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  Defining crime
Updated 19 September 2002, 11.54
BBC Cracking Crime Day

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Crime and justice

Two young brothers who have been linked to about 100 different crimes have been named and shamed in their home town.

Students discuss ways of beating youth crime and present their solutions.

Learning aims

  • Distinguish between criminal and non-criminal activities

  • Show knowledge of the effects of crime on victims, perpetrators and society
Read the story Police in schools from autumn.

Ask the class:

  • What are criminal offences?

  • What causes people to commit crimes?

  • Will police officers in schools help cut crime?

Main activity
Give the class this list of offences sometimes committed by young people:

  • shoplifting
  • breaking into cars
  • picking a fight
  • speeding
  • driving under the influence of drugs
  • solvent abuse
  • doing a paper round at the age of 11
  • shouting racist abuse
  • being sold alcohol in a pub at the age of 16
Ask them:
  • Which of these are crimes?
  • Which of them, if any, are victimless?
Students identify the victims of each of these offences, and consider how the offence would affect those people.

They should organise the offences into an order from "serious" to "less serious".

Extension activity
Ask the class to look at the list of offences from the first activity again, considering which of the following factors might lead someone to commit each one:

  • emotional immaturity
  • peer pressure
  • lack of empathy
  • a desire for excitement
  • to buy drugs or
  • alcohol poverty
  • peer pressure
For example, shoplifting might result from peer pressure and/or a desire for excitement.

Ask pupils to think of factors, positive and negative, that might stop young people committing crimes, and how effective each factor might be.

Recap on the main teaching points.

Can students reach a consensus for the most serious offences and the causes of youth crime.

Teachers' Background

  • 70% of all crimes that affect ordinary people are committed by a small number of young men - almost all of whom began offending in their teens.

  • Tell pupils that while some offences have no apparent victims, eg taking drugs, the offenders themselves might suffer as a result. For example, by gaining a criminal record or going to a youth detention centre, or health-related problems.
The options for dealing with young offenders are chosen from a scale linked to the severity of the crimes committed:
  • Prevention schemes - the teams organise activities and supervision to keep the children away from drugs and criminality.

  • Final warnings - after being given a 'final warning', the offender is expected to take part in a programme to tackle their actions. If they offend again, they are sent to court.

  • Community sentences - includes a meeting between victim and criminal or an order to carry out work to repair damage done. More than 5,000 reparation orders have been made since June 2000.

  • Intensive supervision - full surveillance of the offender through electronic tagging and personal visits.

  • Custody and training - in the year to March 2001 approximately 6,600 young offenders ended up on a Detention and Training Order (DTO) which aims to punish and rehabilitate in equal measure. A DTO can last between four and 24 months with half the time spent in custody and the remaining half in community rehabilitation.

For all links and resources click at top right.

More InfoBORDER=0
UKTerror teens named and shamed
UK'Terror triplets' walk free from court
UKPolice in schools from autumn
UKMobile phone thief gets four years
PicturesGirl raider in pictures
PicturesImages of crime
Find OutOur guide to the Criminal Justice System
ChatYour Comments: kid criminals
ClubOur Cyber cafe could cut crime


BBC Links
BBC News: Cracking Crime
BBC News: How youth justice works



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