Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In Violent Neighborhoods, Adults Too Fearful To Intervene With Most Young Offenders

A study of young, violent criminals in New York City found that they used fear and intimidation to keep adults from interfering with their criminal activities.

The results showed that adults in these high-crime neighborhoods faced a difficult situation in their relationships with young adults. The young offenders said they wanted the adults in their neighborhood to care more about them, and to provide more guidance and help. But those same young people also recognized that their own actions frightened adults away.

The best scenario would be for adults to try to intervene with children when they are still young and more willing to accept guidance from adults, she said.

While adults may be rightfully fearful of confronting violent youth in their neighborhoods, they can help in more subtle ways by being good role models, Wilkinson said.

These young people need to see adults who go to work and make a positive impact on society.

“We found that, in at least some situations, adults can influence the behaviors and thinking of teens and young men,” she said. “Despite their involvement in criminal activities, the youth in our study had aspirations for better lives free of the chaos of drugs and violence. We need to find ways to reach them when are younger.”

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