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Lecture 4

Sociology 2267A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Gang, Juvenile Delinquency, Juvenile Court


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC 2267A/B
Professor
Lisa Lyons
Lecture
4

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2267 LECTURE/UNIT 4 NOTES
The Social Construction of Youth Crime
Public issues/concerns about youth crime stem from assumptions about the social
characteristics of youth who break the law generalizations are made
o Central identification of certain youth as more threatening than others
70s - researchers have begun demonstrating the relationship between class, race,
and gender in the social construction of youth crime images
Youth crime = political construction reinforced medial portrayals
By deconstructing these social images of youth crime + youth who commit crime, we
can begin to understand those factors that contribute to criminal behaviour and
develop effective responses to minimize risk of criminal behaviour
Race/Ethnicity
Official crime stats in CAD N/A provide info on race/ethnicity
Human rights organizations - collection of such information = exploitation of the
data for potentially racist ends
The exclusion of this data prevents the use of this info to investigate race biases
within the system
Most info on race comes from the media, police reports, and court-based research
Canadian Cultural Mosaic
CAD cultural mosaic significant role in national patterns of crime + response to
crim. Behaviour
50s CAD colonized by European settlers displacing the aboriginal population as
settlement progressed westward across the country
o Since colonization by EU, CAS = nation of immigrants
o 61-81 2.8 mil. immigrants arrived in CAD
o 81, 16% of the pop. was foreign born
Distribution of countries of origin has shifted since the 50s
o 50s, 90% of the immigrants were EU, while today, more than half come from
Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, and Central America
o 16 Census 7.5 mil. foreign-born people came to live in CAD = represent
more than 1 in 5 people in CAD
o More than 200 places of birth were reported by immigrants in CAD
The top 10 countries of birth of the most recent immigrants included
in the Census, include: Philippines, India, China, Iran, Pakistan, United
States, Syria, United Kingdom, France and South Korea
Racialized Youth Gangs
90s - CAD media identified 4 groups of youth as problematic: Asian, Vietnamese,
Latin, and Black
In writing about the racist aspect of Asian gang mythology, Tanner suggests, that the
most racist element is that Caucasian gang activities are never linked to race
Gordon found that 68% of gang members in BC jails were CAD-born

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o Indicated that Asians are no more likely to be involved in street gangs than
any other ethnic group
Schissel maintains that racialized articles mask the real issues (ex. poverty)
Historical parallel with immigrant children being labelled as problematic.
Over-Representation of Aboriginals in Criminal Justice System
CAD society witnessed a great amount of conflict indigenous + immigrant groups
o Historically, the pattern of colonization of the Aboriginal peoples included
socialization into white-European culture and eradication of traditional
customs resulting in a cultural genocide
Aboriginals' position in CAD society = marginalized marked by serious $
deprivation
Many problems have faced the Aboriginal communities as a result of this
deprivation and marginalized position in society
One of these problems is the over-representation of aboriginal people in the
criminal justice system
Aboriginal Youth and Crime
LaPrairie and Griffiths (82) study found that Aboriginal youth were over-
represented at all stages of the youth justice system and became involved with the
law at a younger age compared to the non-Aboriginal population
There were also significant differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
youth on socio-economic indicators such as level of education, living conditions,
family income and occupation
These conditions are similar on many Aboriginal reserves and communities across
CAD
The most common offences among Aboriginal youth are theft, break and enter, and
wilful damage
The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba reported that Aboriginal youth in
Manitoba had higher arrest rates, were more likely to be denied bail, and were more
likely to held in detention prior to trial than non-Aboriginal youth
Correctional data indicate that Aboriginal youth admissions to custodial institutions
are 23% in Ontario, and 25% in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia
York (90) reported that 75% of youth in the Winnipeg Youth Detention Centre are
Aboriginal
York also notes that the suicide rate for Aboriginal people under 25 is six times
higher than for non-Aboriginals
Aboriginal youth are also over-represented in court populations
Schissel (1993) found that 18 percent of young offenders in Edmonton court were
First Nations youth
Bell (1994a) found that Aboriginal youth represented 12 percent of youth court
cases in London, Ontario
A study entitled "Locking Up Indians In Saskatchewan"• stated that a treaty Indian
male turning 16 in 1976 had a 70% chance of at least one stay in prison by the age
of 25. The corresponding figure for a non-Indian was 8%
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The socio-economic condition of Aboriginals is evidenced in problems among their
youth including involvement in the youth justice system and welfare systems, high
rates of alcoholism and solvent abuse, and the high incidence of suicide
Griffiths and Hatch suggest that deprivation on socio-economic factors contribute to
a youth's vulnerability to engage in criminal behaviour
They further suggest that support at the community level is critical to reverse the
criminalization of vulnerable youth.
Wood (1992) suggests that a number of factors reduce criminal behaviour including
"the strength of community and personal resources, the persistence of traditional
culture and lifeways, and the degree of cohesion and consensus among residents"
In recent years aboriginal communities in rural and northern areas have developed
alternative, community-based justice services and programs
A number of these initiatives were developed in response to the high rates of suicide
and solvent abuse among teens of those communities
Problems of alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, and criminality were attributed to the
loss of traditional ways for many aboriginals
New approaches to these problems emphasize a return to traditional cultural,
spiritual and community ways
Age
Crim. activity = associated w/ 2 primary age groups according to police-recorded
crimes
o 18-24 = 30% of total reported crimes, while they make up only 10 % of the
total pop.
o 31-45 = 25% of total crimes (which is similar to their proportion of the total
population)
o 12-17 =18% of total crimes
Different crimes peak at different ages and decline more slowly with age
Violent crimes tend to peak later in life than property crimes and decline more
slowly with age.
Youth under 12
Public concern that YCJA (previous YOA) n/a youth under 12 to be charged w/ a
crim. offence
Year prior to YOA (83) youth 7-11 made up less than 2% of those charged under the
JDA
Thus, youth under 12 are not highly involved in criminal activity
Between 88’-92youth under 12 accounted for 1.2% of crim. incidents reported by
police
Youth between 12-17 accounted for 2% of total offences
Most of the offences of youth under 12 are for minor offences: 41% involved
mischief and 23% were theft under $1000
Further most offences by under 12's were committed alone (63%)
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