Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

Date Information

May 2020


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Jen Girgen


People become aware of crime within their communities, but they often do not know why it occurs, especially when the offender is a minor. In 2018, there were 728,280 juvenile arrests, and arrest rates have been continuously declining since 2006 (Puzzanchera, 2019). This is in addition to the unknown delinquent offenses that did not result in arrest. By examining risk factors and real-life cases of delinquency, this manuscript seeks to better understand what causes juvenile delinquency, or crimes committed by those under age 18, by applying the fundamentals of General Strain Theory. General Strain Theory, developed by Robert Agnew, is an extension of Robert Merton’s Strain Theory. The main focus of General Strain Theory is on one’s negative relationships with other individuals. General Strain Theory is the only major theory that solely focuses on negative relationships and argues that delinquency occurs as a result of these negative relationships. According to Agnew (1992), strain follows when others “(1) prevent one from achieving their positively valued goals, (2) remove or threaten to remove positively valued stimuli that one possesses, or (3) present or threaten to present one with negatively valued stimuli” (p. 50). As with all criminal behavior, juvenile crime may be caused by multiple factors, but perhaps General Strain Theory can help us understand much of it.