Free «Young People and Crime» Essay
Young people have in the recent past become notorious for breaking the law. This matter has been at the core of public policy decision making. The coverage given by the media concerning high profile cases involving the young people has been instrumental in reinforcing this image. It is true to say that the image of young people appears to be under the sabotage. The great focus put on the young people has brought the challenge of the youth growing up in a culture that has a lot of negativity towards them. Attitudes and interests of people in the society always shape the perception of the public. This essay tries to explore how offending amongst young people have reached new heights, and the effect it has had on the perception of the society toward the youth.
There are concerns that most of the youth who end up in crime commit offenses during the transition from childhood to adulthood. It is during this period that the protection that had been initially accorded by parents is withdrawn. In the pursuit of pleasure and happiness the youth result in committing several crimes. In fact, most of the reported youth crimes are committed by people aged between 14 and 25 years. Females appear to be offenders at a younger age of 15 compared to their male counterparts whose peak age is 18 years. Evidence shows that continuation of the offending behaviour is dependent on changes in social and personal circumstances. The young people offending behaviour comes to a decline when they leave school and get families with responsibilities (Muncie, 2009).
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Besides the transition from childhood to adulthood, there are other contributors to youth crime. They include poor parenting, poverty, school problems, criminality by siblings and parents as well as antisocial behaviour. Troublesome behaviour at the tender age of 10-18 shows an increased likelihood of being involved in crime. Girlfriends, marriage and reduced peer influence are some of the forces have been cited as leading to a reduction in crime by the youth (Omaji, 2003).
Other reasons that cause the youth to desist from offending include marriage and military training. Cohabiting as opposed to marriage contributes immensely to reduced desistance from committing crimes by the youth. If young people develop a daily routine of work, it reduces the amount of idle time that could otherwise be used in engagement in criminal activities. The greatest influences among these have been found to be marital attachment, job security and service in the military. On the other hand, the negative influences have been noted to be heavy drinking, prolonged incarceration and having no job stability. The conscious decision of some youth not to involve themselves in situations likely to lead in crime is also a great force in so far as desisting from crime commitment is concerned (Brown, 2005).
Family and school also have an immense role to play in explaining why the youth engage in crime. Those teenagers who have a poor relationship with their parents and therefore less supervision are more likely to commit a crime. Similarly, those who are not attached to the school have a higher rate of offending. Truancy in the youth, a dislike for school or a feeling that one’s performance is below the expected standards are all contributors to higher rates of crime. When the two factors are considered together lack of parental supervision and truancy emerge greatest. Children brought up by single parents are more likely to engage in crime, probably due to low level of oversight by parents. Besides school and family, it has also been shown that the youths who are in constant confrontations with the police are more likely to engage in crime. The situation becomes worse when they are arrested and put together with other offenders (Muncie, 2009).
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Offending amongst the youth is commonplace, and many young people are actively involved in committing both petty and high profile crimes. These include shoplifting, violence, assault and handling stolen property. When the youth start engaging in the illegal activities, it is difficult for the family and school to play a role in stopping them. Peer influences tend to take over and propel young people in that direction. The implication of this lies in the fact, that unless the family or school plays its role early enough, sometimes it is too late to intervene. It requires strengthening of families through universal and neighbourhood services. Improving parental supervision and strengthening of schools to deal with this problem would be a step in the right direction (Omaji, 2003).
The public has been shown to overestimate the involvement of the youth in crime. The overestimation is partly because most of the information that the public gets does not come from personal experience. On the contrary, it comes from the media that tend to exaggerate the facts. There appears to be a poor relationship between how the society perceives youth’s behaviour and the prevalence of youth crimes. Personal characteristics contribute to this trend, with women appearing to be more paranoid than men. The older people believe that crime rates have increased dramatically as compared to the younger ones (Muncie, 2009).
With the widespread association of youth behaviour with crime, specific measures need to be taken to reverse this trend. The use of self-reports to collect data on youth crime has been encouraged to curb the bias by the press. An analysis of the perception of the public toward youth crime needs to be done in an effort to provide the general population with accurate information. Incorporating the youth in public policy decision making and giving them balanced representation will go a significant way in reversing the prevailing negativity (Brown, 2005).
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In conclusion, the problem of youth and crime may not be as simple as it appears and should not also be exaggerated. Dealing with the problem has to be done with an eye of objectivity. One involves helping the youth to avoid issues that would push them into crime. The other involves a change in the society’s view of the problem.