Crime Council Assails News Coverage Of Youth Crime


News media coverage of juvenile crime “does not reflect a sufficiently thorough or, in many cases, accurate understanding of youth or youth crime,” says the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. In a report funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Oakland-based Council says that “most stories about young people depict them as troubled or, more likely, as trouble for society; stories about youth typically associate youth with violence, whether as victim or instigator. Far too much coverage focuses on infrequent but heinous cases, without any context.” Council president Barry Krisberg discussed the report last week at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime.

The critique contended that while crime rates fluctuate, “newspaper reports as a whole emphasize–and often exaggerate–rises in crime, while drops in crime are minimized.” It says that “increases in crime do not warrant the exaggerated coverage typically found in newspaper reports, which are typically focused on particularly shocking crimes and seldom provide a complete picture of the many factors affecting rates of crime.” The study was based partly on interviews with 32 “stakeholders” and 24 youths in three cities, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and San Mateo, Ca.

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