Juvenile delinquency and antisocial behaviour in contemporary Poland

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General information

Juvenile delinquency has been a concern for societies for decades. Older generations tend to judge younger people harshly, and to blame them for more unlawful and unsocial behaviour than they believe they were guilty of in the past and than is actually being perpetrated by young people. This does not mean, however, that juvenile delinquency is not constantly changing. Children and young people are being transformed by globalisation and technology. Consequently, their deviant and criminal behaviours are also subject to evolution. For this reason, it is necessary to carry out periodic research on the issue of juvenile delinquency and demoralisation of youth. Once we obtain reliable knowledge about minors, we can plan preventive and re-socialising actions.

The research will yield new insights into the nature of contemporary juvenile delinquency in Poland. With this information, we will be able to learn about the profile of a young person who commits criminal offences and displays deviant behaviours (his/her family, and social and school environment), as well as to observe the policy of responding to such youth behaviours (both by the judiciary authorities and by other persons and institutions, e.g. schools). Such large-scale research on juvenile delinquency was last conducted in Poland at the beginning of the 21st century, and therefore focused on the previous generation of young people.

Furthermore, it is necessary to look at the problem from a wholly different perspective: no longer relying only on judicial data and discussing only those juveniles whose cases have been brought to court, but also running self-report studies, in which juveniles talk about their antisocial and possibly criminal behaviour and which contribute a somewhat deeper analysis, not only of the formal family structure, but, for example, of the relationship between the children and their parents.

It is worth noting that both global and Polish criminology are witnessing new trends in juvenile delinquency that require more detailed study and further research, especially in Poland. These are first and foremost: a decline of juvenile delinquency, a change in its nature and etiological factors, a rise in the share of girls in criminal acts, a change in the definition of demoralisation (antisocial behaviour), a stronger preference for treating and punishing juveniles as adult perpetrators, and an increase in the use of drugs and other substances (e.g. street drugs) by minors.

The findings of the research into court records conducted within the project will help to create a comprehensive study on today’s juvenile delinquency (although due to the research method, it will be limited to acts that have been subject to formal social control and response of the judiciary).

This study will offer a summary of contemporary juvenile delinquency and deviant behaviour in Poland, which will be useful for researchers and students alike. Besides, the findings can be used for practical applications. They may be valuable for professionals working with young people, family judges, police officers, probation officers, prosecutors, social workers or teachers and educators. This research can also be a valuable source of information for designing early intervention strategies to prevent the development of criminal careers.

The conclusions of the study will also lead to valuable recommendations for legislators, as work on a new juvenile law is currently at an advanced stage in Poland.

The project will result in publishing at least six scholarly articles in journals and collective monographs, including at least four in English, as well as a monograph.