The role of theory in contemporary youth justice practice is crucial in shaping and conceptualising relationships between youth and crime. It provides a structure for how youth justice is practiced and helps make sense of today’s issues surrounding the topic.
Approaches to youth justice have evolved throughout the centuries and it is important for youth justice practitioners to be aware of the evolution of theory in order to be up to date with their knowledge and in their practice. Knowledge of current as well as traditional theoretical perspectives helps provide a new direction on …show more content…
For the general public, this process of reification means that ideas and concepts become part of a ‘natural’ reality and are therefore no longer questioned. The process of labelling is an important aspect of social constructionism. Applied specifically to the area of criminal justice, it involves a particular group or individual labelling the activities and behaviours of another group or individual as criminal or deviant. As Young explains (1981), creativity is extensively used by human beings in their behaviours in order to generate their own system of values, but the powerful are in a position to enforce their own values upon the less powerful through labelling.
In terms of criminal justice, classicism focuses on the act itself, the crime, when positivism’s main concern is the individual. New deviancy theorists focus on the labelling and its processes. Labelling, by its very nature, limits the prospects and opportunities of the ‘labellee’ as the label applied becomes the truth about the individual’s nature. Labelling, by defining an individual, makes them behave in a certain manner and tends to eradicate their free will. This leads to making assumptions and stereotypical judgements. In terms of policy making, it is crucial to be aware of these stereotypes and the consequences of labelling and reification. The flaws of this theory can also be found in its non-interventionist tendency –