In recent years more and more young people are turning to crime. These crimes are being committed by young offenders of all ages. The crimes are getting more serious and in the last five years the percentage of youngsters committing crime has increased more than fifty percent.
There have been many reasons proposed to explain youth crime. Poverty, unemployment, inequality and boredom, as well as factors such as single parent families, child abuse, broken homes and also media violence, drugs and moral decline have all been used to attempt to explain the problem. This essay will look at both sociological and non-sociological theories that attempt to explain using many of the proposed reasons as to why young people offend.
Most biological explanations of deviance argue that particular individuals are more prone to deviance than others because of their genetic make up. They say that genetically inherited characteristics either directly cause or predispose them towards deviance. The theories show similarities to commonsense notions that people whose eyes are close together, or whose eyebrows meet cannot be trusted.
Cesare Lombroso was the first writer to link crime to human biology. In his book L"Umo Delinquente (1876) he argues that criminals were throwbacks to an earlier and more primitive form of human being and claimed to have identified a number of genetically determined characteristics which were often found in criminals. These included large jaws, high cheekbones, large ears, extra nipples, toes and fingers. According to Lombroso, these were some of the outward signs of an inborn criminal nature.
Eysenk (1977) argues that there is link between genetically based personality characteristics and criminal behaviour. He maintains Lombroso's stance that individuals inherit different personality traits which predispose them to crime, particularly that the extrovert is likely to break the law because "he craves excitement, takes chances, often sticks his neck out, acts on the spur of the moment, and is generally an impulsive individual".