The Socially Constructed and Reproduced Youth Delinquency in Southeast Asia: Advancing Positive Youth Involvement in Sustainable Futures

Cover of The Socially Constructed and Reproduced Youth Delinquency in Southeast Asia: Advancing Positive Youth Involvement in Sustainable Futures


Table of contents

(7 chapters)

Existing literature argues that the expression of delinquency is common during childhood and especially adolescence. Here, the practice of delinquent behaviours increases the risk of disrupting one’s trajectories of educational and labour market attainment. Delinquent youths, particularly those behaving delinquently severely, are prone to be undereducated, under- or unemployed, earning less, enjoying fewer employment welfare benefits and entitled to fewer job promotion opportunities. Given their sociological background, the author is interested in understanding how juvenile delinquency is socially constructed and reproduced. There are a variety of major key risk factors of the social construction of juvenile delinquency, including familial, or parental in particular, issues, the experience of any form of violence, the act of imitation, and psychological and emotional distress. In this book, the author will examine the socioeconomic, sociocultural and psychosocial factors that lead to the entrenched problems of youth delinquency. Per the United Nations, youth is defined as individuals aged from 15 to 24 years old. There are ample practical problems in adopting a legal definition to understand delinquency, because, for example, what is regarded as legal or not is often poorly defined and rather subjective. Also, legal definitions vary over time, barring a clear, standardised understanding of the word ‘delinquency’. In scholarly discourse, juvenile delinquency covers a multitude of sins, such as robbery, vandalism, violence, drug or alternative psychoactive substance use and the performance of some kinds of heterosexual or homosexual acts. While youth is widely interpreted as comprising individuals aged 24 years or below, the upper age limit for juvenile delinquency adopted by the English and American laws is much lower – under the age of 18 years. Given such contexts, in this book, the author primarily addresses youth/juvenile delinquent behaviours as relevant acts performed by individuals aged below 18 years. However, occasionally, the author presents survey data indicating youths’ expression of delinquency among respondents aged 24 years or below.

In this book, the author will provide reasoning on how Southeast Asian (SEA) governments, individually and collectively, have not taken an adequately aggressive, strict approach to regulating their policies against youth delinquency, prompting adolescents’ involvement in delinquent behaviours to be growing rampantly. The lack of appropriate legislative and law enforcement efforts results in significant individual and societal costs, jeopardising SEA’s pursuit of sustainable futures. Therefore, it is necessary to develop this book in order to analyse the causes and consequences of a variety of youth delinquent behaviours and its associated unequal power of relations, alongside expanding the insights of sociological inquiry into a current, ongoing phenomenon of inequalities. Policy recommendations are presented at the end of Chapters 3–5, allowing local policy-makers to evaluate the current policy development and seek possible policy amendments to efficiently and effectively cope with the notable, entrenched and multifaceted problems of youth delinquency. Outputs of this book, additionally, enable (under-)graduate students and relevant scholars and specialists focusing on SEA studies to understand the causes, effects, costs, and policy development and gaps with respect to the youth smoking epidemic, the youth drinking epidemic and youth delinquency of sexual misconduct.

One of the key highlights of this book is that the outputs suggest ways to attain more sustainable, equitable, liveable and inclusive futures in SEA other than the assessments of youth delinquency per se. In doing so, the author hopes to contribute scholarly to the understanding of how regional economic competitiveness, social cohesion and habitability can be sharpened when youth delinquency is addressed thoroughly and aptly. Moreover, when the author addresses youth delinquency, they identify how digitalisation and informationisation diversify the means for the SEA youths to gain access to tobacco products, alcohol goods, commercial sex clients and casual sex partners. Recommended policies in response to youth delinquency regionally, in part, target tightening the imposition of e-regulations by SEA governments to narrow any regulatory loopholes that relevant parties can instrumentalise on to earn lucrative profits at the expense of raising the rates of youth delinquency. In-depth analyses of both conventional and digitalised youth delinquency add further value to this book to readers’ understanding of the corresponding timely issues and recommended policy-making.

The author will, therefore, primarily explores the contexts of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Here Thailand and Malaysia are, currently, the only two regional upper-middle-income countries that share the same prospect of becoming high-income countries in the future. Indonesia, alternatively, has overtaken the Philippines as the biggest economic market and political powerhouse within the region. Therefore, compared to their less or least developed neighbouring counterparts, these countries are more prepared to develop sustainable, habitable and equitable futures while maintaining their Asian and global standings by raising economic and social competitiveness. Indonesia and Malaysia are among the two largest Muslim-majority countries in the globe. In the next chapters, the author will theorise how religious conformity deters local youths from expressing delinquency. Per Islamic laws, smoking, drinking and premature sex are prohibited. It will be interesting to explore whether religious deterrence helps prevent Indonesian and Malaysian youths from expressing delinquency. If not, the author will investigate what factors prompt local youths to behave delinquently, despite religious deterrence. Although these three countries are prioritised in the sociological discussion, the author will present some arguments and data with respect to the contexts of other SEA countries, such as the Philippines and Vietnam, to support their evaluation of youth delinquency regionwide.


In Chapter 2, the author will develop the theoretical framework of the sociological analysis of youth delinquency in SEA. The author will introduce the control theory (both self-control and social control), in order to understand under what circumstances youths are more and less likely to behave in a deviant manner. The author will, then, mention the general strain theory, to draw the relationships between the encounters of negative life events, the development of strain, and the disposition to perform delinquency. The author will also, address the cultural deviance and social learning theories that help justify the expression of juvenile delinquency from a sociocultural perspective, alongside pathing the way to explaining how social costs of youth delinquency can be raised by policy amendments in order to mitigate adolescents’ exercises of smoking, drinking and sexual misconduct behaviours. In this chapter, the author will highlight how poverty, the availability of delinquent opportunities, peer influence and pressure, a lack of parental and school socialisation, and deviant social and cultural norms are all risk factors for youth delinquency.


In Chapter 3, the author will problematise the youth smoking epidemic within SEA, in order to justify why the regional impacts of the tobacco trade on youths are worrisome. The author will present the major youth smoking trends in SEA, for the purpose of illustrating how the presence of tobacco products has adversely affected regional youths to a concerning degree. The author, next, will highlight the causes of the youth smoking epidemic, namely susceptibility and positive advertising. The author follows by emphasising the national and regional costs of youth smoking, by arguing how such a lifestyle results in negative consequences in relation to the delinquency itself. Lastly, the author will recommend policies for tobacco control that SEA governments should consider to contain the epidemic of youth smoking. It is noteworthy that all SEA governments have some degree of tobacco control policies in place. However, many lack the implementation of comprehensive national tobacco control strategic plans and tightened law enforcement endeavours to specifically target the problem of youth smoking. Therefore, the outputs of this chapter should contain scholarly values that are conducive to the betterment of policy-making.


In Chapter 4, the author will discuss the youth drinking epidemic regionwide, in order to demonstrate why the impacts of alcohol products on youths are concerning. The author will present the major youth drinking trends within SEA, to further study how the rampant alcohol trade regionally has adversely affected local youths to a troublesome degree. The author will point out the causes of the youth drinking epidemic, which are susceptibility and toxic culture. Next, the author will evaluate the national and regional costs of youth drinking, discussing how such a lifestyle results in consequences in relation to delinquency. The author will recommend policies for alcohol control that the SEA governments should take into account when amending or forming their policies to contain the epidemic of youth drinking. The outputs of Chapter 4 will draw a close association between youth smoking, youth drinking, and youth sexual misconduct. Therefore, the author indicates that these youth delinquency problems should be addressed simultaneously in order to eradicate the issues of holistic youth misbehaviours in the long term.


In Chapter 5, the author will centralise the discourse on youth sexual misconduct in the focused SEA countries (Indonesia and Malaysia as the two Muslim-majority countries and Thailand as a Buddhist-majority country). Addressed youth sexual misconduct encompasses underage sex, teenage pregnancy, and extramarital sex in SEA. The focus on these kinds of youth sexual misconduct hints at why these three countries are particularly highlighted owing to the controversy and significance. Per Islamic law, non-marital sex is religiously prohibited, where Indonesia recently passed the relevant law that criminalises non-marital sex. Upon the problematisation of these forms of youth sexual misconduct, the author will recommend policies that both local governments and the ASEAN could adopt and exercise in response to curtailing the prevalence of discussed delinquency. Overall, this chapter shall contain the scholarly value that helps SEA control or contain the social harms, directly or indirectly, inflicted by the prevalence of sexual youth delinquency.


In Chapter 6, the author will reiterate the importance for SEA countries to build sustainable futures, and such a process cannot be fulfilled without active and positive youth involvement. With the continual encounters of youth delinquency, SEA countries are significantly harming their international competitiveness and bearing a substantial amount of societal costs and risks. The author will revisit the policy recommendations made in the previous four chapters, and summarise what future policy development SEA countries should be committed to implementing. The author will address how relevant (1) academics, (2) policy-makers, and (3) laypersons should digest the content of this book, in favour of broadening their understanding of socio-criminological issues and policy development in the SEA contexts. The author will additionally point out the limitations of the scholarly discourse this book presents, suggesting that future research and intellectual endeavours (prospective) authors should take into account when expanding the investigation of the topics mentioned in this project.

Cover of The Socially Constructed and Reproduced Youth Delinquency in Southeast Asia: Advancing Positive Youth Involvement in Sustainable Futures
Publication date
Book series
Diverse Perspectives on Creating a Fairer Society
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited