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Youth crime hits the election headlines once again

30 January 2008

Youth crime hits the election headlines once again

Victoria University researcher Fiona Beals isn’t surprised youth crime debates have already surfaced this election year.

Dr Beals, a recent PhD graduate, studied how young people are negatively stereotyped in youth crime debates each election year.

“The research is based on the 2002 election year, but the same debates are still happening in 2008. In 2002, the way people talked about youth crime in cases like the death of Michael Choy and Kenneth Piagott stigmatised certain groups of young people – particularly a young and poor ethnic minority,” she says.

Her research questioned the negative implications of these stereotypes and argued for finding a less stereotypical way to talk about youth crime.

“As a nation, we need to start challenging the psychology behind this and make changes for the better.”

“The media is not solely responsible for these negative stereotypes. Many of the negative ideas about youth crime in the media can also be seen in government policies and reports, and many of these, at some point in time, originated from academic theories.”

Dr Beals is currently working as a lecturer at the School of Education Studies at Victoria University. She is also working with Dr. Joanna Kidman on a book in which she will explore text bullying, youth crime, youth gangs, boy racers, youth drinking, and the debate about whether young people should be allowed to vote.

“I totally enjoyed my PhD. It gave me the time to look in depth at a single topic. It allowed me to challenge the status quo and to realise that stuff like risk factors are not objective terms but reflective of societal conditions.”


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