chapter  1
40 Pages

Defining youth offending

The social construction of ‘youth offending’
ByStephen Case

This chapter explores the pivotal issue of how youth offending is defined. It traces the varied and often recurring influences on the socio-historical construction of definitions and perceptions of children, youth/young people and juvenile delinquency/youth offending. It is crucial to examine how definitions of youth offending have been created and revised over time through the activities of various social, cultural, economic, political, professional, academic and media influences and influencers. Youth justice consists of the philosophies, systems, structures, policies, strategies, processes and practices associated with youth offending – typically informed by official statistical measures of the extent and nature of youth offending, but also by self-report studies of offending and victimisation. By the late 1990s, responsibility for youth justice policy making had been devolved to the newly-independent governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland, so the Youth Justice System encompassed England and Wales only, not the whole of the UK.