Why children commit crime
There is generally no simple reason why children become involved in offending. Certain circumstances happening at the same time can cause children to commit crime such as:
- not doing well in school
- truanting from school
- difficult family relationships
- lack of boundaries and parental supervision
- having friends who commit crime
- drug and alcohol misuse
- mental health issues, such as attention deficient and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Role of parents
Parents are usually the most important people in their children’s lives. Their views and behaviours can have a good or bad influence on their children’s behaviour including offending behaviour.
Children are much less likely to get into trouble if their parents:
- have a good relationship with them and can talk openly with them
- can agree sensible clear rules and encourage them to stick to them as much as possible
- know where they are and what they are up to
School and community
Children are also less likely to get into trouble if their parents have an interest in their school life and they have good relationships with their teachers. This all helps to encourage children to go to school as often as possible.
Children are less likely to offend if their parents can help them to become involved in activities or interests in their local community. This can include youth clubs, sports clubs, uniformed groups and church groups.
There might be times that despite their best efforts, or because they find it difficult to give their children the support they need, parents need some extra support to help keep their children out of trouble.
It might be helpful for parents to ask for some help for a time from others, including their GP, social services or Education Welfare Services.
There are some services which work with children aged eight to 13 years olds who are at a high risk of offending. They also work with parents to help prevent their children becoming involved in crime or to help them stop it at an early stage.
- Northern Area Early Intervention Project - Northern Health and Social Care Trust
- Strength 2 Strength - Western Health and Social CareTrust
- Strength 2 Strength - South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
- NIACRO (Child and Parent Support Project covering Belfast Trust & Southern Trust)
When children grow up
Many children have problems during childhood but most don't commit crime. Most of those who commit crime do not commit serious or multiple offences.
Even those who do commit serious or multiple offences tend to eventually grow out of it. The support of parents is probably the most important thing in helping children to stay out of trouble or to help them out of it if they become involved.