IELTS youth crime essay

This is the next in my series of sample IELTS essay lessons. The idea is that I don’t just give you an essay, I talk to you about how to write it. In this lesson, I show you a youth crime essay and focus on how to get the right vocabulary.

Thinking about functional and not just topic vocabulary

There is a skill in reading IELTS essay questions. One step is to see that you need to use particular vocabulary to write the essay. The next step is to see that not all the vocabulary you need is topic vocabulary. That is what this lesson is really about – a large part of the vocabulary you need in your essays is not about the topic of the essay itself.

Read and understand the question – finding the vocabulary you need

You should see that as you read this youth crime essay question that it does not simply ask you about crime and young people, it also asks you about: causes, solutions, explanations and suggestions. These are the areas where a good range of functional vocabulary will help you.

In recent years, there has been a considerable rise in crimes committed by young people in cities.

What has caused this? What solutions can you suggest?

Topic vocabulary

One obvious area is topic vocabulary.  Here we have:

  • crime
  • young people
  • cities

More functional vocabulary

What other language do you need? Sometimes it can be easy to forget this part.

  • Problem/solution vocabulary: the question asks you to discuss a problem.
  • Cause and effect vocabulary: you need to think about why it is happening
  • Explanation vocabulary: you are asked to explain something.
  • Suggestion vocabulary: again, you are asked to make suggestions.

The big idea – vary the vocabulary you use

Once you have identified what types of vocabulary you need, the next step is to understand that you want to vary the language you use. That much is clear. It is worth understanding that there are different ways to do this:

1. Changing the word itself

One obvious thing to do is just change the word you use. For example, all these words are related and can be used to discuss causes:

  • cause
  • effect
  • result
  • reason
  • lead to

2. Varying your word combinations

A slightly different idea is to keep the main word, but change the words you use with it. This can be a sensible approach as keeping the same word is good for cohesion, while changing the combinations helps show off your range of vocab. For example, all these phrases use “problem” in different ways:

  • a pressing problem
  • an urgent problem
  • deal with a problem
  • a problematic situation

Look at my IELTS youth crime essay and see how I use this vocabulary

When I say “look at”, I really mean look. I have highlighted the different functional language in different colours. You should see these words are a huge part of the essay:

Look at the essay

The rise of crime among young people is an urgent problem in many cities that needs to be addressed. However, in order to find a solution, it is first of all necessary to understand what has led to this happening. In this essay, I first of all examine the reasons for the rise in youth crime, then I suggest how this problem may be resolved.

Perhaps the principal cause of this rise in youth crime is the increased use of drugs and alcohol among young people. Many cities suffer from the phenomenon of binge drinking by teenagers who lose control under the influence of alcohol and commit crimes. For instance, it is a common sight on the streets of Britain to see fights breaking out outside pubs and clubs. Similarly, there is a clear connection between drug abuse among the young and crime. It is still unfortunately the case that young people frequently see drugs as cool and become addicted. It is a common occurrence  for  these addicts to resort to petty theft in order to pay for their habit.

There are  a variety of potential ways of combatting this problem. One possibility that is sometimes suggested is a much stricter system of penalties and punishments to deter young people from a life of crime. That might work, but it would also be sensible to improve the system of education so that young people were better informed about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. This should have the effect of dealing with the issues that cause youth crime in the first place.

In conclusion, alcohol and drug abuse are among the primary reasons for the rise in young offenders and if the authorities wish to tackle youth crime, one approach would be to educate the young more effectively.

Notes on vocabulary


an urgent problem… to be addressed

find a solution

how this problem may be resolved

combatting this problem

dealing with the issues

to tackle youth crime

Cause and effect

has led to

the primary reasons for

the reasons for

the principal cause of

a clear connection between

have the effect of

issues that cause youth crime

the primary reasons for


examine the reasons



then I suggest how

There are  a variety of potential ways of

One possibility that is sometimes suggested is

it would also be sensible to

“Crime” words

I haven’t highlighted these in the essay, but you might want to look at:

fights breaking out

binge drinking (not a crime really)

petty theft

life of crime

drug abuse


their habit

Download the essay

IELTS youth crime essay (3549)

An exercise and different ideas for the essay

There are of course different approaches to this essay. I decided to focus on the link between crime and young people’s use of drugs and alcohol. Two other ideas I didn’t include were

  • poverty – does poverty lead to crime
  • families – should families be more responsible in the way they bring up children

The exercise is just to write one paragraph about what causes crime among young people and to try and use a variety of the cause and effect language in my essay. It sometimes help to focus on one thing at a time, so you need not write the whole essay.

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9 Responses to IELTS youth crime essay

  1. Salamat March 22, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Thanks for this essay. I think one step to be sure that one can deal with many essays in

    IELTS is to practise essays based on topics. I personally prepared a variety of topics and

    topic words to cope with this. The second thing that might be helpful is to make a habit of

    writing everyday and everywhere, even go on some sites like your lovely site and drop you

    some lines, as writing and speaking are SKILL and the difference between knowledge and

    skill in ongoing practice . I consider those skills like soccer, you cannot expect a

    soccer/football player can performe well in the field while he doesn’t practise enough. So we

    should sharpen our skills by keeping practise, of course , intelligent practice.

    • Avatar of Dominic Cole
      Dominic Cole March 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

      Indeed. In fact, I have a long post/lesson coming in a week or so on different ways to practise. I am delaying it because it is simply too long as it stands and I may need to break it down into smaller posts, but the central message is that practice means improving your skills – the word you capitalised – and doing it intelligently. It’s a very complex area, but it really can help to focus on what and how you practise. It really isn’t sufficient to simply pracitse, practise, practise – a very common piece of advice. If you are doing something in the wrong way, you aren’t going to get better at it if you just keep on doing it over and over again.

  2. Salamat March 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    Dear Dominc,

    I was wondering if you help me with ” this this happening” you wrote why not happened ?

    and also whether “binge drinking ” is informal or not?

    Great thanks

    • Avatar of Dominic Cole
      Dominic Cole March 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      Interesting comment. I would say “binge drinking” is a specific phrase in that it describes a precise phenomenon. It’s a phrase that has come into the language fairly recently and reflects a cultural change in the UK where there is a comparatively new tendency for (mostly) young people to go out drinking to excess. If you were to walk down the streets of Cambridge, for example, on a Friday evening you would see huge amounts of young people very drunk on the streets. To me, it is the correct word to use here as it is precise and would be understood to describe a particular phenomenon more exactly that “drinking to excess” would do for example. This is my way of saying that it is not always a question of “formal/informal”, rather what word best describes what you want to say. The same argument goes for my use of “cool” – it jsut describes, for me anyway, the attitude of teenagers better than any other term.

  3. lglglg March 23, 2013 at 4:58 am #

    I wrote my essay on this topic,here it is,tell me what do you think.

    ‘Nowadays the increasing rate of criminality among youth has become serious problem society has to deal with. Sociologists and everyone in charge have since tried to detect the incentive to these hazardous behaviors, by conducting many experiments with the involved target group. Normally, the question to why do these youngsters commit crimes ponders everyone’s mind.
    First and foremost, the main cause which derives these distorted behaviors is economical state. Many of the delinquents come from troubled families and in a desperate need for money to survive or even to grant some basic needs,such as food, health care,housing or any taxes or bills they are obliged to pay regularly. Consequently many take on illegal acts such as drug dealing,robbery or even homicide.
    Measures have been taken by many governments worldwide to combat this social phenomena which is spreading at alarming rates among these vulnerable groups of adolescents and young adults. A quick and seemly effective solution has been provided by rehabilitation centres,which not only serve as institutions where social remedy for the law breakers is offered but it can also equip them with adequate professional skills. Upon availing them on the job market and keeping a close eye on their progress, chances of them getting into illegal acts again are therefore hindered.
    Another solution to prevent youth from being entangled into crime is carrying out an efficient and plausible propaganda. Educational institutions should hold special gatherings where students are given persuasive materials and insights on why not to choose the path of crime.It should also provide aid or counselor to each and every troubled student,by integrating the whole community into detecting potentially dangerous individuals.
    To sum up,I believe youth involvement into crime should be reckoned with their unseemly financial state and because this phenomena affects every citizen,it is our duty to combat it in any given chance with an open mind and good will. ‘

    • Avatar of Dominic Cole
      Dominic Cole March 23, 2013 at 11:55 am #

      I’m sorry I just do not have time to read individual essays properly on a regular basis.

  4. Akylbek March 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Dear, Lglglg!
    You have asced our teacher, yes i call him a teacher eventhouth he do not know me, becouse i could not find other world to replace it, about your essay but he could not check it and have already written his comment about it. So i read your essay and i think it is wonderfull. However, i have one question to your if you do not mind, here is it:
    How much time did you spend on it?

    • lglglg March 23, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

      Thank you! I spent roughly 30-35 minutes.

  5. Anonymous April 3, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    V nice

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