Why Children in Foster Care Continue to Engage in Delinquent Behavior

CRIM 5010 – Theories of Crime
Position Paper

Why children in foster care continue to engage in delinquent behavior?
A Theoretical Approach
    I. Introduction
Incidence and prevalence of the problem
Children entering foster care are facing a world of the unknown.   Their life is now in the hands of a total stranger and they have no idea of what will become of them.   National statistics obtained from the Administration of Children and Families show there were an estimated 510,000 children in foster care on September 30, 2006 and 303,000 of these children entered foster care during the 2006 fiscal year (2008).   This figure indicates nationally an alarming number of children are entering foster care instead of remaining with their family and friends.   These children are separated from their family members and friends for a variety of reasons.   One of the more common reasons for separation is maltreatment.   Whether the maltreatment is child abuse, sexual abuse, or simply neglect, the Department of Social Services caseworkers are tasked with ensuring these children are living in a safe and healthy home environment.   Unfortunately, this means children may be removed from their homes to ensure their wellbeing.
Many of these foster children will enter the criminal justice system as a result of referrals by social service agencies.   Statistics retrieved from the National Center for Juvenile Justice (2007) shows that in 2004, 57% of the juvenile delinquency cases involved youths age 15 and under.   Although many of these cases were referred to juvenile court by law enforcement agencies, some cases also involved social service agencies.   Depending on the nature of delinquency, cases involving children in foster homes are more likely to be referred to law enforcement authorities to have criminal charges brought against the juvenile.   These cases are more likely to be the result of damage to personal property, stealing, or assault on the foster parent or other...