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Juvenile Crime In 19th Century Great Britain: Changing Views

915 words - 4 pages


In the early 1800's, the British government began to take action against the increasing prevalence of crime. Generally, punishments were based on the belief that the root of crime was based on an individual's character. Early on, these punishments only sentenced juvenile offenders to imprisonment. During this time, people began to analyze the reasons for crime and assess its nature. This translated into a shift of legal treatments of juvenile offenders towards reforming individuals rather than just punishing them directly.

As juvenile crime increased in Britain, people began to study and look into the subject. A report done in 1818 explained that children were ...view middle of the document...

Some thought that the major cause of juvenile crime was parental influence. A report done in 1850 in London explained that parents used their children to better their lives through the teachings of crime. Mr. Rushton, who wrote the report, stated that it was impossible to reform crime without putting an end to the "evil power of the parent".

Theories later on began to sympathize with the children and encompassed methods of reform. Some people, such as H. Mayhew and J. Binny, believed that the low wages and high rent made it impossible for one man to support his family. Mothers would then have to contribute by taking up a job which brought them away from home. Consequently, the children were neglected which made reasons for juvenile delinquency obvious. The collection of theories finally led to government action, and in 1854, the Youthful Offenders Act was passed. This act made it mandatory for anyone under 16 convicted of an offense to go to a Reformatory School for a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 5 years in addition to their sentence. Reverend Sydney Turner, the head of the Redhill Reformatory School, suggested an alternative method of treating juvenile offenders. He suggested that to stop crime, people should be separated into separate fields of labor. Farming would not only keep...

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