Youth “Crime Waves” and Moral Panic by rt3463df


									Youth “Crime Waves” and
       Moral Panic
    Is There a Youth “Crime
• Perceptions of a youth “crime wave” are
  based on evidence but also on biased
 “Youth violent crime rates increased
  almost 100% from 1987 to 1997.”

• BUT the youth violent crime rate peaked
  in 1991 and has decreased every year
  since then, AND violent crimes account
  for only 20% of youth charges- less than
  the 30% for adult offenders.
“Violent crime rates among female youths
 have increased nearly twice as much as
        those among male youths.”
• BUT violent crime by females (youth
  and adult) is still extremely rare. Female
  youths still commit violent crimes at a
  rate less than one-third that of male
 16-year-olds commit the greatest number
 of burglaries, proportionally, than do any
              other age group.

• BUT, regardless of the age-crime curve
  for burglary, property offenses
  committed by youths have decreased
  even more, and more quickly, than have
  violent offense rates.
You hear about youth crime all the time!

• BUT media reports are faulty measures of
  crime rates and crime trends. Media reports
  of youth crime waves reflect a current “moral
  panic,” an exaggerated public perception of a
  social problem, surrounding youth crime.
• Youth are, per Bernard Schissel, the
  contemporary “folk devil,” the scapegoat on
  whom all blame for society’s “ills” can be
  placed, even where those “ills” are rhetorical
  inventions of media and politicians.
              Moral Panics
• Stanley Cohen’s definition:
  – Occur in times of change/“crisis”
  – Follow from highly publicized, though sometimes
    scant evidence (or rumour)
  – Reflect an exaggeration of threat (often spread by
  – Often target youth
  – Entail disproportionate responses that victimize
    the innocent
  – Serve social functions of “boundary maintenance”
     Recent and Non-recent
    Examples of Moral Panic
• 9/11
• Genocide and attempted genocide in Central
  Europe, Rwanda, Cambodia, Ukraine, etc.
• Panic surrounding “child abduction”
• Panic surrounding Halloween candy
• Panic surrounding “gangs”
• Witch hunts and witch trials
 Satanic Panic and the WM3
• Satanic Panic: The moral panic of the
• The West Memphis 3 and Satanic Panic

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