Delusion in youth crime policy

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    A relatively small number of predisposed people with heavy cannabis use (Scientists warn Smith over cannabis reclassification, May 8) may develop paranoid delusions - dysfunctional and irrational beliefs of persecution. However, similar beliefs develop in the absence of cannabis use; beliefs that may be an all-too-rational response to a hostile environment. This may be the condition of extreme social exclusion as experienced, for example, by Jacqui Smith's "young thugs", whose behavioural problems and sense of rejection are exacerbated by exclusionary policies in the school and community. We can choose to either engage constructively with "problem youth" via comprehensive social inclusion policies that include reintegrative punishment; or we can engage destructively by harassing, stigmatising and imprisoning. The former is rational, evidence-based and progressive; the latter is the opposite. Those who think that deserted and deserting voters can be recaptured through hounding young people are perhaps the truly deluded.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalThe Guardian
    Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2008


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