Media Representation of Juvenile Delinquency and Public Perception
What is your impression of the term "juvenile crime"? "According to a public opinion poll taken by the Japanese government in 2015, 78.6 percent of a total of 1,773 respondents thought that juvenile crime was going up, and only 2.5 percent answered that the number of youth crimes was on the decline. Compared to a survey in 2010, more respondents answered that juvenile crime is on the rise in 2015. However, the statistical data completely overturns this public belief as the number of juvenile cases has decreased dramatically over the past 20 years.
While there is a widely shared notion that "juvenile crime is becoming more heinous and increasing," the fact that this perception diverges from the actual data of juvenile crime has been a serious issue in the research fields of sociology of law and criminology. There is a concern that public misperceptions can be an obstacle to deterring juvenile delinquency and rehabilitation.
Why do so many people have an impression that contradicts the actual data? This is not only true for juvenile crime, but also for other topics such as HPV vaccines and Fukushima after the nuclear accident. In sociology, for instance, the term, “moral panic” has been used to explain how a fixed image of a particular subject, thing, or object can accelerate anxiety in society.
My research is to analyze such constructed images (stereotypes) of juvenile delinquency, public misperceptions, influences in society such as moral panic, and changes in the concept of childhood. In the future, I also plan to examine what kind of information dissemination and dialogue is necessary to correct the public perception of juvenile delinquency and to reconstruct the image. Specifically, in the globalization and diversification of means of communication in recent years, I will continue to consider the perspectives of both senders and receivers of information, as well as conduct research that incorporates the various perspectives of those involved in and concerned with juvenile delinquency.