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Julian Tanner

September 29, 2011 SOCC30 Lecture 4 Representing Youth Crime  Young people are often the focus of public fear of crime  Today’s young are perceived as being the worst behaved than their predecessors  These fears are not new and often involve a backward look to a time when youth crime was not a problem (or so it is believed)  Media coverage often focuses upon the disreputable behaviours of young people; moreover it concentrates on the serious (rear), rather than the minor crimes (more frequent)  Particularly exaggerated fears are referred to as Moral Panics: the social reaction to a certain phenomena is out of proportion to the scope of the problem  The case of ‘Mods and Rockers (UK, 1964)  Is the Toronto Star’s coverage of youth gangs an example of moral panic? Most youth crime isn’t serious or homicide, but property/trespassing crime Pearson; “Hooligan” book, British origin (1980s) - Print media represented stories about young people - Pearson took an analysis beginning in 1988 of the stories in various British newspapers  young people + crime (stealing, fighting, hurting others, gangs, disrespect to authority, drug use, teen pregnancies, going off the rails … the youth of today are out of control) - The behavior must be contained and suppressed, police need more arresting powers in regards to youth, different sentencing methods/times - There was a reference to the past; why can’t the kids now behave like those 20 years ago? At that time, there was more respect for authorities, courts were less lenient, cops were less confrontational - Pearson went back into 20 year old archives in libraries , conducted a content analysis, and examined how newspapers reported youth criminal activities – he examines how large the headlines were that talked about youth  youth were out of control, no respect for elders, bad in school, made streets a nightmare for other citizens …. In 1968, they made the same claims, why can’t youth be like those before … - Stat references says that these conclusion are not justified - youth crime according to recent stats, is decreasing - Media focused on shooting shootings, drug dealing, gang activity (real/alleged) instead of focusing on mundane property crimes, which constitutes majority of youth crimes - Study after study suggests that the sort of crime reported in the media is construed. It does not represent the crime that young people commit or the quantity - Quote from Jane Sprott (content analysis report)  95% of youth crime that the mass media reports upon involves violent behavior even though violent crimes comprises of 25% of the crimes officially reported in stats. - Moral panic in media – disproportionate response, often involving young people - MPs with young people involve gangs, drug activity (ecstasy use, raves ), teen pregnancies  these examples have a common feature of involving an exaggeration or a response to a situation Section from his book Stanley Cohen: societies appear to be subject every now and then to periods of moral panic …. (Cohen, 1973:9) Mods and Rockers, 1964 - Young, working class males; has become famous story - Extensive tv coverage and UK newspapers had huge headlines – battle of beaches involving these 2 groups - Cohen observed these incident that were very minor and were completely exaggerated by the media - He stated that the # of fights were exaggerated, the seriousness was exaggerated. He pointed out that relatively small amounts of harm were inflicted upon the members of the opposite groups - The property damage was exaggerated (most fights were done on beach and rarely went onto the streets) - Before mas media responded to the incidents, very few of the rivals saw themselves and 2 separate groups (prior to media involvement, the groups were loosely connected and the members didn’t think of themselves as such) - The media made them more cohesive and organized Cohen also created the concept of Folk Devils (in his moral panic book) - FDs were the subject matter and basically the Mods and Rockers Fast forward form UK 1964 to October 1998 in Toronto …. - Toronto Star had a headline “Teen gangs – Fear in our schools” More than 180 youth gangs are carving out territories across GTA. Their weapon is intimidation their shield –student frightened silence. - Is this an example of moral panic in the context of Torontonians and Toronto as a city? Toronto Youth Gang Terr
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