Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Select one of the juveniles from your reading, the videos, or from a personal experience with a particular juvenile in mind. Address the following three questions in the following quote | WriteDen

Select one of the juveniles from your reading, the videos, or from a personal experience with a particular juvenile in mind. Address the following three questions in the following quote

In Chapter 1 of the text, our author talks about “putting it all into perspective.” Prior to beginning work on this discussion,

Select one of the juveniles from your reading, the videos, or from a personal experience with a particular juvenile in mind. Address the following three questions in the following quote by filmmaker Makeda Lollis.

“In a world that demands justice when the unthinkable becomes reality, there are no easy answers when that reality involves minors. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and remains the only nation that, in rare circumstances, will sentence its juveniles to life without parole. Is it a solution? Does it work? Do we care?”

Note: this discussion format will differ from formats in prior courses. You must post in the discussion on at least three separate days by Day 7; your total word count for your posts should be a minimum of 600 words. There is no required word count for individual posts as long as your combined posts total at least 600 words. However, you must use at least one APA 6th edition in-text citation in at least one post.

Learning Objectives After studying this chapter, you should be able to accomplish the following objectives:

▪ Explain the complexity of defining juvenile delinquency.

▪ Summarize the different types of juvenile delinquency.

▪ Describe how states attempt to define juvenile delinquency in relation to age.

▪ Evaluate the rates of delinquency and the three primary techniques for measuring delinquency.

▪ Analyze the benefits of using the three crime measurements together.

Juvenile Delinquency: Background and



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Chapter Outline 1.1 Introduction

1.2 What Qualifies as Juvenile Delinquency?

1.3 Who Is a Juvenile Delinquent?

1.4 How Prevalent Is Juvenile Delinquency?

▪ Arrest Results and Trends

– What the UCR Reveals About Crime

– Strengths of the UCR

– Weaknesses of the UCR

– Supplementing the UCR

▪ Self-Report Surveys

– Strengths of Self-Report Surveys

– Weaknesses of Self-Report Surveys

▪ Victimization Data

– Strengths of Victimization Surveys

– Weaknesses of Victimization Surveys

1.5 Measuring Crime: Putting It All Into Perspective

During the summer of 1999, 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick was staying with a friend of her mother. The friend’s 12-year-old son, Lionel Tate, and Tiffany were playing while Lionel’s mother was in another part of the home. Two hours later, Lionel told his mother that Tiffany had stopped breathing. Lionel indicated that they were playing a wrestling game. He admitted that he had had the little girl in a headlock and her head had hit the table. Tiffany later died of her injuries. The autopsy indicated that Tiffany’s injuries included a lacerated spleen, fractured rib cage and skull, and damage to her liver (Canedy, 2001).

Lionel Tate became the youngest person in U.S. history to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Eventually the case was overturned, allowing him to serve three years in prison; however, he continued to have trouble with the law and currently resides in prison on an armed robbery conviction. The case of Lionel Tate captured national attention not only because of the nature of the crime but also because of the young age of the defendant.

Although violent crime among juveniles is cause for serious concern, other forms of delin- quency, such as drug and alcohol use among teens, can be equally concerning. In fact, the Cen- ters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asserts that alcohol and drug use among teens is a significant public health issue. The CDC monitors drug and alcohol use among teenagers with a national school-based survey (visit for more information). According to the survey, in 2017, 29.8% of high school students reported having at least one drink during the last 30 days before the survey, 19.8% of students reported using marijuana one or more times during the 30 days before the survey, and 6.2% had sniffed glue, breathed the contents of aerosol spray cans, or inhaled paints or sprays to get high one or more times during their life (Kann et al., 2018).

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Section 1.1Introduction

1.1 Introduction Youth involvement in violent crime is often the subject of intense media coverage. The Tate case illustrates that children can and do commit violent criminal acts. While this case illus- trates that juveniles are capable of murder, this type of crime is rare compared to other types of crimes. If we examine arrest statistics, we see that although 682 juveniles were arrested for murder in 2016, this number is lower than that for any other violent crime category (Federal Bureau of Investi- gation [FBI], 2017). As a point of compari- son, more than 147,000 youth were arrested for property crimes in 2016 (FBI, 2017). This comparison is not to suggest that property crime is comparable to vio- lent crime, particularly murder; however, it does illustrate that an arrest made for a violent crime is a rare event.

People generally agree that a juvenile’s violent acts should be considered crimi- nal. However, defining and measuring deviant behavior among juveniles is more difficult than it might seem. For example, if a youth drinks alcohol at a weekend party with friends and does not get caught, is the behavior criminal? It certainly could be argued that underage drinking with friends is wrong, regard- less of police action. However, if a youth is given a glass of wine at the family din- ner table, does this behavior also repre- sent juvenile delinquency? The context in which the behavior occurs might alter our perspective.

We may see binge drinking at an unsupervised party differently than we see consuming a small amount of alcohol in the context of a family gathering, even though underage drinking is illegal. Similarly, the reasons behind certain behaviors may change our view. Consider a youth who skips school to escape chronic bullying or who runs away from home to escape sexual abuse. Truancy is against the law, but should the underlying cause for the behavior be considered when determining whether to involve the criminal justice system?

As we will see throughout this chapter, juvenile delinquency, which typically refers to the criminal activities of a minor child, is a complex phenomenon. The complexity can be seen in several examples. First, although the age at which a youth is considered a juvenile delinquent is 18 according to federal law, the age varies at the state level. Second, the types of offenses committed by juveniles vary dramatically, and controversy surrounds how different types of offenses should be handled within the justice system. Finally, there are various ways to

Flirt/SuperStock Defining and measuring deviant behavior among juveniles is more difficult than it might seem.

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Section 1.2What Qualifies as Juvenile Delinquency?

measure delinquency and each comes to slightly different conclusions about the extent and impact of crime. The complexity surrounding juvenile delinquency should not be interpreted to mean that studying the concept is unproductive or cannot inform public policy. Instead, researchers and practitioners must appreciate and develop theories and policies that account for this complexity. Let’s begin by examining the complications and controversies that arise when trying to define juvenile delinquency.

1.2 What Qualifies as Juvenile Delinquency? Defining precisely the types of behavior that should warrant involvement in the juvenile jus- tice system is complicated. For example, although murder is clearly a crime that would invoke court involvement, other forms of delinquency are less clear. Crimes committed by juveniles range from minor violations like vandalism and truancy to more serious crimes like rape and robbery. Should individuals who engage in less serious forms of delinquency be subjected to the same arrest and court processing as those who commit more serious crime? Understand- ing this issue requires us to examine a brief history of the concept of juvenile delinquency in the United States.

Those born in the 1980s and later have known only a juvenile justice system oriented toward punishment. Historically the juvenile justice system was oriented toward rehabilitation and care of delinquent youth (see Chapter 2). Rehabilitation or reformation is the foundation behind parens patria, one of the core concepts of the system. Parens patria (Latin for “parent of the nation”) refers to the court’s focus on the welfare of the juvenile. The court’s parent- ing role becomes particularly important in cases in which a juvenile is a victim of abuse or neglect.

The juvenile court assumes jurisdiction over behaviors that are illegal only for juveniles. These types of crimes are referred to as status offenses and include delinquent acts such as tru- ancy, running away, and violating curfew. Status offenses are considered fairly minor forms of delinquency and in some states may qualify for particular types of services, such as diversion or educational classes, rather than incarceration. For example, some states offer seminars both for youth who engage in chronic truancy and for their parents. The classes might discuss the impact of skipping school on the youth’s financial and emotional well-being.

Although the juvenile justice system had long distinguished between delinquent offenses (more serious), abuse and neglect cases (serious but nondelinquent), and status offenses (less serious), it was not until the 1960s that criminal justice reformers questioned how the system should handle each. At the time, the concern was less about whether the system should be more punitive in its handling of delinquent cases than it was about whether the system could be having a negative impact on status offenders and abuse and neglect cases. The controversy surrounding status offenses became particularly important as research suggested that the system’s response could influence a youth’s chance of becoming involved in more serious delinquency in the future (Raley, 1995). In other words, could the juvenile justice system be doing more harm than good?

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Section 1.2What Qualifies as Juvenile Delinquency?

The treatment of status offenders was addressed as a primary issue in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. One of the four core protections of this act is the Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders, which recommends that all juveniles classi- fied as status offenders not be held for any period of time in a detention facility (Holden & Kapler, 1995). The recommendation regarding the treatment of status offenders was based on several concerns. First, although status offenses are less serious forms of delinquency, they could result in severe sanctions, such as institutionalization. Second, studies find that status offenders, particularly girls who run away from home, may be doing so to escape an abusive home life. These girls are often detained and treated as criminals rather than victims of abuse. Finally, studies also find that placing these youth under the control of the system actually increases their risk for future criminal behavior (Chesney-Lind & Pasko, 2004; Holman & Ziedenberg, 2007; Sherman, 2005).

To reduce these potential negative impacts, some observers argue that the system should develop labels, guidelines, and even separate criminal codes for status offenders and juve- niles who offend as a result of abuse or neglect. In terms of labels, the International Associa- tion of Chiefs of Police (IACP) have long argued that status offenders should be labeled as unruly children to reduce the use of the “offender” label (Krisberg & Austin, 1978). More recently, the IACP and the John D. and Catherine T. MacAr- thur Foundation began a partnership to create innovative policies for handling youth. As a result of this collaboration, jurisdictions across the country have been able to reduce referrals to the juve- nile court for status offenses (Bahney, Daugirda, Firman, Kurash, & Phudy, 2014). Some states classify a juvenile who commit status offenses as a person in need of supervision (PINS), a youth in need of supervision (YINS), a juvenile in need of supervision (JINS), or a child in need of supervision (CINS). Still other states limit the types of charges that can be classified as a status offense. For exam- ple, North Carolina developed five catego- ries of status offenders (Governor’s Crime Commission, 2012):

• Undisciplined-type status offender: a juvenile who has committed an undisciplined-type status offense (e.g., truancy, has run away, has been disobedient)

Fuse/Thinkstock Underage drinking is a delinquent-type status offense.

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Section 1.3Who Is a Juvenile Delinquent?

• Delinquent-type status offender: a juvenile who has committed a curfew, alcohol, tobacco, or motor vehicle offense that is not a crime for adults (e.g., buying tobacco under age 18, consuming alcohol under age 21)

• Nonoffender: a juvenile who is under juvenile court jurisdiction for reasons of delin- quency, neglect, or abuse

• Civil-type offender: a juvenile who is under delinquency court jurisdiction for an infraction that is civil in nature (e.g., noncriminal traffic or fish and game violations)

• Alien juvenile: a noncitizen juvenile under age 18 who is not charged with any offense

A concern regarding status offenders that is not addressed by these types of labels and guide- lines, however, is how to deal with chronic status offenders or those who commit multiple status offenses (see Chapter 4).

1.3 Who Is a Juvenile Delinquent? One of the challenges of understanding the juvenile justice system is that the system itself is, in fact, not systematic. This is particularly true when it comes to defining who qualifies as a juvenile. The U.S. juvenile justice system is comprised of 51 different entities—one for the federal system and one for each state—and who qualifies as a juvenile differs from state to state. A juvenile delinquent is a minor who commits a criminal act. But at what age is some- one considered a minor?

The federal government considers a minor to be under the age of 18. Should everyone in the country who is under the age of 18 be considered a minor? Conversely, is there an age at which someone is too young to form criminal intent and should therefore be exempt from criminal prosecution? Age ambiguity, or uncertainty regarding the age of entry into the juve- nile justice system, can be seen by how juvenile delinquent status is defined differently in different states. In Texas, the definition of a juvenile delinquent is a child between the ages of 10 and 17. However, in Massachusetts, the age is between 7 and 16 years (Hockenberry & Puzzanchera, 2018).

If we look state by state, we see considerable variation in both the upper and lower age limits for who is considered a juvenile. The upper age limit in each state is referred to as the age of jurisdiction, or the age that dictates whether the juvenile court or the adult court system has authority over a case. Most states consider a juvenile to be any person under the age of 18 (see Table 1.1).

Support for raising the age of jurisdiction has increased over the past several years as research questioning the effectiveness of transferring youth to adult court has increased. In 2013, both Illinois and Massachusetts raised the age of jurisdiction from 16 to 17, with New Hampshire following suit in 2015. In 2017, New York voters passed legislation to raise the age of jurisdic- tion from 15 to 18 (starting in fiscal year 2018), and North Carolina raised the age of jurisdic- tion for nonviolent crimes to age 18 (effective December 1, 2019).

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Section 1.3Who Is a Juvenile Delinquent?

Table 1.1: Upper age of jurisdiction in delinquency matters by state/jurisdiction

Age State/jurisdiction

16 Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin

17 Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jer- sey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina*, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylva- nia, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming

*Effective December 2019

From “Figure: Delinquency upper age, 2016,” in Statistical briefing book, by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2017, Retrieved from

Some states also set a minimum age of jurisdiction for youth to be involved with the juvenile justice system (see Table 1.2). North Carolina allows the lowest minimum age of jurisdiction, meaning that youth as young as 6 years old are subject to the juvenile court system. The mini- mum age of jurisdiction is 7 years in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York. It is 8 years in Arizona and 10 years in 11 other states. If a youth below these ages commits a delinquent act, it would likely be handled informally by the police department and family. Youth under the age of jurisdiction are considered too young to understand that their behav- ior is criminal.

Table 1.2: Minimum age of jurisdiction in delinquency matters, by state

Age State

6 North Carolina

7 Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York

8 Arizona

10 Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin

From “Figure: Delinquency lower age, 2016,” in Statistical briefing book, by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2017, Retrieved from

Not surprisingly, the maximum age of jurisdiction varies by state as well. The maximum age of jurisdiction refers to the oldest age at which a juvenile can be retained in the juvenile system. The majority of states consider the age of 20 as the maximum age of jurisdiction (see Table 1.3). So, for example, if a youth is convicted at age 14 for a crime in Ohio and is sentenced to serve time in a juvenile institution, he can be kept under supervision by the juvenile justice system until he is 20 years old. A few states will allow youth as old as 24 to remain in the juvenile justice system, and some will allow youth to remain as long as their sentence dictates.

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Section 1.4How Prevalent Is Juvenile Delinquency?

Table 1.3: Maximum age of jurisdiction in delinquency matters, by state/jurisdiction

Age State/jurisdiction

18 Oklahoma, Texas

19 Alaska, Connecticut, Mississippi, North Dakota

20 Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada*, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washing- ton, West Virginia, Wyoming

21 Vermont

22 Kansas

24 California, Montana, Oregon, Wisconsin

— Colorado**, Hawaii**, New Jersey**

Note: Extended jurisdiction may be restricted to certain offenses or juveniles. *Until the full sentence has been served for sex offenders **Until the full sentence has been served

From “Figure: Jurisdictional boundaries,” in Statistical briefing book, by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2017, Retrieved from

1.4 How Prevalent Is Juvenile Delinquency? National crime statistics offer a fairly complicated portrait of juvenile offending and victim- ization. The statistics can sometimes be confusing and contradictory. Let’s consider the fol- lowing facts:

• Over 850,000 juveniles were arrested in 2016. This number represents a 58% decrease since 2007 (FBI, 2016).

• Prevalence of marijuana use and inhalants increased significantly in 2017, although still below peak levels (Johnston, Miech, O’Malley, Bachman, Schulenberg, & Patrick, 2018).

• Studies show that the rate of violent victimization among juveniles between the ages of 12 and 17 declined to an all-time low in 2015 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2017).

• In recent years, the percentage of arrests has grown for girls more than for boys, although boys represent 92% of all juvenile arrests (Puzzanchera & Ehrmann, 2018).

• Up to 60% of U.S. children are exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes, schools, and communities (Finkelhor, Turner, Ormrod, Hamby, & Kracke, 2009).

After reading these statistics, you may not feel you have any better understanding of juvenile crime than you did before. If so, you are not alone. Crime statistics can be a puzzling array of percentages, rates, and trends. These statistics, and the headlines that accompany them, can lead to confusion regarding how much delinquency occurs each year. This confusion regard- ing crime was illustrated in a mid-1990s study of college students. Researchers asked partici- pants to indicate the number of murders that occurred in the United States in the previous year. Nearly half of the students indicated that the number was as high as 250,000. In reality,

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Section 1.4How Prevalent Is Juvenile Delinquency?

the number of homicides typically hovers around less than 20,000 annually, with 1,700 of those involving juveniles (VanDiver & Giacopassi, 1997). Clearly these students were misin- formed, but studies suggest that overall the public often overestimates the amount of crime that occurs each year (Weitzer & Kubrin, 2004).

One reason for this overestimation is that our views and attitudes are influenced by our per- sonal experiences and by the information we take in about the world around us. This phe- nomenon is referred to as the availability heuristic, which is the tendency to believe in the probability of an event based on how easily an example can be recalled (Tversky & Kahne- man, 1973). Regarding violent crime, information may come from a person’s experience (e.g., knowing someone who was robbed by a delinquent youth), but more often it comes from the news media’s excessive coverage of violent crime (Weitzer & Kubrin, 2004).

There are several other reasons why understanding crime statistics can be difficult. First, crime statistics can be very contextual. For example, arrest statistics can be influenced by numerous factors, one of which is organizational practices within police departments. When a police department decides to crack down on a particular type of crime, such as drug use, the arrests for drug-related crimes may increase even though the crimes themselves have not increased. Second, although we often examine crime statistics from an annual perspec- tive (e.g., the percentage of crime in 2018), crime tends to fluctuate naturally between years. Sometimes the fluctuation turns into a trend (e.g., the crime rate has decreased significantly between 2010 and 2018); other times the fluctuation represents an anomaly or an unusual year. Finally, we use multiple techniques to measure delinquency, and each technique has its own strengths and weaknesses. In particular, the juvenile justice field relies on three primary sources for collecting crime data: arrests, self-report surveys, and victimization surveys. Let’s take a look at these three sources and their strengths and weaknesses.

Arrest Results and Trends When the news media discuss the increase or decrease in the crime rate, they are most often referring to changes in the number of arrests or the arrest rate. The arrest statistics for both juveniles and adults is most commonly derived from the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), whose data are published annually by the FBI. The UCR program began in the late 1920s and collects information from police departments across the country. In the 1940s, law enforce- ment agencies from nearly 400 cities provided information on arrests in their jurisdictions. By the 1960s, every state provided crime statistics for the UCR. Today, crime statistics included in the UCR are collected by approximately 17,000 different city, county, tribal, and state police agencies across the country. Even crime that occurs on university and college campuses can be part of these crime statistics (FBI, 2004). The statistics account for crimes known to police and arrests made by law enforcement agencies.

The UCR collects arrest data on what are known as Part I and Part II offenses. The Part I offenses, also known as index crimes, include homicide, rape, arson, motor vehicle theft, lar- ceny, robbery, and burglary. They are singled out because of their seriousness, frequency, and likelihood of being reported. The Part II offenses include a broader range of offenses, such as simple assault, forgery, and embezzlement. The annual report published by the FBI focuses on Part I offenses. Both types of offenses are listed in Table 1.4. Several crime categories have been added to the UCR since the 1960s. For example, police agencies began reporting officers killed in the line of duty in 1960, arson was categorized as a Part I offense in 1982, and hate crimes were added in 1990 (FBI, 2004).

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Section 1.4How Prevalent Is Juvenile Delinquency?

Table 1.4: Part I and II offenses

Part I offenses Part II offenses

Murder and nonnegligent homicide Rape Robbery Aggravated assault Burglary Larceny/theft Motor vehicle theft Arson

Other assaults Fraud Embezzlement Stolen property Weapons Prostitution Sex offenses (except rape) Drug abuse violations Runaways Gambling Forgery and counterfeiting Offenses against family and children Driving under the influence Liquor laws Drunkenness Disorderly conduct Vagrancy Suspicion Curfew & loitering All other offenses (except trafficking)

The data collected for the UCR program include three different categories:

• Crimes known to police: Data include crimes reported by victims or witnesses, or those discovered by police. These crimes may or may not be referred to the court system for formal charges.

• Crimes cleared by arrest: Data include the number of offenses cleared by an arrest. Cleared refers to whether the crime was considered “solved” by the police. Crimes cleared by an arrest do not necessarily indicate the number of people arrested. For example, the arrest of one person may “clear” a number of crimes committed by that one person. Regardless of the number of people involved, an arrest must have occurred and the case referred to court.

• Number of persons arrested for Part I and Part II offenses: Data include the number of persons arrested for Part I and Part II offenses in any given year. The statistics are collected by age, race, gender, and location.

The data collected result in three annual publications and two semiannual publications. The three annual publications are Crime in the United States, Hate Crime Statistics, and Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted. The two semiannual publications provide statis- tics every six months and report changes since the last reporting period. All of these can be accessed from the FBI’s website at

What the UCR Reveals About Crime By examining the data included in the UCR, we can get a sense of who is committing what types of crime. For example, the FBI classifies a juvenile as anyone under the age of 18, regardless of how juvenile is defined by each state. In addition, the UCR does not report circumstances in which youth are brought into custody for their own protection, such as in abuse and neglect cases. Further, comparing the amount of crime committed by juveniles relative to adults, we

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Section 1.4How Prevalent Is Juvenile Delinquency?

find that juveniles contribute significantly to the overall crime rate. Specifically, Figure 1.1 shows that, in 2016, just under 14% of property crimes and 10% of violent crimes were com- mitted by juveniles (FBI, 2017).

Figure 1.1: Percentage of crime committed by those under 18, 2016

Of the total crime committed in the United States in 2016, juveniles committed almost 14% of all property crimes and 10% of all violent crimes.

From “Table 20: Arrests by age, 2016,” in Crime in the United States, by Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report, 2017, Retrieved from

Table 1.5 breaks down the arrests of juveniles in 2016 by charge and age, indicating that more than 680,000 juveniles were arrested during that year. Of those juveniles, slightly over 41,000 were arrested for violent offenses (murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), a


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