Adolescent Criminal Behavior

I remember between the ages of 16-19 I would engage in minor crimes like driving without a license, underage drinking, and scratching my initials on a couple of Starbucks tables. I did not think much of it then mainly because the majority of friends would do the same. This is an example of adolescence-limited delinquency, which is when individuals only engage in criminal behavior from around the ages of 12-25 (Arnett, 2018). This type of behavior is usually traced back to peer pressure and the exploration of freedom that encourages and influences adolescents.

I decided to ask a couple of my friends and family about their views on minor crimes during their adolescence versus now, what crimes they committed (if any), and if they would engage in minor criminal behavior today. I individually interviewed my parents (58 & 59), my brother (20), my brother’s friend (22), and my friend (24). All of them answered that they engaged in minor crimes during their adolescent years, specifically in high school. Their minor crimes mainly involved stealing candy, driving without a license, underage drinking, and trespassing. They each stated that they involved themselves in delinquent acts mainly when they were in high school, except underage drinking which is a pretty common law that is broken up until we turn 21.

There seemed to be a correlation between high school and minor crimes, so I asked each of them why they committed their silly crimes and, once again, all responded with the same answers. Each of their responses followed along the lines of peer pressure. For example, my father said the reason he and his friends participated in small crimes was because they would dare each other. While my brother and his friend’s answers were because their friends did it, so they decided to follow. I proceeded to ask if they would engage in any of the crimes they did in high school now and if they regretted any of them. Each responded saying they would not because they know better, but it was fun and created memories and stories to tell today. All of them followed by stating they have no regrets and would not have changed their decisions if they went back in time.

I honestly was not expecting everyone to respond with almost the exact same answers, but it shows how common this behavior is during adolescent years. I can conclude based on my experiences and my interviewees’ experiences that the adolescence-limited delinquency is something the majority of us participate in due to fitting in and peer pressure.


Arnett, J. J. (2018). Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.


  1. I found this post to be very interesting! I also asked my dad about any minor crimes he may have committed during his teenage/ early adulthood years and he had the same responses, “peer pressure, it was the ‘cool’ thing to do”, etc. He also said the types of minor crimes he committed such as underage drinking, getting in fights at school, driving without a license were much more common back then compared to what they are now. I could never see him getting in fights at school so I’m glad I asked!

  2. Hello!

    It is interesting to see how much peer pressure influences adolescent criminal behavior. It almost seems like it is more “normal” to participate in these small crimes or actions, than not to in our teenage years. Why is this such a crucial part of fitting in during high school? As you mentioned, as we reach adulthood, we know better to not participate in these silly crimes, but we remember these memories with our peers and (most of the time), don’t regret them. It is interesting to see how this is such a common occurrence from the majority of high school experiences and shows the power members of our groups and peers have on each other.

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