The Role of the Media in Defining Delinquency
There is no universal definition of delinquency. However, there are two widely acknowledged methodologies to interpreting the term, based on social and legal perspectives. In the sociological perspective, the term delinquency is given a liberal interpretation. This perspective is effectively described by Vedder (1954), who defines juvenile delinquency as “the antisocial activities of children and young people under 18.” Such actions are either expressly prohibited by law or may be widely regarded as necessitating official intervention. It denotes a departure from typical behavior. Juvenile delinquency, which is defined as antisocial or criminal behavior by children and adolescents, is a common societal issue that threatens the well-being of families and communities in many nations.
In contrast, the legal definition of delinquency refers to a wide range of socially unacceptable behavior that differs depending on the period, region, and attitudes of those charged with enforcing the law. Situational, environmental, or systemic elements that cause or are likely to induce criminal behavior account for a significant percentage of criminal justice research. The influence of media coverage in molding criminal behavior and views about the justice system has long been a focus of criminal justice studies as part of this extensive literature. The media is expected to provide information and alerts to the public about societal issues and politics to form their own opinions. The media, in general, serves as a point of public access, participating in agenda-setting, which is the process of deciding which subjects or topics are worthy of public debate. This paper examines the media’s current role in defining juvenile delinquency and the expected role the media should play.
The media’s impact is more significant now than ever before. People need information about societal and political trends to participate as active citizens and voters in a representative democracy (Strömbäck, 2005). People rely extensively on the media for information since they lack the first-hand experience with most developments. The best thing is that media continues to evolve and influence human lives as time passes. The media is crucial in keeping the public informed about what is going on in the world. People rely on television, the newspaper, and the internet for news and updates. Audiences form their opinions and attitudes in reaction to media messages, either alone or in groups. It is widely accepted that the family plays a crucial influence in developing a person’s social skills and development. However, another component, the mass media, has been lurking in the background, threatening to upset the balance. Commercial mass media has transformed the way people receive, perceive, and recall news and other information. Children are constantly being subjected to considerable, damaging, and lasting media influence. Since they cannot discriminate between what is real and what is not, younger children are highly influenced by media assault. They cannot comprehend the motivations for aggression and learn by imitating what they see (Dawursk, 2009). Commercial mass media has transformed the way people receive, perceive, and recall news and other information.
According to psychologists, a child is not created of one disposition but instead receives the traits of his behavior and patterns from the physical and social context in which he is born. Media influences adolescents in a way that encourages them to imitate. For this group, it is essential to imitating actors in detective and action and violent films, celebrities and artists in their clothing and hairstyles, and imitating movements or attacks seen in professional wrestling programs with peers at home, at school, or other places. Playing video games and exposure to violent films has been linked to aggressive behavior and delinquency in teenagers. Some action films may also depict deviant behavior as heroic, which children and adolescents may pick up on. Constant exposure to violence may also desensitize children to violence. Previous studies have also shown that having delinquent friends and spending a lot of time interacting with them increases delinquent behavior. Because teenage social interaction is increasingly occurring online, and in some situations, may even supersede face-to-face engagement, it is critical to comprehend the implications for psychological development. Social media use has been associated with decreased empathy, increasing the risk of aggression (Bunders, 2016). To curb this, regulatory watchdogs should be employed to help shape the depiction of shows so that they are more teen-friendly and censored regarding violence.
Today, crime reports are brief, focusing solely on the facts of the crime and omitting additional context. Individual cases of youth crimes are seen as discrete events, and the public lacks awareness of the conditions of the criminals and the larger context of the growth of corruption and its influence on society. The evolution of media has also changed how crime is covered today. Crime stories are sensationalized and aired based on their visual appeal. The distinction between episodic and thematic framing can thus be seen in the division of news coverage based on these elements. Often surprising and empathic, serial news only focuses on immediate action without offering background information. Thematic news coverage puts events in perspective by providing supplementary information such as policy suggestions and societal history (Ruigrok et al., 2017). The media should thus focus more on thematic coverage of news coverage to help people understand the context behind youth crime stories.
Prevention means taking action to prohibit, discourage, or prohibit another action from happening. Prevention of crime can be defined as using various techniques to deter crime and can be categorized into general and specific prevention. Crime prevention is a critical and public task requiring national commitment, public participation, and the media’s involvement. Besides informing and warning, other ways the media may discourage delinquency and prevent its misinterpretation include nomology, penology, and social control. Regarding nomology and penology, the media can increase its focus on defining the rules to the public and providing the benefits of the law. The media may also highlight the consequences of being a deviant. The media’s role in molding the definition of juvenile delinquency and deviance also strengthens their influence in some types of legislation changes and police operational strategies, such as laws connected to juvenile passing and the adoption of various methods to manage specific areas (Zallaghi, 2017). In conclusion, the media has a very significant amount of influence in shaping the definition of juvenile delinquency. Some of the ways the media may achieve this are by focusing on thematic news coverage, using regulatory watchdogs to help shape the depiction of shows so that they are more teen-friendly and making sure they are censored regarding violence and general education the public on laws.
Bunders, D. J. (2016). Social media and delinquent behavior: how online friends may encourage offending (Master’s thesis).
Ruigrok, N., Van Atteveldt, W., Gagestein, S., & Jacobi, C. (2017). Media and juvenile delinquency: A study into the relationship between journalists, politics, and public. Journalism, 18(7), 907-925.
Strömbäck, J. (2005). In search of a standard: Four models of democracy and their normative implications for journalism. Journalism studies, 6(3), 331-345.
Vedder, C. B. (1954). The juvenile offender; perspective and readings.
Zallaghi, A. (2017). Examines The Role of Media in The Prevention of Crime. East European Business Law, 24(1), 1-8.