Homelessness and Crime
How do youth homelessness relates to crime? Homeless young people and delinquency is believed to have a relationship. The homeless youths can be categorized in the following three ways those who leave home temporarily and then return;those who have left home and require some temporary assistance to make the transition to independence;and those who become homeless in their mid to late teens and who find it very difficult to break the cycle of homelessness. These are the poor materially and deprived of the emotional support found within the harmonious families. They are thus disaffected from a legal system which is perceived by them as an inaccessible, inadequate and hostile.
This research paper deals with the youth crime and youth homelessness. There is a high rate of reconviction among the homeless offenders than those with stable accommodations. Youth crime is both a cause and an effect of homelessness. The young people are most likely to commit a crime after becoming homeless. According to Hagan and McCarthy, youth living in the streets largely contribute to youth crime, arrest and imprisonment. We also have the juvenile justice response and the responses towards issues of alcohol and drug use and abuse, suicide and child abuse.The extensive sketch of the circumstances of homeless and marginalized youth underscores the close relationships which should exist between juvenile justice responses and responses to issues such as drug use, homelessness, drug abuse and suicide.
There are ecological inference fallacies that have so far been in place like the conclusion that a homeless youth is definitely inclined to causing a youth crime. The statistical data analyzed by some authors like Hagan and McCarthy relates to groups of street children contributing to the youth crime. A homeless youth is also more likely to be a victim of crime than a cause of that crime. Conclusions about individuals should therefore not be based on the analysis of the grouped data. On the other hand, both youth crime and homelessness have separate individual-level risk factors. There are different circumstances that lead to homelessness that may not necessarily perpetuate crimes.It will be a mistake to use the individual-level risk factors as predictors of community youth crime.
‘A homeless youth is more likely to commit a youth crime than a housed youth because there is lack of parental guidance and social institutionalized control of his or her conduct and morals.’ The magnitude of youth crimes will highly increase in favor of increasing number of homeless youths with no institutionalized control like the school, churches and families.
Another view is that ‘street crimes are mostly as a result of homeless individuals seeking with no stabilized alternative ways of upkeep.’ The level of street crime will not necessarily increase with the level of homelessness among the youths. Some of the homeless youths might have ventured into some labor jobs that adequately cater for their basic needs. However the level of street crime will have a substantial increase with the number of homeless youths with no desire for alternative jobs.
Robinson, B. (1992). Sexual assault, homelessness and the law – Rough justice, youth homelessness task force and North East against Sexual Abuse, Melbourne.
Dr. V.V.L.N. Sastry is a Researcher in Law at Walden University, U.S.A.