Childhood Criminal Law Essay

Childhood Criminal Law Essay: "Juvenile Criminality
It can be contested that juvenile crime is motivated by factors such as material gain, peer prestige, self-esteem, and excitement. These factors all have fundamental social dimensions and are brokered by compelling social variables. In theory, it is almost always feasible for parents living in deprived areas and areas of high background criminality, to protect their children from the surrounding culture.
However, in practice it is extremely difficult for them to do so. Most children that grow up in a difficult area will be subjected to and possibly influenced by the socio-economic context of the wider community and in particular the prevailing local youth culture.

In many deprived communities, the dominant youth culture maintains a perception that drug abuse offers a thrilling an appealing lifestyle, presenting the opportunity to escape temporarily from an otherwise depressing and gloomy environment. Moreover there is money to be made from drugs. In a child's sponge-like and malleable mind the notion that the easy, or ostensibly easy material rewards that go hand in hand with the trade in drugs - especially when all around poverty is the benchmark - may serve to help form strong perceptions and a raft of negative norms from an early age. Membership of and acceptance within a tight knit self-perpetuating and affirming Anti-community is another cogent and circular factor.

It is undeniable that poverty and other deleterious conditions of deprivation may put families and family structures under substantial stress which can impair parental ability and capacity to maintain the type of nurturing environment that encourages socially positive behaviour and the formation of decent moral perspectives and frameworks. That said however, even advantaged children who have been effectively and laudably socialised within the family setting are susceptible to being influenced and persuaded by peer-groups and the pervasive subculture in which they are immersed. In particular this may cause a problem if the subculture in question involves the abuse of drugs from the harder end of the spectrum.

It is a trite observation that opiate drugs prove themselves highly alluring to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Arguably this is due to the experience of conditions of deprivation and of the expectation of inferior and negative social roles. This tends to produce dissatisfaction, a poor self-image, and in serious cases anger and psychologically it undoubtedly prepares the way for both criminal activity and drug addiction. Again of course, it is an obvious point that drug use, once a pattern or addictive habit is established, cultivates its own demanding and often criminal influences, if not behavioural imperatives, on the addicted.

Also of prime importance are individual and family factors. These might include: a predisposition towards aggression and confrontation; an impulsive or compulsive temperament; a tendency to be easily led; low intelligence; inappropriate parental discipline methods; limited parental contact and socialisation; the indoctrination of anti-community attitudes and actions by criminal parents or siblings. Such factors can greatly increase the tendency to display what may initially be trivial but often persistent delinquency which can mature, especially when added to the frothy mix of testosterone so abundant in adolescence, to become serious criminal behaviour in adulthood. Again we can isolate the conclusion that drug addictions at all levels of social class but in particular in the lower castes, manifestly entail a significant influence in provoking serious and sustained criminal activity entirely independently of other individual and interpersonal risk factors for criminality.

Children that grow up in what can be described as marginal or marginalised social contexts and communities may see themselves as unfairly excluded from life. This may be the seed of childhood criminal activity and in this sense crime is often likely to be instigated by a clear rejection of the normative moral codes of law abiding society by the child's immediate peer group. Such received values may be replaced by a different code that fosters certain types of criminal thought, preparatory behaviour and activity. It is submitted that criminal activity is far less likely to be engendered by some structural failure of socialisation or in a 'criminal personality' - although both of these factors may occasionally arise.