Psychologists have come to recognize that adolescence is a unique period of human development. There has been a vast amount of material written about adolescence, yet the behavior of adolescents has too often been ignored as a subject of scientific inquiry (Twiford & Carson, 1980, p.4). Some adults are frustrated in their attempt to understand much of the behavior of adolescents. The criminal justice system has had its hands full with the increase in juvenile crimes. Young adolescents who are going through some very unique changes in their development are committing these crimes. The factors involved are critical in the influence and the shape of adolescent life.
A popular view of adolescence portrays it as a period of "storm and stress" (Twiford & Carson, 1980, p.25-26). Experts have described adolescents as inconsistent, unpredictable, erratic, emotional, and self-centered. Broadway's "West Side Story" presented various stereotyped views of adolescent behavior within urban ghettos, where gang warfare and delinquency are superimposed against a background of adolescent love and emotion. G. Stanley Hall applied the phrase "storm and stress" as he saw turmoil during adolescence as a universal and inevitable consequence of normal human development. For most adolescents, the transition period of adolescence is a happy and trouble free period of life. For a few, the teen years are troublesome, sometimes marked by antisocial or illegal behavior (Sanders, 1991, p.2).
As teenagers begin to define themselves into adulthood, they begin to seek more independence from family and less parental supervision (Onyehalu). The cases of delinquent or antisocial behaviors among adolescents have not been convincingly established. However, experts have offered theories involving causal factors range from personality problems to family, social, and economic considerations (Reed). .
Partial explanation lies in the fact that many of the unlawful activities the teens take part in generate powerful intrinsic rewards (Twiford & Carson, 1980, p.