Criminology and Young People who Offend

MQF Level: 7

ECTS Value: 5 ECTS

Self Study Hours: 60

Contact Hours: 25

Assessment Hours: 40

Duration: 10 sessions


Overall Objectives and Outcomes

This module will provide learners with core criminological theories in relation to young people who offend. It will focus on key aspects in relation to ‘who’ the young person who offends is in relation to characteristics, overrepresentation, and stigma. In this way, it will highlight the protected characteristics of young people as well as delve into the vulnerabilities of young people when they come in contact with the Justice System. The module will also consider the young person in relation to society and the family especially in relation to intergenerational offending, where it will critically analyse the concepts of crime families and self-fulfilling prophecies. The module will take a forward-looking approach to young people who offend and delve into desistance theories and crime within the life-course, where various reasons for offending will be considered. Desistance theories will be applied through critical discussion on how cycle of youth offending can be broken through positive criminology and strength-based interventions. Global good practice will be utilised in order to evaluate ‘what works’.

By the end of this programme, participants should be able to:


a. Critically distinguish the differences in theory and practice relating to young people who offend;

b. Critically evaluate the functions (and limitations) of different parts of the Criminal Justice System in addressing young people who offend;

c. Create a care plan for young people who have been in contact with the criminal justice system in order to guide them towards desistance;

d. Research and apply global good practice to the care of young people who offend.


a. Define the protected characteristics of young people who offend;

b. Make reference to European and global legislation and recommendations in relation to young people who offend;

c. Critically appraise the factors that may influence the decision-making of young people when they turn to crime;

d. Demonstrate knowledge of the concepts and theories regarding positive criminology and strengths-based approaches.


a. Identify potential risk factors that may lead young people to offend;

b. Construct a positive and strengths-based approach to desistance;

c. Determine the needs of young people who offend and use a multi-agency approach in order to ensure that each individual and specific need is met through the right agency;

d. In line with positive criminology, encourage use of co-production in managing the needs of young people, so that individuals are active proponents of their rehabilitation;

e. Apply global good practices in relation to young people who offend to the local context.

Assessment Methods

This module will be assessed through: Portfolio

Suggested Readings

Core Reading List
  1. Guarnaccia, C., De Vita, E.,  Sortino, L.,  Giannone, F. (2022). Links between adverse childhood experiences, psychopathological symptoms and recidivism risk in juvenile delinquents. European Journal of Criminology, 19(5), 1040-1059.
  2. Helsey, M. & Deegan, S. (2015). Young offenders : crime, prison, and struggles for desistance.
  3. Jackson, L.A., Kyriakopoulos, A., &, Carthy, N. (2023). Criminal and positive identity development of young male offenders: pre and post rehabilitation. Journal of Criminal Psychology, 13(3), 173-189.
  4. Joyce, P, & Laverick, W. (2020). Criminology: A complete introduction. Teach Yourself.
Supplementary Reading List
  1. Goldson, B. (2019). International Human Rights Standards and Youth Justice. HM Inspectorate of Probation
  2. Maruna, S. (2001). Making good: How ex-convicts reform and rebuild their lives.American Psychological Association.
  3. TED (2020, January 3). The unspoken injusice of youth justice | Stanley Jones . YouTube.
  4. UN General Assembly, United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (“The Beijing Rules”) : resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 29 November 1985, A/RES/40/33.
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