n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The impact of extra-legal factors on the labeling of juveniles as 'offenders'

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Labeling theory posits that formal punishment of juvenile offenders contributes to an increase in future deviance due to the fixation of the criminal status. Studies have inadequately examined how personal characteristics and social process / interactional variables relate. Using Children at Risk (CAR) data we examined social process and interaction using four variables: weak commitment to school, family conflict, risks seeking behavior and negative perception of the police. Results for regression analyses showed that the effect of arrest on subsequent delinquency resulted in a 100 percent increase and 110 percent decrease in magnitude when family conflict and school commitment, respectively, increased one unit from the mean. Additionally, the magnitude of the effect of arrest, or formal labeling on future delinquent behavior increases by 154 percent when negative perception of the police is one unit above its mean.

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