Juvenile delinquency

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Graffiti on a bus stop

For the police, the term juvenile delinquency in Germany subsumes all criminal offenses by registered suspects between the ages of 14 and 20 inclusive. Exceptions to this are violations in the area of administrative offenses .


The definition of juvenile delinquency is broad. A closer look at this definition shows that child and adolescent crime is also included.

In German juvenile criminal law , people under the age of 14 (age at the time of the offense) are not held criminally responsible for being under the age of criminal responsibility. People between the ages of 18 and 20 inclusive (so-called adolescents ) can fall under both adult criminal law and youth criminal law. According to the Youth Courts Act and the Child and Youth Welfare Act , only people aged 14 to under 18 are legally classified as juveniles .

Furthermore, is police statistics a bright field - and suspects statistics. Any person who, as a result of a police investigation, is sufficiently suspicious of having committed a crime is suspected . In Germany, a person is only convicted of the offense after a final judgment. For this reason, at the level of the unreported field, crime can only be spoken of after the suspect young person or adolescent has been convicted (convict statistics ) .

Youth-specific offenses

Age-specific offenses can be determined using various statistical criteria. In addition to the purely formal criterion of the absolute frequency in a certain age group or the criterion of the above-average increase over a certain period of time, crimes that are committed disproportionately often by children and adolescents compared to adults are described as "youth-specific". In the case of children, for example, this primarily includes shoplifting and property damage , but also bodily harm . In the case of adolescents, bodily harm is the most common crime. In the group of adolescents, drug offenses play a much larger role than in the younger age groups.

There are also youth-specific forms of offenses with regard to the type of inspection and the specific circumstances of the offense, for example "pulling" (robbery or theft of branded items) or bullying or bullying in school and in the school environment (insult, coercion, blackmail, in a number of cases also bodily harm) . For some of these youth-specific crimes, the perpetrators are increasingly making use of modern communication technologies, e.g. B. in the context of cyber bullying , in which the victim is insulted or blackmailed over the Internet or in happy slapping , an attack on a person filmed on a cell phone and then spread over the Internet.

The police crime statistics (PKS) are naturally limited to information on brightfield .


The criminology examines origins and manifestations of juvenile delinquency. Various theoretical approaches are discussed about the primarily social, cultural, psychological and psychopathological factors that influence criminal behavior. A large number of explanatory approaches also assume the social dependency of crime among young people. Criminogenic factors are, for example, a disorder of social behavior and the personality of the person concerned, their social environment (difficulties in the family, school or peer pressure), pressure to perform , lack of frustration tolerance, curiosity behavior of the young people and / or poor future prospects.

Multi-year longitudinal studies from the USA report in the early / mid-1990s that up to 50% of children committed delinquency as teenagers, who were “troublemakers” as 6-year-olds, couldn't get along with other children, and parents and teachers resisted constant resistance. There is also recent evidence that adolescents with a preference for rock , heavy metal , gothic , punk , rhythm and blues, hip-hop and electronic are more likely to commit criminal offenses. Pop , classical and jazz preferences correlate with inconspicuous or low delinquency .

Episodic nature of juvenile delinquency

For young people, the process of adapting to society is often fraught with conflict. These conflicts can find expression in violations of legal norms.

Violations of legal norms in adolescence are "normal" in the statistical sense. Over 80 percent of all respondents and on average over 90 percent of boys and young men who can be surveyed state that they have committed acts at least once in their life that are legally subsumed under a criminal code of the penal code or a law from the so-called subsidiary criminal law .

Extent of juvenile delinquency in Germany

Juvenile delinquency in Germany from 2000 to 2008

In 2009, 96,627 children (2008: 101,387), 248,702 adolescents (2008: 265,771) and 227,847 adolescents (2008: 237,190) were identified as suspects in Germany. In relation to all crimes, children committed 4.4%, young people 11.4% and adolescents 10.4% of all crimes. In total, 26.2% of all crimes were committed by under 21-year-olds. The statistics do not provide any information about the proportion of the respective age group in the total population.

However, the exact extent of juvenile delinquency cannot be determined from statistics (police crime statistics, convict statistics, etc.). These are not comparable in Germany due to different recording periods / data and other influencing factors. Science therefore uses other methods to be able to make statements about the extent of juvenile delinquency. So-called dark field studies (empirical perpetrator and victim surveys) supplement the official bright field.

Multiple or intensive offenders

A small proportion (around 3 to 5 percent) of the young suspects are noticed through repeated commission of criminal offenses. Boys are more likely to belong to the group of “multiple conspicuous” juvenile suspects than girls. According to investigations by the state criminal investigation offices, this small group of multiple or intensive offenders also commits between 30 and 60% of the crimes that have become known for this age group.

Young people with a migration background

In 2005, 22.5 percent of all suspects were not Germans. The proportion of non-German young people among the suspects fell between 1996 and 2006 from 25.8 to 17.5%. Young people with a migration background and German citizenship, such as B. Spätaussiedler , are recorded in the police crime statistics as Germans. In Berlin, for example, in 2009 around 80% of the 550 intensive offenders known to the police had a migration background. This percentage was unchanged in 2013, most of the Berlin intensive offenders are of Arab origin (43 percent), 32 percent come from Turkey.

However, it should be noted here that this case study is by no means transferable to Germany. The proportions among migrant youths, differentiated according to their regions of origin, were in Germany in 2009 for:

  • the former Yugoslavia / Albania and other southern Europe each 22%
  • Turkey, South America and Italy 20%
  • Arab countries / North Africa and North America 19%
  • the former Soviet Union and other Eastern Europe 18%
  • other Africa and Poland 17%
  • Northern / Western Europe 14%
  • other Asian countries 11%.

Admittedly young people from immigrant families are subject to an increased risk of criminalization, but this can be attributed to the fact that they are reported more frequently than German young people in contentious situations. It can even be argued in the opposite direction, since young people with a migrant background have less risky leisure activities , as many consume less alcohol for religious reasons. All in all, this shows that the issue of juvenile delinquency with a migrant background is highly controversial and can be interpreted very differently depending on the viewpoint and source.

The bestseller book by Berlin judge Kirsten Heisig Das Ende der Patuld , published in 2010, made these problems public and established numerous connections between juvenile delinquency, juvenile violence , parallel societies , school failure , problem areas (“ ghettoization ”, “ social hotspot ”), indolence in the judiciary, and failures from schools and youth welfare offices ( e.g. departmental thinking and lack of commitment).

The term “migration background” is not very clear-cut and meaningful. In fact, there is a significant accumulation within certain ethnic groups , e.g. B. Turkish and Arab migrants, whereas some other ethnic groups show no accumulation. In addition to the criminogenic factors already mentioned, the causes of crime, especially among young male migrants, are often experiences of violence within the family , educational problems and a lack of school qualifications.

In the development of aggressive behavior are early starters of late starters the age of 14 as the entry of the distinction distinction, criminal responsibility is taken as a basis. Deficits in language development can lead to children seeing themselves as outsiders, perceiving situations as threatening and reacting aggressively to them in kindergarten or elementary school.

In addition, a number of factors associated with the migration process represent additional stressors , especially in the second and third generation of migrants ( “not-the-foreign-born-but-their-children” perspective ). Accordingly, the migration process is accompanied by drastic cuts in the social network. Also, in a phase in which they want to achieve autonomy from their parents, young people are initially thrown back to their parents' home by the migration process, which can cause additional conflicts. In addition to typical youth development tasks, young migrants also have to cope with migration-specific challenges, which overall contribute to a higher psychosocial burden.

In Berlin, the proportion of young criminals with foreign roots was over 50 percent in 2016.

Controversies about juvenile criminal law in Germany

Again and again there are political debates about a tightening of juvenile criminal law, mostly as a result of the media coverage of individual cases such as the Mehmet case and the election campaign :

In January 2008, in the run-up to the Hessian state elections, the Hessian Prime Minister Roland Koch demanded in an interview with the Bild newspaper that convicted perpetrators between the ages of 18 and 21 should “ not be treated primarily with an understanding pedagogy and regularly be given open execution ”. In the “Wiesbaden Declaration”, the Union also called for “warning shot arrest”, an increase in the maximum penalty for juvenile delinquency from ten to 15 years, the consistent application of adult criminal law for all offenders over the age of 18 and a faster deportation of criminal foreign juveniles.

On the other hand, the SPD pointed out that warning shot arrest was already possible and called for the criminal proceedings to be accelerated and an increase in staff so that repeat offenders could be charged and convicted within a month.

The chairman of the German Association of Judges, Christoph Frank, called such debates “superfluous”. “The discussion leads people to believe that there are connections that do not exist. The formula: harsher penalties equals greater deterrence equals fewer criminal offenses is simply wrong. Politicians would be tempted again to misuse criminal law issues for bold messages. But the topic is too serious to be used again and again before elections ” . The German Lawyers' Association also said that it does not exactly promote the credibility of politics if such patent remedies are uttered shortly before the elections. The criminologist Christian Pfeiffer described youth arrest with recidivism rates of 70 percent as largely ineffective. In this context, the German Association of Judges criticized the fact that the state judicial administrations of the federal states - regardless of whether they are in the SPD or CDU - had already carried out staff reductions outside of their election campaigns in the past few years, which no longer allowed for quick proceedings. The Hessian state government also canceled all state subsidies for outpatient measures for the reintegration of delinquent juveniles during Roland Koch's term of office and has already reformed its juvenile prison law, and the state is in last place in the time to process juvenile criminal cases. In Hesse , serious violent crimes such as robbery, rape and bodily harm have increased more strongly since 1999 than in other federal states, according to calculations by the Lower Saxony Criminological Research Institute on the basis of official crime statistics, with 90 percent Germans responsible. Heinz Buschkowsky , the social democratic, former district mayor of the Berlin district of Neukölln, is for a consistent application and against a tightening of youth criminal law.

Situation in Austria

In 2012, 21.7 percent of the suspects identified in Austria were between 14 and 21 years old. 44 percent of the offenses committed by young people were offenses against other people's assets. Around a third of the crimes committed by young people were offenses against life and limb, with young people between the ages of 18 and 21 committing such offenses somewhat more frequently than those between the ages of 14 and 18.

With around 87 percent of crimes and 79 percent of offenses , most of the young suspects identified in Austria were male. The highest proportion of female suspects, at 34 percent, was in offenses against life and limb in traffic .

See also


  • State Criminal Police Office NRW, Working Group Children and Youth Protection (AJS): Juvenile crime in North Rhine-Westphalia, 9th edition, 2003
  • Beelmann, A. & Raabe, T. (2007). Dissocial behavior in children and adolescents: manifestations, development, prevention and intervention. Göttingen: Hogrefe. ISBN 3-8017-2041-1
  • Klaus Boers ; Jost Reinecke : Delinquency in adolescence. Findings of a longitudinal study in Münster . Münster: Waxmann, 2007
  • Hans-Dieter Schwind : Kriminologie, 18th edition Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 3-7832-0700-2
  • Michael Walter : Juvenile crime, 3rd edition 2005, ISBN 3-415-03513-1
  • White Ring : Juvenile Delinquency We're Discussing, 7th edition, 1997
  • Susanne Spindler : Corpus delicti. Masculinity, racism and criminalization in the everyday life of young migrants. Münster 2006. ISBN 3-89771-738-7 ; Interview with Susanne Spindler. In: taz v. April 16, 2007
  • Kirsten Heisig : The end of patience: consistently against violent youngsters. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau (July) 2010. ISBN 978-3-451-30204-6 ( “If we do not act quickly and consistently, if we do not resolutely enforce our legal system and values, we will lose the fight against youth violence. « ).
  • Oliver Fähnrich: Juvenile delinquency and multiple offenders. Dortmund contributions to pedagogy, Volume 46. Bochum / Freiburg: Projektverlag 2011. ISBN 978-3-89733-228-7
  • Gerhard Spiess: Juvenile delinquency in Germany - between facts and dramatization. Criminal statistics and criminological findings * PDF
  • Eward P. Mulvey , Michael W. Arthur, N. Dickon Reppucci, The prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency: A review of the research , Clinical Psychology Review, 1993
  • Edward P. Mulvey, Michael W. Arthur, & N. Dickon Reppucci, Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency: A Review of the Research , The Prevention Researcher, Volume 4, Number 2, 1997, pp. 1-4
  • J. Larry Siegel, Juvenile Delinquency with Infotrac: theory, practices and law , 2002
  • United Nations , Research Report on Juvenile Delinquency
  • Edward Zigler , Cara Taussig , Kathryn Black , Early childhood intervention. A promising preventative for juvenile delinquency , Am Psychol., August 1992, pp. 997-1006
  • Malcolm W. Klein, The American Street Gang: Its Nature, Prevalence, and Control , 1995
  • Franklin Zimring , American Youth Violence , 1998
  • Tom Hayden , Street Wars: Gangs and the Future of Violence , 2004
  • James Gabarino , Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them , 1999
  • John Hubner , Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth , 2005

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Bernd Dollinger , Michael Schabdach: Jugendkriminalität , pp. 114, 115, Springer, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-531-17696-3
  2. ^ Wiebke Steffen: Child and juvenile delinquency in Bavaria. Statistical findings and police control measures Bavarian State Criminal Police Office Munich 1979, p. 17 ff.
  3. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Ed.): Do you want to become a criminal? Different views on the subject of juvenile delinquency November 2009, pp. 6/7
  4. Youth situation picture 2012. Juvenile delinquency and youth risk in Hamburg. Police Hamburg, April 2013, p. 7
  5. Heribert Ostendorf : Causes of Crime bpb , April 27, 2010
  6. Dagmar Huber, Dieter Wagner: Causes of juvenile delinquency ( Memento of the original dated November 7, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Development in adolescence, exercise in educational psychology. Young people and deviance: juvenile delinquency, University of Linz 1997 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / paedpsych.jk.uni-linz.ac.at
  7. Dan Offort et al. a .: Outcome, Prognosis, and Risk in a Longitudinal Follow-up Study , Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Volume 31, 1992; Richard Tremblay et al. came to similar findings. a .: Predicting Early Onset of Male Antisocial Behavior from Preschool Behavior , Archives of General Psychiatry , September 1994; Gerald R. Patterson: Orderly Change in a Stable World: The Antisocial Trait as Chimera , Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology, Volume 62, 1993
  8. ^ TFM ter Bogt, L Keijsers, WHJ Meeus. Early Adolescent Music Preferences and Minor Delinquency. Pediatrics. doi : 10.1542 / peds.2012-0708 .
  9. Wolfgang Heinz: Juvenile delinquency in Germany, criminal statistics and criminological findings, p. 70 (PDF; 524 kB)
  10. PDF at www.bka.de ( Memento of the original from December 25, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.bka.de
  11. Website of the Federal Agency for Civic Education: "Foreign Crime" - statistical data and social reality accessed on November 11, 2015.
  12. tagesspiegel.de of March 4, 2010
  13. FOCUS Online: Children from criminal families in the home! In: FOCUS Online . ( focus.de [accessed on September 1, 2018]).
  14. Christian Walburg: Migration and juvenile delinquency - Myths and connections Berlin 2014, p. 12
  15. FOCUS Online: Young people with a migration background are really that criminal . In: FOCUS Online . ( focus.de [accessed on September 1, 2018]).
  16. Sandra Peter: Violence and Prejudice . In: Westfälische Nachrichten . ( wn.de [accessed September 1, 2018]).
  17. Alexander Wendt: The war against women has begun . In: TheEuropean . January 2, 2018 ( theeuropean.de [accessed September 1, 2018]).
  18. Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Stuttgart, Germany: Merkel's refugee policy has failed: Moral arrogance . In: stuttgarter-nachrichten.de . ( stuttgarter-nachrichten.de [accessed September 1, 2018]).
  19. Tagesschau: Debate about youth violence - "Harsher punishments do not change anything" (tagesschau.de archive)
  20. Haci-Halil Uslucan: Familial factors influencing delinquent behavior in young people bpb , November 29, 2012
  21. Kai Biermann: Juvenile delinquency: Violence is no accident Die Zeit , January 10, 2008
  22. Jeffrey D. Morenoff, Avraham Astor: Immigrant Assimilation and Crime. Generational Differences in Youth Violence in Chicago. In Ramiro Martinez Jr., Abel Valenzuela Jr. (Eds.): Immigration and Crime , 2006, p. 36 ff.
  23. Schmidt-Rodermund, E. & Silbereisen, RK (2004). “I was forced to regulate everything with my fist” - delinquency among young resettlers from the perspective of developmental psychology. In D. Oberwittler & S. Karstedt (eds.), Soziologie der Kriminalität, special issue of the Cologne journal for sociology and social psychology, 43/2003, 240-263. Psychosocial problems in j
  24. ↑ Rise in youth violence - Young refugees striking , Die Welt , November 21, 2017
  25. http://www.bild.t-online.de/BILD/news/politik/2007/12/28/koch-roland/interview-deutschland-faust  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , geo = 3361148.html@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.bild.t-online.de  
  26. Tagesschau: CDU moves into the election campaign with juvenile criminal law (tagesschau.de archive)
  27. Tagesschau: SPD wants to try young offenders faster ( Memento from June 14, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  28. ^ Spiegel Online: SPD paddles in the Koch-Strudel
  29. Tagesschau: Criticism of the debate about tougher juvenile criminal law "Superfluous, implausible and populist" (tagesschau.de archive)
  30. Frontal21: thugs in the election campaign ( memento of the original from January 10, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.zdf.de
  31. ↑ The Association of Judges welcomes SPD claims in the dispute over juvenile criminal law ( Memento of the original from January 19, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / newsticker.welt.de
  32. Judges' Association: Politicians should follow suit ( memento of the original from December 10, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / newsticker.welt.de
  33. ^ Spiegel Online: Judges defend themselves against Koch's judicial scolding
  34. ^ Süddeutsche Zeitung: The perpetrators are Germans
  35. Jürgen Overkott: Lively Beckmann talk on youth violence . ( derwesten.de [accessed September 1, 2018]).
  36. http://www.bmi.gv.at/cms/BMI_Service/SB_2012/1_Sicherheitsbericht_2012.pdf
  37. ^ FSK review
  38. TAZ: "Almost nobody has used the word 'honor'"