Bad neighbourhood encourages crime among youth
A Dutch university report shows that growing up in a bad area plays a more crucial role in whether children turn to crime rather than ethnic origin.24 June 2008
UTRECHT - A Utrecht University report published Tuesday indicates that the neighbourhoods where children live play an influential role in whether or not they turn to crime.
The research by the university's Verwey-Jonker Institute and Willem Pompe Institute shows that youngsters who live in districts which have high levels of crime and drug-use are more likely to accept criminal behaviour as normal.
Dropping out of school, plus a bad choice of friends, also increase the likelihood of young people being drawn into crime.
The research shows that ethnic origin is less important than previously thought. Children from immigrant communities are statistically more likely to become offenders, but are also more likely to live in bad neighbourhoods with high unemployment.
The researchers questioned 2,300 school children in the first three years of secondary school. Their answers also indicated that young people from problem areas are more often members of youth gangs and that most youth crime is committed as part of a group.
Among other recommendations, the report proposes that the government ensure that the population of problem neighbourhoods is drawn from more mixed ethnic backgrounds.
There should also be less unemployment, fewer family incomes based on benefits, and a healthy mix of small and medium-sized businesses.
More should be done to improve security and to reduce public nuisance, truancy and alcohol abuse.
The researchers applauded recently announced plans to invest EUR 1 billion of government, council and housing corporation money in improving seven problem neighbourhoods in Rotterdam.
They said the move will go a long way towards reducing criminal behaviour among young residents in the city.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]