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Lecture Week 1.docx

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SOC 3710
Bill O' Grady

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Lecture: Week 1: Sept 10 th The Social Context of Youth Crime: Why are youths treated differently than adults? - Young people 12-17, more lenient fashion than adults - Key reasoning: - Mental development, their moral reasoning is less developed - Understanding the implications of their actions, they don’t think ahead as much, for that reason they are seen as separate category - Diminished level of responsibility, max sentence is 3 years for youth - 3 category: children under 12, under control of children welfare society and action will be taken at a different level other than courts - 1908, JDA: varied according to provinces (Quebec youth until 18) - 1984, YOA: standardized age 12-17 across country - 2003, YCJA: remained 12-17 - What grounds is the age brackets set? Why 12-17? - Almost arbitrary, rights of passage that infer adult status (cars, leave home) - Two different ways to define what we mean by youth: - Legal definition (12-17) Age category of youth is stretching - Social definition, they overlap but not the same - Criminal code rules apply evenly to young people and adults, societies reactions are different - How is youth crime depicted in the media? - How issues become framed in the public discourse - Violent, implications? - Different companies taking over the media - TV programming has blurred boundaries between entertainment and deviant behavior/news - Business around crime reporting, interests people- Entertainment Tonight - Crime seems to be changing, young people are seeming more senseless - Durkheim: crime played functional role in society because it set and reestablished moral boundaries, we should start to worry if we don’t comment on this type of stuff, it would suggest that society is becoming less socially integrated - Media reaffirms moral boundaries in society, proof? - Media often creates depictions of youth crime that it is changing, becoming more violent, females becoming more involved, society is just more violent and less orderly than past generations - Pearson: went back to the 1900s, 1800s, people kept saying that kids were way better in the olden days - Pinker: Main argument, society has become more civilized in the past 500 years, there was much more violence in many Western societies. Our psyches have become tamed, he thinks it has to do with international trade (creating stability), rising levels of education, urbanization. He argues that these factors have made people less violent. Another key reason: is the development of the government/State - How does the government/State make society more civilized? - People had to take crime in their hands/families - People are romanticizing the past as being better than the present (with youth crime) - Why? Because they didn’t experience it the way we do today, we become immune to it (video games, movies) - Role drugs play in crime: - Youth offending is often related to the latest drug on the street Objectivist vs. Constructivism - Objectivist viewpoint: - Treats youth crime as it should be defined - Crime is seen as being real, measured, and reflective of reality - Normally believes in the primary definers of crime in the mass media - Primary definer (police officer) what they say is taken at face value - Crime is seen as abnormal behavior, why are they abnormal? - Constructivist viewpoint: - Doesn’t take info at face value of being factual or true, don’t take reality for granted - Maybe there’s an agenda to what they are saying - Reality, according to this perspective is socially constructed, what we know about society is how people champing their cause, there are always interests involved (self, political etc) - They are called claim makers, trying to make their cause in the best way possible - Alerting people to be weary about people making claims about crime, looking it at its social context - The more laws in society, the more potential criminals Moral panics (constructionist) - Stan Cohen, was looking at 2 youth subcultures in the UK - Mods and the Rockers- had different musical preferences and didn’t like each other - A fight caught by the media, different groups called upon by media to say why they think the 2 groups don’t like each other (judges, clergy, authority) - A time of social instability- where moral panics emerge - After claim makers gave opinion on youth, the criminal justice system reacted by punishing them more severely than prior to the riot - Perception that youth were becoming out of control - Led to harsher punishments - Cohen found little actual change in crime - Another example, moral panic on crack babies (women who were pregnant using crack would give birth to babies who would be addicted to the drug) - Mothers seen as irresponsible and dangerous, some laws stating that the kid would be taken away if you were on crack - Years later, doctors and medical professionals found that the mothers had malnutrition, drinking, smoking, other risky lifestyles it wasn’t only the crack cocaine - Media was so powerful that it changed the way crack mothers were treated by the criminal justice system - OSSA (Ontario safe streets act) punishments were like getting a traffic ticket - The law prohibited soliciting on Ontario streets, no panhandling (aggressive fashion, near atm machine) - New laws criminalizing behavior that a year earlier was legal - Increase in # tickets given to panhandlers, they don’t pay because they have no money - Lecture: Week 1: September 12, 2013 Early Youth Justice Legislation in Canada - Back in time 1700s and 1800s- how youth were treated - What life
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