Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “Psycholinguistic and socioemotional characteristics of young offenders: do language abilities and gender matter?”, by Winstanley, M.; Webb, R. T. and Conti-Ramsden, G. (2022), in which authors carry out a study to know how the lack of language skills may be related to an increase in the tendency of offend in young people. 

 Juvenile delinquency is a serious and costly problem for society, which also generates fear in citizens. For this reason, careful consideration of the issue and an understanding of the factors that are related to the tendency to offend, including the psycholinguistic and socioemotional characteristics of young people who become involved in delinquency, are necessary.

Language in particular, provides a focus for identifying distressed groups in youth offender profiles, whether or not they are diagnosed with developmental language disorders. 

This knowledge can inform both policy and practice in rehabilitation planning and strategies.

Developmental language disorder refers to significant and persistent problems in understanding and/or using spoken language. These problems won’t be associated with other difficulties, such as a hearing impairment or autism spectrum disorder.

Recent evidence has highlighted an association between delinquency and language development disorder that persists even after controlling for possible confounding factors such as socioeconomic status and/or years of schooling. 

In the scarce previous literature on the subject, the deficits shown by juvenile delinquents in language-based tasks have been assessed from different points of view: form, content, or language use from the word to the sentence and discourse level have been taken into account. As a result, it has been shown that approximately 50% of juvenile delinquents have language deficits that would justify a diagnosis of developmental language disorder, without having been previously recognized. 

Authors suggest that young people with a history of delinquency may be more likely to exhibit a developmental language disorder due to reduced effectiveness of the rehabilitation methods used. 

In this study, the authors determine the language skills of a group of first-time offenders, also examining nonverbal skills. 

On the other hand, it is interesting to note that difficulties with reading have been linked to behavioral problems in childhood, having to do with both behavioral dominance and hyperactivity. 

A 2000 study found that the young offenders surveyed had a reading level 11.3 years below their chronological age. In addition, reading comprehension has been noted as a predictor of recidivism in groups of youth between the ages of 16 and 19, as low alphabetization may limit a person’s ability to access formal justice documentation.

On the other hand, behavioral problems in childhood have been associated with adult delinquency. 

In addition, the literature related to the prevalence of developmental language disorder in children exhibiting conduct problems, raises concerns regarding the referral of children to rehabilitation services that pay little attention to language skills. 

The authors felt it appropriate to include the variable of gender in their study, since, as a general rule, there are fewer young females than males in the justice system, and experts tended to conduct analyses with both groups together. 

The sample included 145 young people, 112 males and 33 females. Participants were assessed in 1 or 2 1-hour sessions in which parents and staff were encouraged to participate. Psycholinguistic, socioemotional, and contextual measures were obtained through scientifically valid tests and scales. 

87 of the juvenile offenders who participated in the study met the criteria for the diagnosis of a developmental language disorder. It was equally frequent in males (58%) as in females (67%). 

The majority of participants with developmental language disorder, regardless of gender, showed severe language difficulties, and only 2 reported having previously accessed services related to speech therapy. This lack of identification of language needs is a cause for concern, especially when considering potential opportunities for its treatment to function as a protective factor against delinquency.

There were also no significant gender differences in the psycholinguistic and socioemotional profiles of male and female juvenile offenders, except for higher levels of general emotional difficulty in females. 

It should be noted that most of the participants commented that they found it very difficult to read, and in fact, 19 of them abandoned the reading comprehension tasks because they could not answer correctly. 

What these data reveal to us is, in short, that young offenders with developmental language disorder are at a greater disadvantage than those without. 

Authors point out the need for language assessment and the identification of language developmental disorder as a crucial part of criminal justice services and a potential priority that may be useful in intervention with juvenile offenders. 

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Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “Relationships Between Offenders’ Crime Locations and Different Prior Activity Locations as Recorded in Police Data”, by Curtis-Ham, S.; Bernasco, W.; Medvedev, O. N. and Polaschek, D. L. L. (2022), in which authors carry out an exhaustive study to know more about the patterns of geographical choice of criminals, to discover whether a relationship between them and the offenders’ routines exist. 

We know from routine activity theory and crime pattern theory that crimes occur when opportunity (that is, the presence of a suitable and available target) overlaps with offenders’ known locations through their routinary noncriminal activities, such as where they live, work, or socialize with family or friends.

Recent theoretical development suggests that some types of activity locations are more important than others for offenders’ crime location choices. Understanding which they are more likely to choose to commit their crimes has very important implications for crime prevention and investigation. It can help identify high-risk locations and inform the most appropriate risk management strategies. It can also help in geographic profiling for crime investigation. 

But, despite the practical importance of being able to predict, at an individual level, where a person will commit a crime, there is little research that empirically explores the extent to which various types of activity locations differ from one another in their influence on crime. 

Studies to date have only compared a limited subset of locations (e.g., the offender’s home, homes of family members, or locations of prior offenses). This study leverages a large national dataset of widely disparate locations pertaining to offenders’ pre-crime activities recorded in a police database in a previously unresearched context (New Zealand). 

Drawing on environmental psychology, crime pattern theory emphasizes the role of people’s routine activities in generating awareness of criminal opportunities

First, offenders might identify criminal opportunities more easily and more frequently near their places of activity, called nodes. Qualitative studies have confirmed that home, work, and other places of non-criminal activity have the potential to generate crime opportunity awareness. Recent quantitative studies have estimated the greater likelihood of offenders committing crimes near their homes, the homes of close relatives, and the locations of previous offenses, compared to other locations.

On the other hand, the role of routine activities in generating awareness of criminal opportunities means that the probability of offending tends to be highest near activity nodes and decreases with distance. This pattern of decreasing distance reflects that people are more familiar with areas closer than farther away from their activity locations, and familiarity is an important factor in the choice of crime location. 

All this also reflects the principle of least effort: in theory, people travel the shortest distance necessary to find the opportunity to commit a crime. 

The main objective of the article is to expand the understanding of how all these associations happen in reality. To do this, data on crimes and nodes of offender activity were collected from the National Intelligence Application (NIA), a New Zealand Police database. The offenses included were all residential and non-residential burglaries, commercial and personal burglaries, and extra-familial sexual offenses committed between 2009 and 2018. In addition, in all of these, an offender was identified with sufficient evidence to proceed against him/her. 

The results obtained revealed that almost all nodes were significantly and positively associated with the choice of crime location. 

Consistent with expectations based on crime pattern theory, crime was almost always more likely in the surroundings of activity nodes and decreased with distance. Crime near home showed the strongest associations, followed by immediate family homes. This information is especially relevant and novel for nonresidential burglary and extrafamilial sexual offenses.

In addition, it appears that individuals are more likely to offend near immediate family homes versus more distant relatives’ and intimate partners’. 

These findings, the authors note, are interesting because they may help to identify more accurately who is more likely to have committed a crime in a particular location, given the nature of the crime.

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Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “Bringing Light into the Dark: Associations of Fire Interest and Fire Setting With the Dark Tetrad”, by Wehner, C.; Ziegler, M.; Kirchhof, S. and Lämmle, L. (2022), in which authors carry out a study to know whether a relationship between the traits of the so-called Dark Tetrad and the fascination with fire or arson exists. 

Fire has always played an important role in humanity, whether as a source of heat and light, as a means of cooking, or as a source of entertainment. However, tragic cases such as forest fires, or the Notre Dame fire in 2019, bring to public awareness the destructive potential that fire also possesses. 

Whether deliberately or by accident, an uncontrolled fire causes serious damage to both people and property. Fires caused 3,655 deaths in the United States in 2018, and of those, 350 were the result of arson. 

Because of this destructive potential, there is a need to explore fire-setting behavior and investigate what factors lead an individual to that point. 

Research has identified several psychological vulnerabilities that qualify as potential risk factors. One of these is an interest or fascination with fire, as well as with starting fires. 

Many studies have focused on the importance of integrating findings on personality disorders and mental pathologies to the fire issue. A better understanding of the relationship between complex and dark traits and fire setting may improve prevention efforts, or may even help to develop theories about how a pathology that leads to this behavior develops. 

It has been hypothesized that two traits associated with interest in fire and fire setting are impulsivity and thrill seeking. The link between fire setting and impulsivity, in particular, has been empirically demonstrated.

Since psychopathy includes impulsivity as one of its core aspects, authors consider it potentially relevant to the prediction of fire setting. 

Other variables include other traits of the Dark Tetrad. This is better known as the Dark Triad, but some authors call it the “Tetrad” by adding one more factor, in total: psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism and sadism. 

When we think of arson, the first thing we think of is pyromania. This is classified by a great interest in fire, but also by experiences in which before setting a fire, one feels tension and excitement and after the act, a great relief. Because of these criteria, it is complicated to diagnose pyromania, so the vast majority of people with this disorder do not know about it and, worse, do not treat it. 

One theory that incorporated interest in fire as an important factor in triggering them is the Multi-Trajectory Theory of Firesetting (M-TTAF). It describes how psychological vulnerabilities and other factors, such as cultural or developmental aspects, as well as situational context and social learning, can trigger a fire. Authors suggested four possible trajectories within this theory: antisocial, grievance, interest in fire and need for recognition, with a fifth, which would be a combination of the other four. 

To this end, authors conducted a study in which 222 people participated and were given a series of questionnaires related to the fascination with fire, the Dark Tetrad and the M-TTAF. 

Psychopathy and direct physical sadism were found to be significantly correlated with interest in fire and the environment. Direct verbal sadism was positively correlated, on the one hand, also with interest in fire, and on the other hand, with fire provocation. 

The latter two tendencies correlated positively, in turn, with the M-TTAF, suggesting that interest in fire is an important factor for some people, but not for all. For example, someone who follows the grievance trajectory proposed by the model would be more motivated by revenge or retribution when committing a fire than by interest in the fire itself. 

Vicarious sadism was related, on the other hand, to the satisfaction produced only by seeing the fire of an active fire. 

In addition, the relationship between impulsivity and fire setting was seen once again. And psychopathy showed the strongest relationship among the other Dark Tetrad traits. Since impulsivity is a key facet of psychopathy, it seems logical to cautiously relate fire setting to psychopathy.

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Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “Masochist or Murderer? A Discourse Analytic Study Exploring Social Constructions of Sexually Violent Male Perpetrators, Female Victims-Survivors and the Rough Sex Defense on Twitter”, by Sowersby, C. J.; Erskine-Shaw, M. and Willmott, D. (2022), in which authors carry out an analysis of Twitter publications in which people talk about sexuality, violence, victims and gender, bearing in mind that, nowadays, social networks help to shape social collective thinking. 

We have already mentioned on several occasions that sexual violence is one of the major problems facing modern society. Crime statistics show the increasing prevalence of this type of violence around the world. Since 2014, countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Ireland have experienced increases in sex crimes recorded by police, while statistics in the United States reveal the same trend since 2013. 

These data are disconcerting, although one of the explanations proposed for them is that rates have increased due to a greater awareness of abuse cases, among other reasons, due to the emergence of awareness and sensitization campaigns, as well as support for victims gender and sexual violence, such as the #MeToo movement. 

It may also be due to an improvement in police training to deal with these types of cases, along with a greater willingness to investigate these allegations.

On the other hand, while it is recognized that both men and women experience sexual violence, the figures for reported crimes stand out for a gender gap, as, in general, men are the perpetrators of these crimes and women, the victims. 

In England and Wales, data reveal that 98% of those prosecuted for serious sexual offenses are men and women represent the 84% of the victims. 

Authors mention that there may be an unknown number of male victims who do not come to light because of the stigma that still surrounds male sexual victimization, and because of societal expectations around the male gender role. 

Interestingly, along with concerns about the prevalence of abuse against women, there is recent media coverage of numerous high-profile sexual crimes, which has brought the issue of women’s safety into the public consciousness. 

This has led to media coverage that reaches social networks, creating debates and generating opinions that are made public. 

And, despite the importance of the phenomenon surrounding sexual violence, there is very little research dedicated to exploring public attitudes toward it and relating them, in turn, to “rough sex”. 

And why rough sex? Research places particular emphasis on distinguishing between rough sex and sexual violence because the line between the two concepts is very thin. 

This type of sexuality, while involving a certain degree of force or aggression, has consent at its core. Violent fetishism, bodily harm, humiliation, domination or submission, are some of the experiences that can be lived by those who practice this type of sex safely, due to its dangerousness, which can be more or less extreme. 

To distinguish between sexual violence and violent sex, the important thing is, as we have said, consent. However, there are times when consent is precarious, especially in situations of trauma or with an abuse background. 

The research also mentions pornography, with an increasing success of the most violent categories, which contributes to blurring the differences between rough sex and actual rape or sexual assault. 

On the other hand, and returning to the media influence of social networks on collective thinking, authors mention the concept of “slut-shaming”, which is often used to blame the victims of sexual violence, especially if they are women. Slut-shaming, for example, uses the fact that a woman has been drinking alcohol or has a very active sex life as an “excuse” for the sexual assault experienced. This highlights the need for research on all of the above data, with special emphasis on gender roles and the influence of the hard sex on the perception of sexual violence. 

To do this, authors search inside of Twitter, which is one of the most popular social networks today. 

They found that the dichotomy “virgin-whore” often appears to talk about women, which categorizes them in an extreme way based on their sexual preferences and constructs negative and defamatory language. For example, those women who do not like rough sex, are often labeled as “saints” or “boring,” the opposite for those who do, who are insulted and humiliated. This is very interesting, above all, because it contributes to the blaming of the victims of sexual violence. 

On the other hand, rough sex is increasingly legitimized as a normative sexuality, downplaying its potential dangerousness. 

The conceptions associated with gender roles are also extreme, not only in the case of women, but also in the case of men, making it seem that it is in their biological nature to be aggressive and hypersexual beings. 

In short, efforts, resources and research are needed to better understand the phenomenon of social networks and how they shape public opinion. Moreover, given the magnitude of the problem of sexual violence, understanding it, preventing it and acting appropriately with the victims is an absolute priority.

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Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “How bad is crime for business? Evidence from consumer behavior”, by Fe, H. and Sanfelice, V. (2022), in which authors carry out a study with data from Chicago city to understand the behavior of consumers when it comes about choosing what business to frequent, considering criminality rates of the place in which they are. 

Numerous studies suggest that fear of victimization causes consumers, workers and entrepreneurs to alter their activities. Crime, and the behavioral changes it brings, increases the cost of doing business in a place and thus, affects the economic development of the entire area. 

The economic literature has dedicated little attention to studying whether crime impacts business activities, and if so, how, specifically exploring consumer behavior. 

This is the authors’ goal with this article: to fill the gap in the literature on this point by measuring consumer behavior as a result of criminal activities in an area. Understanding this is critical for businesses, urban planners, urban criminology and policy makers. 

In recent times, the presence of small local businesses such as coffee shops, supermarkets and pubs has become a symbol of neighborhood development. Measuring consumer response to local crime, therefore, helps policymakers understand how crime can affect efforts to boost economic development. 

A 2019 study reported that a higher prevalence of violent and private property crime would be significantly associated with both business failure and business relocation. Another 2016 study found that neighborhood crime reduces commercial property values. However, there is no clear consensus on the effect of crime, as most empirical results do not yet have causal interpretations.

To understand the relationship between crime and consumer choice, three roles must be examined: the consumer, the offender, and the business. 

Criminological theory recognizes that a motivated offender, the presence of a suitable target and the absence of effective protection are essential elements that lead to crime. Aware of these elements, citizens assimilate the risk of becoming victims and modify their actions accordingly. 

The level of crime associated with the location of a place can affect the consumers of a business in several ways. For example, individuals may consider the risk of becoming a victim of crime while physically visiting an establishment and may choose to avoid certain areas. 

The perception of violence has also affected residential decision making, reshaping cities as families flee to the suburbs in search of a safer environment.

Consumers can also be affected through the emotional experiences associated with using a service: positive experiences in an environment have a positive influence on emotions, and vice versa. 

On the other hand, people can also assess their risk of being victimized through observation, as already pointed out by the famous broken window theory, or, for example, by being aware of police presence in a place. 

On the other hand, there are several ways in which consumer flow affects individuals’ decision to commit crimes. For example, places with more people offer more opportunities for offenders to strike. A greater flow of people in urban areas can also disrupt social order and facilitate the discreteness of illicit activities by decreasing the likelihood of criminal apprehension. Even consumers can become criminals when gatherings generate social conflict. 

As for businesses, they may suffer from crimes such as theft or robbery, and spend a lot of economic resources on prevention and protection measures to increase private security. On the other hand, crime can lead to a decrease in economic benefits if it scares away consumers. 

Authors analyzed data from the police authorities of the city of Chicago, one of the largest cities in the United States.

The main results suggest that the effect of crime on consumer visits to businesses is important and significant when incidents occur in public spaces, while crimes occurring in private residences do not have a statistically relevant effect. 

On the other hand, crime appears to have a negative effect on the number of visits and the number of customers an establishment receives, but no significant effects were found on the length of time these customers stayed in the stores or business.

And, not surprisingly, nighttime visits are more sensitive to changes in crime than daytime visits. 

The article’s findings are consistent with the argument that the perception of violence and the risk of victimization drives consumers away, making businesses potentially less profitable.

Understanding this is useful in helping policymakers and local agencies plan for the revival and economic development of communities, hand-in-hand with effective crime prevention policies. 

If you want to know more about the criminal mind, criminal profiling, and forensic science, don’t miss our Master of Science in Criminal Profiling or our Master of Science in Anti-Fraud Behavioral Analysis, 100% online programs that can be taken in Spanish or English, with special grants for the Forensic Science Club readers.

Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “A Systematic Review of Risk Factors Implicated in the Suicide of Police Officers”, by Krishnan, N.; Steene, L. M. B.; Lewis, M.; Marshall, D. and Ireland, J. L. (2022), in which authors carry out an investigation on previous literature about the suicide of police officers, trying to identify which are the most important risk factors.

Mental health problems are a major complication for approximately 300 million people worldwide. Within these, there are suicidal behaviors and/or suicidal ideation, which are of considerable concern to the general population, with more than 700,000 suicide deaths per year worldwide

In small communities and closed groups, such as law enforcement, physicians, or emergency service workers, the immediate and long-term impacts of suicide can be exacerbated by the “ripple” effect that can occur from witnessing trauma firsthand. 

Data from the UK Office for National Statistics, shows that there have been a total of 169 suicides by police officers between 2011 and 2019, averaging approximately 21 deaths per year. 

Taking global statistics into account and comparing them with UK law enforcement statistics, some researchers have described the phenomenon in the latter context as an “epidemic” of great severity.

Despite these strong claims, other authors have questioned the classification of suicide as the leading cause of death among law enforcement officers. Problems in the assessment and collection of suicide statistics make accurate estimation of the problem increasingly difficult. 

Regardless of whether police officers experience higher rates of suicide compared with the general population, it is also of concern because officers are assumed to receive, at least in the United Kingdom (the context of this study), adequate support through training, health-related benefits, and counseling. 

Therefore, authors decided, in this study, to investigate the risk factors and predictors underpinning suicide in this population group

While general expert consensus holds that suicide causation is multidimensional, the literature reports three keys, or three particular levels of stressors believed to be involved in completed suicide in law enforcement personnel: first, personal or individual stressors appear; then, occupational factors; finally, organizational problems

Personal stressors refer to factors internal to the officer, such as mental disorders or substance use. Occupational factors refer to the demands that are considered part of the job, such as interacting with victims and offenders of crime and interacting with the justice system. And organizational issues include concerns about how little support they may receive at times, bureaucratic duties, and lack of career advancement opportunities in certain contexts. All of these can increase the likelihood of suicidal behavior. 

To delve further into the topic, authors decided to investigate previous literature related to suicides and police officers, in order to further expand information on risk factors. 

Five apparent determinants were revealed: problematic substance use at a time close to death, the presence of depression and previous suicide attempts, differences in the response to trauma they may experience, excessive and prolonged exposure to work-related stress, and the absence of a stable intimate relationship. When these factors coexist, they appear to be associated with an increased likelihood of suicidal behaviors. 

40% of the included studies identified problematic substance use as pervasive and directly related. More specifically, the findings indicated an increasing trajectory of substance use in the days and hours prior to the suicidal event. 

Mental health problems, most particularly depressive disorders and previous suicide attempts, were identified by the majority of police studies (50%). Interestingly, female officers reported higher depression scores compared to males.

Contradictory findings were also found that suggest the need for further research on the subject, since, in a 2004 study, the idea was proposed that officers with more years in police service were less susceptible to trauma-related stress and, therefore, to suicidal tendencies, but there is another view, which is the most predominant one, and holds that people exposed to multiple traumatic episodes are more likely to present symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

On the other hand, it seems that having a partner is not enough for it to be considered a protective factor, but that the quality of the relationship is the key, and what actually provides the protective function. 

As we can see, there are some findings that coincide, but others that can generate great debate, so the authors suggest continuing to investigate and study this topic, so that light can continue to be shed on it and, consequently, to prevent it.

If you want to know more about the criminal mind, criminal profiling, and forensic science, don’t miss our Master of Science in Criminal Profiling or our Master of Science in Anti-Fraud Behavioral Analysis, 100% online programs that can be taken in Spanish or English, with special grants for the Forensic Science Club readers.

Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “The seductions of cybercrime: Adolescence and the thrills of digital transgression”, by Goldsmith, A. and Wall, D. S. (2022), in which authors think about what seduces young people from cybercrime, and also give ideas on what can be done in terms of criminal policy and education to mitigate the negative effects of new technologies.

The Internet is a public tool that has been with us in our daily lives for more than 30 years. However, in this time, it has captivated and seduced more than half of the planet’s population. It is estimated that approximately 4.5 billion people were internet users as of June 30, 2019. 

Young people under the age of 30, who have grown up with the internet and have grown up with it, are more likely than older people to have access to it and spend more time surfing the web, searching, playing games and using social networks, among other activities. 

Internet possibilities are virtually limitless, as is its appeal for entertainment, leisure and distraction. Given its relative novelty and global reach, much attention has been paid in recent years to the disadvantages that have emerged. 

Above all, there is great concern about Internet safety, such as its use by adults to exploit children, or its use by children to bully other minors. 

In this article, authors explore the importance of the Internet in terms of attractiveness to teenagers between 12-19 years. 

To do so, they use as a basis a 1988 study by Jack Katz on juvenile burglars and graffiti artists because authors believe it provides them with some useful analogies for thinking about the connection between the emotional impulses of young people and the commission of crime.

But why are young people a special population group? We have already discussed it in older posts, but let’s dig a little deeper. 

This group has three main socioemotional tasks: developing an identity, learning about intimacy, and discovering their sexuality. They seek information and validation, through communication with their peers in particular. In addition, they are often drawn to extreme and risky content and stimuli, but as they grow older, they are also interested in personal autonomy and adult life. During adolescence there is also considerable impulsivity that often limits young people’s capacity for self-control. 

The Internet responds to these needs for autonomy, competence and relationships. 

Within environmental criminology, Clarke proposes the idea that individuals without pre-existing dispositions to crime may be drawn into criminal behavior by the proliferation of opportunities. That is, situations could shape motivations through suggestion and intensification of feelings, along with opportunities to commit crime. And we already know that the Internet is, first and foremost, the opportunity for opportunity. 

Authors focus on several crimes: they talk about piracy, harassment (sexual and not sexual) and other crime typologies, but they focus on the consumption of pornography as a criminogenic factor. 

In an experiment conducted in the UK, an apparently legal website was observed for 88 days, which, once inside, offered the opportunity to connect to hardcore pornography websites. It had 803 visitors during this time, and of these, 457 people clicked on the advert for the pornography page, leading the researchers to the conclusion that most internet users would not resist the temptation. 

There seems to be little doubt that, at least in some cases of serious sexual offenses, online pornography consumption is involved in one way or another. Of great concern is that the first exposure to online pornography is occurring earlier and earlier, during early adolescence or even childhood. The exposure of minors to the Internet for long periods of time and without supervision makes them more vulnerable to this type of content, to which they sometimes access involuntarily. 

If we add this to the idea that young people look for strong emotions, are more impulsive and are attracted to the most extreme and transgressive content, often out of simple curiosity, we have a problem that can be serious. 

For many young people, the Internet is a rich, seductive place, full of attractive offers and “forbidden” emotions. For those who are prone to curiosity and sensation seeking, it can be very difficult not to give in to its charms.

Without ignoring class, peer influence, family background, poverty or addictions, there must be a deeper understanding of the persuasiveness of technologies in operating in young people’s lives. 

Policy should consist of interventions that consider, in general, the lack of life experience of young people who commit their first offenses under the influence of or through the Internet, and authors argue that punitive responses should be applied sparingly. 

If you want to know more about the criminal mind, criminal profiling, and forensic science, don’t miss our Master of Science in Criminal Profiling or our Master of Science in Anti-Fraud Behavioral Analysis, 100% online programs that can be taken in Spanish or English, with special grants for the Forensic Science Club readers.

Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “Analysis of Cybercrime on Social Media Platforms and Its Challenges”, by Almansoori, A.; Abdallah, S.; Alshamsi, M. and Salloum, S. A. (2021), in which authors carry out an analysis of crimes that have been committed in the last few years and that are closely related to the development of technologies, internet and social networks.  

Cyberspace has reached every part of the planet, and is like a universe accessible from every corner of the globe. 

Advances in cybersecurity, technology and methods to protect software, networks and data associated with computers, have managed to prevent millions of attacks from malicious individuals and, in general, cybercriminals. 

Shockingly, the greatest cybersecurity efforts do not completely prevent cyberattacks, and so the need to remain vigilant and protect against these activities has become increasingly important in recent years.

This may seem simple, but a factor that makes this task extremely difficult comes into play, which, moreover, is an unprecedented phenomenon: social networks. 

We can define them as a group of Internet applications that allow the creation and exchange of content generated by different users. LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat… help to build social relationships and online communities that can become very strong, which is considered a valuable asset for many purposes. 

They provide many novel opportunities for socializing and interacting with users that have redefined the previously known approach to information sharing: from publicly expressing opinions, to news circulation, to online business or advertising. All of this, due to the global presence of the Internet, allows content to reach as many parts of the world as possible. 

And, as good as this is, it has a dark and dangerous side: people become easy and obvious targets for cybercriminals through social networks. 

To safeguard the integrity and security of individuals, organizations are constantly increasing technology and security budgets so that these social networks can be protected in a way that seals the information available from them. 

This research aimed to understand the characteristics of the crimes being committed through the Internet and social networks, and to identify what kind of efforts the police should make to control them. What types of attacks and crimes are occurring? What are the demographics of the majority of offenders? 

Authors conducted an analysis of different social networking platforms focusing on threats and offenses, arriving at 574 observations. Each of these observations was identified with a person suspected of having committed any form of cybercrime on these social networks. Cases were counted from 2014 to 2018. 

Most crimes occurred in 2018, with 28.1% of the total; then 2015 with 20.1%. According to the data, there were 300 cases of fraud, 100 cases approximately of child pornography, and other statistically less relevant crimes, such as stalking or grooming. 

Most of the offenders were found to have prior criminal records. About 70% had a prior record for some crime, while 30% did not. 

As for the educational background of the suspects, they had little formal education, about 70% had only basic education, and 30% had graduated from some form of higher education. 

About 61% of the offenders came from very poor backgrounds, while those from middle and upper class constituted the remaining 39%. 

On the other hand, most offenders were between 20 and 25 years old, with a significant peak at 22 years old. 

Online social networking sites must identify the core aspects of human and social connectivity through accurate and robust methodologies that ensure privacy, protection and build trust between the platform and the user at all times. 

Governments, along with intelligence services, must be trained to adopt and frame the technologies. The amount of data flowing in social networks must be analyzed in a very rigorous way. 

Another important point is the awareness of the individual, as people must be responsible with the content they share and the social networks they use. 

Knowing the demographics of the majority of cybercriminals can be of great use to law enforcement, as they can then follow a basic guide as to where they should focus resources and investigations, thus helping to identify the individuals most likely to be the perpetrators of this type of crime. 

If you want to know more about the criminal mind, criminal profiling, and forensic science, don’t miss our Master of Science in Criminal Profiling or our Master of Science in Anti-Fraud Behavioral Analysis, 100% online programs that can be taken in Spanish or English, with special grants for the Forensic Science Club readers.

Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “Different places, different problems: profiles of crime and disorder at residential parcels”, by O’Brien, D. T.; Ristea, A.; Hangen, F. and Tucker, R. (2022), in which authors carry out a study to know how the crime varies according to the place in the city.

In the past few years there has been a growing interest in the study of problematic areas in cities, as they are considered to have very high concentrations of crime and social disorder. 

Literature to date has revealed that there are important differences in the different zones: what crime is like, what the disorganization is like in them… but there hasn’t been a deep study of the subject. 

With the most recent research, it has been seen that there are many variations of disorder and criminality depending on the neighborhood; for example, there are some of them with social disorder, but no physical disorder, and so on. Understanding this diversity would be very important in order to prepare better the interventions to mitigate the negative consequences of the issue. 

In the current study, plots of different areas of Boston are studied. The first objective is to know whether they all exhibit crime and disorder in similar ways or whether they differ in multiple profiles. On the other hand, the authors aim to get, with the typology obtained, how, and to what extent, different types of crime and disorder coexist. 

One idea mentioned by the authors is that, as a general rule, much more attention is usually paid to places with a high crime rate, which, ironically, represent a very small proportion of the communities. 

This is something that criminology specialized in the subject has already mentioned in the most recent studies. It explains that between 4 and 6% of problematic streets in a city represent more than the 50% of the crimes that occur in the whole city, regardless of its type or its size. 

It has also been shown that concentrations of crime on a certain street tend to persist over time, and when crime increases or decreases on that type of streets, it is often an indicator of citywide crime trends. 

On the other hand, based on previous literature, it looks that property parcels that experience many burglaries maintain this trend over time. 

It is interesting to mention the “crime pattern theory”, which argues that the activities and people associated with a particular place determine the frequency and way in which offenders, victims, and context interact with each other. This, in turn, shapes the likelihood and nature of crime and disorder in the place. 

Thus, situational crime prevention emphasizes the need to use small modifications in these places so that they alter their opportunity structure. For example, providing better lines of sight to those in charge of security in the area, or designating the role of “place manager” to property owners in the area. 

The current study analyzes the distribution of various types of crime and disorder in a series of residential parcels in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). For this purpose, records from the emergency telephone number, 911, were used. A total of 81,673 plots were studied. 

The analysis identified several disorder and crime profiles in the areas analyzed: four of the most important were public denigration, private neglect, private conflicts, and gun-related events. It also identified the existence of so-called “violent centers” that concentrate many types of problems. The latter were almost completely isolated from other troubled neighborhoods. 

The authors comment, interestingly, that the crime and disorder profiles of each parcel tended to specialize in a single type of problem, with the exception of violent centers that combined several problems (but accounted for only 0.2% of the total). 

This tendency can be understood in terms of routine activities and related theories. Each place is characterized by the people who frequent it, their propensity to offend, the contextual factors of the place… This makes the specialization more striking, as it could be that something about the individuals involved, or something in their dynamics, makes them prone to experience a problem or live events and circumstances that make them more vulnerable to one type of delinquency. 

The findings are important because they show the need to take measures that are tailored to the neighborhoods where they will be applied, so that their effectiveness is as expected, and the tools used are specialized and nuanced to perfect the interventions. 

If you want to know more about the criminal mind, criminal profiling, and forensic science, don’t miss our Certificate in Criminal Profiling, a 100% online program certified by Heritage University (USA), with special grants for the Forensic Science Club readers.

Friends of the Forensic Science Club, this week we present the paper “Mechanisms for protecting children’s rights and the role of psychological services in the juvenile justice system of Russia against the background of international practices”, by Orsayeva, R.; Vasyaev, A. and Shestak, V. (2022), in which authors carry out a critical analysis about the current situation of the criminal system and criminal procedure system in Russia, applied to minors and young people.

Children’s rights’ protection remains one of the most serious challenges that modern societies are facing. 

Despite the efforts of the authorities and society to improve the protection of children, the strategies aimed at some issues, such as the interventions of young people in the penal system or prevention so that they do not suffer violence and the abandonment by their families, have not been resolved.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by all European countries and has helped to strengthen the culture of child protection. However, the obtained results are not the expected ones.

Furthermore, in juvenile justice, violations of children’s rights are everywhere, and it seems that in the last decade there has been a regression rather than a progress or even a stagnation. This can be explained because, perhaps, society does not know exactly how the rights of the child can contribute and improve the juvenile justice system.

Regarding the protection of children’s rights and the juvenile justice system in Russia, there is a problem of discrepancy between the rights declared by law and the rights that are effectively applied.

A separate topic is the characteristics and psychological problems of adolescents in the justice system. In the last 10 years, only in the US, the percentage of young people who had had contact with the penal system and who, in addition, had mental health problems, amounted to 70%.

The aim of this study is to analyze the status and effectiveness of child rights protection mechanisms in Russia, to compare it with the laws of other states, doing the same with the juvenile justice system. The problem of mental health in young people who come into contact with this system is also briefly reviewed.

In the legal field, there are many discussions about the negative aspects of juvenile justice and its implementation in Russia.

The main negative aspect is the state control over the family. Juvenile justice workers are authorized to take the child away from his/her family when the parents are accused of abuse, inability to provide adequate nutrition, inadequate financial situation, among others.

Therefore, society is scared that families may be deprived of their children, as there are a large number of them living in poverty.

However, these fears are exaggerated. The objective of juvenile justice is simply to be a guarantee of the basic rights of the child and action will only be taken when there is evidence of these accusations.

In addition, in Russia, the juvenile justice system is based on the subjective opinions of the representatives of its organs, therefore, in a significant number of cases, the courts do not satisfy requests for placement in a juvenile detention center. In addition, there is no professional psychological evaluation in court, and it is well known that, based on these, social and psychological measures are planned and organized in order to maximize the success of the child’s development.

Regarding the problem of mental health, numerous studies confirm that a significant proportion of young people in the juvenile justice system suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. According to available data in Russia, among adolescent offenders, the number of people with mental disorders is at least 50% of cases.

Authors propose that the system’s priority should be to dedicate resources to social programs aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency, in addition to providing opportunities for those who are prone to offending. It is extremely important to support both the police and other authorities, as well as programs aimed at people at risk.

School personnel, social services, non-profit organizations and society must make a great effort. It is through the exercise of all powers that the integrity of the juvenile justice system can be maintained while providing appropriate alternatives to minors who are unable or unwilling to obtain assistance.

Furthermore, to finish developing fair justice, authors think that Russia must go beyond the legal concept of justice, and change to one that can combat inequalities of any kind, be they of a criminal or social nature. This would be particularly important in the context of youth, as they are affected by unfair policies, as authors comment. This would be the social justice approach that they consider can point the way forward.

If you want to know more about the criminal mind, criminal profiling, and forensic science, don’t miss our Certificate in Criminal Profiling, a 100% online program certified by Heritage University (USA), with special grants for the Forensic Science Club readers.

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