The term paper is a critical examination of the concept of crime and age. By definition crime has been thought as any act that is not in line with generally acceptable social as well as common way of doing things that violate the rights of others. Ideally, crime an offence against a public law that compel governing authority to prescribe conviction. It has been for a very long time held that individual engagement in crime declines with increase in age attainment; this concept has also been accepted by the majority in criminology. Various researchers among them Guyonne & Williams, 2002 did confirm the relationship between age and involvement in crime. Those actively taking part in criminal activities were those in adolescence or at early stages of adulthood. The same tend to decline as individual get older.
It is this notion that led to a conclusion that the age-crime association curve is invariant. However, there are cases where the generalization is wrong. On the other hand, there are some scholars who have well supported reasons supporting the notion that when one is arrested and convicted of certain crimes at early age of their lives, they have a greater chance of reoffending or engaging in other sort of crimes is high. For this reason the paper seek to explain the age-crime curve, give explain pattern of age crime in United States and give reasons why the relationship between age and crime is important.
Age-crime pattern in United States of America
According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the groups of individuals having the highest probability of engaging in criminal acts in the United States are below the age of 25 years. It is of interest to note that homicide, auto theft, sexual related crime, burglary as well as robbery clearly show how robust age affect individual involvement in such crimes. Additionally approximately a half of the arrests made constitute individual below the age of 30 years old. Similarly, the findings of National Crime Victimization Survey, interview with convicted criminals as well as individual reports from juveniles as well as adults seem to share the same view that age and crime are closely associated. Statistics show that for the period between 1992 and 1994, individuals between age 12 and 14 out of 1000 37 took part in violent crime, between 18 and 21 50 per 1000 were offenders of violent crime and for persons older than 65 years were only 3 per 1000. It was also established that the rates of coming crime for individuals between 18 and 21 years old was 17 time higher than for those older than 65 years.
Similarly, the findings from United Kingdom depict the same views that youth engage more in crime as compared to older members of the society. For instance in the year 1992 through 1998, individuals between the age of 18 and 21 were the majority offenders. An interview in 1998 of 4848 individuals revealed that 19.0% of the respondents disclosed that they have engaged in crime in the past year. In terms of gender, 26.0% and 11.0% of males and females offended (Burrell, 2000).
Characteristics making youths peak offenders
It is no doubt that the issue of offending is in most cases associated with physical capabilities as well as brain weakness. Among the attributes possessed by youth include “physical abilities, such as strength, speed, prowess, stamina, and aggression”. These characteristics are indeed important for one to successfully engage in criminal activities. It has been argue3d by a number of individual even the general public that decline in physical strengths and energy make it possible for a crime to be very risky and unsuccessful.
Additionally, other factors that make youth engaging in crime is attributed to the ‘grat rewards’ as a result of offending. In most cases, offenders end up gaining in terms of finance; obtain identity claim, autonomy as well as power. Other includes respect from peers that engage in same activities and “natural adrenaline highs or highs from illegal substances”. Similarly, there are a number of misconduct that are just seen as natural way of individuals while growing up this plays a major role especially in committing less serious crimes. It is also of interest to note that when individuals are left to be independent while they are juveniles, they are insulated from a number of social as well as legal costs of illegal activities. This results to a situation where their cognitive growth inhabits, their abilities to clearly understand the consequences of taking part in acts that are against the law (Guyonne & Williams, 2002).
Biologically speaking, individuals attain peak functioning between ages 25 and 30. This is the prime age for one to commit a crime since he or she could have fully attained strength, aerobic capabilities, motor control as well as speed perfection. It has been observed that a decline sets in immediately after this period but rather gradually (Burrell, 2000). When individuals attain the ages of 50s, they are ‘shocked’ making it possible for the decline of crime to be tremendous. As individuals or groups of person grow to adulthood, there is potentiality of an increase in illegal activities for instance gambling, fraud. Going by the examples, these kind of illegal acts are deemed to be of minimal risks and very rewarding. This seems to encourage crime.
It is worth mentioning that the kinds of lifestyle led by young person in the society strategically place them in a situation that they will easily engage in criminal acts. Since most of these groups are frequent users of such places as pubs as well as clubs where they are easily exposed to criminal activities such violent crimes, minor theft for instance may tempt them especially when such individuals have no adequate knowledge on the consequences of committing crimes
On the other hand there are possible explanations why individual as they grow towards adulthood engage less in crimes. As they grow, personal link to the community and the society strengthens. This come with quest to look for job opportunities, further their education as well as getting married. All these things work to increase ones ability to control themselves and how to successfully integrate into the society. Cognitive development and expansion of various ways to think and act analytically usually results to a decrease in hedonism, thinking always about oneself and sense of invincibility. With this, individuals tend to be more concerned with others, accept social setting, rules and comfortably coexist with other members of the society.
As suggested by Guyonne & Williams, 2002 when individuals grow, they gain more access to legal ways of getting wealthy as well as being exited. After completing high school and joining intuitions of higher learning individuals have the ability of securing a job, credit as well as other things that will make them excited. This thus cut down the rates of engaging in illegal acts. With age attainment, comes norms associated with certain age groups. This has seen to it that people conform to the expectations of the society and they tend to be mature and exercise higher level of maturity. During this period care is taken by individuals not to engage in activities that are deviant to the law or societal way of doing things. Lastly, the high costs associated with engaging in acts that are contrary to the laws of the land infringing in others privacy has seen to it that as people grow older they tend to disassociate in such activities.
The curve has contributed much depend but for longer peeriod of time,, it has remained constant. The curve represents total number of crimes committed over a specified time frame usually in years. Most explanations of the curve is that from age 10 to about 18 years, the number of offender are much higher and steadily increase. The number then gradually decline when individual attain the age of 25 years. It is interesting that between years 26 and about 40 the number of offenders steadily increase. Thereafter, the numbers decline as the age of individuals tends towards 60+ years. Consequently, age-crime curve can also be developed by using occurrence of criminal and the age of the offenders.
Initially, it was thought by Gottfredson & Hirshi, 1990 that there is no need of establishing the link between frequencies of offending since the function in terms of age is usually unimodal being invariant. However, later on, it was established that although the number of individuals arrested declined, the number of arrest per individual was constant. Leading to a conclusion that decline in the number of those arrested is attributable to a decline in prevalence. Similarly, Farrinton, 1990 after carrying out a study held the view that crime-age curve is a reflection of changes in prevalence instead of frequency/incidences. A loser examination of Farrington data revealed that among the four groups; never convicted and adolescent limited and low rate chronic and high rate chronic perpetrators, the frequencies of committing crime tremendously went up and fell gradually when considering chronic offenders. On the other hand it went down for the adolescent limited category. The conclusion arrived at was that both frequency and prevalence are attributable to the conviction.
For that matter, the curve then shows that it is largely affected by prevalence of engaging in crime thus higher degree of criminal engagement among teens is linked to rise “in new recruits rather than an increasing proliferation of offending amongst existing offenders” (Perkins, 1997).
Importance of the relationship between age and crime
It is worth mentioning that the relationship between age and getting involved in criminal acts are of paramount significance to a range of stakeholders. For instance, the government through the department of justice when provided with such findings will be better place in making rational decisions on how to combat crime in the society by coming up with mechanisms that will definitely sui each target group. It is a fact that one pie doe not suit all; a strategy to address crime in individuals over 40 years of age cannot be the same with the one used to curb criminals who are less than 15 years of age. Similarly, such a relationship lay ground for researchers to come up with research questions aimed at addressing issues relating to age and crime. For instance, when one need to find other factors that impact on the relationship between the two variables he/she must have enough literature on the relationship between the variables. Lastly and more importantly parent will have knowledge on how to help their kids grow up in away that are fully aware of consequences of taking part in criminal acts.
From the review of age and crime, there are mixed reactions but majority agree that they are positively correlated. Most of the youths have all the characteristics that make it possible for them to successfully engage in crime. Such attributes are found in their physical capabilities, ability to think fast as well as moving very fast. On the other hand older members of the society seem to disengage themselves in criminal acts because of ‘shock’. However, it has been suggested that there are exceptional cases especially if the offender at early ages did actively took part in crime related activities.