Juvenile "super-predators" in the news: A comparison of adult and juvenile homicides

Jesenia M. Pizarro, Steven M. Chermak, Jeffrey A. Gruenewald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Although there has been considerable research examining the presentation of crime in the news, only a handful of studies have examined the presentation of juveniles in crime stories. This article fills this void in the literature by examining whether the juvenile super-predator ideology, which affected criminal justice policy in the late 1990s, has affected the media's portrayal of youth violence. We also examine whether juvenile and adult homicides are presented differently by the media. Overall, our findings suggest that homicides involving juvenile suspects receive more salient coverage. The hypotheses testing whether juvenile homicides that fit the super-predator script receive more media attention than those that do not yielded moderate support. Homicides involving particularly young suspects receive more media coverage than those involving older teenagers. Additionally, incidents involving heinous modes (e.g., involve multiple victims, or were committed with guns) and motives (e.g., child abuse, patricides, and fratricides) are more likely to receive media attention. Our findings also suggest that there is variation in the covariates of adult and juvenile media coverage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-111
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 18 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Homicide
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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