Parents sometimes ask general practitioners for advice about their delinquent adolescents. Delinquency is the failure of a young person to obey the law; it is not a psychiatric disorder, although psychiatric disorder, usually conduct disorder, is one of its causes. Delinquency is most common at the age of 15–16 years and in males. Up to a fifth of adolescent boys are found to have carried out an offence, albeit usually a trivial one (e.g. shoplifting). Of these adolescents, only a few continue to offend in adult life and parents can usually be reassured that a single act, especially if carried out as part of a group, is not likely to be of serious significance. Repeat offending.


 Patient factors

  • Poor education or school underachievement
  • Hyperactivity
  • Mental health disorders
  • Substance abuse

 Family-related factors

  • Parents divorced/ separated
  • Very large families
  • Parental criminality/ violence
  • Familial discord Gelder

Environmental factors

  • Low socioeconomic class
  • Poverty
  • Poor housing
  • Peer group pressure


  • Physical examination
  • Examine respiratory, cardiovascular, and abdomen
  • Neurology including extrapyramidal movements, tics, and abnormal involuntary movements
  • Look for dysmorphic features, measure height/weight/ head circumference Investigations
  • Blood tests (full blood count, urea and electrolytes, liver function tests, thyroid function tests, copper and caeruloplasmin)
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Urinalysis including drug toxicology
  • Consider neuroimaging and EEG
  • IQ testing
  • Structured questionnaires

Management Delinquency is dealt with by the courts, who generally obtain a social report about the young person’s family and social and material environment, an educational report, and, in certain cases, a psychiatric report. Usually, the emphasis is on secondary prevention rather than punishment, with involvement of social, educational, and sometimes psychological or psychiatric services. Rarely, an individual may go to a young offender’s institution.



Ill-natured, irritable and violent. Cross anxious and depressed. Exceedingly peevish, feels as if she would like to do something cruel, no humanity.


Impulsive. Furious. Rages, bites and strikes. Spits on faces of other persons. Acuteness of all senses. Changeable moods. Hallucinations, sees monsters and hideous faces. Fear of imaginary things, wants to run away from them.


Bad temper. Anger and quarrelsome. Sudden outbursts of anger because of contradiction or when the feelings are hurt. Peevishness, ill-humor, anger with rage, violence and heat. Cannot bear to be looked at. Child wants many things which he refuses again. Complaints from anger, especially fever, convulsions, diarrhea and cough.


Maniac, erotic, exposes genitals, sings amorous songs. Laughs, sings, talks, babbles, quarrels. Talkative, obscene, lascivious mania, uncovers body, jealous. Inclined to laugh at everything. Very suspicious. Restless, jumps out of bed, wants to escape. Rage with desire to strike, bite, fight insult, scold and to kill.