Analyzing Patterns of Juvenile Delinquency in Turkey: A Multilevel Approach




Eker, Ahmet

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Understanding patterns of delinquency and mapping out the individual and environmental level factors that cause delinquency is the key in developing appropriate policies to reduce crime. Some of these factors that have been found in prior empirical studies include delinquent peers, divorce, migration, violent environment, poverty, and inequality. However, most of these studies were conducted in Western countries. Thus, the first intention of this dissertation was to discover whether these variables can explain variances in delinquency in Turkey that has a different culture. Second, Turkish policymakers, the media, and the public have focused chiefly on crimes that have been committed by children who live on the streets or “street children” rather than criminal behaviors of all juveniles who commit crimes. Therefore, my study was designed to test whether or not this approach is granted. Third, Turkish policymakers make their preventive policies mostly by using city level variables. Therefore, my interest in this dissertation was testing explanatory power of city level variables to explain delinquency. Finally, my interest in conducting this dissertation was to understand the general patterns of delinquency in Turkey in order to develop appropriate policy recommendations. To accomplish these goals, I collected secondary data on the characteristics of 27 Turkish cities (city level legal and illegal opportunities) and characteristics of 84,639 suspected juveniles (individual level) who were contacted by the police in 2005 and 2006. Because both city level and individual level variables were used in some analyses, the hierarchical linear model (HLM) was used when appropriate in order to avoid ecological fallacy. My results revealed that patterns of juvenile delinquency in Turkey have both similarities and differences from other Western countries. Moreover, some of the factors that were found to be causes of delinquency in the United States had the opposite effect in Turkey. Thus, I concluded that researchers should not assume that all juvenile crime causation factors are universal, but rather, cultural differences should be given much more attention to these factors. In addition, crime theories should be tested in different cultures to clarify their explanatory power. Secondly, the results of my study found that most of Turkey’s juvenile delinquents come from intact families which did not support the general tendency of Turkish policymakers, the media, and the public. Therefore, I recommended that all juveniles should be considered rather than focusing only on street kids when crime prevention policies are being developed. Finally, my results showed that using city level variables was appropriate to explain the variance in juvenile group crimes; however, their explanatory power was weak to explain most of the crime types. Thus, I concluded that Turkish officials should use neighborhood level data to develop appropriate policies.



Delinquency, Turkey, Multilevel approach, Comparative criminology, Turkish juveniles, Patterns of delinquency