The dilemma between crime prevention and the risk of stigmatization

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Michelle Run Brøndum Jensen
  • Karoline Krause Carlsen
This paper examines how the professionals from SSP deal with the dilemma between crime prevention and the risk of stigmatization in relation to young people’s use of drugs. In order to initiate the investigation of the subject, we studied existing research, related to our subject area and target group. We found that we might increase our subject from young people’s delinquency, to young people’s use of drugs. The considerations behind this are that the professionals from SSP have more freedom of action, because there is no victim associated with the target group. Therefore, only the young drug user is in danger of getting stigmatized. The present study is a qualitative study that includes interviews with six informants from SSP in an anonymous municipality. The informants consisted of a police officer, a SSP-coordinator, a schoolteacher who is a leisure advisor and three street operatives.

Furthermore, the study examines the informant’s way of working with prevention and examines their practical experience with the target group, in order to conclude on the thesis statement. It does so by including theories from Mark C. Stafford and Mark Warr (1993), Edwin Lemert (1952), Howard Becker (2005), Lawrence W. Sherman (1993) and John Braithwaite (1989). The intent is to study which factors influence the participants’ crime prevention considerations and, on that basis, find out how they handle the risk of stigma.

The study concludes that the dilemma between crime prevention and the risk of stigmatization was softened continuously in our analysis process. The informants' statements contributed to an understanding that the dilemma cannot be posed as sharply as we thought. The analysis has produced a more dynamic understanding of the perspective of stigma, which shows that stigma can be included as a necessary preventive element. The study finds that the six informants from SSP are aware of the risk of stigmatization in their work with crime prevention. The study concludes that the informants handle the dilemma between crime prevention and the risk of stigmatization, by distinguishing between two types of stigma: the short- and long-term stigma. The informants use the short-term stigma when they have informal conversations on a daily basis with the target group. In these conversations they give warnings, express their concerns and motivate, but they try to do these things with humor and by showing their support. The use of short-term stigma is an attempt to prevent the long-term stigma, which will have more serious consequences. The long-term stigma can be a consequence of a stain on their criminal record and other criminal sanctions.
Publication date7 Jun 2021
Number of pages82
ID: 413863691