The peak age for offending is between 15 and 18, with young males much more likely to offend than females. Young people have always been over-represented in the crime statistics, and in deviant activity in general. Official statistics show that roughly half of all those convicted are aged 21 or under, and a 2002 self-report survey found that almost half of Britain’s secondary school students admitted to having broken the law.
Cohen (1971), status frustration: young people are frustrated at being caught in the transition between child and adult status/lack of an independent status in society. The peer group provides some support for an identity and status that is independent of school or family, and therefore takes on a greater importance among young people. The lack of responsibilities and status, and the search for excitement and peer-group status, mean that many young people drift into minor acts of delinquency and clashes with the law. Peer-group pressure may also give young people the confidence and encouragement to involve themselves in minor acts of delinquency, which they would not engage in on their own. This problem of status frustration affects all young people, and explains why many of them, from all social classes, occasionally get involved in delinquent and deviant activity. However, it is a problem suffered by lower working class young people (the largest group of criminal offenders) than any other group. This pursuit of excitement and thrills may apply to all young men, and increasingly to young women as well, but are likely to appeal most to those from the lower working class (links to Miller).
Matza (1964): status frustration weakens young people’s sense of identity. This, in combination with the weakened bonds of control, means that young people lack a sense of identity and direction. In this period of drift, the peer group can provide a sense... [continues]
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