutherland & Cressey, 1966; Glueck & Glueck, 1974;
Matsueda & Heimer, 1987; McCord, 1991; Ireland & Widom,
1994; Stouthamer-Loeber, Wei, Homish, & Loeber, 2002). And
the second group of studies simply focuses on deviant peer
groups (Elliott, Huizinga, & Ageton, 1985; Warr & Stafford,
1991; Thornbery, Liozette, Krohn, Farnworth, & Jang, 1994;
DeWit et al., 2000; Haynie, 2002; Chapple, 2005; Weerman &
Smeenk, 2005; Rebellon, 2006; Piquera et al., 2008).
Studying juvenile delinquency by taking parent or peer ef-
fects into consideration is an old trend in criminology (Ingram
et al., 2007). Another important development in understanding
peer influences on delinquency is the link between family rela-
tionships, mass communication and the peer influence (Marcos,
Bahn, & Johnson, 1986; Henry, Tolan, & Gorman-Smith, 2001;
Brendgen, Vitaro, Tremblay, & Wanner, 2002; Ingram et al.,
2007). This trend gives credit in social learning approaches
because family relationships, violent or nonviolent delinquency
of peers, involvement in deviant peer groups, and mass media
as an impersonal agent to help socialization, and draws a big
picture to explain juvenile delinquency. Some theoreticians
suggest that the families, who are lack of effective discipline on
and proper parental monitoring of the child’s activities, increase
the probability of the child’s contact with deviant peers (Ingram
et al., 2007).
Many studies have been made to test learning theories in the
field of juvenile delinquency (Akers, Krohn, Lanza-Kaduce, &
Radosevich, 1979; Matsueda & Heimer, 1987; Rebellon, 2006;
Payne & Salotti 2007). Brendgen et al. (2002) assert that per-
sonal traits, social-environmental factors like exposure to vio-
lence in media, chronic stress experienced in social networks,
and problematic experiences with family and peer groups are
effective altogether in juvenile’s violent acts. It is also not sur-
prising that during adolescence, varied types of associations
with peers are both common and widespread (Warr, 2002). For
example, by using data from the National Youth Survey, Warr
(1993) found that peer relations (i.e., exposure to delinquent
peers, time spent with peers, loyalty to peers) changed dra-
matically throughout adolescence, following much the same
pattern as crime itself.
In the present study, the social cognitive model and the rejec-
tion sensitivity model are tested to assess the types of the
mechanisms operate in the social environment which leads
individuals into deviance. The social cognitive model focuses
on the processes of imitation, reinforcement, and of observation
in learning criminality from parents and peers; while according
to the rejection sensitivity model ill-treatments or rejective man-
ners of aggressive parents towards their children result in vio-
lence, which is also relevant for the case of peer groups, and for
members who begin to act violently depending on their hostile
and violent experiences in the group (Downey et al., 1996). The
more a person receives hostile and violent attitudes in his fam-
ily and peer groups, the more he tends to act violently and
adopts this manner as habit, which results from the idea that he
will always experience the similar hostility and violence in his
family and peer networks.
The effects of social surrounding on juvenile delinquency are
explored with four distinctive models by Henry et al. (2001).
Moderate model regards families as having the ability to buffer
the effects of deviant peer involvement. Buffering here implies
a moderated relation in which the correlations between peer
variables and individual variables differ among family types. A
buffering model also suggests that in better functioning families,
making contact with deviant peers does not produce the same
effect as it does for youth in less well-functioning families, and
thus risk is lower. Direct effects model implies that family and
peer influences might operate as direct and parallel influences
on delinquency. Such a direct relation would imply that family
variables do not affect the selection of and the involvement in
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 67
peer groups directly, but affect behavior by monitoring the
adolescent’s activities, through family relationships characteris-
tics, and through patterns of family relationships and parenting
characteristics. Fully mediated model is that deficient parenting
practices might contribute to opportunities for deviant peer
group involvement, which affect delinquency. Thus, the effects
of families and of parenting would be mediated through in-
volvement with deviant peers. Partially mediated model pri-
marily concerns the mechanisms by which adolescents are re-
jected or accepted by either conventional or deviant peers. This
model also suggests that families bring about coercive behav-
iors in children, which contribute to peer group selection and to
delinquency. Thus, this model includes both direct and medi-
ated effects of family relationships and parenting on delinquent
behavior. In this model, deviant peers mediate the relation be-
tween parenting and individual violence. Parenting and family
relationship characteristics promote association with deviant peers,
which in turn increases the probability of delinquent behavior
(Henry, Tolan, & Gorman-Smith, 2001: p. 173). The results of
the present study support the views argued by the partially me-
diated model.
The findings of Warr’s (2005) study show that fathers that
have stronger emotional bonds with their children are more
likely to monitor and discipline their children and decrease their
possibility of involvement in delinquent peer groups. Parallel to
this research, in the research by Henry et al. (2001) it is shown
that close family relations lower juvenile’s probability of join-
ing criminal groups and decreases the probability of commit-
ment. There seen important links between family and friendship
in the study of Wright et al. (2001) which examines family
wealth. According to the family wealth approach, which forms
the theoretical frame of the research, the families who invest
their children with effort easily develop social ties with them.
This kind of investment by the family is called family wealth.
Family wealth is related to the lower level of friendships with
criminal groups. The research of Ingram et al. (2008: p. 1) re-
veals that variables about family are indirectly related to the
crime committed in later years but the friendship with criminals
is directly and strongly related to criminality. Stouthamer and
Louber (2002) found that the ill-treatment of the family has
conserable effect on boys’ heading for crime; whereas Suli-
van’s research (2006) shows that the effect of the family’s be-
havior is less effective than that of the friend groups.
Another model on juvenile delinquency, which relates crimi-
nality to self-esteem, explains criminality in relation to indi-
vidual self-esteem. According to Gottfredson and Hirschi, indi-
viduals with lower self esteem are reactive and insensitive,
behave according to the physical triggers, and they are narrow
minded and have low frustration tolerance; as they have these
characteristics they are more inclined to committing crimes
(Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990). Low self-confidence leads to
being socially unsuccessful. Unemployment, friendships with
wrapped groups and behaviors like wasting time at streets are
evaluated as the primary results of the factors that lead to
criminal acts (Baron, 2003: p. 403).
The other explanation to the juvenile delinquency is General
Strain Theory developed by Agnew. According to Agnew,
negative factors such as the failure in achieving goals which are
valued positively (unemployment), and the existence of harmful
stimulants (homelessness) make a pressure on the individual,
which causes crime (Baron, 2003: p. 407). In his study, Baron
(2003) explains these unfavorable relationships in relation to
low selfconfidence. The young with low self-confidence join to
deviant peer groups; they embrace deviant values like unem-
ployment and homelessness. As a result they tend to commit
Another study on General Strain Theory was made by Os-
trowsky and Messner (2005). In this study, the validity of the
theory is evaluated and the General Strain Theory is surveyed
under three titles; life struggle, victimization strain and neigh-
borhood strain. Each of these variables is investigated on the
basis that the ways they affect the opportunities in young adults’
lives with regards to the appreciated and unappreciated goals.
As a result, the General Strain Theory is supported with the
findings concerning that these variables prepare inhibitive liv-
ing conditions to these young adults and hereby they tend to
commit crime.
1526 juveniles, who are reported as crime suspects in the city
centers and districts of Ankara and Istanbul; are selected throu-
gh cluster sampling with the significance level of 95%.
Preparatory to the research, pollsters comprised of sociolo-
gists and psychologists are trained on conducting a question-
naire and making an interview. The number of juveniles, who
are reported by virtue of criminal charge to the bureaus in the
city center and central districts of Ankara and Istanbul, were
18.272 in 2004.
In order to strengthen the representation of the sample, the
number of subjects was increased to 770 in each city to make
the number of the sample groups equal. Children Branch Offi-
ces in Istanbul (Kadıköy, Sarıyer, Beşiktaş, Beyoğlu, Bayram-
paşa) and Ankara; Social Work and Children Protection Estab-
lishment’s and some other private foundations’ dormitories (as
Yel Değirmeni Children Center, Istanbul Bahçelievler 80.Year
Girl Dormitory, Istanbul Florya Youth Center, Istanbul Ağaçlı
Children Dormitory, Umut Foundation), Istanbul Municipality
Job Acquirement Center (İSMEM), and Crime and Arrestment
foundations in Ankara and Istanbul where accommodate female
and male prisoners and convicts under the age of eighteen (El-
madağ, Paşa Kapısı and Bayrampaşa) were visited.
In addition to questionnaire application, deep interviews were
employed with the juveniles who were brought to youth offices
by virtue of criminal charge.
In an effort to find out the demographic, socio-cultural and
economic characteristics of the families and of the juveniles
included in the sample, and to figure out by which reasons and
what kind of crimes, the juveniles are exposed to or commit; an
open-ended and multiple choice questionnaire of 188 questions
was applied to juveniles, and interviews were made with some
of them.
Firstly the sample group is described through one-dimension
tables that are shaped according to the data obtained by means
of questionnaires. The correlation between the result variables
and the variables considered to be effective, were investigated
through cross tabulation and multivariate analysis, with the aim
of determining the crime types the juveniles committed and the
reasons of taking part in those crimes, after running away from
home, beginning to live and work in streets, and exposing to
crime. By applying the techniques of 1) Homogeneity and 2)
three-dimensional tables throughout the multivariate analysis,
possible correlations among variables were tested.
Hypotheses, developed for the present research are mentio-
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
ned below:
1) There is a positive correlation between the mother’s edu-
cational level and the type of the crime juvenile commits.
2) There is a positive correlation between the father’s educa-
tional level and the type of crime juvenile commits.
3) There is a positive correlation between the amount of the
time the child spends on streets and his involvement into
criminal acts.
4) There is a positive correlation between juvenile’s crimes
and the type of peers’ crimes.
50.6% of the research sample is constituted of juveniles live
in Ankara; and 49.4% live in Istanbul. In the analysis of the
juvenile’s birthplaces; it is seen that the biggest proportion
(36.6%) is composed of the juveniles from Central Anatolia
Region. Besides, it is found out that 22.2% of the sample was
born in cities in Marmara Region, 12.4% of them was born in
cities in Southeastern Anatolia Region.
66.3% of the children to whom the questionnaires were ap-
plied, and with whom the interviews made in Ankara and Is-
tanbul are between the ages of 16% and 19%, and 27.9% are
between the ages of 12 - 15. The majority of the juveniles in the
sample group are between the ages of 12 - 19.
Approximately 88% of the juveniles are male and 12% of
them are female.
During the research 80.5% of the sample stated that their
families live in the town center.
When the educational level of the sample were examined it
was found that 15.5% of them are literate, 12.7% are elemen-
tary school (primary and secondary school) students, 40.5% are
elementary school graduates, 18.2% are high school students,
and 3.5% of them are high school graduates.
81.5% of the juveniles mentioned that they wish for a higher
level of education. Some of the juveniles declared that they had
never attended to school for various reasons. While the first of
these reasons is the juvenile’s own unwillingness (30.5%); the
second reason is the disallowance of the families (27.7%), and
the last reason is related with the family’s poverty (26.2%).
92.5% of the sample stated that their mothers are alive;
87.1% of them stated that their fathers are alive. Moreover
70.8% of them denoted that their parents live together.
30.1% of the juveniles’ mothers are illiterate, whilst 29.1%
are primary school graduates. While the rate of mothers who
are only literate is 16.7%; the rate of mothers that have high
school or bachelor’s degree is considerably low (7.0% and
1.5%). 7.5% of juveniles’ fathers are not literate and 33.8% of
fathers are primary school graduates. The rate of fathers who
are merely literate is 13.1%; the rate of fathers who have high
school degree is 10.3%, and the rate of university graduate
fathers is only 3.3%.
In the examination of the fathers’ occupational status; it has
been found out that 60.5% of the fathers have a regular job. In
parallel with the educational level, only 13.4% of mothers have
regular jobs and 78.4% of them are housewives.
While 25.5% of the sample live in big families consisting of
7 or more members; 22% of the juveniles live in families with 4
members. 54.2% of the sample usually live with their parents
and siblings. It can be hereby concluded that one third of the
juveniles live in large families (with 7 or more members).
38% of the sample are found to be migrated from another
city to Ankara or Istanbul; among these families while 46.8%
are from East (23.5%) and Southeastern Anatolia (23.3%),
13.7% are from Central Anatolia. More than half of the families
(55.6%) migrated for the purpose of finding a better job.
In a comparison of the number of siblings; it is found that
3.1% of the sample are singletons. While juveniles with 1 to 3
siblings are uppermost of this comparison (54.5%), juveniles
with 4 to 6 siblings (27.5%) take the second place and juveniles
with 7 or more siblings (14.6%) come third.
When the juveniles were asked the person that maintains the
family; 28.6% of them reported that it is their fathers who
maintains the family, 10.9% reported that their sibling/s main-
tain(s) the family, 3.2% reported that the person who brings up
the family is the mother, 2.6% reported they are assigned for
this responsibility, and 51.4% reported all the family members
work in a job to earn a living for their family.
During the course of the research, 42.2% of the sample was
living at home, 35% of the sample in prison, and 19.5% in an
In the course of the research, it’s discovered that 39% of the
sample had been staying in their current place for two and a
half years or more, 27.1% had been living in their current place
for 1 - 3 months and 11.9% had been living at the same place
for 4 - 6 months.
67.7% of the sample was not working during the time of the
research. In relation to this fact, the sample was asked whether
he/she had ever worked before or not. According to the answers;
the majority of the sample (81.9%) had been working to earn
money until the research time. While 36.7% of the sample star-
ted working between the ages of 12 - 14; 25.2% started working
between the ages of 9 - 11. 68.8% of the juveniles worked at a
workplace and 18.4% worked on streets. In addition to these
findings, it is proper to state that 36% of the juveniles working
at a work-place was an apprentice in a store, and while 69% of
juvenile stated that working at a job was their own choice;
67.2% of them mentioned that their families allowed them to
find a job and work.
As another interesting finding, it is important to note that
more than half of the sample (52%) had spent the whole night
outside for one or more times. And when the reasons of staying
outside during the nighttime are asked to the sample, 39% ex-
plained that they were not willing to go home; and 32.7% stated
that he/she enjoyed the idea of staying outside.
74.6% of the sample had not been punished for any crime
before. 60.9% of the juveniles, who had committed crime, had
been imprisoned before. 61.4% of the sample who were either
arrested or sentenced are between the ages of 5 - 17. While the
first crime of 15.4% of the juveniles was murder, laceration or
beating, it was theft, swindling, pick pocketing and purse-snat-
ching for 37.2% of them, and 9.4% of them committed various
kinds of theft. 70.9% of the sample committed their first crime
on the streets; and 27.4% of them committed for the first time
for money. And similarly 67.4% of the sample committed their
last crime on the streets and 24.2% of them did it for money.
Another crucial finding to note is that social surroundings,
friends and the television are the negative (role) models for
39.7% of the juveniles to get the idea of committing crime.
While 37.9% of the juveniles were aided and abetted in com-
mitting crime, 71.2% of the juveniles stated that the people who
aided and abetted them were their friends.
Another crucial finding to note is that social surroundings,
friends and the television are the negative (role) models for
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 69
39.7% of the juveniles to get the idea of committing crime.
While 37.9% of the juveniles were aided and abetted in com-
mitting crime, 71.2% of the juveniles stated that the people who
aided and abetted them were their friends.
Despite 87% of the juveniles’ families were trying to prevent
their children from committing crime, 95.8% of the sample
mentioned that he/she had criminal friends, and 84.5% of them
described those friends as the close ones. More than half of the
juveniles (63.7%) spent their spare times with their friends and
86.4% of them reported to had been getting on well with their
friends. The rate of juveniles’ friends living or working on
streets is 36.8%; and 47.7% of the sample group had friends
who were arrested or imprisoned before.
When the crimes committed by the friends of the sample are
examined, it is seen that with the rate of 21% theft, swindling,
pick pocketing and purse snatching are crimes committed most.
Moreover while the second greatest crime types are found as
murder, laceration and beating (14.4%) among the friends; the
third greatest crime types are found to be as damaging people’s
belongings in the manner of theft (11.9%).
50.9% of the sample were away from home for one and half
year or more and 21.5% of them were for one to three months.
39.8% of the juveniles was between the ages of 15 to 17 when
they first left home, 25.5% were between the ages of 12 - 14,
and 15.6% were between the ages of 9 - 11. Having familial
problems is the basic reason for almost the entire sample to
leave home. For 10.5% of the juveniles, being exposed to do-
mestic violence by their parents is the basic reason for leaving
the home for the first time.
77.3% of the sample usually ran away from home and 47.6%
of them had been ran away from home for five times or more,
and 35.1% of them had been ran away from home for one or
two times. While more than half (53.2%) of those who ran away
from home, accused their families for causing that; 21.5% of
them addressed their friends.
45.6% of the sample stated that they ran away from home for
the first time when they were at the ages of 13 - 16, and 35.6%
of them when they were at the ages of 9 - 12. 35.8% of the
sample mentioned that they had ever stayed away their home
for 18 or more days, and 25.8% of them had stayed outside for
2 - 5 days.
91.3% of the juveniles returned home and when a compari-
son is made among them, it is seen that while 51.1% of the
group returned home willingly, 29.1% of them returned home
with their families’ enforcement.
This study basically portrays a serious table of facts. First of
all, juveniles start committing severe violent crimes as theft,
swindling, pick pocketing, purse-snatching and murder, lacera-
tion, and beating mostly between the ages of 15 - 17. This por-
tray reveals various outcomes about the juvenile’s relations
with the family and with friends as the considerable reason of
The education level of juveniles’ families are low and almost
the half of their families (43.9%) migrated from East and South
East Anatolia with the aim of finding job. Most of the families
have been living in the same place for more than ten years, and
the rate of the juveniles whose fathers have regular jobs is 60%.
The cross table analysis shows a low correlation between the
mother’s educational level and the type of crime the juvenile
commits. While the juveniles of illiterate mothers commit purse
snatching and narcotic crimes more than expected; the ones of
mothers who continued but did not get primary school gradua-
tion, commit the crimes of murder and laceration, and the juve-
niles’ whose mothers are primary school graduates committed
crimes as theft and causing damage to property, less than ex-
pected. These outcomes reinforce the first hypothesis weakly.
Any remarkable data is found out to show that an increase at
the mother’s educational level influences the juvenile’s crimi-
nality negatively. This outcome can be explained by the insuf-
ficient number of juveniles who have high school or university
graduate mothers.
Besides, there found a significant correlation between the fa-
ther’s educational level and the crime types committed by the
juveniles (X2 = 107.2; P = 0.023). The juveniles of fathers that
are high school graduates commit some crime types less than
expected. Parallel to this, while the juveniles of university gra-
duate fathers, commit crimes like theft/swindling/pick pocket-
ing/purse-snatching less than expected; the ones of middle school
graduate fathers commit crimes such as swearing and insulting
public officers more than expected. Therefore it can be con-
cluded that the second hypothesis is verified. There is a nega-
tive correlation between the father’s educational level and the
violent crimes committed by the juvenile. When considering
the fact that juveniles commit crime are mostly male (87.5%), it
can be seen that the father is a more effective role model than
the mother in terms of the educational level and life style; and
the father of these characteristics shapes the criminal life of the
juvenile indirectly.
When the education level of juveniles is checked over, it is
seen that most of them are at the level of secondary education.
On the other hand 81.9% of the juveniles are observed to have
started working as an apprentice in a store or selling tissue,
pencil etc. on the streets at very early ages and mostly before
the age of 18. It is important to note that the families of these
juveniles approve and encourage them to work; therefore
working on the streets is, correspondingly, an indirect obstacle
against going to school and receiving education. Even though
the juveniles are supposedly having official education, they are
forced to give up their education and to work, by their parents
through time. It is a common fact for the juveniles of poor
families moving from underdeveloped regions to big cities in
Turkey, to start working at early ages. This fact makes surviv-
ing in big cities easier for the poor families when their children
start working as early as possible. Some of them either take safe
jobs as apprenticeship or tinker, but some others work under
extremely risky conditions like selling handkerchiefs, adhesive
plaster, and flowers on the streets or waiting near the traffic
lights to clean car windows. As pointed out before, the juve-
niles deprived of any profession or high education, have to face
various risky factors in their work places.
The reason why juveniles among the sample never got any
formal education can be explained firstly with their unwilling-
ness (30.5%). While the families’ disallowance (27.7%) can be
shown as the second reason; the third common reason of this
fact is financial difficulties (26.2%). The juveniles, who are
able to have formal education, do also work in a job to earn
money as soon as possible since they aim to be economically
independent of their families; therefore as those juveniles at-
tribute more importance to working than going school, after a
while they leave school and begin to work in various jobs.
One of the findings of great importance can be shown as the
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
fact that the majority of the juveniles ran away from home be-
fore the age of 18, and the quarrels within the family play a
negative effect on this situation. Moreover, the juveniles are
considered to spend most of their time with their friends after
leaving home.
In reference to the third hypothesis asserting the idea that the
longer the juvenile lives on street the more frequently he will
commit crime, the probability of committing crime for the ones
who live on streets for 10 - 12 months length, is found to be
3,46 times higher than expected (z = 3.9). It is observed that the
probability of committing crime is not significantly high for the
juveniles having lived less or more than this period of time.
Accordingly, the third hypothesis supporting the idea that ‘there
is a relation between the time period spent outside and the rates
of crimes committed’ is not supported.
While the rate of juveniles who live together with their
friends during the time of research is 38.3%, the juveniles liv-
ing together with their family follow this rank with the ratio of
38%. Living together with friends makes learning to commit
crime easier, and it has to be stated that although these juveniles
have severe arguments with their families and run away from
home, they emphasized that they never completely break away
from their families.
It is relevant to stress that in case the juveniles stay away
from home, the probability of being exposed to and of learning
criminal acts considerably increases. As they spend most of
their time on the streets, it has been understood that they started
committing crimes or still committing them again on the streets,
and generally for money. It is seen that their current crimes and
earlier crimes are similar to each other and money is the main
reason for committing those crimes.
The rate of the juvenilees commit crime within the circle of
friends is high. Another striking point is that their friends were
also arrested for similar crimes like murder/laceration/beating
and theft, swindling/pick pocketing/purse-snatching. It is also
seen that the juveniles learn the notion of committing crime
from their friends and they are supported and encouraged pretty
much by their friends in committing crime. More than half of
the juveniles (63.7%) spent the majority of their time with their
friends, 36.8% of them have friends who work or live on the
streets. Moreover, approximately half of the group has friends
who were arrested or imprisoned because of a criminal act
committed before. These findings indicate the source of the
idea of committing crime as the circle of friends. Another find-
ing about the effect of friendship on crimes is the similarity
between the crimes committed by the juveniles and his friends.
A strong relation is observed between the types of crimes which
caused the juveniles to be arrested and the type of crime com-
mitted by his peer groups. In other words, it is more likely for
them to commit theft when their friends do it so and to commit
crimes as abuse/sodomy like their friends (Chi-Square = 1037,430;
P = 0,000). There are considerable similarities in the cross table
analysis under the following headings: The frequency of mur-
der is 7 times higher if the juvenile has a friend who committed
murder (z = 5.9); the frequency of committing theft is 2 times
higher than expected in case of having a friend who committed
theft, and the frequency to commit crime is 3 times higher than
expected if the child has a friend who was arrested because of
laceration (z = 3.5). More strikingly, the probability of commit-
ting abuse or sodomy is 20 times higher than expected if the
juvenile’s friend groups commits these crimes (z = 10.2). And
similarly the frequency of committing various kinds of theft is
also 40 times higher than expected for the ones who have
friends with various kinds of theft (z = 11.2). Therefore it is
proper to mention that these data support hypothesis 4.
It is seen that families try to keep their children away from
crime and they definitely do not approve of their crimes. Be-
sides, by encouraging the children to work in early ages the
families prevent them from completing their education and
developing organized life styles. When the quarrels between the
juvenile and the family, and the economic problems are consid-
ered with this case, it is found that the juvenile is more likely to
run away from home in early ages. As a consequence of this
fact, even though the family does not directly encourage the
juvenile to commit crime, they lose their social control on their
children at a great extend, especially during this period. As the
time spent on the streets increases the juvenile becomes a
member of a new criminal social network. By developing dif-
ferential associations with their friends, the juveniles turn into
crime mostly because of economic concerns. The violence wi-
thin the crimes of these juveniles also shows the lack of social
control on them.
The data of this research on juvenile delinquency in relation
to family and peer networks briefly reveal these points: The
family has an indirect and partial effect on juvenile’s tendency
to commit crime because they cannot provide organized social
networks, role models, and social controls for their children.
For this reason it can be concluded that the families have a se-
condary influence on juvenile delinquency. On the other hand,
by developing a differential association with the juvenile, by
which violence and criminal acts are learned, legitimated, sup-
ported or encouraged; the peer network has a direct and an
incredible influence to initiate the juvenile into crime.
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