Handcuffs
Up to 41 percent of all 23-year-olds have been arrested. Image: Flickr / mitzabot_goes_boom / CC-BY-SA

In a recent study of teens and young adults, one group of researchers has found that by the age of 23, as many as 41 percent of individuals have been arrested. These arrests could indicate an increase in criminal behavior, or a willingness of police to arrest younger individuals.

Survey of teens

Professor of criminal justice and criminology Robert Brame was co-author of a study of about 7,000 young people. The self-reported questionnaires, issued between 1997 and 2008, asked about arrests and general life events. During the 11 years of the study, a significant number of young individuals dropped out. At the beginning of the survey, the adolescents were between 12 and 16 years old, and the surveys were issued once a year for the 11 years.

Arrest statistics

The statistics for arrest of these young adults are varied, because of the number that dropped out. However, the general results are that at the age of 12, only about 1 percent of adolescents have been arrested for any reason. By the age of 23, however, between 25 and 41 percent of the young adults have been arrested at least once. Most of these arrests are for relatively minor infractions, from disturbing the peace to theft and marijuana possession or use. This statistic is significantly higher than the 22 percent of young adults arrested in 1965.

Concerns about arrests

The arrests of young people are especially concerning, given the effects an arrest can have later in life. An arrest record, especially over the age of 18, can make getting a job much more difficult. An arrest record can also lead to a much more difficult time getting into college or building a positive credit history. Arrests can also be a very ineffective way to address criminal behavior in adolescents and young adults, because it is often an indicator of problems at home.

Sources:

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/19/us-arrests-idUSTRE7BI0SK20111219
MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45723332/ns/health-childrens_health/#.Tu-3Mnore_0
ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/arrests-increasing-us-youth/story?id=15180222#.Tu-5xXore_0

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