A new study published last week by the UK charity Victim Support “reveals a complex cycle of violent crime among young people that challenges pre-conceived ideas that young people are simply either victims or offenders.”
The press release explains:
The report … shows that certain attitudes and risk factors can influence whether or not young people are likely to commit violent acts, be on the receiving end, or indeed fall into both categories. It suggests that tackling these lifestyle factors could help reduce levels of violence among the young.
… Among the key findings, the study found that:
- Victims can become offenders because of their experience. Causes could include carrying out retaliation on the offender, or against others in a displaced show of strength or emotion. Victims might also make friends with offenders to seek protection, particularly if they were socially isolated, but this could then lead to them committing offences themselves.
- Offenders can often become victims of violence. This is because they are at risk of retaliation and are also unlikely to be protected by adults in authority.
- Many of the risk factors that increase the chances that victims will become offenders are the same as those that make it more likely that offenders will become victims. They include:
o thinking that the only way to deal with anger is through violence or that retaliatory violence is acceptable behaviour
o believing that the police would not help or that their involvement might make things worse.
- Other lifestyle factors can reduce the risk that victims of violence will turn to offending. They include:
o having good family relationships
o having a positive attitude towards school
o taking part in structured activities with adult supervision, and
o having positive attitudes towards the police.
The full report can be downloaded as a PDF file here.