At a time of political, economic and social change in Northern Ireland, this thesis is concerned with how children and young people are represented in print media coverage and the implications of this coverage in a post-conflict transitioning society. Specifically it explores how children and young people’s perceived involvement in ‘anti-social’ and ‘criminal’ behaviour, are ascribed and amplified in media, popular and political discourses. The theoretical framework of this thesis is derived in critical analysis within criminology. The thesis draws on concepts developed within the labelling perspective, in particular ‘deviancy amplification’, ‘folk devils’ and ‘moral panics’. In providing an evidence-base, the empirical research includes content analysis of print media collected over six months (March 2010 to August 2010) and a case study of what was represented as youth involvement in ‘sectarian’ rioting in July 2010. In exploring the role of the media and the impact of negative media representations on social reaction, this study includes interviews with editors and journalists, politicians and policy makers, and a spokesperson for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The study prioritises the ‘view from below’ by including the experiences of children, young people and their advocates. It explores the impact of negative representations and social reaction on children and young people’s perceptions of themselves and their peers, and on subsequent behaviour. It considers the perceived impact on advocates and on the effectiveness of service provision. The study also considers the means children, young people and their advocates have, and the constraints they face, when challenging media representations and seeking redress. This involves analysis of children’s status in rights provision and consideration of whether children and young people should be treated as a special case when it comes to media regulation. The empirical findings confirm the proposition that children and young people are convenient scapegoats, as the negative reputation ascribed to them invariably diverts attention from the structural and institutional issues that are inevitable in a society accommodating a gradual transition from conflict. The thesis also draws out the implications and challenges for the researcher in conducting critical research.