Groups » Are Young People Committing More Crime Today Than Ever Before?

Crime and age have been discussed since time immemorial. It’s said that inclination and drive to commit crimes is highest during the adolescent and young ages, and go on a decline as we age. In his book, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Steinberg says, ‘Unlike logical-reasoning abilities, which appear more or less fully developed by age 15, psycho-social capacities that improve decision making and reduce risk-taking continue to mature well into adulthood.”

What this implies is that emotions and behaviors, such as resistance to negative peer influence, emotional confusions, delayed gratification, and impulse control keeps continues to develop in young adults. This explanation forms the crux of high rate of crimes associated with juveniles.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) arrest data document the consistency of the age-effect on crime. The data also reveals a long-term trend towards younger age crime distribution in modern times. According to the study, today, the peak age-crime is less than 25 for all crimes reported in FBI’s UCR program (except gambling), and the median age of most crimes is younger than 30 in U.S.

Well, these are the facts as we know. A huge percentage of crime goes unreported, and only functions between the dark walls of the underbelly. Delving into this worrying trend is important to understand why the crime statistics are so high among teenagers and young adults. What are those grave reasons, and what are the different facets to this troubling reality?

Crime Rates Are High Within the Peer Group

The largest increase in juvenile homicides involve friends and acquaintances. What could be the possible trigger for this trend? Psychologists say that tempers run high during the adolescent years. Emotions like jealousy, envy, lust, and anger are at its peak. This is also the time when teenagers start feeling inferiority and superiority complexes. Add to that peer pressure and the advent of social media, and you have a volatile concoction. Most kids also don’t have parental supervision all of the time.

When there are high levels of aggression, indifference, and abuse among teenagers, it is easy to fall into the peer group patterns, and commit crimes. Averted gratification and resultant frustration within the peer group often result in teenagers targeting their peers and committing heinous crimes. What’s also seen is that, this is the age when young boys and girls readily, or out of peer pressure, become accomplices to crime.

High Crime Rates Are Directly Proportional to High Testosterone Levels

The biological explanation of the age-crime relationship states that testosterone is directly related to aggression. This also explains the fact of why more crimes are committed by men, rather than women. While there is a debate regarding this hormonal psychological analysis of age and crime, it cannot be denied that the rapidly rising testosterone levels at puberty is one of the causes of why males between 12 and 21 years of age are the principal perpetrators of violence.

Lack of Proper Socialization Leads to High Crime Rates in Juveniles

Socialization is an initial and integral process in our lives. Juveniles and youngsters who do not receive a healthy and holistic socialization through different institutions in their formative years often turn to criminal activities sooner rather than later.

Reputed Atlanta Criminal defense attorney, who regularly deals with juvenile offenders, provides insight into the situation: “Juveniles who have seen detached or turbulent relationships often turn to criminal activities. Attachment is a big part of our socialization. It is basically caring about what others, especially family and relatives, think of you. When that is missing, youngsters are much less inclined to follow social conventions, and indulge in behavior that society considers unacceptable.”

What is also seen is that students who drop out of school, or get expelled, miss out on a very important aspect of socialization. They automatically have a conflicted sense of discipline and formal education. This also becomes a trigger in juvenile delinquency and crime. At the same time, when a child has parents or guardians who are overly strict and give very harsh punishment to children for small issues, children start disrespecting their parents, and often turn violent. One never knows what this tendency of violence eventually culminates into.


Geographical analysis suggest that countries with higher urbanized populations record higher crime rates than rural societies. With urbanization, we have seen a disintegration of families and premature autonomy among children. Community control is almost non-existent in an urban society. Informal communication is the primary form of communication, and there is a prevalent sense of anonymity in urban societies. Urbanization also increases the gap between the rich and poor. This leads to a creation of a dissatisfied group that exists on the periphery of society. These individuals start feeling like unwanted members of society, and deviate from accepted values and belief systems.

Impoverished, and without access to social and economic opportunities, frustration and dissent build up, which ultimately manifests themselves through violence and crimes. One also notices that in such marginalized groups, family friction and breakdown is higher. It is not surprising that in many of these families, a family member like a brother or father initiates a juvenile into criminal tendencies. Criminal action and violence become an acceptable part of their life, and before they realize, they have turned into juvenile delinquents. Extensively populated and heterogeneous societies without adequate opportunities become hot zones, where crime penetrates and fosters.

The Role of Media

The omnipresence of media in some form or another makes it a culprit for almost all of the social epidemics that we face. When it comes to juvenile delinquency, children are constantly exposed to some form of violence through the media. Media uncannily often demonstrates violence as a means of justice or redemption. Slowly, the epitomized and idolized violence starts exciting spectators. Violence becomes a representative of positive ideals like courage, masculinity, and bravery. Young people who watch violence in the media are prone to reacting aggressively when provoked, and even resort to violence. Boys between the ages of 8 to 13 are most vulnerable to such influences, and if they are not conditioned and curbed properly during this stage, they can turn into juvenile delinquents.

Further, the American Psychological Association has stated that violence accounts for about 10 percent of aggressive behavior among children.

Delinquent Behavior Linked to Bodily Strength

Finally, it is important to understand that delinquent behavior is also linked to body strength. As one reaches adolescence and early adulthood, body strength is high. It is not enormously difficult to commit burglary, theft, or robbery, and then run. The level of physical fitness, and often being in groups, gives that extra boost to youngsters to commit something fickle and flee. As we age, our physical processes slow down, and we are more conventional in our activities. Besides, crimes in youngsters also reasserts their power quotient, and bravery among the peer group. What starts off as a simple fun activity or prank often results into something larger and damaging, like criminal behavior and records.

Solutions, prevention and intervention are most important in these cases. It is important that family structures are present, and continue to guide adolescents through their formative years. Punishment is not a solution.. It is important that childhood, and the most important years of an individual, are not lost in criminal records and jails. It is important to reach the roots of this epidemic, to eliminate it.

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Are Young People Committing More Crime Today Than Ever Before?


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