© 2018

Children, Young People and the Press in a Transitioning Society

Representations, Reactions and Criminalisation


Part of the Palgrave Socio-Legal Studies book series (PSLS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. The Theoretical Context

  3. Media Representations, Social Reaction and the Impact

  4. Challenges and Future Policy Responses

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 239-293

About this book


This book assesses the implications of how children and young people are represented in print media in Northern Ireland – a post-conflict transitioning society. Gordon analyses how children and young people’s perceived involvement in anti-social and criminal behaviour is constructed and amplified in media, as well as in popular and political discourses. Drawing on deviancy amplification, folk devils and moral panics, this original study specifically addresses the labelling perspective and confirms that young people are convenient scapegoats – where their negative reputation diverts attention from the structural and institutional issues that are inevitable in a post-conflict society. Alongside content analysis from six months of print media and a case study on the representation of youth involvement in ‘sectarian’ rioting, this book also analyses interviews with editors, journalists, politicians, policy makers and a spokesperson for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Noting the importance of prioritising the experiences of children, young people and their advocates, this timely and engaging research will be of specific interest to scholars and students of criminal justice, criminology, socio-legal studies, sociology, social policy, media studies, politics and law, as well as media professionals and policy makers. 


Demonisation Criminalisation of young people policing NI newspapers headlines conflict social exclusion/marginalisation blame Transitioning Society Youth Justice Anti-social Behaviour Order/s Closed Circuit Television Crown Prosecution Service Human Rights Act 1998 Media in Contemporary Society Policy Responses to Children Language in print media riots Young people advocacy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of Westminster History, Sociology and CriminologyLondonUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Faith Gordon is a Lecturer in Criminology and Director of the Youth Justice Network at the University of Westminster, UK. She is also a Research Associate at the Information Law and Policy Centre, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.  

Bibliographic information


“This is a remarkable and unusual book, in drawing directly on the voices of children and young people from a group subject to particular attention in the news media, as well as the views of representatives of the media and of relevant children’s organizations. … This book is highly recommended as a contribution to studies in youth criminology and transitional justice, and is also of interest more widely in respect of children’s rights and the role of the media.” (Julie Doughty, Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 46 (1), March, 2019)

“The book has a coherent structure, mixes objectivity with obvious (and appropriate) passion and combines detail with readability. It is both a valuable addition to the literature on youth crime and justice and contributes more broadly to a critical understanding of the place of children and young people in contemporary society. It deserves a wide readership.” (Tim Bateman, Children & Society, Vol. 32, 2018)