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January 29.docx

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University of Guelph
SOC 3710
Bill O' Grady

January 29/2013 Young Offenders Theories of Youth Crime Causal theories of crime look at factors of why youth commit crime. We want to know why certain youth offend but others don’t. Critical theories on the other hand, look at both the rule makers and the rule breakers in a broader societal analysis. General Strain Theory - Agnew o Comes from the anomie tradition of Merton o Believes youth buy in to the goals of society but don’t have access to the means to achieve these goals o Strains results when we want things we can't, which can then result in crime o Not limited to economic strain, but also includes social-psychological factors: family, friends, school Types of strain 1. Economic strain 2. Unable to achieve positive goals: there's something you want, or some way you want to be, but you can't reach the goal. Linked to the idea of frustration and aggression 3. Something of value is taken away from you 4. Negative events These strains can happen in conjunction with each other. A lot of kids experience these things, but not everyone reacts the same way to them. Social supports function to prevent kids from reacting negatively as a result of these strains. o Agnew looked at the different responses of girls and boys  When females feel strain, they often get frustration that is inwardly expressed. They are more likely to blame themselves ex. drug use  Boys are more likely to blame others and lash out expressing their frustration outwardly  We still see this trend in crime statistics General Theory of Crime - Hircshi & Gottfredson o Negative activities are linked together: crime , drug use, no education o Latent trait: low self control - this is the cause of all these bad behaviors  Impulsive, risk taker  Commitment issues o Low self control remains consistent throughout the life span - they believe it is a part of your personality  This could explain career criminals o What causes low self control? How is self control learnt?  Parenting is key  Need to have restrictions  Consistent discipline is important to prevent kids from thinking they can do what they want when they want o Paternoster  Measured self control over the life course  Had 2 groups of high risk kids in a longitudinal study over a 10 year period  Group A: 7 year olds - experimental groups: they gave the parents a "heavy duty: parenting program meant to help the kids.  Group B: control group - didn’t provide any intervention for the parents, just let the kids carry on with what they were doing  Once the kids were in high school, they asked questions about the self control to the kids, parents and teachers  They found that the experimental group had actually gained self control  This showed that self control can grow over time if certain programs are put into place to help parents deal with high risk kids o So… low self control is constant if there is no intervention but it can change if there is some sort of intervention This theory is not effective in explaining differences in crime rates among girls and boys. Is it all based on parenting or are there different levels of self control in females and males? Differential Coercion Theory - Colvin 1. Consistent, Noncoercive Environment  This is the ideal parenting style- firm but fair  Unlikely to generate anger  Inclination towards pro social behaviors and less likely to become involved in crime 2. Erratic, Noncoe
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