The Demonization of Delinquency: Contesting Media Reporting and Political Rhetoric on Youth Crime

  • Angela Rogan Editorial team
Keywords: Media, Delinquency, Youth Crime, Political Rhetoric, Stereotypes, Misrepresentation, Academic Engagement, Social Responsibility


Historically, youth crime has been depicted as an exponential social problem increasing in severity and occurrences. The extent of the United Kingdom(UK)political and media focus on youth crime within contemporary society demonstrates this phenomenon continues unabated. Sensationalist media headlines from right-wing mainstream media and harsh policing policies by the conservative government continued to fuel these debates aimed at tackling the supposed increasing surgence of youth crimes in the UK. This paper considers whether the contemporary media and political focus on youth crime in England and Wales from 2008 to 2018 is justified. It does so by considering the intensity of media and political rhetoric in reporting, side-by-side to statistical evidence on the extent of youth crime provided by the UK Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (2019). Theoretical academic concepts of recognition theory (Honneth, 1995), labelling (Becker, 1973) and differential association (Sutherland, 1947) are explored with a view of advancing understanding on the disparities between, media and political perceptions of youth crime. The article concludes that political and media representations of youth crime are unwarranted, unbalanced, and unjustified. Critical analysis of the repercussions of such media framing and political strategising are discussed and recommendations on academic engagement geared towards providing a realistic view of youth crime and enhancing public perception of youth contributions to society are provided.