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Juvenile Delinquency Explained?:A Test of Containment Theory

Youth & Society , Volume 15 (2): 171 – Dec 1, 1983


Sage Publications
Copyright © 1983 by SAGE Publications
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Juvenile Delinquency Explained?:A Test of Containment Theory


JUVENILE DELINQ UENC Y EXPLAINED? A Test of Containment Theory WILLIAM E. THOMPSON Emporia State University RICHARD A. DODDER Oklahoma State University Containment theory is based upon the assumption that the propensity to commit acts that deviate from societal norms is inherent in everyone. Thus, every juvenile is a potential delinquent. According to containment theory (Reckless, 1961, 1967), the determining factor that explains both conformity and deviance is the extent to which an individual is prohibited from committing delinquent acts. This prohibition, or control, comes from two sources: the self (inner containment) and the immediate social world within which the individual lives (outer containment). Inner containment is the ability of a person to follow expected norms through self-control and consists of four basic components: a favorable self-concept, goal orienta- tion, frustration tolerance, and retention of norms (Reckless, AUTHORS' NOTE: This article is a revised version ofa paper presented at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Annual Meeting held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, March 12-14, 1980. YOUTH & SOCIETY, Vol.15 No. 2, December 1983 171-194 Sage Publications, Inc. 172 YOUTH & SOCIETY / DECEMBER 1983 1967: 475). Outer containment is the ability of society to confine individual behavior within
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