Collect analyze newsprint media depictions youth crime a -week period (i.e., check newspaper day weeks articles discussing youth crime justtcej] How media depict youth crime comparison actual picture youth Crime?YOu information actual youth crime picture Study Guide, textbook, Juristat reports relevant: 1.
Youth Crime in the Media
There is much controversy today in regard to youth crime, its effects on society, the way that it operates, and how it is perceived by the masses. The mass media currently has a lot of influence and it is very difficult for people to be able to filter information in order to avoid being manipulated. More and more media devices come to depict youth crime as a significant threat to society's well-being and emphasize the fact that conditions are likely to worsen in the near future if the reform does not occur. The masses have trouble understanding youth crime correctly because people generally base their knowledge on what they falsely believe to be reality. Most mass media devices focus on stereotypes when they relate to youth crime because they know that this is what sells and thus express little to no interest in being objective.
Media devices are accustomed to depicting youth in a negative light and this has devastating consequences on young people, considering that the general public comes to have a wrong opinion regarding youth. One can practically say that some media broadcasters use ageist stereotypes when they relate to young people. Many young people are actually victims, considering that they are seen as a target by advertisers and as the media world manipulates them in expressing particular types of thinking. According to Paul Omaji (2003, p. 34), mass media devices collaborate with criminal justice agencies with the purpose of providing the world with a prejudiced view of youth groups. "The media represent young people as perpetrators of 'predator crime' defined as interpersonal, stranger-to-stranger, injury causing crime in which usually innocent, helpless victims are randomly chosen" (Omaji, 2003, p. 34). Through depicting young people as being predisposed to committing immoral activities, the media damages their general image and influences the masses in discriminating youths. Even with the fact that young people are also portrayed as being righteous and magnificent, news that relate to them are generally showing them in a negative light.
Louise Dickson's newspaper article "Court transfers killer to adult institution on 18th birthday" is showing Kruse Hendrik Wellwood, the teenage rapist and murderer of Kimberly Proctor, as being no different from a typical adult murderer and rapist. Although it is difficult to determine whether Dickson wants her readers to focus on the fact that Wellwood is a teenager or whether she wants them to concentrate on seeing him as a criminal, it is only safe to assume that she is interested in having her readers understand the gravity of the situation. She is certainly hesitant about looking at Wellwood as being a troubled adolescent and the fact that she shows the convict's defense lawyer as a person who is unable to provide sufficient arguments in order to help his customer is likely to have readers consider that it would be absurd to believe that Wellwood should be shown empathy.
Youth crime appears to have escalated in the recent years, with the media world seeming determined to have the masses perceive young people as a group that is predisposed to committing crime. Through having people believe that they should see young people as a threat, the mass media virtually influences individuals in employing hostility when they deal with youths. Furthermore, young people are likely to accept the fact that they are, indeed, vulnerable to committing crimes and that it is perfectly natural for them to have a criminal mind, especially if the surrounding environment provides them with no support in their endeavors. One could even go as far as to believe that he or she should take on immoral behaviors if society treats him or her unfairly.
Whereas young people were traditionally associated with minor criminal acts, matters appear to have changed in the last few years with violent crimes presently being one of the principal reasons for which youths are being penalized. Conditions in Canada apparently improved in the recent years, as "in the 10 years between 1997 and 2006, the overall violent crime rate in Canada declined 4%" (Taylor-Butts & Bressan, 2006). Matters are different when considering young people, however. Violent crime rates have gone up by 12% in the last decade and by 30% ever since 1991, the year with the highest youth crime rate. It seems that young people are experiencing change as they start to concentrate on performing more complex immoral activities and as they express less interest in the general well-being of society. In spite of the fact that it is perfectly normal for the law system to accordingly penalize criminals regardless of their age, media devices need to understand that they should provide the general image regarding young people who commit crimes. While Wellwood's defense lawyer tries to relate to the convict's background when discussing his case, the newspaper article concentrates on displaying the young man as an antagonistic individual who should be provided with the harshest treatment available. Readers are likely to reach the conclusion that it would be irrelevant for the law system to consider Wellwood's background or the fact that his life experiences shaped his personality and prevented him from fully understanding the gravity of his actions.
The Canadian justice system promotes the belief that teenagers act differently from adults and that they should be provided with more compassion when being judged for their actions. Thus, young people aged twelve to seventeen are evaluated by a different justice system in comparison to individuals who are 18 or older. "The rationale for the two systems is based upon the premise that, although youth should be held accountable for the crimes they commit, they lack the maturity of adults to fully understand the nature of their actions" (Brennan & Dauvergne, 2010).
While it is normal to consider that young people are more vulnerable to being influenced by outside factors, it would be wrong to consider that they are solely influenced by negative concepts. People's frustrations in regard to crimes committed by youths might originate in the fact that young people are generally provided with gentler penalties, even when their crimes are severe. This is the case with Wellwood's situation and someone can interpret Dickson's article as a sign that the writer is concerned with the fact that the Canadian justice system provides this criminal with preferential treatment in spite of the gravity of his crime. The article's headline puts across the writer's opinion in regard to Wellwood, as she simply thinks of him as being a "killer." It appears that the Canadian justice systems thinks differently as it waited until Wellwood reached the age of eighteen before transferring him to an adult institution.
In contrast to the Canadian justice system, the media in the country prefers to associate crimes with acts that have nothing to do with the social environment. Canadians are unable at times to express their personal convictions in regard to crimes committed by young people because they are being manipulated by the media world. Especially in the recent years, "views on crime held by the general public, fueled by media accounts, tends to place responsibility for crime squarely on the shoulders of perpetrators" (Alvi, 2011, p. 78).
Criminals are practically seen as non-humans who should be treated with very little compassion and who should be provided with cruel punishments for their deeds. People are generally reluctant to consider the reasons for which these criminals committed immoral activities. Individuals like Wellwood were born into a world where people are hostile and prejudiced. His father is also serving a life sentence as a result of having murdered an adolescent girl. Any sane person is likely to understand that it is impossible for Wellwood to have been perfectly aware of what he was doing at the time when he raped and murdered Kimberly Proctor. Living life in a world where one's father murders a teenager after leaving the respective individual when he is one is likely to have serious repercussions on him.
Wellwood was virtually born into a world that provided him with all the reasons to commit a crime. However, there are most probably many people like Wellwood who are capable to refrain from thinking immoral thoughts and who manage to control themselves. The people who judged Wellwood focused on the gravity of his crime instead of looking into the criminal's background. Life experiences can be particularly damaging for a person who goes through a lot of events that affect him or her psychologically. This was the case with Wellwood, who was judged on account of his crimes by a society that was only interested in having him pay for what he did, regardless of the factors that influenced him in employing such behavior.