Young people and desistance

Authored by: Briege Nugent , Fergus McNeill

Routledge Handbook of Youth and Young Adulthood

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138804357
eBook ISBN: 9781315753058
Adobe ISBN: 9781317619895


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Most studies suggest that the peak age of offending is in adolescence but also, crucially, that even people involved in persistent offending begin to desist from offending in early adulthood (McVie, 2009). To the extent that research can help us better understand how and why each of these outcomes (persistence and desistance) comes about, it may offer policy and practice key insights and opportunities to support young people towards positive transitions. In this short chapter, we attempt to distil learning from past and current research on desistance and to locate it within an understanding of the challenges faced by young people in contemporary society. We also aim to offer some insights into how young people may be better supported to initiate and sustain desistance. The limitations of the existing research are also discussed and future directions proposed. Ultimately it is argued that successful desistance requires not just the individual to stop and refrain from offending but also to allow and support young people to regain or secure the rights of citizenship.

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