Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Statistics Canada Study on Development of Delinquency

Statistics Canada has released a study entitled The Development of Police-reported Delinquency Among Canadian Youth Born in 1987 and 1990.

The data are drawn from police reports for 1995 to 2005 in six provinces representing about half of the population of Canada. This is the first large-scale developmental study of delinquency in Canada based on police-reported data.

The study wanted to answer some of the following questions:

  • How much recorded crime are Canadian youth responsible for? What are the predominant types of recorded youth crime?
  • What proportion of Canadian youth are involved in recorded crime?
  • How much recorded crime does an average young offender commit during his or her childhood and adolescence? Do some young offenders commit very little crime, and others commit a great deal?
  • At what age do young people commit their first recorded crime? Does the first recorded offence tend to be a certain type of crime?
  • Do young offenders tend to specialize in one type of crime, or are they typically versatile in their recorded criminal behaviour?
  • Do children and adolescents tend to "graduate" from less serious to more serious types of crime?

Some of the findings (from the "Summary and conclusions" section):

  • By their 18th birthday, just under one-fifth (18.5%) of all persons born in 1987 had been recorded by police as having committed a criminal offence: one-quarter of boys and one-eighth of girls. One in 11 boys had allegedly committed an offence against the person, one in six an offence against property, and one in ten an other offence. Thus, particularly in the case of boys, recorded delinquency is fairly widespread among the population;
  • The number of children and youth involved in recorded crime increases with each year of age from very few 5 year olds to a peak of one in every 17 persons at the age of 16;
  • The amount of recorded crime committed by most child and teenage offenders is quite small and concentrated among the less serious types of crime. The term “delinquent career” is rather a misnomer for almost two-thirds of offenders born in 1987 - 59% of boys and 76% of girls - had only one recorded offence during the observation period;
  • About one-quarter (24%) of the offences allegedly committed by these youth were minor thefts, and 15% were either minor property damage ("mischief"), possession of stolen property, or fraud. Nine percent were minor assaults and 10% were drug offences, almost all being simple possession of cannabis. However, almost one-fifth (18%) were very serious offences: robbery, assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm, sexual assault, other offences against the person, break and enter, and major theft. No evidence was found that delinquent careers tend to progress from less to more serious offences;
  • The number of offenders whose first recorded offence was in childhood (12 years and younger) is very low, and rises rapidly during the teenage years. 11% of offenders were childhood-onset offenders. The peak age for recorded onset of offending is 15, when 3.7% of all persons born in 1987 began their delinquent careers: 4.8% of boys and 2.6% of girls. The peak age for boys is one year later at 16, when 4.9% began their delinquent careers.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:52 pm

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