Adolescence is the period of crime peaks and the investigated risk factors may prevent the juvenile offenders from violence.
The adolescent involvement in crime became a #1 problem nationwide, as well as global. The researchers, psychologists, scientists had been and are still seeking the prerequisites of violence, vandalism, car crime, bullying, murders among adolescents, because it is not just a matter for offenders and victims, but for society, culture and global cooperation.Adolescent violence is regarded as a social issue because the joint social influence of family, school and neighborhood forms the moral standards, self-control and lifestyle accordingly. As adolescents, they are controlled by emotions and, having a short-time horizon, act impulsively, rather than rationally. Those, who enter the real world and who were not prepared to these drastic changes, will face difficulties, risks and negative impacts that will surely lead to law-breaking, violence and murders and their undeveloped awareness will not be ready to guilt and remorse themselves.During the couple of years, till 2000, Per-Olof Wikstrom and David Butterworth from the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University, have been examining a number of studies that included the acts of violence, vandalism, robbery, property crime and anti-social behavior on the territory of the United Kingdom and had been making attempts to understand the adolescent crime from different perspectives.
Their Peterborough Youth Study, which was funded by the Home Office Innovative Research Challenge Fund, was a cross-sectional research of 2 thousand 10-, 14- and 15-year-old students. In their book “Adolescent Crime: Individual Differences and Lifestyles”, they suggested three types of violent adolescents: 1. Propensity induced offenders. 2. Lifestyle dependent offenders.
3. Situationally limited offenders.These three groups of adolescent offenders have common characteristics and a number of issues they are not able to perform:- fit to social and moral norms,- see the difference between black and white (wrong and right),- establish relations,- control emotions, excitement, impulses and behavior,- prove themselves as social individuals with guilt/remorse,- show responsibility, understanding, sincerity, subordination and feelings towards others.The Peterborough Youth Study used the following factors that are considered to be the key determinants of adolescent behavior and determine the high risk lifestyle:- family social status, ethnicity and unity;- lifestyle, pro-social or anti-social activities;- community issues– disadvantageous environment and inner risk at school structure;- morality, social values, self-control, interrelationships within the family, with peers and educators.These factors do not take the leading role in future offending; yet, they shape the individual, his/her moral norms, social standards, characteristics, values and lifestyle, and represent the foundation of adulthood and future actions.
The first type of violent adolescents varies between small and middle-sized group, yet, signifies the high rate of different sorts of crimes. Propensity induced adolescents have either single-parent or drug- and alcohol-abused families, which decreases the interrelationship’s level and increases anti-social tendencies; this high risk factor is directly proportional to poor performance at school, inability to self- control and shamelessness.The lifestyle-dependent offenders fall under the high-risk group because of their social unadjusted personalities, joining to the potential offending teams, anti-social activities with peers that are already using drugs and alcohol. And the last group is characterized by socially adjusted adolescents; yet, the social status is the only basis for their lifestyle, so, when it fails to meet their expectations, or, unexpectedly, disappears, the situationally limited individuals run the high-risk lifestyle.
Nevertheless, this group does not represent the potential threat for the society.The Wikstrom’s findings reveal the astonishing data of widespread violence among the adolescents. In 2000, 45 percent of boys and 30 percent of girls out of 2,000 interviewers reported that they have committed either one or more of the following crimes: violence, bullying, vandalism, robbery and aggression. Almost 10 percent of adolescent boys and 4 percent of girls seriously broke the law and committed robbery, while 1 out of 8 adolescents were either caught by the police or were reported to the police for the crime committing.
The findings concluded that the higher the level of offending, the wider the range of all kinds of crimes.Nevertheless, adolescents with low self-esteem, shameless and ignorant to social values offend more than their contemporaries. The study shows that boys offend twice as much as girls because of low self-control and shame levels, disadvantages, and high-risk lifestyles. Wikstrom highlights that the low level of self-control blocks the reasoning and understanding of future outcomes of aggressive behavior or violence. Moreover, the protective factors (family and school bonds, high level of self-control and shame) in middle- and upper-class individuals erase on the low-class individuals, and the adolescents from this social level were noted to commit more aggressive crimes.Additionally, adolescents from broken families and those, who live with foster parents, tend to have more social problems and, consequently, higher offending rates.
And what is “Can more, if these adolescents were abused or had abuse problems they are less likely to consider the gravity of their acts and negative outcomes of actions.It is clear that during his studies, Wikstrom had been trying to identify the community contexts, social status and ethnicity with predictors of adolescent violence. He has marked out that adolescent girls who have Asian origin and family with high moral and social standards, who can be considered to belong to the upper and middle social classes, have favorable environment and school structure, have a firm foundation of protective factors, comparing to others.On the other hand, The Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), funded by the Harvard School of Public Health, by the U.
S. Department of Education, by the National Institute of Mental Health, by the Administration For Children and three other institutions, was aimed to study the key factor of girls’ ant-social and criminal behavior – depression – that is influenced by individuals, family members, and neighborhood environment. Almost 9 thousand adolescent girls and boys at-risk, along with 6 thousand kids and almost 3 thousand adults (community leaders) were interviewed by the researchers Earls, F., Buka, S., Sampson, R., Raudenbush, S.
, Carlson, M., and Kindlon, D., on their experiences, feelings and thoughts during childhood and adolescence. The two studies: a) social, cultural, organizational, economic, and political structure and changes of Chicago neighborhoods; and b) characteristics of individuals, their changes inside the community – were combined into one research.The results showed that the childhood period was noted by low and equal depression rates between boys and girls. Early adolescent girls have shown the drastic increase of depression“Can Violent Adolescents Understand the Gravity of Their Crimes?” “Page #5” rate because of the number of reasons: inability to concentrate, lack of interest towards past activities, low self-esteem, hopelessness and, as a result, thoughts and propensity to suicide.
Therefore, depression dampens the feeling of personal safety, understanding of actions’ outcomes, and increases the gravity to offender activities; depressed outcasts limit the scope of their interests and feel neglected and rejected by peers, moreover, they join such like and enter the potential group of offenders. The results have also shown that anti-social adolescent girls stay aside from activities that promote social values because of their low self-esteem.