The most widespread classification of crimes:
– crimes against the person ( murder, manslaughter, rape, mugging, kidnapping)
– crimes against property (shoplifting, embezzlement, robbery, forgery)
– crimes against the habitation (arson, burglary, vandalism)
– crimes against sexual morality (rape, incest, bigamy, prostitution, pimping)
– crimes against the government (treason, bribing public officials)
– crimes against humanity (war crimes, extermination, enslavement, deportation, persecution)
Another frequently made distinction of crimes takes the seriousness of the wrongful act into account. (grand felonies, misdemeanours, petty offences)
White-collar crime – most commonly committed by middle-class or upper-class people (embezzlement, insurance fraud, income-tax evasion, misuse of public funds, abuse of political and legal power)
Increasing rates of juvenile delinquency and domestic violence are worrying trends in modern-day societies.
Juvenile delinquency – crimes and offences committed by children and young people before they reach the age of responsibility.
The commonest offences committed by young people are property destruction in the form of vandalism, theft, pick-pocketing, shoplifting, bullying, mugging, drug abuse, football hooliganism and joyriding. The number of criminal acts is on the rise and young offenders are becoming more aggressive and violent.
Different theories seek to explain the causes of juvenile crime:
– lack of adequate parental supervision
– peer pressure
– failure at school
– the breakdown of traditional family patterns
– drugs and alcohol
Legal systems acknowledge that children under the age of sixteen are not sufficiently mature to be criminally responsible. Therefore, special procedures are applied to deal with juvenile crime. (youth court, correction and rehabilitation)
Domestic violence has come into the limelight relatively recently, because victims of abuse have been unwilling to come forward.
Jealousy, unemployment, financial hardship, emotional frustration, heated arguments about money, domestic duties children’s upbringing are all triggers for violence. Excessive consumption of alcohol is a leading contributor. People who experience violence in their childhood are more likely to become abusers or victims themselves.
If domestic violence cases are taken to court, abusers may be forbidden from coming in contact with the victim. In case of child abuse, children may be placed in the care of local authorities.
Causes of crime:
– the influence of poverty (hopelessness may lead to crime as a means of escape)
– the effect of urbanisation (unemployment, poor housing, the breakdown of traditional community norms)
– troubled family life (poor parenting, alcoholic or drug-addicted parents, domestic violence)
– sub-cultural influence (criminal behaviour is learnt as a norm)
– economic crises, war
– the mass media (violent films on television – make people accept blood and brutality)
– conditional discharge: the offender is set free, but in case of re-offending the first crime will also be taken into account
– fines or fixed penalties for minor offences
– community services
– disqualification from holding public office
– loss of professional licence
– suspended prison sentence
– capital punishment
Statistics prove that prisons are not truly successful in meeting the requirements of rehabilitation. Ex-prisoners frequently re-offend; prisons are often described as ‘universities of crime’.
Preventing crime is the responsibility of the governments, local communities and individuals alike. (zero tolerance policy, ‘neighbourhood watch’, security guards, closed circuit cameras, burglar alarms)