Measuring Juvenile Crime
Juvenile crime poses a grave threat to many nations in the world. A large majority of juveniles do admit to engaging in various types of criminal behaviours although the percentage of juveniles who are actually apprehended by the police officers is small and the percentage of youth referred to juvenile courts is even smaller. The most common types of crimes committed by these juveniles are usually offenses like shoplifting and theft, disorderly conduct, alcohol and drug use, vandalism as well as small assaults that do not lead to serious injury such as kicking, hitting and fights. Apart from these offences, juveniles engage in some other behaviours too such as alcohol violations or curfew violations that are not regarded as crimes and so are not punishable according to the state penal code. Therefore, it is extremely important to develop a mechanism for measuring juvenile crimes so that effective efforts can be made for controlling them.
As a general rule, juvenile crime is often measured on the basis of Federal Criminal Police Office’s police crime statistics (PCS) which include those criminal offences that have become known to the police, have been recorded, that is, reported as crime, and the suspects have been identified. The statistical offices collect the statistical reports on juvenile crime that are complemented by judicial data based on the convicted prisoners, convicted persons and under probationary supervision convicted persons. Such compilations then serve as a basis of information for assessing criminal cases and imposing punishments, thus providing a crucial source of measuring juvenile crimes. The self-report technique is another important tool for measuring juvenile crime. The main approach of this self-report method is asking individuals if they have engaged in criminal behaviour and if they have how often they have done so. Although limitations exist to this approach but by obtaining data as close as possible to the original source, most of these limitations can be avoided.
Apart from relying on official data collected by various criminal justice agencies, such as data on convictions or arrests, social survey in which individuals are either asked if they have been victims of crime or they are asked to self-report their own criminal activity, are other reliable methods of measuring juvenile crime. Only after such criminal activities are accurately measured can steps be taken to mitigate these crimes and uplift the society.