Juvenile delinquency is a tremendous burden on society, and the most antisocial youths impose staggering costs in terms of victimization and correctional fees. A recent study by Brandon Welsh and his colleagues (2008) is illustrative. Welsh and his collaborators estimated the victimization costs created by the self-reported delinquency of 503 boys from the Pittsburgh Youth Study and produced several important findings. The cohort reported 12,514 crimes or about 25 crimes each. These crimes resulted in victimizations that ranged from $89 million to $110 million stemming from victims’ pain, suffering, and lost quality of life. The 34 chronic offenders averaged 142 crimes, which was nearly 10 times the criminal activity of other delinquents, and this group imposed 5 to 8 times the victimization costs of nonchronic offenders. Other research has shown that chronic criminal offenders, nearly all of whom began their career as serious juvenile delinquents, cost society more than $1 million per offender. In this way, juvenile delinquency will continue to be an area of intense criminological study because of the various costs that it imposes, the ways that it is viewed as a social indicator, and its relationship to more serious and violent forms of antisocial behavior.
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