Blaming Children: Youth Crime, Moral Panic and the Politics of Hate


133 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 1-895686-83-0
DDC 364.36'0971




Reviewed by Anna Leslie

Anna Leslie is an associate professor of sociology at Sir Wilfred
Grenfell College, Memorial University of Newfoundland.


Bernard Schissel, a father and academician, believes that the war on
crime in Canada is quickly becoming a war against youth. Canadian
society, he writes, “[incarcerates] more children per capita than any
other industrialized nation including the United States.” So strong is
his conviction that the media create moral panic about youth crime that
the first chapter of this book is entitled “The Study of the Hatred of

Schissel argues that children have become scapegoats for social evils
that have little to do with criminogenesis, and that crime panics and
the public perception of the seriousness of crime are “largely a
matter of race, real estate and family constitution.” The increase
recorded in official rates of youth criminality, he notes, reflects an
increase in arrest rates and “a zero-tolerance mentality of the
courts.” His insightful and accessible book includes a clearly argued
discussion about the role of the media in the indictment of Canadian
youth, particularly those who live on the margins of political, social,
and economic life.


Schissel, Bernard., “Blaming Children: Youth Crime, Moral Panic and the Politics of Hate,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 25, 2024,