Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Social Work


Sociology, Criminology and Penology.


Baron, S.




This study examines the problem of the moral panic over youth violence focusing on how these phenomena emerge and eventually subside. Utilizing data from the 1995 Toronto Star the evolution of a moral panic is outlined and a multi-causal model is employed to show the dynamics of the moral panic. Findings indicate that three main article types contributed to the escalation and de-escalation of the moral panic. These were "Violent Youth Crime Articles," "Political Articles," and "Filler Articles." Violent youth crime articles initially fueled the beginning of the panic. Then political articles stressing harsher penalties emerged to create even more public fear and escalate the panic. When there was a lack of violent youth crime articles, fillers supporting claims that violence was worsening occupied the void to further ensure the continuation of the panic. However, without violent youth crime articles, the panic was unable to sustain itself solely on fillers and political articles. As fillers and political articles began to shift towards a softer, less punitive approach to youth violence, the panic eventually diminished. By applying key concepts developed in the schismogenic model this study demonstrates the existence of escalation and de-escalation loops that can create and reduce a panic. The loops discovered in the findings do not indicate the pattern of loops all moral panics will follow. The dynamic nature of the model dictates that different panics will operate on different sets of loops. These findings suggest that simplistic and single-factor approaches to moral panics are insufficient because they fail to account for the multiple pathways that appear to operate in these events.Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1998 .H78. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 39-02, page: 0412. Adviser: Stephen Baron. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1998.