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Trends in Juvenile Crime over the Period 2004-2014

In this section, we analyse the evolution of juvenile delinquency in Spain over the last decade. To do so, we will use both official and self-report data. The official data are those supplied each year by the Ministry of Home Affairs. We have used the information provided by the Police as it is commonly accepted these data most closely reflect the commission of crime (Estrada 1999). The results will be shown in the rate per 1000 inhabitants aged 14-17 years, so as to control the possible effects of population changes across the period analyzed.

Spain’s participation in the International Self-Report Delinquency Study (IRSD), which collected data at three different points in time, 1992 (ISRD-I), 2006 (ISRD-II), and 2015 (ISRD-III), facilitates the use of information provided

Police arrests (14-17 years old) Rate/1000 population of this age. Source

Figure 20.1. Police arrests (14-17 years old) Rate/1000 population of this age. Source: Ministry of Home Affairs.

by young people themselves. This can then be compared against the data supplied by the formal social control agencies.

Figure 20.1 depicts the evolution of official juvenile delinquency statistics. The graph clearly reflects a descending trend. In fact, delinquency rates have been steadily decreasing over the last 10 years.

Figure 20.2 now puts this evolution into context, as it differentiates between the two major categories of crime: property crime and violent crime. The graph shows how the decrease in juvenile delinquency largely results from the reduction in property crime, while the statistics for violent crime have remained constant over time.

A detailed analysis of the different criminal behaviors in each category (Figs. 20.3 and 20.4) provides more comprehensive information on the behavior of Spanish juveniles over the decade.

Figure 20.3 shows that all property crimes have decreased over the last decade, especially during the last 5 years. The reduction in car theft is especially dramatic. The most common property crime is burglary, followed by theft, which is typically a juvenile crime.

Figure 20.4 depicts the evolution of violent crime. Robbery with violence and intimidation is included in the category of violent crime, since, despite being property crime, it undoubtedly has violent connotations. The graph shows that this behavior is the most common in this category, although in recent years it has undeniably decreased. The other violent behaviors have also decreased except for the category of other crimes against persons, which has steadily increased.

Rate of arrests (14-17 years old) for violent and property crimes. Source

Figure 20.2. Rate of arrests (14-17 years old) for violent and property crimes. Source: Ministry for Home Affairs.

Rate of arrests (14-17 years old) for property crimes. Source

Figure 20.3. Rate of arrests (14-17 years old) for property crimes. Source: Ministry for Home Affairs.

Rate of arrests (14-17 years old) for violent crimes. Source

Figure 20.4. Rate of arrests (14-17 years old) for violent crimes. Source: Ministry for Home Affairs.

Such is the increase that at the beginning of the decade the rate was 2 arrests per 1000 inhabitants, in the last few years, this rate has increased almost fourfold. Child-to-parent violence is to blame for this dramatic rise. This type of violence is rapidly increasing and has been a focus of attention for researchers, legislators, and legal practitioners, who have had to deal with the emergence of a group which does not necessarily correspond to the typical profile of juvenile offenders (Ibabe and Jaureguizar 2011).

The official data reflect a clear decreasing trend in the criminal behavior of juveniles, which is confirmed by the self-report data shown in Fig. 20.5.

All criminal behaviours, excepted shoplifting and illegal downloads, decreased the national self-report study of 2006 (ISRD-II) and that of 2015 (ISRD-III). A large number of behaviours, such as vandalism, burglary, group fight and assault, have all decreased steadily from the time of the first self-report study of 1992 (ISRD-I) until now. However, shoplifting has increased over the last twenty years, and vehicle theft, stealing from car and robbery have increased too despite descending over the last ten. Finally, illegal downloading, which obviously did not exist in 1992, has been on the increase in recent years. Indeed, as in other countries, new behaviours have emerged, such as cyberbullying, hacking or sex- ting. However, although the scenario or the means may be new, these are simply manifestations of previously recognised juvenile behaviours. Unfortunately, no data are currently available on juvenile crime trends on the Internet.

428 Esther Fernandez-Molina et al.

Antisocial and criminal behavior self-reported. Source

Figure 20.5. Antisocial and criminal behavior self-reported. Source: ISRD I, II y III.

In conclusion, the results presented earlier describe the transformation in juvenile delinquency over recent years. They show that, broadly speaking, young people in Spain today commit fewer crimes than 10 years ago. Crimes which were especially common in previous decades, such as car theft, are no longer committed. At the same time, behaviors which were unknown to the formal social control agencies have taken on major relevance in recent years. This is true of crimes such as child-to-parent violence, illegal downloading, and a number of other behaviors, which have developed with the spread of the Internet.

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