The Factors Influence Young Criminals To Commit Crimes

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A 16 year old boy from Barrie is facing various charges following a vehicle robbery that occurred on October 25th 2019. The boy, who cannot be named because he is minor, was arrested on Sunday afternoon after he was found driving a stolen car on highway 400 and refused to pull over. On the 25th, according, to the police, the boy walked up a women’s driveway and demanded her car keys with a firearm in his possession. The teen was charged with multiple charges such as robbery, pointing a firearm, flight from police and marijuana possessions.

With this in mind, we can ask ourselves, what factors influence young criminals to commit crimes? Some people think the environment they grow up in and who they grew up, such as their parents can be the cause, others think society could be a factor. Although there are many contributing factors that influence young criminals to commit crimes, I believe there are three key factors.

Children choose to commit crimes mainly because of pressure from their peers, substance abuse and dealing with difficult family relationships such as lack of parental supervision. These factors can play a significant role in why young criminals commit crimes at such a young age.

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To start off, what is peer pressure? Peer pressure can be defined as, the influence that is placed on an individual by others in a peer group (who are similar in age) to commit or engage in an act they normally would not consider. Their peers may influence them to commit an illegal act in order to prove themselves and be a part of the group. Since teenagers spend most of their time with their friends, it is easy for them to become influenced. In addition, teenagers also prefer committing crimes in groups because it becomes more exciting and decreases their chances of getting caught.

Although peer pressure is a factor that can influence any age group, research shows that peer pressure is strongest amongst adolescents between the ages of 14 to 18. Dr. David Fassler, a psychiatry professor, claims that the immaturity found in teens around the ages of 16 to 19, can lead to aggressive behavior and impulsive decisions. As a result, teenagers are more vulnerable to peer influence which can lead them to commit crimes. (Millicent, 2019)

In the same way, substance abuse can be another cause of why young criminals engage in criminal activity. Adolescence is the time where the brain significantly starts to grow and develop. With the use of drugs and alcohol, it can affect the teen negatively.

During the time the brain is developing, the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decisions making, is formed last. As a result, teenagers tend to rely on the amygdala to make decisions and solve problems. The problem with this is, the amygdala is associated with impulses, aggressive and instinctive behaviour. With the teen using this part of their brain, using substances will cause their judgment and reasoning to become unclear increasing the chances of them committing a crime they never intended to commit in the first place.

The issue of youth crime is a concern for many communities across Canada. According to the “International Youth Survey”, 37 % of teenagers have engaged in one or more illegal acts in their lifetime. In fact, teens that have difficult family relationships are also more likely to commit a crime. As teenagers grow up, they need to be surrounded by love, affection and care because they are molded to those who surround them. Teens who are neglected feel like they lack the love and affection from their family, which causes feelings of anger resulting in them using their negative energy into committing crimes.

Overall, young criminals almost, always have reasons for committing an illegal act. They are not born into the lifestyle of committing crimes; it’s what they are taught and what they see around them. Certainly, there are many ways to prevent teens from committing crimes. By educating them, getting them involved into the community, being cautious of their friend group and ensuring that they are being loved and cared for are all ways to prevent this issue. All in all, adolescences is a difficult time that results in experimenting with peer groups, substances and trying to figure out boundaries with parents.  

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