Discuss and describe a moral panic from a social science perspective. Essay

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Society is frequently subjected to moral panics when any crime is committed. Humanity repeatedly blows crimes and incidents out of proportion until the entire society is somewhat controlled. Stuart Hall, in his book, ‘Policing the Crisis’ explained that “the media, in conjunction with the bourgeoisie, create moral panics in order to perpetrate fear and maintain control over society, as a whole.” (Hall, 2013, s. 1) Moral panics are created as a hazard and rising threat to shock both society and culture into changing the way it thinks and acts about problems in the real world. In this essay, moral panics will be looked at in detail with a specific interest in the case of James Bulger. There will too, be a focus on the influence the media, …show more content…
'Amid the hysteria in 1993, both Thompson and Venables lost the right to be seen as children, or even as human. The kids who had killed the kid had to be killed, or indeed locked up for life. The word used about them stopped all arguments; they were pure evil.’ (Morrison, 2003)
These scandals make any type of child harm seem dramatic and heinous; these crimes force the attention onto those in society who are high ranked, in an attempt to aim for a change to prevent this crime being repeated. The path of any moral panic can sway in two opposing directions; either the panic dies down relatively quickly and is totally forgotten, or it has lasting repercussions for all those involved, whether press, politicians, the police or the public. (Butler, n.d.) In the case of the murder of little James Bulger, there were lasting implications; which included the introduction of the National Sex Offenders Register (Paedophile Register) in the late 1990’s as a response to the growing concern and panic over the recent child sex offences (Cohen 1972:9).

The Interest Group Theory involves panic about a given behaviour, in this instance, a child killing another child, and hence due the massive public outcry, the case is more likely to be distorted by the media and the outcome changed. The Bulger story was iconic and a rare, uncommon case; but lessons should be learnt. A similar crime had previously been committed in the form of the 1861