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Revista Criminalidad

Print version ISSN 1794-3108


BOLIVAR, Claudia; JIMANEZ, Manuela; CONTRERAS, Julián  and  CHAUX, Enrique. Moral indifference or lack of concern, and school theft dynamics. Rev. Crim. [online]. 2010, vol.52, n.1, pp.243-261. ISSN 1794-3108.

In a recent research about school violence in Bogota, Colombia, 56% of the students reported having been robbed in their schools during past year. This qualitative study, of deductive nature, was intended to look at this phenomenon in depth by trying to understand larceny dynamics as well as moral indifference or lack of concern mechanisms likely to help those involved to feel less guilt. This study was carried out in a public, low socioeconomic status school, with high criminality levels in its community context. Initially, 227 sixth and eighth grade students took part in a survey relating to attitude vis-à-vis theft. Based on their answers, 20 students with high favorability levels were interviewed, while 40 having low or average favorability levels took part in focus groups. The results indicated that larceny activities in this school show a high degree of organization often involving elements of planning, task distribution, and threats. Moreover, according to the participants, robbery is strongly related to the presence of juvenile gangs in the school, along with lack of clear and consistent institutional response. It was also found that those involved resort to several moral indifference mechanisms, such as advantageous comparisons as well as displacement, misplacement or diffusion of responsibility and the attribution of guilt as suitable strategies to justify their actions. The study indicates that the implementation and assessment of interventions intended to prevent both larceny and youth involvement in early criminal careers is indeed urgent.

Keywords : Research; theft; prevention; juvenile gangs; violence.

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