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14th July 2024
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Why some children become youth offenders and others don’t?

Firstly, a youth offender is any child aged 10-18 years of age who has been charged with a criminal offence. Children below the age of 10 cannot be charged with a crime as they are too young to be responsible for any criminal activity.

We always question why people commit crime and even more so why children commit crime. Due to loads of research we now know that there are certain factors which influence people to commit crime, children included. These factors are biological, psychological and social factors.

A factor could have a large or small impact but in combination they can push a person or child to commit a crime.

Each factor will include different influencing aspects of a child/young person’s life which could lead them to potentially committing crime and being charged.

 

Education/School factors (Biological and Psychological influences);

  • Low grades at school
  • Bullying
  • Absence at school
  • Having a learning disability or mental health disorder
  • Not in education/employment/training

Influences from local area (Sociological influences);

  • High crime rate
  • Exposure/access to drugs and alcohol
  • Gang/Criminal influences
  • Access to weapons

Personal factors (Biological, psychological and social influences); 

  • Lower intelligence
  • Early involvement in crime and drug misuse
  • Learning disability such as ADHD, Dyslexia 
  • Lack of support and care
  • Childhood trauma/abuse/adolescent trauma/abuse

Family factors (Psychological and Social influences);

  • Family conflict/Violence
  • Not disciplined
  • Low income
  • History of criminal activity
  • Unhealthy diets 
  • Unstable family life

 

 

Some statistics have shown;

 

  • Children/young people who have low grades or unemployed are 5 times more likely to become youth offenders
  • They are also 3 times more likely to have a mental health disorder such as depression
  • Young people who have committed crimes before 16, are 4 times more likely to be unemployed
  • If a child goes through a traumatic experience they are more likely to become young parents, commit crime and achieve low grades in school
  • If a child/young person has no positive influences in their life this can also make them more likely to commit crime

 

 

Anthony Glassford Powell who was a participant of the series ‘What makes a murderer?’ committed a murder in 1993 at the age of 21 and spent 20 years in jail. His first crime was committed at the age of 11. Part 2 will analyse Anthony’s predicting youth offending factors of which led him to commit a murder. 

 

 

References

  • Chitasbesan P, Kenning C. (2006): Mental health provision for young offenders: service use and cost, Br J Psychiatry. 188:541–546;
  • ‘What makes a murderer?’, Channel 4 documentary (Episode 3), (2019)
  • InBrief, helping with lives legal issues, Lucy Trevelyn, LLB

 

Anthony’s youth offending influences: Are these the factors which led to Anthony committing murder? (Part 2).

 

This article will go through the influencing factors in relation to Anthony Glassford Powell. Anthony has taken part in the series ‘what makes a murderer’ therefore has gone through a series of tests and investigations as to what could have influenced him to commit murder. However, before Anthony committed murder, he did commit crime from the age of 11 years and was arrested throughout his teens for theft, assault, drug involvement and was affiliated with gangs. 

Below we can see Anthony’s influences factors;

 

 

 

       
 
Individual factors (Biological, psychological and social influences); 

  • Witnessing violence from a young age
  • Undiagnosed ADHD
  • Child abuse
  • Head injuries

 

 

     
 

 

 

 

 

 

As we can see Anthony became part of the factors shown in Part 1.

Anthony’s influences to committing Murder;

  • He was expelled from school at a young age and took to the streets, this making him “5 times more likely to become a youth offender”.
  • Anthony had undiagnosed ADHD (Reseaerch shows 25%-40% of prisoners have ADHD).
  • There is a 96% chance Anthony has severe ADHD as a child
  • Anthony grew up in Brixton and at this time the rave and crack scene were at a peak in south London

Anthony said “I lived an unstable life, I would do anything to earn money and to gain the respect of others, you had to be a ‘bad man’ and violence solved any problem.” 

 

“At that time a gun was a big thing, you put a gun to someone, and you could do anything”. 

 

  • Anthony witnessed violence from a young age

 

Not only did Anthony have these influences his Dad was attacked when he was young by the national front, this caused Anthony to feel angry as this was his first time feeling vulnerable. This made Anthony feel like he needed to be tougher and stronger in the face of injustice. Those who witness violence at a young age are 4 times more likely to engage in violent offences (Dr Vicky Thakordas-Desai, ‘What makes a murderer?’).

 

  • Anthony had a few head injuries from fighting
  • Those who suffer head injuries at young ages are 4 times more likely to become violent and commit crime

When being struck on the head in physical fights that included weapons. For example, a hammer, car lock and metal objects. A scan of Anthony’s brain it was found this had caused a ‘dilated temple core’. This is a biological risk factor to Anthony being involved in crime and violence. Each head injury causing neurological behaviour change.

 

Anthony’s brain scan also shows a reduction in the volume of the hippocampus, which is the section of the brain which is involved in learning and memory. When conducting a study based on general populations hippocampus volume and posterior cingulate ranges Anthony’s results found that his hippocampus volume is in the bottom range of 10% and his posterior cingulate in the bottom 3%. The posterior cingulate in the hub in the brain associated with attention and ability to remain vigilant. This meaning this may have caused Anthony to have poorer attention ability to remain vigilant. 

 

  • Anthony is a survivor of sexual child abuse from the age of 10
  • 1/6 males have been sexually assaulted leading to developmental issues

 

Anthony’s first offence was at the age of 11, which isn’t no surprise considering his influencing factors.

 

Anthony’s personal biological, psychological and sociological influences combined triggered Anthony to commit crime at a young age. Just because his Family factors were positive Anthony struggled with negative influences from educational, social/community and individual factors. His youth offending years becoming out of control led him to commit murder. Young Anthony was the perfect example for someone who could end up being a youth offender. 

 

 

Professor Adrian says: ‘There’s no destiny for crime and violence and murder. but there are factors early on in life that raise the odds someone can become violent.’ 

 

Dr Vicky adds: ‘Powell’s murder is a culmination of a load of different risk factors. Learning needs, sexual abuse – if any of these had been dealt with early on, the murder could have been prevented.’ 

Being aware of these influencing factors could help us predict and prevent youths from committing crime.

 

 

 

 

 

References

  • ‘What makes a murderer?’, Channel 4 Documentary (Episode 3) (2019) (Anthony Glassford Powell, Prof Adrian Raine, Dr Vicky Thakordas-Desai)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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