CHYS 3P40 - Lecture Notes.docx

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September 8/2011
Think about this:
1. Where did your image of a young offender come from?
a. News
b. Media
c. How crime is portrayed through TV shows
d. Race as a depiction of type of offenders
2. Do you know a young offender?
3. Were you a young offender?
4. Were you involved in the youth justice system?
5. Do you think your image will change after taking this course?
- 80-90% of people in this class have engaged in some type of behavior that could be considered criminal
o However, very few are actually caught in the process
- Critically analyze youth crime and young offenders from a multidisciplinary approach
- Goal: understand complex social factors affecting youth crime and to think about it critically
- Open dialogue about assumptions
Youth crime and young offenders are two separate but related concepts-
- Youth crime is dependent on a response by the justice system
- Official rate of crime compared to unofficial rate of crime
- These two are very different
- Youth crime must be unpacked to see the differences
Critical thought
- Not necessarily negative
- Thinking about assumptions made
o Don’t take crime “facts” for granted
o Think about assumptions being made about youth and crime (why is it different than adult)
o Assume behavior is complex, controversial and contested
Ask the right questions to get the right answers
- Should we ask: What factors within the individual cause them to engage in crime?
- Or: What factors in society/environment cause them to engage in crime?
- Or: Are there causes of crime?
- Issues:
o Is there one cause of crime or multiple?
o Are there causes or factors?
o Associations may be a better description
Just because you have X does not mean you will have Y, but you may have Y
Micro: factors within individual including:
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- Physiological, neurophysical, learning disabilities, psychiatric, genetic factors
Macro: factors within society including:
- Education, poverty, mental health, addictions, employment, social categories
*Note: not mutually exclusive factors, but some major differences between micro and macro factors
*Also: how society/system reacts to crime (or doesn’t react to crime)
Diversion: 1st or 2nd time offenders may get off with a warning
- Without punishment, others may get the wrong idea
- Example: graffiti and the differences between adult and child views in the law
The social and economic environments (family, school, economy, etc.) affect why crimes occur but also how we
react to them
- Ask: why do some people engage in criminal activity?
- Ask: why do some get caught and others do not?
- Ask: who do we pay attention to?
- Ask: What are the relative roles of class, gender, race, disability in offending?
- Ask: How do we as a society react to those within those categories?
Study of young offenders including individuals and systems of social control 9police, courts, corrections)
Some youth are more likely to engage in crime, and some are more likely to get caught
Recipe for making a crime
1. Interpretation by member of the public (as something being wrong)
2. Police informed
3. An interpretation by agents of social control including police, crown, and judge
Diversion: a warning, donation to charity, participation in a program
Discretion: key decisions to make power over others
Crime and how we respond are not always rational
- Ration vs. emotional/symbolic dimensions of youth crime and our responses
What is crime? What is deviance?
- There is a relation, however not all deviant behavior is a crime
- 12-17 year olds can be convicted of a charge/crime
o In 1980, it would be very unlikely that two 14 year old teenage boys would be charged for
- Who has the power to define acts as criminal?
- Why do we spend so much time focusing on street crime and less on white collar crime?
- What judge is correct?
- Crime is not just an offense about the states
- Expectations about young offenders
- Youth crime raises concerns about parents, schools, economy, etc.
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