The problem of definition Up to now, we have been primarily concerned with reviewing the processes associated with young people’s identified characteristics and behaviour, and the theoretical frameworks within which these have been discussed. In other words, the focus has been on young people and what it is about then that influences what they do, especially where this is deviant or breaches conventional social norms. However, this is only one side of the coin, because such explanations tend to incorporate an assumption that what constitutes delinquency is essentially fixed and timeless. It is a ‘given’, acting as a constant benchmark against which behaviour may be judged. Therefore, a critical analysis of the relationship between young people and criminal justice is required to problematise this kind of assumption. How is it that certain types of behaviour come to be categorised as antisocial or criminal, how is it, equally, that some young people come to be associated with that behaviour? How are ‘young offenders’ produced, in other words, by the interplay of ideologies, structures and systems and the lives of young people themselves?
Smith, R. (2011). Doing Justice to Young People: Youth Crime and Social Justice. Willan/Routledge