SOC224 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Youth Criminal Justice Act, Binge Drinking, Juvenile Delinquency

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25 Jul 2016
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Hogeveen & Freistadt - Scarecrows and Canaries:
City officials react to crimes conducted by youth by:
oconcentrating more police in the area
oencouraging police to detain more youth for minor offenses
oinstructing police to stop and search anyone appearing suspicious (harassing aboriginal youth)
library claimed that incidents decreased, and number of polices have increased
Ch 6: Troubling and Troubled world of youth
Troubling youth  seen as threats to society. young offenders, gang members, street youth.
Troubled youth  perceived first and foremost as threates to themselves (via substance abuse, etc) and seen as potential threats to society.
Youth = a transitional time in life bw childhood and maturity. No longer child, but not yet an adult
oDefinition varies across cultures.
oYouth is socially constructed. Some define it on age, social status, (not achieved full economic independence)
TOPIC: Deviant Youth: Troubling Youth
Youth crime:
Differences bw perceptions of youth crime and patterns of youth crime
Schissel  there is a vast gulf bw reality and perceptions.
Both adult and youth crime rates increased bw 1962 and 1990.
Increases in youth crime is due to other factors other than actual increase in youth crime: changing laws, more control over youth, etc
12-17 youth are overrepresented in criminal justice system.
o18-24 year olds  most over represented!!
oYouths are more likely to be victims of crime than adults are.
Moral panics = exaggerated and sensationalized concerns of a particular phenomenon.
oThe gap bw perceptions and patterns of youth crime is due to moral panics
oCohen’s analysis of a minor altercation bw 2 groups of youth at British seaside resort. The media exaggerated and distorted the magnitude of the
events with headlines that will make the public fear of youths!!
oGoode and Ben  5 elements of moral panic:
oHeightened concern
oHostility toward the offending group
oCertain level of consensus that there is a real threat
oDisproportionality of the attention given to the phenomenon is much greater than the phenomenon itself
oVolatility (erupts suddenly and then just disappears)
This concept is applied to analysis of youth cultural phenomenon (youth-oriented media) and explains the gap bw perceptions
and patterns of youth crime.
oMoral panics are constructed within the media, where youth crime is overrepresented, portrayed as a problem for society, and linked to particular
ethnic groups and classes
Pearson  this youth crime dilemma has been a thing since 100 years ago. There were gaps bw perceptions and reality back then already
Moral panics not only in NA, but also in Austria, Germany, European societies back in 19th centuries
Objective end of the continuum explanations: its existence (or absence) has been variously explained as a resulting from the following:
learning deviant techniques and motives from peers (differential association theory),
bonds with bad crime ppl (social bonds theory),
level of self control developed in early life (self control theory),
structural inequalities in access to legitmate opportunities (Merton strain theory)
illegitimate opportunities (differential opportunity theory)
system of rewards, punishments, and role models we have in life (social learning theory)
Empirical research explanation: youth crime and the roles of intelligence:
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Family structure and processes
School performance
Peer influences
oParent + peer influences is a major research subject.
Research suggested a link bw single mother and delinquent behavior in
children. But the link has been WEAK!
Quality and effectiveness of parenting rather than structure of household is
more important in delinquent behavior
oParenting style  several characteristics (supervision, control, emotion ties with child)
Moderate control + moderate supervision + strong emotional ties with child 
effective in influencing child behavior in short + long term
Having high expectations for child, knowing and interested in who your kid is
socializing with, and having rules
Levels of warmth and affection  reduces the risk of negative outcomes in children (criminality, substance use, poor grades, low self
esteem, susceptibility to negative peer influence)
Both relax and extremely strict parental controls with no emotional ties  negative child outcomes
oEffective parenting styles  child will select better quality peers as friends, forming stronger and intimate ties
oMost effective predictor of criminality in youth  criminality among friends!
So the role that parents play in peer selection is important!
Parenting is central in reducing likelihood of initial association with criminal peers
oBut many factors are associated. Not just parenting and peers
TOPIC: Youth gangs
Not a lot of Canadian youth gang research. Mainly in USA. Different in nature bc of gun controls, drug laws, gov’t policies, etc
2 broad streams of research on youth gangs
1. focuses on causation or motivation. Why gangs form, why join gangs, why gangs engage in certain things
2. Focuses on aspects of social contrustion of the gang problem. How and why moral panics about gangs emerge. Definition of gang
1. How and Why of gangs: (cause of or motivations for gang emergence, membership, and behavior)
Positivist theories:
oStrain theory  gangs will emerge in socially and economically disadvantaged communities. Where legitamte opportunities to get goals are limited,
and gangs is another way of getting these goals.
oOther Theorists  diff types of gangs have diff types of activities as their foundation
oStatus frustration theory  lower class boys, if unable to live up to the middle class measuring rod, would join with other similar boys in forming
gangs that engage in expressive, destructive, non-utilitarian behaviors (vandalism, violence)
oDifferential opportunity theory  nature of the illegitimate opportunities present in the community determines the nature of gang behavior, particular
illegitimate opportunities result in the formation of gangs that may be economically enterprising, violent, or drug using and retreatist.
oObtaining status is a goal for all youth gangs!!! (not economic success, etc.)
Subjective theories:
oCritical Marxist perspective of the Birmingham centre for contemporary cultural studies  Bourgois analyzes youth gangs as sources of identity and
expression of resistance among youth who are structurally marginalized.
oInteractionist perspective  Venkatesh  individual members within a gang have diff interests, motivation, and understandings of what it means to
be a gang member.
oEthnographic research (emerged from interactionist perspective)  researchers putting themselves in gangs for periods of time, interviewing gang
members and observing their daily activityes.
Jankowski  concluded that ppl join gangs for different reasons rather than for any one reason (such as blocked opportunities)
Reasons for joining gangs are based on rational calc of what is in the best interest of the person at the time.
Material incentives (one reason for joining gang):
oBased on the belief that the gang will provide an environment that increases the chances of making money with less
effort. Material incentives also include financial security for gang members and their families during difficult times
Recreation:
oGangs provide entertainment and social life. May also serve as the primary social institution promoting social events
and supplying drugs and alcohol
oGangs serve as a place of refuge and camouflage  motivates ppl to seek gang membership.
Being one of the gang provides a level of anonymity, removing a sense of personal responsibility for
illegal activities.
Physical protection from known dangers in the neighbourhood
Resist living the lives their parents lived. (prob working at mcdonalds, etc?)
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