KILLER TEENS: City's bloody history an anomaly

THE age at which criminal offending behaviour peaks rests between late teens and early adult years.

The height of that peak, specifically, is ages 15 to 19, and 20 to 24, with a sharp decline in offending afterwards.

"It's important to understand that although the peak in offending behaviour occurs during the late adolescent to early adult years, these trends are based on rates of all types of offending," University of Southern Queensland criminologist Dr Suzanne Reich said.

"(It's) not necessarily indicative of categorical trends, especially when having a look at the breakdown of offending rates by offence type or other offender characteristics such as gender."

University of Southern Queensland Program Director of Criminology and Criminal Justice criminologist Dr Suzanne Reich.
University of Southern Queensland Program Director of Criminology and Criminal Justice criminologist Dr Suzanne Reich. USQ

In the context of homicides, offenders aged 10 to 17 were responsible for 27 of the 679 murders committed across Australia in 2017 to 2018; the second lowest rate of homicides by that age group since 2008 to 2009.

While comparatively low compared to adult offenders, it's a disturbing number and one which horrifies local communities and the nation at large.

Toowoomba has a gruesome history of teen-aged killers which is the subject of a new series launching tomorrow online at thechronicle.com.au.

The series will begin with an analysis of why murders committed by teens are felt more deeply, and examine eight cases from Toowoomba and the region's history.

It will launch with Dr Reich, the Program Director of Criminology and Criminal Justice, who has extensive experience working with serious and violent offenders in Australia and England.

While her substantive area of research is around reintegrating people with criminal records back into society and workplaces, she has worked with at-risk youth in the community and in detention.

"Whether or not we can explain away youth offending with theories that seem feasible is somewhat beside the point as public reactions towards young people who commit murder remain strong," she said.

See thechronicle.com.au.



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