Juvenile Delinquency Online: Predictors, Prevalence and Possible Solutions

By: Tamar Berenblum, Efrat Daskal, Revital Sela-Shayovitz, Rutger Leukfeldt, Steve van de Weijer

Young people are more likely to engage in cyber activities and utilize the benefits of the internet as well as to exploit it for violence and delinquency. Most studies in the field so far, have focused on victimization and on cyber–bulling (Lianos & McGrath, 2017; Moon, Hwang, & McCluskey, 2011; Patchin & Hinduja 2011). Online delinquent behavior, however, is heavily under-researched, despite the many forms of such behavior among youth (e.g., piracy, online gambling, hacking, and drug-related crimes). Furthermore, given the lack of information concerning the range of online delinquent behavior, there is not much information about successful intervention plans that exist in this field, unlike the ones that exist offline (Gullotta, 1997; Jackson, 2002: Loeber, 2008).

Thus, in this study, we wish to address these lacunae by raising the following research questions: (1) How prevalent is online delinquent behavior among Israeli youth? (2) What are the predictors of online delinquent behavior among Israeli youth? (3) Does the prevalence of delinquent behavior and its predictors differ between the offline and the online spheres, among Israeli youth? And (4) How effective are intervention activities for decreasing online delinquent behavior?

To answer these questions, we will use a panel research design that will include administration of two surveys – one before and one after Israel’s Safe Internet Week.

This project is a collaboration that touches upon three different disciplines: criminology, education, and internet policy. The proposed research project will be a first step in making criminological theories and research on youth’s delinquent behavior more relevant to our present-day digital era. Second, from an educational point of view this study will contribute to the understanding of how educational interventions efforts should be constructed in order to be effective. Finally, from a policy point of view, based on the results of this study, we plan to formulate recommendations for Israeli policymakers concerning the effectiveness of the program and ways to improve it.