Alarming rise in teen criminality

Police analysts note juvenile delinquency has been documented among boys as young as 12

Alarming rise in teen criminality

The worrying rise in juvenile criminality has alerted authorities, who have embarked on a campaign to collect data to analyze and, ultimately, tackle the phenomenon.

Documented incidents involving hooded boys aged as young as 12 wielding and using knives have proliferated, according to data collected by the Hellenic Police (ELAS), which has bemoaned the growing rate of teens involved in violent beatings, robberies, and even homicides.

Experts are sounding the alarm that if nothing is done to nip the problem in the bud, the crime-prone demeanor of these teens may develop into recurrent behavior with even more violent characteristics.

Police analysts believe that the structural changes observed in recent years in societies, the technological revolution and the emergence of social media have shaped a completely different environment which, in some cases, favors such behaviors.

At the same time, violence and intolerant rhetoric have become components of video games, graffiti, comics and various types of music. This culture, ELAS says, is attractive to young people and for some it is a form of expression.

What is clear from the data is that that there has been an increase in violent offenses in recent years, as well as a drop in the age at which juveniles first encounter the penal system.

Most cases of teenage criminality have also been linked to the family environment, mental health problems, addictions, and parental involvement in crime as well.

Speaking to Kathimerini, ELAS officers explained that most cases of violent incidents involve boys aged 14-15 years, adding that most of the time the problem is found in the family and is not a matter of education or social class.

Also, unlike in provincial areas, where minors are likely to know each other as there is greater social cohesion in small populations, in large urban environments conflicts between groups of minors involve people who are unknown to each other. This depersonalization favors attacks with greater violence, experts say.

Most of these crimes take place in public spaces such as squares, school playgrounds or neighborhood streets.

Police data show that increasingly common offenses include those relating to property damage, drugs, bodily harm, verbal abuse, slander, sexual harassment and others. 

Regarding homicide, one case was recorded in 2022 which led the death of another minor and one attempted homicide with two minors as the victims. 

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