Juvenile Delinquency from 1700 to 2000
- Pamela Horn
15th June 2010
In the early twenty-first century, juvenile crime has become a matter of widespread social and political concern and debate. Young Offenders examines the way in which attitudes - and the law itself - have evolved in dealing with juvenile wrongdoing from the early eighteenth century to the end of the twentieth. By the use of court and prison records, parliamentary papers, newspapers, the writings of reformers and other records, such as those covering transportation and life in the overseas penal colonies, it considers the way in which the punishment of the young and the definition of delinquency itself have developed. The gender difference between boys' misdeeds, often involving theft and violence, and girls' offences, which frequently relate to sexual and moral matters, is also considered. The book shows how attempts at reforming offenders by the creation of purpose built institutions have met with disillusion and discouragement and have been followed by a reversion to harsher treatment. The reminiscences of youngsters who have passed through the criminal justice system over the years add a personal dimension to the debate. Juvenile delinquency became a subject of special interest and concern to the wider public from the late nineteenth century; in this connection, Young Offenders considers the validity of current claims that British society is 'broken' because of the activities of a few young thugs. As is pointed out, there has never been a 'golden age' of order and security of the kind some nostalgic commentators suggest.