Delinquency, Gangs and Family Life

Some time ago, Peter Willmott at the (then) Institute of Community Studies (now the Young Foundation) wrote a fascinating book about ‘juvenile delinquents’ (Adolescent boys of East London). This argued that many local boys were involved in some marginally-criminal behaviour in their mid-teens, but  that the great majority of them did not become adult criminals. For most, the key factor pulling them out of gangs and settling them back into orderly, family-based lives, was getting a regular girlfriend.

Times have changed, and settling down to an orderly life may not be so straightforward now. But MfT would be interested to replicate this classic study to see how far similar processes may actually still operate in working-class communities – not perhaps in East London itself (where the population is no longer very representative ethnically) but in a location broadly comparable to the original. This might throw a lot of light on the steady increase in anti-social and disorganised behaviour blighting many inner-city areas.

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