Juvenile Delinquency in the Balkans: A Regional Comparative Analysis based on the ISRD3-Study Findings

The focus of this doctoral project is providing a cross-national comparison regarding juvenile delinquency based on the ISRD3-study findings. The project will cover all Balkan countries that are participating in the International Self-Report- Delinquency Study (ISRD3): Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Turkey. The main idea for this focus was the reason that Balkans lacks basic research on juvenile delinquency. There are not any broad quantitative surveys available that cover several countries from this region. European criminological research, especially quantitative surveys, have so far usually covered only some parts of the region (EU member/candidate states – see the EU ICS 2005 study), creating an ‘empirical black hole’ in the very centre of the Balkans, and making a regional approach far overdue.

Interestingly, already ISRD2 has shown that in Eastern Europe, where most of the countries spent years under a totalitarian communist regime, crime rates as well as juvenile delinquency rates are much lower than in Western Europe and other countries with democratic tradition. Due to the extremely repressive state policies and the fear of, one might say, retaliation of the officials whose acts violate basic human rights, crime rates are much lower. Since these societies never reformed completely, neither educationally nor democratically, the behavioural patterns remained almost the same, so that the results gained are very much different from those in democratic societies. Because of the mentioned reasons, there is a big need to explore and compare the situation in Eastern Europe.

In order to reach a better understanding and to advance the knowledge about the causation of juvenile delinquency, this regional approach is based on the comparison of countries which show more similarities than differences what can be explained by their similar cultural and historical background. This particular setting can help to find factors which have impact on the prevalence of juvenile delinquency.

The Ph.D. project has two levels. The general framework of reference is the informal control theory. It shall be tested on the basis of an analysis of the data of the ISRD3 study in more in-depth. In a first step the research seeks to find an answer to the question if and to what extent certain measures in the area of juvenile delinquency are working differently in the countries surveyed. For this purpose, 7 Balkan countries will be compared with the focus on several characteristics. The next step is to find and analyse differences, similarities, and trends in offending between the countries.

The thesis will try to find statistically significant correlation between the offending module, including+ variables such as assault, robbery and shoplifting, and the background module in order to test informal control theory. With the cross-national comparison, specific problems of juvenile delinquency in the region can be better recognized and more effective solutions can be proposed.

With regard to the still ongoing state building processes in the Balkan region, there is a need for more criminological research, in order to identify and better understand existing problems. The aim is to try to find factors which have impact on the prevalence of juvenile delinquency, as well as to identify the most effective measures of prevention.

MPPG contact for Juvenile Delinquency in the Balkans: Reana Bezić