Faculty Publications

Title

Myth versus reality: Comparing the depiction of juvenile delinquency in metropolitan newspapers with arrest data

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Sociological Inquiry

Volume

83

Issue

3

First Page

473

Last Page

497

Abstract

While the extant literature on the social construction of crime in the media is extensive, little literature exists on the media's construction of juvenile delinquency in newspapers, particularly in small cities. Even though smaller metropolitan areas have lower crime rates, how these newspapers construct delinquency undoubtedly impacts the attitudes, behaviors, and fears of residents, perhaps more so than in larger metropolitan areas. The purpose of this research is to assess how newspapers from five of the smallest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) socially construct juvenile delinquency, offenders and victims, and to assess whether or not these images perpetuate myths related to juvenile delinquency. An analysis of 231 articles indicates that small-MSA newspapers construct an inaccurate image of juvenile offenders that significantly promotes the myth of juveniles as violent predators. Specifically, juvenile offenders are constructed as violent predators with innocent, random victims. In contrast, newspapers construct a more accurate picture of victims, with females represented as the most common juvenile victim, and sexual assault victimization as the most common of all juvenile violent crime victimization. © 2013 Alpha Kappa Delta.

Original Publication Date

8-1-2013

DOI of published version

10.1111/soin.12006

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