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Lecture 2

Sociology 2267A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Status Offense, Truancy

Course Code
SOC 2267A/B
Tara L Fidler- Bruno

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Lecture 2: What is Delinquency and Who are the Delinquents?
We View Youth Delinquents Differently Than Adults Criminals
- If a youth breaks the law, we generally view that person as immature and in need of our
guidance and help
- If an adult breaks the law, we generally view that person as someone who is responsible
for his or her behaviour and deserves to be punished
- Came from the notion that we cannot just lock them up and expect that they will be fine
upon release
- It is important to understand why and how this happens
o Age is the distinction whether people should help or not. JDA was age based
Special Laws for Youth: Status Offenses
- A status offense is a violation because of the juvenile status of the offender
o Running away from home, truancy, incorrigibility, violating curfew for all
examples of status offenses
o If committed by an adult, they would not be a violation
- The state felt it necessary to regulate the lives of youth more closely than adults
- Issue is that it is very paternalistic from the government
Special Laws for Youth: Status Offenses
- Status offense laws were taken quite seriously until the late 1950s and early 1970s
o Often formally processed
o Sometimes subjected to severe punishments
o Especially likely to be enforced against females
- The laws came under heavy criticism in the 960s and 1970s
o The laws were often vague
o Often subjected youth to severe penalties
o The poor, minority, and female youth were more likely to be punished for such
- Laws were so vague that it was hard to make a case for children and there were
undetermined times in prison
- Gender inequity for females
- Criminal justice system has never been a place for rehabilitation and help for children
A Special Court for Youth: Youth/Juvenile Court
- The goals of youth court are different from those of adult court
- Youth court was set up not to punish youth but rather to guide and help them
o Act in the best interests of youth
o Provide them with the help and guidance that the parents should have
- The youth court focuses more on the offender than on the offense
o Focus on the entire youth, not just the offense
o Learn of any problems the youth might have
- Youth court was set up to guide and help them through difficulties
o Was supposed to be in the best interest of the youth
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- Youth court was set up to guide and help them through difficulties was supposed to be
in the best interest of the youth
- Very controversial topic doesn’t include youth from the conversation
o It is in violation of the UNCBC, it comes to management of a population not
A Special Court for Youth: Youth Court
- Youth court hearings usually closed to the public media
o Protects the youth from adverse publicity and stigma
o Youth court records are usually unavailable to the public and the media
o These policies are beginning to change
- Difference in the sentences given out by youth and adult courts
- Court cases are closed to public and media thought to protect child from stigma
Older, Serious Youth Offenders as an Exception
- We are starting to view and treat older youth who commit serious crimes like adult
offenders if not always in legal practice, it is oblivious in public sentiment
- In a US based survey, 59 percent of respondents agreed that “juveniles between the ages
of 14 and 17 who commit violent crimes should be treated the same as adults in the
criminal justice system”
- In Canada we are allowed to request details from a case
o In Canada we can’t send children to an adult facility
Different levels of assault are treated differently it poses greater crime to
need to know who did what, when public shaming comes to public
- Violent crime has increased in the past 3 years all other crimes are on decline
“Official Statistics”: Youth Crime in Canada
- In contrast to the youth crime rate in general, the rate of violent crime has been increasing
throughout the past 25 years (1987-2017)
- Debate about the “reality” of the increases
- Why the variations in the crime rate?
o Is it an objective view of the reality?
- more young people = more crime
- police target youth more than other groups
- you can’t get an objective reality from one source we need more than just stats for an
objective view
Social Class & Delinquency
- Early studies based on arrest data
o The main way of measuring delinquency until the 1960s
o Virtually every study found that lower-class communities had much higher arrest
rates than higher-class communities
o Lower-class youth more likely to be arrested than higher-class youths
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