What Are the Causes of Teenage Crime?

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According to the Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services, the causes of teenage or youth crimes are numerous. Prominent causes include economic deprivation, psychological causes and media perception.

The Ontario Ministry cites conflict theory which claims that society is characterized by class struggles between the rich and the poor, as proposed by Karl Marx. From this, Marx believed that crime served as a response by the economically disadvantaged to change the distribution of income to be more equitable. Experts have also found a statistical correlation between higher rates of inequality and higher rates of crime in capitalist societies. Similarly, it has been proposed that inequality leads to reduced self-esteem and negative self-image which may result in crime. Youth crime can also arise from relative deprivation. Relative deprivation occurs when an individual compares him or herself to another individual based on some valued dimension (wealth or status) and upon finding a discrepancy or inequality, the individual is motivated to correct it through legal or illegal actions. In addition, other root causes stem from the nature vs nurture debate. This debate centers around whether criminal attitudes are the result of genetic inheritance (nurture) or the social environment that the individual grows up in (nature).