Professor John Doe
3 April 2018
The Crime and Disorder Act defines anti-social behavior as “…acting in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as [the defendant]” (Code of Practice for Youth Conditional Cautions). According to Andrews et al., “people understand anti-social behavior differently based on a series of factors including time, context, location, community tolerance and quality of life expectations” (34). As a result what may be regarded as an anti-social behavior to one person may be seen as an unacceptable behavior to another person. The understanding of anti-social behavior is “based on the individual perceptions and may include a wide range of behaviors” (Harradine et al). Anti-social behavior causes damage to many fragile communities and if unchecked it may lead to decline of neighborhoods with people moving from their homes to other places which they regard safe.
Anti-social behavior damages the quality of life of the most vulnerable people through the infliction of fear and victimization. It also leads to individuals, families, communities, schools, local authorities, businesses and the governments to incur costs not always planned for (Rubin at al.). Hence there is a need of devising different methods of tackling anti-social behavior.
In my area, Leeds, the levels of youth crime are high with very high rates of youths in police custody every other given day. Most youths especially in the ages between 10 years and 24 years of age engage in anti-social behavior which most people are always offended by and do not take lightly (Time for a Fresh Start).
Some of these anti-social behaviors in my area include: rowdy and nuisance behavior by the youth, playing of loud music both during the day and late night hours, vandalism, graffiti and fly posting, taking over of public spaces by gangs, drug dealing and drug abuse, anti-social drinking, misuse of fireworks, dumping of rubbish and all manners of waste among many other behaviors.
Most residents in the Leeds neighborhood have the feelings of being insecure and have even contemplated shifting to other places where they can feel secure and have a peace of mind if the situation is not rectified. In fact some of the residents in my area have left the neighborhood as a result of “taking it no more.” The quality of life has deteriorated and the old people together with women being most vulnerable to these anti-social behavior.
1. The Factors of Anti-social Behaviour
These youth crime incidents in my neighborhood can be attributed to various factors which include family conflicts, mental illness, availability of drugs and alcohol, unemployment and others (Time for a Fresh Start).
Family conflicts. The ever rising conflicts among families especially those involving parents and children have led to most of these children to engage in these crimes. As a result of these conflicts the youths tend to involve in anti-social behavior as a way of getting out of their frustrations and getting out of that situation.
Mental illness. According to Committee of Public Accounts, antisocial behavior can be a symptom of mental illness. This is evidenced by the increase of poor mental health in children and the youth over the years particularly among the socially disadvantaged (Tackling Anti–Social Behaviour). In my neighborhood it is estimated that 30% of the anti-social behavior involve someone with a mental health problem either as a perpetrator or the victim.
Availability of drugs and alcohol. Most of the young people in my neighborhood involve in drug abuse and alcoholism.
Cannabis has been found to be the most popular among the youths and its hallucinogenic effects which sometimes lead to paranoia have always led to anti-social behavior. Excessive drinking has also led to some anti-social behavior including rowdiness and loud music.
Poor parental discipline and supervision. Most parents with their busy daily schedules, have not taken the responsibility of ensuring the instilling of discipline and to their children and the supervision of their behaviors. This is more evident in Leeds where most parents have allowed their children to have the freedom of doing their own things without their involvement. The cases of poor quality parenting are seen as a precursor of early onset conduct behaviors.
Community disorganization and neglect. The community around have always known the problems facing the youth and the issues behind these anti-social behaviors but have continually turned a blind eye. This has made the cases of youth crimes to be more rampant in this area.
Unemployment. Some of the youth in this area have nothing to do and hence because of idleness they engage in behaviors which many regard as anti-social. The playing of loud music and burglary are some of the anti-social behaviors as a result of unemployment, low income or homelessness.
The lack of commitment in schools by the youth or the subjection to bullying by some of these youth has also led to youth crimes in my neighborhood. Also cases of low achievement in school coupled with school disorganization have also led to these anti-social behaviors.
The exposure to violence at tender ages has also led to the increased number of youth crimes in my area. Some of these youths have been exposed to criminal gangs that have taught them how to carry out these violent acts. They hence grow up being criminals.
2. Role of the Community in Supporting Youths and Preventing Youth Crime
Anti-social behaviors are highly localized because of the nature of anti-social behaviors. Some of the anti-social behaviors like for example graffiti may be a problem in one community whereas in another it is not hence the need to identify these problems from a community perspective. Different communities’ experience different anti-social behaviors. There is the need of involving communities in identifying which problems are the most important and need speedy resolutions. The community should also be consulted in coming up with long lasting solutions to the crime problem and programs aimed at supporting youths and preventing them from crime.
There is the need of the government and local authorities to develop partnerships with communities which would be aimed at developing safety strategies, carrying out of audits of anti-social behavior so as to know which problems to tackle, setting baselines for improvement, setting of clear targets, adjusting the implementations employed and the monitoring and evaluation of their work. The Anti-social behavior toolkit by the Government of United Kingdom is an example of a program by which communities can be involved in partnerships aimed at reducing crime and disorder. The toolkit offers practical examples by which the communities can be involved in identifying the local problems associated with anti-social behavior, determination of the local actions to be implemented, Implementation of the proposed local actions and assessment of the local action employed to reduce crimes and disorder.
Though the Crime and Disorder partnerships with communities, anti-social behaviors may be prevented through the putting in place of measures to create a physical and social environment where anti-social behaviors and violent acts are less likely to happen.
Community safety partnerships should be encouraged to set local standards and find local solutions to these problems in their communities.
The standards to be set using these partnerships should be aimed at reducing the number of anti-social behavior incidences and reducing their perceptions. Community safety partnerships can also be included in the recording the incidences of anti-social behavior cases and actions taken on perpetrators, provision of information to residents about anti- social behaviors and the actions taken, facilitation of discussions between community members about their feelings about these behaviors and provision of a right to the residents of complaining if the authorities are not putting efficient measures to tackle a given problem in the community (Rubin et al.).
Communities can also play a key role in the support of the youth who are either victims or witnesses of these anti-social behaviors. This support can be done through counseling and therapy to ensure that they are not affected by either what they saw or experienced. Some of the victims may find it hard to cope with what they experienced and hence this may change their perceptions towards someone or something which may have negative implications and hence the community can come in handy in ensuring resolutions to these differences.
These community partnerships can also work with the authorities in ensuring that cases of drug abuse and alcoholism are reported. The youth can also be advised on better choices in life and engaged in constructive activities like community work. The partnership between communities and authorities if implemented well may play an integral role in ensuring the improvement of the quality of life in a community and the reduction in the cases of anti-social behaviors.
3. The Different Forms of Anti-Social Behavior
Homophobia. According to The report of the Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Antisocial Behavior, 34% of men and 25% of women have experienced violence because of their sexuality (Time for a Fresh Start).
This includes gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. This violence has been in the form of verbal attacks, assault by weapons, blackmail, vandalism, hate mail, graffiti and other forms of homophobic attacks.
Racism. The Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Antisocial Behavior links anti-social behavior to racism (Time for a Fresh Start). In the year 1988 the Crime and Disorder act was amended to include maximum penalties where the circumstances of an offence were racially aggravated. These included vandalism, wounding, harassment and common assault (Code of Practice for Youth Conditional Cautions).
Drug and Alcohol Misuse. The misuse of drugs and excessive alcohol consumption is a significant contributor in anti-social behavior. Alcohol is a contributor in a number of crimes like for example about 44% of all victims claim that the assailant was drunk (Time for a Fresh Start). Alcohol or drug related anti-social behavior may take the form of violence, stabbing, verbal abuse, vandalism, playing of loud music among many others.
According to Harradine et al., “anti-social behavior destroys the quality of life to those at the receiving end”(victims) (Harradine et al.). Most of the victims usually experience mental problems six months after the event, just showing that the effects of victimization can continue long afterwards. A victim would continue suffering in as long as the anti-social behavior continues and this may lead to long-term damages. The people usually worst affected by anti-social behaviors include the poorest individuals in the community, ethnic minorities and homosexuals, young people and other vulnerable persons including the old, disabled and women.
The wider communities suffer a lot as a result of anti-social related behavior and this mainly involves incurring high financial costs. Many families, landlords and the community as a whole incur costs related to the prevention and response to anti-social behaviors. The financial costs are usually high as it is estimated anti-social behavior causes the taxpayer 3.4 billion pounds per year (Rubin et al.).
Andrews, Donald A., and James Bonta. The Psychology of Criminal Conduct. 5th ed., Lexis Nexis/Anderson Pub., 2010.
Harradine, Sally, Jenny Kodz, Francesca Lemetti, and Bethan Jones. Defining and Measuring Anti-Social Behavior. 2004, assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/116655/dpr26.pdf. Accessed 21 Nov. 2017.
House of Commons of the United Kingdom, Committee of Public Accounts. Tackling Anti–Social Behaviour. 24 July 2007, publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmpubacc/246/246.pdf. Accessed 17 Nov. 2017.
Rubin, Jennifer, Lila Rabinovich, Michael Hallsworth, and Edward Nason. Interventions to Reduce Anti-Social Behavior and Crime: A Review of Effectiveness and Costs. RAND Corporation, 2006. www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2006/RAND_TR448.pdf. Accessed 15 Nov. 2017.
The Police Foundation, The Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Antisocial Behavior. Time for a Fresh Start: The report of the Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Antisocial Behavior. 2008, www.police-foundation.org.uk/uploads/catalogerfiles/independent-commission-on-youth-crime-and-antisocial-behaviour/fresh_start.pdf. Accessed 21 Nov. 2017.
UK Ministry of Justice. Code of Practice for Youth Conditional Cautions: Crime & Disorder Act 1998 (as amended by the Criminal Justice & Immigration Act 2008 and the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012). Mar. 2013, assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/243443/9780108512179.pdf. Accessed 17 Nov. 2017.