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UNICEF Tough is Not Enough Getting Smart About Youth Crime

UNICEF Tough is Not Enough Getting Smart About Youth Crime

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Published by Francisco Estrada

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Francisco Estrada on Nov 18, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/24/2014

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Unfortunately, it may not be as clear and simple as Moffit (1993, 1996) and other researchers
paint it. Research by Loeber, Farrington and Waschbusch (1998 in Loeber and Farrington 1998)
suggests that there may be a group of serious violent young offenders who are not chronic
offenders. Neither do they appear to be typical ‘desisters’, with their pattern of high rates of
varied offending across a limited time period. Rather, there seems to be a group of young people
who commit serious violent offences without a history of much other crime at all.

According to this research, only a third of chronic offenders had committed at least one violent
crime. But although the bulk (80 percent) of chronic offenders were also serious offenders not all
serious offenders were chronic offenders. That is, while only 30 percent of persistent offenders
committed crimes of violence, fully 80 percent had committed at least one serious nonviolent
crime (such as burglary, serious larceny, motor vehicle etc). So persistently chronic offenders are
much more likely to commit serious crimes than violent crimes.

Just to confuse matters, half of all young people who commit at least one violent offence also
offend chronically (five times or more). This means that half of the young people who commit
violent offences do so in the context of a whole raft of other ongoing offending, serious and non-
serious.

The other half commit only violent offences, and not very many of them (op cit). This does not fit
with the pattern describe by Moffit (1996) above, where ‘desisters’, while starting late, offend at
quite high rates during their short career and try their hand at the full range of crimes. All of this
suggests that there may be special indicators for violent offenders other than the ones that
predict chronic offending.

The authors also found little evidence of specialisation. The serious juvenile delinquent with only
violent offence was rare. Most serious juvenile delinquents (those who commit at least one
serious crime in their career, whether violent or not) committed one serious violent offence and
several serious non-violent offences.

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