Course of History

Juveniles and Crime

Juveniles and Crime

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Public perception may well be that juvenile crime is on the rise and that the UK is overrun with feral gangs of out-of-control juveniles who are responsible for a great deal of anti-social crime. However, all the Home Office statistics indicate that since 1998 there has been an overall drop in juvenile crime.

The statistics for juvenile crimes for males:

• Ages 10-11 fell by 1% between 1998 and 2008

• Ages 12-14 fell by 5% between 1998 and 2008

• Ages 15-17 fell by 2% between 1998 and 2008

• Ages 18-20 remained the same between 1998 and 2008

• 21 and above fell by 2% between 1998 and 2008

The statistics for juvenile crimes for males:


• Ages 10-11 rose by 1% between 1998 and 2008

• Ages 12-14 fell by 3% between 1998 and 2008

• Ages 15-17 fell by 2% between 1998 and 2008

• Ages 18-20 fell by 3% between 1998 and 2008

• 21 and above fell by 3% between 1998 and 2008

The number of youths aged under 18 proceeded against for offence in 2008 was 58,800, a decrease of 13 per cent compared to 2007. This compares with a figure of 84,000 in 2001, the highest over the last ten years. Recent falls may be due, at least in part, to increases in the use of cautioning and penalty notices for disorder for this age group.

The highest rate of offenders convicted for indictable offences for both males and females was 17 year olds, with males at 3,675 per 100,000 of the population and females at 485 per 100,000 of the population.

Studies into youth crime:

Cohen sees youth crime as the result of the formation of subcultures reflecting status frustration. Lyngbelieves youth offending is the result of testing boundaries or edgework (voluntary risk-taking). Presdeebelieves that young people generally use fire and arson in particular, as a symbolic way of destroying the power of adults and marking rites of passage e.g. Burning uniform and school books. The Birmingham Centre for Compulsory cultural Studies (CCCS) relates crime and deviance to the existence of youth cultures, e.g. Punks, skinheads. This neo-Marxist approach sees youth culture as a creative response to changes in the class structure. Jefferson study supports the CCCS. Teddy boys were part of a white working class attempt to recreate class loyalty where they felt it was threatened by ethnic minorities, urban redevelopment and growing affluence. Hodkinson studied Goths finding that, although they were deviant in some ways (clothing choice) it was not oppositional to society, but more concerned with dressing up, socialising and having fun.

Pearson believes that there has always been moral panic about certain crimes and youth crime in particular, which exaggerates the fears. Cohen showed how an exaggerated moral panic about violence between mods and rockers in the 60s amplified what deviance there was among the youth. This suggested that juvenile delinquency could, in part, be a media creation. However, the available data suggests there is more petty crime amongst younger people than older.

Graham & Bowling (1995) found the highest offending rates for property crime for males was 14 years of age, for violent crime it was 16 and for serious offences it was 17. Amongst females the peak offending ages were a little lower at 15 for serious and property offences and 16 for violent offences.

Fears related to juvenile crime reached new heights in the past two decades. Fear remains high despite falling juvenile crime rates over the past 10 years. The media focuses on high profile cases that do not accurately reflect the statistics.

Courtesy of Lee Bryant, Director of Sixth Form, Anglo-European School, Ingatestone, Essex


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