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Present an analysis of what you take to be the most important explanations for youth offending behaviour and discuss the implications for criminal justice policy.

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Introduction

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE HAS ASKED YOU TO HELP HER WITH DEVELOPING A POLICY FOR THE PREVENTION AND POLICING OF YOUTH CRIME IN SCOTLAND. PRESENT AN ANALYSIS OF WHAT YOU TAKE TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT EXPLANATIONS FOR YOUTH OFFENDING BEHAVIOUR AND DISCUSS THE IMPLICATIONS FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICY. As with all forms of criminal behaviour, juvenile delinquency possesses patterns from which theories can be developed. Bowlby looked at how family can affect the criminality of the children in it, particularly in terms of the attachments these children form. The Chicago school focussed more on the characteristics of particular areas in which crime was observed, whereas Merton applied Durkheim's theory of anomie to youth crime and Merton studied delinquent subcultures. These theories are particularly useful in the prevention and policing of youth crime as they can be directly applied to policy by identifying the causes and attempting to balance or eliminate them. This essay will explain each and explain how it can be applied. According to the Youth Justice Board Report, an estimated 25% of known offenders are under 18, and are responsible for 7 million offences annually. In a questionnaire developed by "Communities that Care", given to 14,000 year 7-11 students in England, Scotland and Wales in the 2000/2001 academic year, it was found that almost half (48.5%) of students reported committing some form of crime. The two most common offences reported were vandalism and shoplifting, with ? and 1/4 respectively reporting having committing them in the previous year. ...read more.

Middle

However, this approach only tackles cases where attachment and relationships are poor. In some situations there is no one with which attachment can be made. This can be resolved by providing an alternate role-model, which the child can look up to and learn vital norms and values from. In the US they run a scheme called Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. They base their work on risk focused prevention, by reducing factors which increase the risk of delinquency and enhancing the protective factors which shield the children from risk. Their aim is to provide children lacking positive role models with valuable guidance, support and friendship. They target children at risk of becoming delinquent, being involved with gangs, and failing or dropping out of school. These mentors can provide the necessary bonding which Bowlby identified by addressing the previous lack of parental supervision and support, and the resulting isolation. They are usually based in community situations such as schools, churches, or colleges and focus on careers and hobbies. An evaluation of the Big Brother/Big Sister scheme was made by Public/Private Ventures. They found that the scheme reduced the likelihood of the mentored youths partaking in drug or alcohol abuse, skipping school, or using violence. Conversely, they were more likely to improve their grades and relationships with family and friends. In contrast to Bowlby's attachment theory, the Chicago School focused on the social ecology of crime. The main theme of this group of theorists was community as a factor on human behaviour. ...read more.

Conclusion

To these boys, delinquent subculture was a means of getting even, and an alternative mean of achieving status. Strain is caused by middle class standards being applied to the working class, resulting in status-frustration. These theories suggest that what is needed is providing an alternative to crime for achieving status. This can be tackled through leisure activities, job training or work placement schemes to set these youths of on a good footing. Schemes which provide achievable goals could be implemented, such as mechanics training, or horse riding. Sports projects provide alternate ways for young people to achieve the status they are looking for, by striving to win a race, or a place on the football team. Early intervention is also key to providing them with a good start so they don't feel a need to find alternate means. A child's social development is key in crime prevention (Brown and Putt, 1999). Advising parents on childcare through home visits, pre-school education, social and cognitive training in the classroom, peer influence strategies, training for teachers in classroom management, and anti-bullying programs are all successful ways improving social development and hence preventing crime (Farrington, 1996). It is clear that crime prevention can be approached in many ways. Improving parent/child relationships and mentoring address the problems of poor attachment and lack of appropriate role models. Social disorganisation can be tackled by improving community relations and providing activities to keep children off the streets. Finally, problems with goals and status can be prevented by providing other ways for young people to achieve their aims, or providing alternative goals. Addressing these issues which cause crime would hopefully provide a way of preventing it. WORD COUNT: 1991 ...read more.

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