The causes and consequences of youth unemployment in Australia has been of particular concern within both government and private sectors for many years. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 10.9% of the total 15-24 age population was unemployed in September, 1995. This figure climbed to 15.3% in September, 2003. This evidence gives cause to the growing concern surrounding the increase in youth unemployment. For sizeable numbers of youth, its not going to get any easier to find work as they move into their twenties or complete education. Opinions such as those found in the Smith Family Youth Unemployment Report (2003) hypothesise that juvenile crime is directly connected to the high rates of youth unemployment in Australia. In this essay, I would firstly like to ask exactly what is known about both the rates of juvenile crime and youth unemployment in Australia, and is there a direct link between the two? The suggested connection between a soaring crime rate and youth unemployment influences the way in which our society is governed and developed, making it imperative that we endeavor to try and understand and/or eliminate some of these suggestions. I will begin my essay by defining what I mean by youth unemployment and juvenile crime, and explore the possible challenges upon measuring both of these things. Comparing statistics gathered from both the ABS and other government recognized reports on unemployment, and information from the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), I will attempt to weigh up the claim that the crime rate has risen in unison with the unemployment rate. I will also assess claims made by Weatherburn (2001) that youth unemployment causes crime, sifting through the truths and fallacies.
Opinions such as those found in the Smith Family Youth Unemployment Report (2003) which hypothesize that juvenile crime is directly connected to the high rates of youth unemployment in Australia cannot be neither accepted nor critiqued until there is a clear understanding of what the terms "Youth Unemployment" and "Juvenile Crime" mean in the context of this essay. In this essay youth unemployment is generally taken to include the entire 15-24 age cohort not just 15-19 year old teenagers who are no longer at school or university and who are without a job. I have chosen to include 20-24 year olds under the banner of "Youth", as it gives a fairer picture of the performance of all young people in the labor market and takes into account the pattern of employment both during and after leaving school or university. The word juvenile is used to describe the actions of a person who is "not fully grown or developed" (www.answers.com), and is marked by immaturity and childishness. Crime is generally taken to include all acts which are deemed against the law of the state, and are therefore illegal. The term "Juvenile Crime" is usually taken to encompass juvenile delinquency. Explaining crime and delinquency is a complex task. A multitude of factors exist that contribute to the understanding of what leads someone to engage in delinquent behavior. Just as the casual factors of juvenile delinquency and crime are diverse and numerous, so are their definitions. Hartley (1985) and other sociologists state, "Sociologists define deviance as any behavior that members of a social group define as violating their norms. This concept applies both to criminal acts of deviance and non-criminal acts that members of a group view as unethical, immoral, peculiar, sick, or otherwise outside the bounds of respectability."
In order to look discuss whether or not youth unemployment causes or has any correlation to the high crime rate in Australia, it is important to have a clear understanding of the patterns of youth unemployment. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in September 1995 10.9% of the total 15-24 age population was unemployed (or 15.1% of the 15-24 year old labour force). Unemployment as a...
References: Weatherburn, D ‘The impact of unemployment on crime ' in Saunders, P and Taylor, R (eds), (2001) The Price of Prosperity, pp226-248 Sydney: University of New
South Wales Press
Weatherburn D. (2001), What causes crime? (Crime and Justice Bulletin B54) at URL: http://www.Lawlink.nsw.gov.au
Accessed on 5/6/2005
Hartley, R. (1985) What Price Independence? Youth Affairs Council of Victoria Inc. Fitzroy
Wooden, M. (1999) Impediments to the Employment of Young People, NCVER, Australia
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