Examine the social context of delinquency and juvenile justice. What do we mean by social context and why is it important?
Introduction Delinquency and the practice of juvenile justice occur not in a vacuum but in a social context. This does not mean that individual factors such as biological makeup and psychological functioning do not play a role in delinquency or the operation of juvenile justice. Nor does it imply that individuals do not make choices, often conscious choices, to engage in delinquent behaviors. However, it recognizes that individuals and the choices they make cannot be adequately understood without considering the social contexts in which they live and act. Social context also helps shape our views of juvenile crime and the operation of juvenile justice through the portrayal of delinquency and juvenile justice in the media. In fact, much of what most people (including many policy makers) know about juvenile crime and juvenile justice comes from the news media. However, the social context of juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice comprises more than the media. In the United States, juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice are influenced by a variety of factors found in the political economy of the United States and in communities, families, schools, peer groups, and other important socializing institution