10 April 2018

Reducing youth crime requires knowing which policies actually work

In this interview Professor Lorraine Mazerolle discusses what policies work to reduce youth crime. She noted that the evidence showed that the entire community has an important role in keeping delinquent behaviour under control. Communities where residents were willing to address bad behaviour and they were not afraid to intervene when necessary were less likely to see problems with youth crime emerge. The look of a neighbourhood is also important, with communities with signs of physical disorder (e.g. graffiti, broken windows and damaged infrastructure) having higher crime rates. In contrast, the evidence is that boot camps  do not work as by putting disaffected youth together with other disaffected young people increase their ties to these peers who share their antisocial tendencies.   Also, punitive interventions have been found to be ineffective and are actually associated with an increase in recidivism. Professor Mazerolle emphasised the importance of government's using evidence-based social policy and systematically evaluating all interventions and only funding programs that have been demonstrated to work.