Idle youths stray into crime

Juveniles who commit crimes in Greece are usually people who left school early, landed up unemployed and were subconsciously influenced by media role models to act in extreme ways, according to statistics released by the juvenile court yesterday. Most juvenile crimes are committed by boys (96.8 percent). In 2001-2002, 4,400 young people were detained, of whom 1,952 were convicted. Youths aged 13-17 commit 54 percent of juvenile crimes, and those aged 18-21 about 40 percent. Over half of all young people who appear in court are facing charges related to the traffic code, followed by theft (19.6 percent), begging (12 percent) and drug abuse (5.5 percent). Begging is more prevalent among young immigrants. Efthymia Kotorlou, president of the juvenile court, said a reduction in convictions for drug-related crimes was probably deceptive. «It is due to deliberate delays in monitoring juvenile drug offenders and social and political conditions, above all the emphasis by police on pursuing terrorism and soccer violence,» she said. Central Attica is where 84 percent of crimes involving the possession, use and sale of drugs are committed. Analysts say the cause of these crimes is largely unemployment, dropping out of school, the changing structure of the family, substance abuse and a relaxation of tolerance on the part of society, as well as a lack of free time and the media’s cultivation of a competitive lifestyle. Of the youths who are brought to trial, nearly 17 percent work while attending high school and 35 percent are unemployed. Over half the youths live in western Attica.

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