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SOC310: Youth, Crime & Society Chapter 1: Introduction  Youth Crime pervades popular consciousness  Murder of Barb Danelesko is striking for its sensationalized media representations of youth violence and for iconic status - was used as evidence that young ppl are out of control  Ralph Klein called for death penalty for young offenders convicted of murder in adult court – sent a msg that youth crime would be punished severely  Politicians and citizens seem to be caught in ethos of youth crime and violence  Argue that the way a social problem is defined has profound implications for how individuals, groups, and social institutions react and respond to it - involves handling, regulation, mgmt. or control of youth and youth crime operate in conjuction in ways of knowing or discourses and sets of ideas  The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) – define youth as individuals btwn 12 -17 – but really is more broad; can include young ppl in mid-20s (serving youth sentences and/or affected by experiences in youth justice system  Practices of governance (what is done in response to youth crime) and rationalities of governance (why it is done)  Scholars have adopted Marxian praxis that knowledge should not simply exist for its own sake but should be used for social transformation – knowledge of social world should not be reserved for academics and found only in library books – but rather should be used to make change in society  Social justice praxis – process of critical reflection and social engagement, aimed at addressing systematic conditions of marginalization, exclusion and social inequality that lead to involvement of youth crime  Woolford – Praxis of Possibility – integral part of critical criminology; argue that the task to attend to suffering “  Youth crime is too often met w/ calls for more of the same and a stronger, harsher crack down  Critical Approaches Examines:  Societal perceptions of youth, youth crime and violence  Prevalence of youth victimization, youthful offending and violent behaviour  How youth justice system responds to youth and youth crime  Alienation, exclusion and marginalization of youth  Conditions of youth crime and the content of youth choices  Access to social support, services and institutional assistance  Questions of social (in)justice as they relate to race, class, gender  Implications, consequences, and effectiveness of YCJS Popular Consciousness of Youth Crime: Media & Popular Discourse  Knowledge claims about youth crime are widely circulating in society  Discourses have social consequences (what is said, by whom, and who is listening all have implications for group being discussed)  Media Discourse:  Categorized into news and information and entertainment  Use of term “gang” to describe group of youths involved in criminal activity and the increased attention on school violence in media misrepresents youth crime as mostly gang related  Presents 1 sided conversation filed with images and messages about youth crime  Members of general public digest, interpret based on own experiences  Explaining youth crime as an individual problem denies the structural and cultural barriers that youth say contribute to their actions  Popular Discourse:  General public tends to rely on media when dev beliefs, attitudes and opinions on subjects  Headlines and images present a sensationalized, decontextualized and individualized picture of youth crime that the public uses to frame own accounts of the problem  Can be divided into gossip and urban legend  Cohen’s Moral Panic – exaggerated attention, exaggerated events, distortion and stereotyping  Highlights role media plays in doing more than simply reflecting reality by actually constructing a “that- which-is-believed-to-be” reality  Tendency to focus on “youth crime” and direct attn. to youths as offenders rather than youths as victims or to the involvement of young ppl as agents of meaningful change  95% of ppl say knowledge of crime comes from media  Participations overestimated amount of crime and underestimated severity of penalties The Nature & Extent of Youth Crime:  Substantial gap btwn rhetorical and reality of youth crime and justice  Stats don’t aqueately describe criminal behaviour of crime  Youth Crime Rate – all yng ppl 12-17 accused of committing crime, whether formally changed or dealt w/ by other means  Media has fuelled argument that behaviour of girls is getting worse  89-99; female youth violent crime has increase by 81% - but view obsecures fact that real numbers are still relatively low and that male rate has been declining rapidly  More youth come into contact w/ police but fewer formally charged  Since YCJA – reduction in proportion of youths formally charged  Implications of Stats:  Media portrayls of youth crime are at odds w/ sci evidence – exaggerates, sensationalizes and decontextualizes by presenting atypical cases as representative and constructing a problematic image of youth that does not always correspond to actual behaviour  Argue that many change sin youth-crime stats over past few decades reflect a more intrusive response to youth rather changes in actual behaviour  A partial view distorts our thinking abt relationship btwn youth and crime – obscures who is doing what to whom  By neglecting victimization avoids the social conditions that influence the choices youth make  Fears of crime are intensified and situations become ripe for moral panic surrounding youth  Processing actually increases changes of future offending Both Troubling & Troubled:  Crime is a public issue and wider social problem  Popular and media discourses frame public perceptions of youth crime that is at odds w/ crime rates  News involves sensationalized stories, graphic images (ex: Columbine becomes synonymous w/ youth)  Viewing young ppl as one dimensional dehumanizes them Myths Realities - good old days existed,
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