Juvenile delinquency is a major obstacle in the development of adolescents. According to routine activities theory, adolescents’ daily life circumstances are the factor explaining juvenile delinquency. Adolescents can face the opportunities for delinquent behaviors which are not planned when they just do their daily routines on the way to school or coming back home, hanging out with friends, etc. This study analyzed the relationship between the routine activities of adolescents and their delinquent behaviors in South Korea, while controlling for socio demographic factors.
Analyses were based on the two waves of the nationally representative Korea Youth Panel Survey (2003-2008) by the National Youth Policy Institute in South Korea, using 3,125 youth. Youth routine activities and delinquency measures were reported by the youth. The items asking the forms of usual activities, the persons doing the activities with, the time and place at which the activities take place were used to figure out the routine activities, defined in routine activities theory as unstructured and unsupervised socializing with peers. Youth delinquency was categorized as status delinquency, criminal delinquency, and bullying.
Within-person fixed-effects model used for analyzing the relationship between the routine activities of adolescents and their delinquent behaviors in order to control for potential unobserved confounding measures that are consistent over time.
Within-person fixed effects regression results indicated that routine activities defined as unstructured and unsupervised socializing with peers are significantly associated with adolescents’ status and criminal delinquency. The results showed that routine activities are linked with higher risk of status and criminal delinquency of adolescents while family income and family co-habitation were not significant factors. On the other hand, bullying did not have a significant association with routine activities while family co-habitation was a significant factor.
Conclusions and Implications
First, the activities classified according to routine activities theory have significant effects on adolescents’ delinquency in South Korea. In other words, adolescents spent their free time without clear purpose, tasks, and supervision are more likely to have opportunities for juvenile delinquency, as routine activities theory discussed. It is necessary to take preventive interventions so that adolescents would not be left in blind spots in their daily lives.
Second, the routine activities have different influence on different types of delinquencies. The results of this study, showing routine activities did not significantly associated with bullying, suggested that bullying has different factors and characteristics from other types of delinquency.
Lastly, this study provides the understanding how routine activities effect on committing delinquency, although the researches verifying routine activities theory in South Korea were focused on the victimized adolescents. Additionally, it will provide an insight for people deliberating the way to protect children’s right to play in proper way.