Adolescents' beliefs about why young people commit crime

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    The aim of the study was to obtain adolescents' perspectives about why young people offend. Twenty-four Australian male and female offenders and non-offenders offered insights about what, according to them, motivates young people to become involved in crime. Without the use of sophisticated language, participants offered explanations that were well-aligned with the 'big three' theories suggested by Cullen and Agnew (2003) as major criminological theories - namely, control, differential association, and strain theories. Participants also provided explanations that corroborated Carroll, Houghton, Durkin, and Hattie's (2009) reputation enhancing goals theory. Participants' explanations were consistent with empirically supported criminological theories, suggesting that young people involved in crime, or associated with known offenders, have insights about the causes of crime. An extrapolation of this notion would suggest that they might also have some insight into what measures could be taken to reduce or prevent offending. Notwithstanding further research, it is proposed that young people should be given more voice in criminal justice matters.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)185-200
    Number of pages16
    JournalAustralian Journal of Guidance and Counselling
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


    • Adolescent offenders
    • Causes of crime
    • Child perspective
    • Child voice
    • Crime theories


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