WDW370H1 Lecture 7

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University of Toronto St. George
Woodsworth College Courses

1 WDW370H1 March 5, 2012 Lecture 7 Policing Youth Shifting into Adolescence - How these changes have impact on relations police have on you and the relations police have with the youth - When children have interactions with the police in North American society, young people under age 12, the interactions not always, but for the most part are pretty positive. Positive because of the context in which young people interact with the police. When children see the police it’s usually in the mass media, in schools – give young people information on drugs for example (public education), done in a non threatening and non confrontational way. At that point the relations with police are usually pretty positive, children overall don’t often have negative interaction with the police unless it’s through the parents. - That begins to change when young people start to shift into adolescence. Their attitudes towards authority figures in general begin to change. Once a young person gets into grade 7-high school attitudes towards authority figures begin to change – teachers, parents, police, etc. Youth start to question authority, with that youth start to question if police are right in everything they do. This is not just an attitude thing that comes with growing up it also has to do with their direct experiences. When people start growing up in western society, you’re in this limbo stage between childhood and adulthood – invention of adolescence, age range where young people aren’t old enough to do several things such as drink and drive, however, young people do engage in adult behaviours before they hit legal age in which they are legally allowed to do these things. For example, drinking. Because of their status this could get them into trouble. Besides that status thing going on, young people are also moving into environments that are considered contested terrains – public places where they hang out that can raise suspicion – adults in neighbourhood calling police and leads to altercations. - Another thing, when you try to hang around with your friends when you’re under the drinking age, you can’t always drive either, so you may have to drive illegally. All of these circumstances can lead young people into altercations with the police. - The police know that the highest range of offending for most crimes are young people in their mid to late teens. Offending tends to peak around that age group. As youth are being treated suspiciously by the police even when they haven’t done anything that can lead to feelings of harassment. Young people feeling harassed by the police may give police attitudes and cops do not like to be questioned so it could make the situation worse. - Key thing here is that this life course shift leads young people to more opportunities to get into trouble with the police. - Young people are also out later than they would be if they were children 2 - One of the key things researchers looked at was how this translates into police youth relations. One of the first studies that looked at this was research done by black and Reiss. What they did was a ride along and looked at what happened when police stopped and questioned people during their shift, what led to police questioning youth – was it about youth’s criminal activity or was it due to other kinds of factors? Legal vs. Extra-legal Factors - When it comes to policing young people and adults - Legal factors are the most common sense ones as far as why a police officer would stop someone o Offence characteristic – reason to believe that the person has broken the law – reactive policing. But also proactive policing, if they have reason to believe young person has committed a crime. Mostly seriousness of offence – more likely a person will be charged o Past record – if young person has a previous record then that’s another legal factor that can be linked to police charging a young person - Extra-legal factors that really shouldn’t have effect on whether or not you’re charged or arrested, some include o Age – older a young person is more likely they are to be charged o Gender o Race o Demeanor - So are these youth being charged because of what they did or was it because of extra-legal factors? (Reiss and Black). They found that lower class youth were more likely to draw attention to police than youth from middle class backgrounds regardless of what they were doing. Police discretion is being used based on non-legal variable of social class. Well why might social class be linked to policing? o According to police: working class kids are involved in more crime, not profiling lower class, it is what it is o Police surveillance is greater in high crime neighbourhoods o Sampson  police are often likely to police working class neighborhood’s b/c they feel that in poor neighbourhoods youth don’t have a lot of monitoring. They are out on their own devices, so police feel they are a backup to make sure these kids are protected in one way or another. They feel that to some extent they should take on parental role. - Most research on police reported data; show that youth crime is socially patterned on the basis of social class. Working class are more likely to be spotted – Merton’s theory, more likely to be involved in crime because of balance b/w goals and means. Lower class neighbourhoods are more likely to be policed. This goes back to the Burgess concentric zone theory. When self report data became more prominent researchers questioned youth class link for young people. - Hirschi and control theory – found that a better predictor of crime among kinds who go to school is more due to lack of bonding than social class. Weak bonds 3 lead to crime. That is a stronger predictor than social class. In a sense people started wondering why police data shows that youth crime is class based where SRData say it’s not about that. Well maybe police are biased. - Another study that kicked off this research was Chambliss – Saints and the Roughnecks – Roughnecks had more questionable reputations than the saints, if you looked at what these kids actually did, both were involved in delinquent activity, roughnecks were the ones who received the most attention because they were working class males and they would spend their free time hanging around the streets in groups and would be drinking, fighting, etc and police would always be there trying to deal with them. The saints kept clean in their neighbourhood but on weekends they would travel to another city and go wild. Saints were untouched by all of this, went on to get decent jobs, etc but roughnecks had a lot more police contact, etc. Not so much what they were doing, more related to resources for hiding their deviance. This is why police are more likely to be arresting working class kids, it’s because of their visibility. - Work of black and riess when doing ride along, you don’t see this being done anymore. Two reasons for this: o Insurance purposes, if you get hurt there’s liability issues. o Research has also exposed the police and has made them look less than good, so police don’t want to be looked at negatively. o Data is not observational now so where do researchers get their information? Surveys and official police data. - For age research shows that the younger you are (12-17), so if you’re 12-13 your chances of getting charged are lower than if you’re 16-17. Is that fair? Thought that a 17 year old should know better – thought to be more culpable. Extra-legal factors can interact with legal – there’s a chance the 17 year old has a prior record whereas if you’re 13 there’s less chance of having one. - What about gender? Some might think it’s because girls are involved in less violent crimes. But research shows that girls tend to get off easier than guys but not in all cases. Girls are involved in things like shoplifting, minor theft, etc, they tend to get a warning – Gender appropriate crime (stealing). Whereas it could work the other, what’s a girl selling drugs or in an assault? Maybe we should charge them whereas if a guy does it, boys will be boys logic applies. *Look in text - Demeanor – how a young person interacts with a police officer, if kid takes ownership – kid is more likely to be given a break than if kid is seen to be lying to the cop. If police think the kid is not lying they’re more likely to get off easier. Not just about admitting guilt but it’s also how you do it – how sincere you appear or how insulting you are. - Research shows that police departments vary in charging practices. Some issue more charges than others. This isn’t necessarily because of police discretion but how they’re being rewarded/promoted, pressure from superiors, etc, can have impact on whether or not youth are getting charged. Administrative issues can have impact on youth being charged *see text 4 - Race – In US, roughly half of people in penitentiaries are African American, which is disproportionate to the amount of in the entire population. Are the police involved in racial profiling? - Doob and Chan – Factors that affec
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