Pulled the Plug

I was just starting to get into the latest episode of Battle Star Galactica, the 2008 television-season four, when the TV signal turned into white static. It was just about where the climax of the story was appearing and the plot moved me to the edge of my seat. Now I’m looking at the blank TV screen with nothing but millions of white pixels dancing randomly just below the glass surface–deeply disappointed at my cable provider. Of the few moments when I get sit down and watch some cathode ray tub entertainment, the system crashes to spoil the moment for me. BOO!

So, I migrated over to the bedroom, took off my shirt, and started going over some accounting I have been putting off. It is hot and I’m feeling sweaty–as the temperature hit a whopping 34c today marking a very welcomed change from the norm of the last six months. Sweat and accounting don’t mix so I decided to do this post on the blog instead.

What is on my mind? Young offenders and the misconception that the mass media portrays them as. Although my class is on young offenders, and is a third year course, most of it is review for me. I have touched on this area of criminology several time before so I fully understand the academic point of view. But I am boggled by how many people just don’t get it… I mean some of the problems faced with youth who offend and the stigma we label them with.

There is an old saying that almost everyone knows, “youth today are worse than the previous generation.” It is such a well known statement that the majority of my friends are completely brain-washed by it, and even after I show them the data from various scholars that prove otherwise, they gock at me with disbelief. A lot of time and effort from dedicated people went into these studies, and their results from the findings show that youth are better behaved and offend less than the previous generation did. Yes–the kids today, per capita, are less likely to offend than their parent’s generation.

One of my co workers from four years ago said it best: “The Vancouver Provence (news paper) said that kids are more troublesome than ever before…. You just need to look at the headlines and see for yourself–just look at the girl gang in Victoria, BC, the one’s who killed their own class mate under the bridge, that’s pure evil.” My friend certainly earned his degree from the arm-chair of the Provence News Paper.

Every time there is a sensational case splattered across the front page of the news paper, people seem to go into a moral panic and all kinds of misconceptions leap out.

My favourite news story came from the Langley Times, a small local rag, that I read periodically because it’s free; they said that girl crime had doubled in 2004. Of course journalists have the luxury of writing stories and publishing them without citing their sources, so peer review never happens at the public level–you just take their word for their content accuracy.  So I did some investigating of my own.

I collected data from UCRs, (Uniform Crime Reports) that most police centres keep. I followed the columns in various crime categories in the Youth section, and cross-referenced it by gender, looking for the Female offenders in Langley City over a twelve month period. I found 23. I then looked up the previous year and found 11. So I gave the journalist credit that girl crime had indeed doubled.

But what a poor fact when compared to adult crimes! The majority of the 23 Female offenders were busted for shoplifting–a far cry from murder, extortion and assaults.

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