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One problem that has been plaguing societies throughout history is crime. The following essay will provide discussion on the topic and contrast crime myths and Even contemporary society Is struggling to come to fair terms about effects of crime on society and Individuals, fair and effective law enforcement and Judiciary systems, educative corrections system and proactive and effective crime prevention. This assignment will focus on comparison and contrast between crime myths and crime facts, as an example using myths about crime and youth gangs and crime and mentally ill.
Starting point for discussion is to examine the definitions of relevant terms. Crime and Justice: A Guide to Criminology defines crime in two ways, dictionary definition as 1. An act committed or an omission of duty, injurious to the public welfare, for which punishment is prescribed by law, imposed in a Judicial proceedings usually brought in the name of state 2. Serious violation of human law: steeped In crime 3. Any offence, esp. on of grave character 4. Serious wrongdoing; sin 5.
Lolls a foolish or senseless act: a crime to work that or a legal definition as intentional violation of the criminal law committed thou excuse and penalized by 2006, p. 5) Media has played an important role in portrayal of crime and crime like activities in society. Ericson, Barrage and Chain (1987, p. 50) have noted that one of historic obligations of the media is to entertain. This obligation is directly related to the need to fulfill the demands of audiences, which in turn are used to increase markets and expand revenues from advertising.
Crime, deviance and control items have served these commercial needs of the news media. Rawlins (1998, p. 346) argued that In the less accessible areas of society, these media representations become an imperative and often only enter?f?Owe to reality of which few of the general public have immediate knowledge. Through sensationalist crime reporting in media, crime myths were embedded in main frame society (Rawlins 1998, p. 346).
One of wide spread myths is the term As mentioned by Polk (1995, p. 0) media have popularized the idea of youth gang violence in Melbourne, one report quoting forensic specialist as being concerned that Victoria was towards becoming a state of warring She states that in Australia, stories appear in the press of attacks on the elderly by teenage offender. However, the empirical data paints quite deferent picture. In relation to youth gang activity the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence (ABACI 1991 ) research confirmed the unjustifiable nature of media generalizations In relation to youth gangs.
Furthermore, the most significant ABACI finding was that vast proportion AT crime committee Is AT opportunistic In nature, ratter tan mainly organized. A study conducted by Impair and Warren (1994, p. 43) went even further declaring that there is?C,-1?0 a distinct absence of internal structure and criminal purpose among most groups of male The most important empirical evidence in contrast to popular youth gang myth is the Standing Committee on Social Issues (1995) research which found no evidence of highly structured gang existence in Australia and indeed was disputing relevance of the term to Australian youth activity.
Another myth in general community is relation between youth and violence. We can see from police arrest data for Victoria (Victoria Police 1993) for 1991-1992 year that there were some crimes where youth played a significant role. As we can see from Table 1, these tend to be property crimes, theft and vehicle theft. These findings re reinforced by ABACI (1991) findings which found that youth illegal activities revolved around anti-social behavior and low-level property crime.
When it comes to crimes of violence, however, the picture is quite different where 21 per cent of robbery offenders, 11 per cent of minor assaults offenders, 12 per cent of rape offenders, 10 per cent of serious assaults offenders and Just 5 per cent of homicide offenders were Juvenile. The general conclusion that we can draw from these figures is that violent crime is most likely to involve persons aged 18 and over. Table 1
Percentage of Offenders Under the Age of 17 Proceeded Against by Offence, 1991-92, Victoria Offence Homicide Serious Assault Percentage Young Offenders Minor Assault Robbery Burglary Theft Motor Vehicle Theft Fraudulent Offences 5 10 11 21 29 28 4 Source: Victoria Police 1993. If we pose the question whether there is a growing tide of youth crime, again, contrary to popular opinion, answer is negative. Police arrest data from Victoria over the ten-year period from 1982 to 1992 clearly shows there is no increase in the proportion of offences made up of Juveniles.
This has been present at least since the time of the ancient Greeks and across a wide range of cultures. In recent times, this belief has been influenced by he media and television programmed, which, it is estimated, link mental illness to violence between 62-86% of the time. High-profile killings by people with a serious mental illness are given wide coverage in the press, creating an impression that the general pubic is at danger from unsupervised violent mentally ill persons living in the community.
Although homicide perpetrated by someone suffering from a serious mental illness is rare compared with the total number of people with mental illness living ordinary lives, such tragedies attract intense media and public scrutiny. Public once Is raises Day a construction AT mental Illness as dangerous In ten meal portrayals. However, whether it is true that the rate of homicide committed by people with serious mental illness is increasing, either in absolute terms or as a proportion of total homicide in the community, is unclear (Simpson, 2003).
One of the most important research projects in this area has been conducted by Taylor and Gun (1999) in which they examined data on homicides committed in England and Wales between 1957-1995 and concluded that there was little fluctuation in numbers of people with a mental illness committing criminal homicide ever the 38 years studied, and a 3% annual decline in their contribution to the official statistics and that the general public were at lower risk from offenders with mental illness than from non-mentally ill offenders.
In relation to people with in the community, they conclude that is no evidence that it is anything but assisting to claim that their living in the community is a dangerous experiment that should be (Taylor and Gun, 1999). When people generally think of crime, it is usually about offences such as murder, robbery or burglary. If they are asked to describe the criminal, many would provide ascription of untrustworthy, shifty demeanor, maybe uneducated or unemployed person.
However, many theorists would argue that mainstream criminologists are wrong when they are mainly focusing on conventional street crime or youth offending. According to the Sutton and Haines (2006, up. 155-170), white-collar crimes are far more devastating than those normally associated with criminal violations. White-collar crimes are certainly punishable by law; however, they are generally regarded by the courts and by sections of the general public as much less reprehensible than crimes usually punished by the courts.