Why do teens commit crimes?

Written by isabel prontes
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Why do teens commit crimes?
The primary causes are often unemployment, joining gangs, taking or dealing drugs and drinking. (Getty Thinkstock)

Whether the news is discussing a teenage assault or a stabbing death, teenage crime is everywhere these days. However, the actuality is that teen crime is decreasing from previous decades. There are about half the incidents of teen crime than there were a decade ago. Still, it is interesting to discover why teens commit crimes.

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Theories/speculation

There are many reasons why teenagers could be influenced into committing crimes. One reason is their inexperience and youth. A lot of times being young and having a lack of experience can lead teenagers into dangerous and often criminal situations, such as joining gangs, taking or dealing drugs and drinking. A teen's discretion isn't as fully developed as that of an adult.

Expert insight

A lot of teenagers live in situations where crime and violence are run-of-the-mill situations. For instance, if a child grows up in a dangerous city where shootings and domestic crimes are a daily occurrence, that is going to seem natural to them, and it's not going to be surprising if they fall into that lifestyle.

Considerations

Also, many teenagers lack positive role models in their lives. If a teenager is part of a family that is either setting a bad example (by engaging in criminal activity themselves) or entirely absent, they have no one to show them the correct path in life. Many teenagers simply aren't aware of the consequences of crime. Teenagers also often don't understand laws and law enforcement practices in their area.

Warning

Peer pressure is also another reason why teens could fall into a life of crime. Peer pressure is stronger than many realise, and has led to fatal overdoses, unwanted pregnancies, car accidents, violent crime and dangerous accidents. Peer pressure is very prevalent in the teenage years, and drug use is one of its most frequent results. If a teenager witnesses his friends either selling or taking drugs, they may want to participate in that behaviour as well, because they perceive it as "cool" and don't want to be labelled an outsider.

Prevention/solution

Teens need to learn how to control their anger in ways that are not violent or aggressive. That could encourage and help them to avoid participating in criminal activity. Mediation programmes can assist teens on this path. Mediation programmes help teenagers use communication as a means to handle conflicts, arguments and misunderstandings. Teenagers should join peer helper or mediation programs in their school or community as a way to learn how to peacefully resolve issues in their lives.

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