Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Diedre Drake

Abstract

The aim of this literature review was to examine public perception of juvenile crimes, laws and sentencing practices to address whether the public were content with current punishments. It also observed the methodological issues with public opinion survey research to see whether these may influence the belief that the laws and sentencing practices were inconsistent with how the public wanted juveniles to be punished. The review also examined whether the gender of the juvenile offender influenced the types of crimes committed and the types of punishments sanctioned by the courts. Additionally, it observed whether the demographics of the respondent, victim or offender influenced how the public perceived the effectiveness of sentencing and seriousness of the crime, with close attention to gender. It concluded suggesting that future research needs to examine if the public are as punitive as research suggests and if the public perceive different punishments for males and females as research in this area was limited. Recently researchers have reported that the gender of juvenile offenders influenced the outcomes of the punishments sanctioned by the courts. However, paucity in the research exists that examines how the public perceive appropriate punishments for male and female juvenile offenders. Due to the public's influence on social policy, the current study examined if the public perceived that there was a need for different sentencing practice for male and female juvenile offenders. Further, the study aimed to examine whether there was a difference between male and female participants' perception of crime as previous research has been inconsistent on this topic. Sixty one participants, 27 males and 33 females, were recruited to read one of two versions of a crime-based vignette and complete a survey. Participants were asked to rate how serious they viewed the offence and how severe a required punishment should be. A qualitative measure was also included to supplement the quantitative data. Results indicated that the participants in the study were not influenced by the gender of the perpetrator in how serious they viewed the offence or the severity of the required punishment. The qualitative component which was examined for themes and converted to percentages supported non gender specific sentencing practices. Further, the responses provided by male and female participant did not significantly differ on the Likert scales; however the qualitative component suggested some discrepancies. These results were discussed in relation to previous research and implications were also presented.

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