There's a huge amount of theories you could draw on for this question, making it difficult to structure in a time limit. I've picked a few here which I think work pretty well...
Outline and assess sociological explanations for the relationship between age and crime 
Official crime statistics consistently show that a disproportionate amount of crime is committed by young people. The peak age of offending is 17 for males and slightly younger for females (although the crime statistics also show that males commit the overwhelming majority of crimes).
Sociologists argue that official statistics are flawed, as they can be manipulated according to the prejudices and priorities of police officers, do not account for all types of crime and are reliant on public reporting offences to the police. This might mean that the criminal activities of young people are misrepresented by statistics. Police officers and forces may stereotype and target young people as being more likely offenders, making them more likely to be stopped, searched or arrested. Additionally, offences such as white-collar crime and corporate crime are not included in official statistics, and these are crimes that young people are unlikely to be involved in. Even if the statistics do exaggerate the problem, however, the crime rate among younger people remains sufficiently high that Sociologists have sought to offer explanations for it.
Subcultural theorists focus on the criminal activities of young people. For example, Cohen believed that young, working class boys experienced status frustration as a result of failure within the school system. This led them to form deviant subcultures which inverted middle-class values, enabling the boys to gain status through deviant behaviour (for example, disrupting lessons in school earned them respect from others in the group – as did criminals acts and anti-social behaviour outside of school). However, Cohen is criticised for focusing only on males. He also cannot prove that a person’s sense of failure happens at school and, in any case, his theory cannot explain all crime (for example, why might a middle class boy turn to deviant behaviour?).
Matza also studied the criminal and deviant behaviour of young people but rejects these kind of subcultural theories. He believes that all young people may be equally likely to be deviant or criminal, but believes this is a ‘normal’ part of being young. He argued that youth is a difficult time, as it is a transitional period and young people often feel like they have no control in their lives. He suggested that some criminal or deviant behaviour was an attempt by young people to regain a sense of control. Further to this, Matza believed that every person possesses ‘subterrenean values’ (socially unacceptable values), which we learn to manage and repress as we get older. Young people are still learning to manage these values, and so, inevitably, during them time they may occasionally fail to manage them, and commit an act of crime or deviance. Matza used the term ‘drift’ to describe the criminal/deviant behaviour of young people: They ‘drift’ in and out of crime and deviance when young, but once they achieve adulthood and have their subterranean values in check, this stops. However, Matza has been criticised for being rather vague in some of his ideas; he never clearly explained what sort of things constituted ‘subterrenean values’ and the idea that committing deviant acts helps someone gain control in their lives is questionable – many argue it achieves the opposite.
Interactionists argue that young people are more susceptible to being labelled as criminals or deviant and they have less power to reject or ignore such labels. Interactionist studies have often focused on such labelling of young people and its effects, for example Jock Young observed how the labelling of marijuana users by the public and police made them outsiders and actually caused an amplification of their deviant behaviour (as many turned to harder drugs, or to dealing drugs). Stan Cohen’s study of the moral panic surrounding the mods and rockers subcultures demonstrated how the media played upon social concerns about young people, resulting in the demonization of these two groups. The unintended consequence of such a moral panic was, again, an amplification of deviance, as the exaggerated media reports attracted young people to the subcultures and created expectations of their behaviour. However, these sorts of labelling approaches cannot explain primary deviance (the origins of deviant behaviour) – they only explain how social reaction can lead to futher (secondary) deviance.
Marxist subcultural theories have suggested that youth crime and deviance is linked to social class; young people form spectacular subcultures as a method of rebelling against the capitalist system. For example, Hebdige showed how the skinhead movement arose from London’s East End in response to the culture of the area being destroyed by wealthy developers. The style of the skinheads showed their resistance, through exaggeration of traditional working class styles (e.g. workbooks, denim, shaved heads).
In conclusion, even if the statistics do exaggerate the youth crime rate, many sociologists believe that it is a problem and seek to explain it. Many of these explanations however, suggest that criminal behaviour as a young person does not guarantee the person will be criminal when older. Youth subcultures don’t tend to be carried over into adulthood and, as Matza suggested, values change and develop as people getting older, leaving less socially acceptable values behind. Hirschi’s ‘Bonds of Attachment’ theory concurs with this: Hirschi argues that feeling strongly connected to society through a series of bonds (e.g. involvement in society; personal commitments) reduces a person’s likelihood of being criminal. Young people would typically have weaker bonds (e.g. no work or family commitments; lots of free time due to little involvement in other activities) so may be more likely to be criminal – but the bonds grow stronger as they get older, so criminal and deviant behaviour disappears.
Crime & Deviance
A2 Unit: G673