How might theories of masculinities help understand the strong association of boys with delinquency and crime?

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Defining delinquency and crime is a task which is seen to be quite complex. When aiming to understand the processes which lead a person to engage within behaviour of a delinquent nature, multiple factors need to be considered. There are many biological and psychological factors which can help determine the explanation of crime and delinquent activity, however with regards to juvenile delinquency, social factors are also seen to play a large role. Calhoun states “Sociologists define deviance as any behaviour that members of a social group define as violating their norms. This concept applies both to criminal acts of deviance and non-criminal acts that members of a group view as unethical, immoral, peculiar, sick or otherwise outside the bounds of respectability”. This enables us to have a greater understanding of what deviance itself is and what it relates to, however it does not take into account gender differences within deviant behaviour. This is significant as there are great differences with regards to gender when looking into delinquency. Heidensohn states “Sex differences are so sustained and marked as to be, perhaps, the most significant feature of recorded crime” (Heidensohn 1996:11) It is known commonly that male crime rates are significantly higher than female crime rates. One in four men are convicted of an offence by the time they reach 25 and a total of two thirds of all male offenders are under 30 years old (Families, Children and crime, edited by Anna Coote). Messerschmitt (1993) states “We must take into account the gendered world we live in in order to understand the cause of crime”. At present there are 2,664 boys held in custody and 219 girls (http://www.howardleague.org/index.php?id=603). There are numerous theories proposed as to why males have a higher crime rate than females, but the most significant I feel, is the theory of masculinity.

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