Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Policy and Administration

Advisor

Christina Spoons

Abstract

The rapid growth of social media platforms coupled with the technological savviness of juveniles has led to their delinquent behavior involving social media. Researchers should investigate this phenomenon in order to establish its extent and to minimize the harmful effects this behavior may have. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate and explore potential connections between social media and delinquent acts committed by juvenile offenders through the use of police officers' perceptions of those types of acts. The primary research question focused on determining what the perceptions and experiences of police officers in a southeastern state were relative to the phenomenon and relating policies. The conceptual framework focused on policy analysis through the use of police perceptions relating to social media and juvenile delinquency, with deterrence theory serving as a guide. Ten of 50 officers responded to an anonymous online open-ended questionnaire, and the data were analyzed both inductively and through coded outlines to look for patterns regarding types of delinquency, perceptions of deterrence in present policies and perceived efficacy of educational programs. One hundred percent of the officers responding indicated first-hand experience with cases involving the phenomenon and believed all parts of deterrence theory were lacking in each of the present policies, in general, in order to effectively deter this behavior. Positive social change can be effectuated through creating or further implementing penalties at each level of public policy and ensuring sufficient educational programs exist to inform juveniles of the possible ramifications of these acts. These measures could lead to decreased rates of juvenile delinquency and victimization relative to this phenomenon.

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