Youth crime and youth justice do not differ much from those of adults in the overall perspective. However, the social face of youth crime and justice is somewhat special since such factors as race/ethnicity, gender, and age influence the crime rate and the punishment used for young offenders. Therefore, the aspects of age, race/ethnicity, and gender in relation to youth crime and youth justice will be closely investigated.
Racial and ethnic peculiarities are the factors that predetermine the possibility of adolescents to be involved in illegal activities. Hawkins et al. (2000, p. 2) claim that there is a direct link between racial and therefore ethnic characteristics and the amount of criminal actions committed by youth. The statistics provided by the researchers states that 71% of all juvenile arrests involve white people, whereas the arrested black youngsters constitute 26% (Hawkins et al., 2000, p. 2). Native American adolescents and Asian or Pacific Islanders form 1% and 2% of the whole. Bell (2011, p. 103) implies that racial and ethnical relation to crime rate is sometimes hard to trace since socio-economic status of people is often involved. In Canada, the recent statistics proves that the amount of Aboriginal youth in custody has increased over the last years (Bell, 2011, p. 109). Since according to Bell (2011, p. 104) there is little distinction between ethnical and racial characteristics of young offenders in official statistics (arrested are regarded as whites and others), further research on the topic is needed in order to acquire better understanding of relation between race/ethnicity and adolescent tendency to be involved in illegal actions.
In terms of gender, youth crime and youth justice is peculiar as well. Women are usually considered to be less prone to participate in illegal activities. However, in the recent years the situation has changed, especially with regard to adolescent offenders. Thus, Bell (2011, p. 117) reports that in 1970s, boys were likely to be involved in some criminal actions from 8 to 10 times more than girls. Another study showed significant difference, because the correlation was one girl to three boys (Bell, 2011, p. 117). In the recent years, the percentage has also changed as 30% of 12-13-year-old girls admitted participation in property offences and boys in this case constituted 40%. In terms of participation in a fight or attacking people, boys made up 56%, whereas girls constituted 29% (Bell, 2011, p. 117). The evidence shows that lately more female juveniles are likely to be involved in some illegal activities. One can assume that the reason for this change lies in the raised level of equality and female independence.
Age is another factor that determines involvement in criminal issues. Snyder and Sickmund (2006, p. 70) report that 8% of 17-year-olds admitted that they have ever belonged to a gang, 16% of adolescents participated in drugs sale, and 16% of youngsters carried a gun. Bell (2011, p. 110) states that over the last years, the amount of children under 12 that have ever been reported to participate in some type of illegal activity has increased. In addition, the author reports that the overall number of adolescent offenders increased as well. Since children under 12 are excluded from the jurisdiction of Youth Criminal Justice Act, they are hardly ever imposed any sort of serious punishment (Bell, 2011, p. 110) and most teenage and adolescent crime is not paid attention to by the juvenile justice system (Snyder & Sickmund, 2007, p. 70). Therefore, the statistics cannot be absolutely correct.
In conclusion, such aspects as gender, race/ethnicity, and age of juvenile population can determine its likelihood to participate in illegal activities. Caucasians are arrested more often than the other groups. Boys are more prone to commit something illegal than girls; however, the situation has changed over the last years since more females are reported to be involved in offensive behavior. 17-year-old adolescents commit crimes more often than younger children do; however, the amount of offenders under 12 has also increased recently. Therefore, age, gender and ethnical/racial characteristics of juveniles can influence their participation in illegal activities.
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