Crime Result from an Interplay Between Nature and Nurture
The thing is each society defines its own perception of non-conformity which is directly affected by the pre-established norms or regulations of the particular dominant society. Through time the interest in Criminal behaviour has gone stronger and stronger. Many observed and made conclusions, devised theories and offered solutions to the different possible conducive reasons for an individual to engage in “rebellious” actions. The two main factors which were established by studies were the “Nature and Nurture” concepts.
Those two were the object of many debates and interrogations by different experts like Albert Cohen, Cesare Lombroso and Howard Becker. But still today no one can describe the real sources of criminal behaviour without assuming the possible correlations between the Biological and Environmental factors. GENES Cesare Lombroso, the father of modern criminology, greatly influenced by the concept of natural selection initiated by Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century, developed in the 1870s the concept of ‘born criminals’.
His theory shattered the notion of ‘free will’ of the Classical School of Thought and the social positivism theories developed based on the Chicago School. In l’Uomo Delinquente, Lombroso explained that those criminals can identified by distinct physical features, like sloping foreheads, bushy eyebrows, abnormally long arms or height. In his theory of evolutionary atavism, he clearly initiated the idea that criminal behavior does have biological and unchangeable roots.
With technological advances and new researches being carried out during the nineteenth century, many sociologist, psychologists and environmentalists ratified Lombroso’s theory. Indeed new techniques, like CT scan, PET scan, MRI scan, EEG, and SPECT, and new discoveries about hormonal misbalance are being used to diagnose brain anomalies In order to understand the connection between genes and crime and the numerous studies carried around the issue, we have to first understand what genes are.
According to Oxford online dictionary, a gene is “a distinct sequence of nucleotides forming part of a chromosome, the order of which determines the order of monomers in a polypeptide or nucleic acid molecule which a cell (or virus) may synthesize. ” For us to understand why people behave in the way they do, one has to understand which part of the brain controls behaviour. In the early 19th century, the introduction of neuroimaging helped to understand the human brain structure and its functioning. it has revolutionized the scientific tudy of the nervous system, namely neuroscience, which has enabled many researchers like Raine and Yang(2006), Moffitt ( 2003), Kiehl (2006), Blair (2001) , Nigg and Huang-Pollock (2003) and many others to investigate about the ‘biologic basis of personality’. Brain imaging has indeed enhanced modern scientist’s understanding of cognitive science, personality traits, and hormones that influence behavior and also ‘the telltale signs of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the main contributors to neurocriminology is Adrian Raine.
He has conducted numerous longitudinal studies in Hong Kong, Mauritius, United States, China and Singapore. In one of his interviews, Raine states that “the brain of a psychopath is compromised… one could argue that they don’t have full responsibility for their actions. That- in effect- it’s not their fault. ” His studies have shown that the size of the ‘amygdala’, which is part of the limbic system and which ‘is involved in the processing of emotions such as fear, anger and pleasure’, is 18% smaller in the brain of psychopaths as compared to the brain of ‘normal’ people.
According to Raine this implies that “psychopaths know right from wrong, but they do not have the feeling of what is right and what is wrong. ’ Raines’s studies give more scientific proof about how the prefrontal cortex (highlighted in green in the figure) affects behavior. His findings, based on brain imaging tests, conclude that the activity level in the brain of people who behave antisocially and who have criminal tendencies is lower in the prefrontal cortex. The frontal cortex is involved in moral decision making, ethical behavior and executive decisions and acts like a brake.
Kiehl, Yang and Blair also confirmed Raine’s theory about lack of activity in the ‘amygdala’ and the prefrontal cortex and how it results in a lack of empathy, fear, antisocial behavior, guilt and compassion. Deficits in the brain system have been linked to past head injuries. However Raine’s studies have proved that murders coming from bad family background had no higher rate of head injury than those murderers coming from good ones and according to Raine this suggests that there are people who are born with some sort of inevitable brain dysfunction which is not linked to race, thnicity, sex or age. These findings are based on an ongoing longitudinal study, the Mauritius Child Health Project, whose director is Raine himself, started in 1986 and involving 1795 toddlers. Yet this study shows that people are not ‘born criminals. “Research continues to illustrate the critical importance of integrating biological measures with social measure in understanding how violence develops,” says Raine. Both nature and nurture have an important role to play in crime causation.
It is worth noting that other studies conducted by Raine and his colleagues have shown that people who are born with brain dysfunction and are growing in a bad environment are more liable to engage in a criminal career than those with brain dysfunction but having a good surrounding. These new findings came to contradict early studies conducted on family trees and the link between inherited genetic factors and criminal tendencies. One most popular researches done on family trees is that undertaken by R.
Dugdale (1877) on the Jukes, living in New York and known for having begot several generations of criminals. Some people state that this was due to genetic inheritance of criminal genes, however a closer look at the family’s history and structure reveal that it is actually the environment that has mostly influenced family members to act like their ancestors. Like father like son. Children inherit not the physical appearance of both biological parents but also their temperaments. We all learn by observing and imitating people from our surrounding.
Parents, from early childhood impart values and norms however if the parents upbringing the children have antisocial behaviors, and hold great achievements in the criminal field, their offsprings are very likely to mimic the same behavior. In 1913 Goring said that if parents were criminals they should most certainly pass on the tendency to their children just like they pass on and other traits and in 1950, Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck, “have claimed that to show that a father’s criminal conduct was one of the best predictors of his son’s future criminal behavior”. TWINS
Perhaps one of the most fundamental studies influencing scientific opinions of nature and nurture would be a study done comparing monozygotic twins and dizygotic twin pairs. The evidence of a genetic propensity towards someone getting involved in crime comes from studies examining identical and fraternal twin siblings who have been adopted out into different families at or even soon after birth. Despite the shortcomings of his methodology, Goring had realised the necessity in eliminating the possible effects of environmental factors in his research into heredity and crime and he therefore chose to study the twins.
In this way he made a distinction between the monozygotic (identical twins) and dizygotic (fraternal twins). Goring, hence discovered that if MZ twins act in the same way such as committing offences, this could be attributed to a common genetic factor, while on the other hand, if crime is related predominantly to the environment, then all the sets of twins MZ and DZ , will have more similar level of offending. Likewise he stated that the ideal study would be that of the MZ twins brought up in two different families. He therefore found that only one in every 70- 90 births results in twins and of these only ? esults in MZ twins. (Identical Twin Sisters) Monozygotic twins In a study conducted by Christiansen (1968), it was found that they were even more strongly linked to genetics as there was also a higher concordance for MZ than DZ pairs among the middle class and for those born in rural districts. Using the official records obtained from the Danish twins, to ascertain whether either or both of the twins had a criminal conviction, for male MZ twins, he found that in 38. 5% of cases both had criminal record whereas this was only the case for 12. 3% of the male DZ twins.
On the other hand, for female MZ twins it was of 21. 4% while for female DZ twins, it was only 4. 3%. Further studying on twins, in 1974, Christiansen distinguished between offences punishable with imprisonment and lesser offences and as result it was found that the former was even more linked to genetic factors. Consequently, the MZ pair twins were found to have 50% of concordance, that is, in out of two cases both twins exhibited criminal behavior, whereas in the DZ cases, there was only 21% of concordance, illustrating the fact that there is a strong correlation of genetics and criminal disposition Fraternal Twin Sisters) Dizygotic Twins Other studies of the MZ twins have identified the variations in DNA methylation levels in certain target gene promoter regions and because identical twins share identical genomes and experience many of the same family environmental factors, this indicate that environmental experiences that are not shared among children in the same family have an important causal role in gene expression and may further be related to behavioral differences among these type of twins.
In this regard, Mednick and Hutchings(1984), conducted a study on family psychology against biological heredity in order to determine criminal behavior. The study which was carried out by making use of MZ twins who were adopted by 2 different families and raised apart from each other revealed that adopted children are as aggressive as their adoptive parents rather than their biological parents.
It implied that environment and genetic disposition are equally as responsible in shaping human behavior. According to Rowe and Rodgers (1989), who conducted a study on the Ohio Twin Project, revealed that people consciously choose the most favorable environmental setting on the basis of their genetically based personality and that MZ twins are more particularly likely to choose similar friends and get engaged in similar activities, including anti-social ones. The twin study ultimately revealed that the monozygotic twins are more likely to commit crime as they have the same genetic structure than the DZ twins who have no close genetic relationship tan any two siblings, elaborating on the fact that if one among the identical twins have the tendency for deviant behavior, then to some extent, the other one will tend to behave alike. ADOPTION A further way of investigating the impact of heredity on crime is to study the behavior of adoptees.
If a child adopted soon after birth comes to resemble its biological parents more than its adoptive parents in a particular attribute, there is a clear evidence of genetic influence. Similarly, if an adopted child is removed from its criminal parents at an early age, and is placed in a non-criminal home, which then grows up to become a delinquent, explains about the link between criminality and genetics. Adoption studies therefore appear to provide a better understanding and better control of possible environmental influence than any other research methods.
The results of several adoption studies have shown that there is a greater similarity in the criminal histories of sons and their natural fathers than in between their adoptive fathers. Such evidence is consistent with the idea that genetic factors make a contribution to the risk of involvement in crime. However, there are 2 reasons why it cannot be taken into due consideration and definitive which are: a.
The methods of selecting twins for separated twin studies have sometimes inflated the chance that both will be having an arrest record. b. The interaction between children and their adopted parents may itself increase the risk of later involvement in crime. Thus, while there is some statistical evidence consistent with the possibility that there may be inherited factors in crime that evidence is also opened to interpretation in ways which do not implicate genetic factors.
Hence, Hutchings and Mednick (1977), in Copenhagen between 1927 and 1941, examined the cases of all male adoption where the adoptee was not related to the adoptive parents. They found that around ? of the convicted boys had biological fathers who had criminal records and among those who had not been convicted, only 1/3 of them had biological fathers with criminal records. This therefore allowed them to maintain the fact that some genetic predisposition to criminal behaviour may exist and that crime is more likely to occur in certain environmental conditions also.
For example, if an adoptee’s parents are non-criminals and lives together with his criminal adoptive parents, there is a major risk that the latter will become the same in later life, in cases of drug addicts or drug trafficking. Other research findings for example that of Cadoret et al (1983), identified the effects of biological parents and that of an adoptive sibling to know how a child behaves anti socially.
The study revealed that even if the biological and adoptive parents are not criminal and do not have any criminal records, while the child becomes deviant; it means that this is due to an interplay of both the environmental and genetic factors. Bohman (1978), trying to find a relationship between crime, heredity and environment, found evidence of a genetic transmission of a susceptibility to alcoholism which itself can lead to an increased likelihood of getting involved in crime.
For example, if an adoptee is living with an alcoholic adoptive father, then that child is more likely to be addicted to alcohol afterwards. * It can therefore be maintained that the adoption studies just like the twin studies have shown the relationship between crime and environment along with genetics. The adoption studies have in this way highlighted upon the fact that there is interplay between genes and environment in explaining the crime factors. In other words both nature and nurture play their roles in determining the behaviour of an individual.
Hormonal and Chromosomal defficiencies Chromosomal mutations resulting from union of the sperm and the ovum can result in, as researches of Jacobs, Brunton, Melville (1965) demonstrate, abnormalities in the sex characteristics of an individual. The sperm and the ovum contain both 23 single chromosomes and when these unite they form 23 pairs of chromosomes. These 23 pairs of chromosomes, contained in the nucleus of our cells, hold our genetic information. A normal male will have the X chromosome from his mother (ovum) and the Y chromosome from his father (sperm).
The first abnormality of chromosomes would be the Klinefelter’s syndrome (the XXY), which leads to sterility, tendency towards homosexuality and degeneration of testes. We are more concerned about the second chromosome abnormality which is the XYY. An extra Y chromosome results in the male possessing ‘criminal traits’. His testosterone level is much higher than the ‘normal male populace. According to studies carried out by Jacobs, Brunton, and Meville (1965), D. Olwen (1987), D.
Schalling (1987), Ellis and Coontz (1990), Blum (1997), and Dabbs and Dabbs (2000),the male with higher level of testosterone (including adolescents as during puberty the level of testosterone peaks in the body), are, as it has been scientifically proven, more aggressive, impulsive , and prone to criminal tendencies. The ‘supermale’ has fewer tendencies to commit simple crimes like larceny. He will most probably commit crimes with violence. He is also likely to commit sexual offences, assault, child abuse and property offences. Ellis (1990) and Coontz (1990) have linked violent behavior of the supermale to powerful genetic forces.
Darwin said that aggressive behavior and hostility could also be linked to the theories of animal behavior and survival of the fittest according to which males have to be the best in everything to protect their females and offspring and those who are unable to do contour the legal and moral ways to attain their goal. ‘The ability to secrete high quality of testosterone is a biological characteristic. ’ The hormone is linked to the brain nervous system and has been proven to have an effect on the individual’s behavior and therefore the chromosomal abnormality can be one of the causes of behavior.
Similarly an imbalance in neurotransmitters which affect the nervous system, like Serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter influencing the ability to resist impulse, emotional disorders, temperament regulation, and mood control), Oxytocin (the love and trust hormone which according to Nicholas Wade “is an hormone of the clan, not of universal brotherhood”) and Dopamine (affecting physical movement, emotional response and the ability to experience pleasure or pain) will cause antisocial and aggressive behavior, psychosis, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder.
However, we cannot condemn everyone and acquit all criminals born with abnormal chromosomes and hormonal imbalances. These abnormalities can be ‘treated’ by increasing or decreasing the level of specific hormones in a person body. According to Olwens (1987(unprovoked aggression in young boys can be the result of specific types of upbringing: parental use of power and aggression, parental and particularly maternal permissiveness of aggression.
This again shows us that genes cannot be the only reason for criminal behavior. As mentioned above, the neurotransmitters Serotonin, Dopamine and Oxytocin are neurotransmitters influencing feelings, mood, and behavior. Monoamine Oxidases are the enzymes which breakdown these neurotransmitters and Monoamine Oxidase Genes are the codes for the enzymes. Located in the X-chromosome, the level of MAOs is important as it determines how quickly neurotransmitters function which, in turn, affect the behavior of the individual.
The MAO-A Gene is responsible for many neurodegenerative disorders, developmental abnormalities and unusually violent burst. H. Brunner (1993), a geneticist, who studies a particular Dutch family which consisted of men having a defect in their MAO-A gene and having been engaged in antisocial behaviors, was the one to conclude that men with the MAO-A gene raped, assaulted, abused people tried to kill and had depressive and suicidal tendencies. The brain system of these people produces less MOA enzyme and the neurotransmitters are not broken down and recycled.
Therefore there is a higher level of chemical in the brain and this causes the individual to feel no empathy, and to commit cold blooded acts (Brunner (1993), Ellis (1991), Sjoberg et al. (2008)). These individuals form part of the low MAO group, the majority of which are males and are from Black origin. The table below shows how lawyers and criminal are using progresses made by neuroscience to justify their actions and plead for lesser sentencing. We see that courts are beginning to accept genetic evidence in court. A.
Gibbons named the MAO-A gene ‘The Warrior Gene’ at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2004). People having less MAO A in their brain system are being labeled as ‘born criminals’. But, we should not forget that researches and tests carried out on human genes have revealed that our genes are 99. 9% similar to that of the person next to us and even if there is an ‘error’ in our DNA, we are not condemned to be criminals. There is significant correlation between vulnerability genes leading to criminal propensities and risky environments.
Genetic coding for low MAO A activity was found to be associated with antisocial behavior when the individuals had a history of childhood maltreatment. This is the result of a recent study conducted in New Zealand. ‘Individuals with the same genetic variant but who were not abused as children were not unusually prone to antisocial conduct (Caspi, McClay, Moffitt, Mill, Martin, & Craig, 2002). ’ Indeed the mechanism of MAO A gene and environment interaction does exaggerate the effect of the level MAO A gene in the brain system.
Caspi et al. (2002) analysed a sample of males (white origin) from Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study and concluded that respondents with low-activity in MOA A genotype who were maltreated as a child were likely ‘to be diagnosed with conduct disorder, to be convicted of a violent offense, to score high on an antisocial personality symptoms scale, to score high on a disposition to violence scale, and to score high on a composite measure of antisocial behavior.
Even Ridley confirmed this fact in 2003 by saying that genes are devices that extract and interpret information from the environment and therefore the environment does have a significant impact on the individual’s personality. A living proof that trait is not 100% genetically determined is James Fallon who is today 62 years old. He is a Neuroscientist and also an American Professor of Psychiatry and Human behavior in the school of medicine at the University of California. As a neuroscientist, he has conducted several studies on psychopaths and serial killers and even studied 70 murderers.
Through his studies he found that there was a link between gene and brain damage that lead an individual to commit crime. JAMES FALLON Studying on psychopathic behavior, Jim Fallon discovered that psychopathic killers often have lower intelligence than most people which can be the result of brain damage, most probably occurred in childhood through child abuse. Trying to know whether his family was at risk of getting Alzeihmer, he conducted their brain scans and DNA tests and discovered A Family Secret that has been Murder to figure out.
As a matter of fact, Jim discovered about the history of criminal activity on the paternal side of his family where his father’s lineage was all drenched in blood and seven of ancestors were cold blooded murderers. This astonishing discovery also included his distant cousin Lizzy Borden (1892), who killed her father and stepmother with an axe. Further probing on this fact, he found that all this was due to the MAO-A gene (the warrior gene), which was inherited in them, also known as the high risk gene which regulates the hormone serotonin, thus affecting he mood, making people less responsive to the normal setting. Jim Fallon trying to assure himself that he and his family was not one like them, he again conducted a PET scan and found that he actually inherited the high risk gene, but he is not a psychopath or a serial killer. He maintained that it was due to a dysfunctional brain mostly related to several violent genes, damage in some areas of the brain and exposure to trauma and poor parental bonding in childhood lead someone to commit crime.
In other words, those who inherit these high risk genes and those who are raised in abusive environmental conditions for example a child getting beaten up almost every day, are more prone to violent behaviors when they get older. However this was not the fact for Jim as he grew up in a charming environment which prevented eventually from becoming a murderer as he himself stated: “I had a charmed childhood…. but if I had been mistreated as a child, who knows what might have happened? ” He therefore confirmed the fact that aggressive behavior is much more complex and genetics cannot be the sole cause it.
Geneticist have agreed that self-control originates from social factors, not biological factors even people with brain dysfunctions in the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, hormonal misbalance and low MAOs can lead a ‘normal’ life if put in the right environment and under appropriate treatment from birth itself. According to Gottfredson and Hirschi, parents are the primary agent responsible for fostering self-control in their children. FAMILY The family has always been considered as the cornerstone of the society.
In modern and premodern societies, the family has always been seen as the most basic unit of social organisation and one which carries out the vital tasks such as socialising children. Socialisation therefore starts within the family circle, defined as life long process through which a child since birth starts evolving through it. This includes the learning of moral values, norms and rules and regulations of the society as a whole. Similarly, certain actions are repeated because of directly correlated consequences. A child does not intuitively know that stealing is wrong; they ave to be taught through negative consequences in terms of the outcomes of stealing that tis behaviour is not acceptable. If a child is consistently taught how to act through both negative and positive reinforcement, then that child will begin to exhibit certain characteristics because they start believing in them to be inherently correct. Likewise, if a child is not taught how to properly act or inconstantly reinforced, clear cut moral obligations might not be instilled thus leading to an effect in the social judgment and an exposition to criminal behaviour.
Eventually if parents fail to teach this child the difference between the right and the wrong, hence failing in punishing them immediately for their misbehaviour, those who are prone to crime become much more likely to commit criminal acts in their later life. James Wilson and Richard Hernstein (1985), in Crime and Human Nature, stated that some people are born with a predisposition towards crime, thus their potentiality for criminality is more to be realized if they are not properly socialised.
For instance, in close knit nuclear families, children are conditioned to have a conscience from both the mother and the father which prevent them from getting into trouble by the law. Hence, the absence of such a family type in an individual’s life affects him adversely as he does not have that kind of support and good guidance in order for him to abstain from deviant behaviour and the consequences that follow after. For example, in cases of, single parent families or lone parent families, where a child is living either with the mother or the father.
This implies that the child does not have that warmth on behalf of the parent as most of the time; he is left on his own and at his own risk when the latter is away from home to work or is doing night shift. In this way, the actions and conduct of the child is not well supervised and where effective socialisation is unlikely to take place, which ultimately makes him be exposed to deviant behaviour by getting indulged in negative group activities. Moreover, broken families really get to the root of youth crime.
As a matter of fact, most of the delinquent children come from broken families as stated by the Officer in Charge of the Beau Bassin Rehabilitation Youth Centre in Mauritius. In inner city neighbourhoods, there are a lot of fatherless families and since young boys need that male role models in their lives to show them how to behave appropriately towards women and discipline themselves, an absence of fatherhood tends to lead to the formation of gangs, leading to the evolution of a high rate of crime such as robbery, shoplifting and also to some extent sexual offences/abuses. For example, surveys have stated that: 85% of all children that exhibit behavioural disorders come from fatherless homes in the US Center for Disease Control. * The US Bureau of Census has proved that 90% of all homeless and runaway children belong to fatherless families. * The US Department of Justice has submitted a special report in 1978 stating that 70%of juveniles in state operated institutions had no father. * The Texas Department of Corrections in 1992 highlighted that 85% of all youths sitting in prisons were grown up only by their mothers. These factors therefore lead to the emergence of a change or one can say a misbalance in the parenting system.
Consequently, inadequate parenting or parenting behaviour as a whole is the strongest factor or one can say predictor of juvenile crime as this lead a child to be exposed to external factor like the media thus negatively influencing his behaviour. Parenting factors contributing to youth crime can be classified under 4 categories namely: 1) Parental Neglect: including parenting style which is poorly done, lack of parental supervision, where the child is not properly supervised concerning his education and evolution as the parents are always busy at work.
The child therefore does everything at his own free will whether good or bad. Lack of communication between parent and children is as well related to parental neglect. 2) Parental conflict and lack of discipline: there is abuse or nagging within the family and also the use of harsh words between the mother and father together with inconsistent discipline on behalf of the parents for example if a child is repeatedly beaten for not knowing how to do his homework, there is going to be a change in his behaviour. ) Deviant parental behaviours and attitudes: a child is more at risk of becoming an offender if he is exposed to violence such as domestic violence almost every day and thus by witnessing that kind of behaviour from the parents, that child is more likely to behave in the same way. On the other hand if the child is living amongst a drunkard or drug addict relative or simply under the same roof of a criminal relative, he is going to get acquainted with that type of attitude and do the same later on. ) Family disruptions: in cases of divorce or separation, a child is affected both morally and psychologically, as it is believed that a child needs both the mother and the father to grow up like a decent individual being. Thus, the absence of one of them affects the individual tremendously. The children of families with several risk factors whether from the same or different categories are more likely to become involved in deviant acts than the children of families with just one or two of the risk factors. The economic instability including poor housing condition may also push an individual to commit crime.
For example, being poor and living in a large family size, not every members needs are satisfied. This implies that, those individuals, most particularly the youths will try to find alter ways and means to satisfy their basic requirements such as stealing or shoplifting. * The family in this regard plays a major role in ensuring whether an individual is going to be a criminal or someone abiding by the law. However, the family as a determining factor is associated with many other factors like poverty and unemployment, related to poverty itself.
POVERTY Most studies examining the relationship between poverty and crime have the trouble to tell us whether it is the poor who are committing crime. The tendency to draw unwarranted inferences about who is involved in crime is quite unclear. Longitudinal studies have found that individuals at the lowest end of the socio economic ladder tend to commit more crime relatively minor in nature, than the working class individuals, as the saying goes, “There is a higher rate of mental illness in the poor than in the rich. Poverty’s effects on crime can be elaborated through a variety of reasons. * Parents exposed to social and economic stress are more at risk of inadequate parenting which may eventually lead to a lack in their parenting style, thus increasing the risk for juvenile involvement in crime. * Poverty can lead to a high level of stress, depression and frustration that may in turn force an impoverished individual to take recourse to criminal acts like theft, robbery or any other violent acts in order to acquire money. Poverty can as well lead to an actual or perceived inferior education which would cause youth to count on less access to quality schools, jobs and role models, hereby decreasing the opportunity cost and increasing the probability of youth spending time on the street associating with gangs. Crime offers a way in which impoverished people can obtain material goods that they cannot attain through legitimate means.
Very often, threat of force can help them acquire even more goods which induce them to commit violent acts, such as robbery, considered as the second most common violent crime. For many poor people, the prize that crime yields outweighs the risk of being caught especially given that their opportunity cost is lower than that of a wealthier person. Many other correlating factors to poverty have been identified by many researches related to crime, for example, unemployment and income inequality. * Unemployment as a correlating factor to poverty leading to crime.
For instance, studies have found evidence that individuals who are already prone to involvement in crime offend more frequently during the periods of unemployment. In this way, poverty and unemployment are believed to be the cause of crime because they motivate people to offend as a means of overcoming their disadvantages, in terms of lack of financial means. During the hard times that have hit Europe in 1975 to 1995, scholars noticed that unemployment among uneducated youths gave rise to massive tendency for violence and involvement in criminal activities.
As a matter of fact, being unemployed, and poverty stricken individuals, a feeling of status frustration arises where to overcome that stress, many youths are forced to be pushed in the world of crime in order to satisfy their needs which they unable to do by being unemployed. In addition to this, racism towards ethnic minorities can as well lead to lower wages and fewer jobs resulting simultaneously in higher rates of poverty and ultimately to an increase in crime. For example, in 1995, in all Metropolitan Areas where the population was composed of as least 30% of those people, the unemployment rate was over 20%.
Likewise, since crime frequently leads to arrest and imprisonment, which in turn reduces an individual’s employment prospect, it is possible to mention that crime leads to poverty and not vice versa. * High income inequality correlated to poverty leads to crime Income inequality is said to be motivating people to commit crime especially those at the lower end of the socio-economic status. Moreover, it causes crime to occur in an area because it brings those motivated people to offend in close spatial contact with attractive targets for crime.
The effect of income inequality in this way stems from the fact that high levels of inequality results in poverty becoming concentrated in certain areas. Thus, the explanation for the effect of inequality on crime may vary according whether the inequality exists at a neighbourhood level or at a regional or even national level. However, James Wilson (1975), in Thinking about Crime, from a right realist perspective disagrees to the fact that the level of crime shall be reduced when the poverty within the world shall be reduced.
He further added that many poor people like the sick and elderly ones living in poverty stricken areas do not commit crime, implying that not all poor people commit crime. * The relationship between poverty and crime has been a controversial subject over years. As it is, many scholars argue that poverty does not have any causal relationship to crime as there are many countries in which poverty is very high but the level of crime rate is relatively low. (Joseph Wiliams and Christian Association for Prison Aftercare).
School During the 18th and 19th century, young ones could go to work at early age; hence they were taken away from immediate family control. Many of these young people or children were employed in industries. In England complaints concerning the juvenile delinquency phenomenon started during the pre-industrial 17th century. But there were a new turn in the issue of youth delinquency during the industrial revolution in the early 19th century. During that period many young people were employed in industries.
Before the first juvenile court was established in Cook Country, Illinois, in 1899, there was no separation between the punitive measures or the treating measures of young offenders and adult ones. In fact, the young offenders were often forced to work in industries under horrific conditions. This was a way to control Juvenile delinquency. But then some philosophers underlined the need for a new pedagogy, that is, an educated child was to be inculcated of good morals and hence refrained from bad behavior.
It is then that the concept of “universal schooling” was devised to gain better control on the degrading situation. The designated individuals to be teachers were to be considered as substitute fathers and hence were the symbols of immediate discipline during the day. Schools are institutions which regroup masses of young individuals so as to inculcate the fundamentals of the society. It is in these institutions that young ones will get such concepts to evolve.
But the fact that such gatherings favor “confrontations” between different mind sets and hence may become influential factors to how these individuals can turn up to be in the society. Such differences occasion many other factors and phenomena which can alter the development of the basic values recommended by the society for acceptance. These factors could be; the formation of peer groups, frustration due to rejection, economic situation of family and ethnic origins. Nowadays, young ones are far more exposed to information at earlier stages of their life.
This consequently led to certain societal “changes”, both negative and positive. Considering the fact that certain schools will take on students with certain similarities like; residential areas, economic situations, and status. There will be most probably a certain concentration on such individuals in these schools. Therefore, somehow, these students will tend to distribute themselves into subdivisions or subcultures in schools. SCHOOL & SUBCULTURES During adolescence, youngsters tend to be in groups within which they feel like they can share common opinions.
As a result, there is the formation of different peer groups. For example; according to the dictionary, subcultures are “cultural subgroups differentiated by ethnic backgrounds, status, residence, religion or other factors that functionally unify the group and act collectively on each member. ” It can be hence deduced that for any sub-society to be form there must be a common interest, which can be in the form of beliefs, religion, fashion style, violence and rebellion. According to the school of Chicago, it is in schools that subcultures are prone to develop into deviant subcultures.
According to the labeling theory of Howard Becker, an individual is affected by the labels imposed on him by others, and Albert Cohen, who expressed that every member of subcultures are being labeled, to attain virtue or higher levels these members, tend to engage in non-conformity towards general or dominant norms of the general society. Moreover, subcultures tend to have sense of rivalry towards each other. Therefore when someone in one group does something, it does not only influences his status within his group but can turn out to be kind of provocation for the other groups by placing a new limit.
This naturally affect the sense of acceptable things by society, as seeing someone like them crossing limits, they tend to follow the lead just to be at the “required level” to keep their status. Such reactions can lead to degradation of the dominant norms and values in these environments. Therefore subcultures do affect the perceptions of norms of every individual. And according to Park, Burgus and Shaw, when there is breakdown of social structure such as family or school disorganization, the environment becomes more conducive to deviant behaviours. Milton Gordon in 1947 defined subculture as: …a subdivision of a national culture, composed of a combination of factorable social situation such as class status, ethnic background, regional and rural or urban residence, and religious affiliation, but forming in their combination a functional unity which has an integrated impact on the participating individual. ” According to Milton Gordon, being exposed to the concepts or ways of the group and being an active member in such a group, an individual tend to adopt these beliefs in their everyday life, that is, for example their behaviour or the way they react to given situations.
This is mainly due to the fact that such members tend to abide to their own rules that are for example; the way they dress, talk or react towards other groups or the dominant society. * Due to the fact that throughout story, the past generations tend to screen their fears, anxieties and frustration on the emerging one, there has been a strong link between the ideas of youthfulness, transgression and punishment. Naturally, it is during the period of youthfulness sometimes referred to as the “spring of life”, that individuals possess enough energy to question, challenge or transgress the laws pre-established by years of societal experiences.
Being at an early stage of their life, they will try to find out the meanings of their surroundings. This is through such reasoning that they actually learn to develop the foundations for their values and beliefs so reach a decisive turning point of life. And sometimes pressurized by the imposed system of the prevailing society they just run into the pile and possibly end up as criminals. As such; * Subcultures can lead to future criminal behaviour most probably when these groups tend to engage in rebellious actions or beliefs. According to the critics of Chicago School and Birmingham school, members of groups are subject to Commitment towards their groups, that is, the shared opinions binding the members of any group tend to influence their everyday life. * Certain members have a perception of their own identity drafted from that of the other members of the same group. Hence, they tend to transpose themselves in accordance with both the perceptions of themselves and the opinion that other persons have on them. * Some may even try to adapt to reach the expectations of their respective groups so as not to be rejected.
Moreover it is most probably for young ones to engage in non-conformity when they are grouped. For example adolescence can be viewed as individuals having less sophisticated thinking, maybe no coherent sense of self and recklessness. Factors affecting the judgment of young ones: * Poor decision making According to the Classical theory of Cesare Beccaria, individual think before to commit or not a crime. It can be the lack of discernment and maturity in processing information and reactions in real life situations which accounts for the fact that young ones are not well-prepared to understand and predict he outcomes or ramifications of their actions. They could prefer immediate “fame” to serious future “sufferings”. * Lack of perspective Young ones are less likely to realize the extent of the consequences of their decisions and actions, especially long-term consequences. Hence cannot predict the impact that such decisions could have on their future life. Moreover it has been observed that having poor objectives reduces their fears of punishment. Hence could choose “fun” for the present at the cost of “possible pain” for the future. Peer pressure The development of the thinking abilities of young ones can be easily influenced by their peers as they spend more time together and are more responsive or pay more attention to the binding factors within these groups. Therefore young ones are more likely to alter their behaviours according to peer pressure, for example: drug consumption or initiate risky behaviours so as to reach higher levels in their groups avoiding rejection from these peer groups. * Risk Taking
The lack of maturity causes young ones, either being in groups or alone, to look at the possible risks under ideal conditions rather than in real-life situations. Adolescents are more reward sensitive and less risk adverse than adults. This could be due to the lack of responsibilities or commitment towards the dominant society. The idea of subcultures and crimes can be briefly explained by the Differential Social Learning Subculture Theory of Sytherland, Cressey Sykes, Matza Wolfgang and Ferracuti Anderson saying that: “Crime is learned through associations with criminal definitions.
These definitions might be generally approving of criminal conduct or be neutralizations that justify crime only under certain circumstances. Interacting with antisocial peers is a major cause of crime. Criminal behavior will be repeated and become chronic if reinforced. When criminal subcultures exist, then many individuals can learn to commit crime in one location and crime rates—including violence—may become very high. ” INTELLIGENT QUOTIENT How far is IQ a determining factor in explaining Crime?
Whether crime is measured through self-reported or officially recorded offending, offending juveniles are nearly always found to be of low IQ on average than non-offenders. The interpretation of this evidence has been the subject of vigorous explanations. As it is, some have maintained that having low IQ directly increases the risk of involvement in crime because it limits a person’s ability to appreciate the consequences of their actions. Others argue that the association between low IQ and getting involved in crime arises from the fact that those with a low IQ generally do more poorly at school.
Hirschi and Hinderlang, explaining about the involvement of IQ with crime, stated that delinquents and criminals average IQ, scores 8 to 10 points lower than non-criminals which is about one half of the standard deviation. Studies of the IQ of juvenile offenders revealed that there was a bigger % of the dull and backward 6 to 20% and the feeble minded was 14 to 53%, among delinquents than in the normal population. However, offenders showed better results in tests with more non-verbal elements than in the tests where the verbal elements dominated.
This could have been caused by their social rather than genetic background. Children with a low academic level are more likely to commit crime which would mean that poor school performances lead to deviant behaviour, implying that less education meant more offences like property crime, “causal” theft and drug related offences. Menard and Morse hypothesized that school teachers and administrators negatively label low IQ students, thus increasing their risk of criminal behaviour within the institution itself.
Stories abound of classmates stigmatizing bright students as ‘brains’ and ‘geeks’ especially in schools with the overall low scholastic achievement implies that bright students might avoid these negative labels by cutting back on schools work and acting out anti socially. Indeed peer’s labels of high IQ students may cause more harm than official’s labels of low IQ students, hereby giving rise to high number of crimes. Those examining the joint effect of IQ and school performance on crime however usually find that it is school performance which ceases to be significant.
This could mean that poor school performance is only associated with delinquency because those who do poorly at school are generally those who are of low IQ that is, those who are less intelligent. Causal arguments have assumed that low IQ increases criminal behaviour; however it is possible that in various ways high IQ quality actually give rise to criminality. For example, more intelligent individuals may feel greater confidence of committing crimes without getting caught, which as per the deterrence theory should lead to more criminal activities.
Likewise more intelligent individuals might also have more opportunities for some crimes such as the white collar crime or corporate crime, which very often are not exposed and revealed to the criminal division system. * According to students in Poland, low intelligence alone is not a crime factor but it actually causes difficulty in obtaining education and being employed as well as a sense of alienation which would simultaneously lead to crime.
LABELLNG THEORY One of the most influencing statements of deviance is contained in the following quotation of Howard Becker (1963) which he defined as master status- viewing oneself to the label stick through the self-fulfilling prophecy is as such: “Social groups create deviance by making the rules and those which go against it constitutes deviance and by applying those rules to particular people and by labelling them as outsiders. From this point of view, deviance and criminal behaviour are not a quality but rather a consequence of the application by others by the rules and sanctions to the offender. The deviant is one to whom the label has been successfully applied; deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label. This therefore relates to the possible effects of going through the labelling theory, as once an individual is labelled as criminal or deviant, mentally ill and homosexual, he or she shall execute his or her personality in that very same manner.
In other words, individuals tend to see themselves in terms of the labels given to them. For example, if a child at a very early age is labelled as trouble maker or deviant, he starts behaving like one in such a way that he gets involved in vandalism, hooliganism and even minor crime like stealing money from the purse of the parents. Hence, this gives rise to deviance and to some extent a rise in the level of crime as the individual is at first labelled as deviant and is then rejected by many social groups in such a way that: 1. x-convicted persons find difficulty in getting a job, thus they are forced to return back to the world of crime, as they are very often looked at with a bad eye since the label of criminal is already stick to them even if they are now on the right track of life. 2. Using the approach of Becker, Young (1971), explained how the marijuana users were labelled as dirty, lazy and drug adults by the police which eventually forced them to retreat into small subcultures of hippies thus giving drug use a central activity.
Whether or not the label is applied will depend on how the act is interpreted by the audience. This in turn will depend on who commit the act, when and where it is committed; who observes the act and the negotiations between the actors involved in the interaction situations. Becker illustrates his views with the example of a brawl involving young people. In a group involving young people in a low income neighbourhood, it may be defined as by the police as evidences of delinquency- in a wealthy neighbourhood as evidence of youthful high spirits.
The acts are the same but the meanings to them by the audience differ, implying that interpretations differ and vary in types. In the same way, those who commit the act may view it in one way and those who observe it may be defined in another way. For example, the act of nudity in Western societies provides an illustration. Nudity in the bedroom where the actors involved are husband and wife is generally interpreted as normal behaviour, but if they do the same by the entry of a stranger then this would be called as a deviant act.
Yet in particular context such as at the beach, nudity in the presence of a stranger would not be seen as abnormal or deviant by the participants. It only becomes deviant when others label it as such. * It can therefore be highlighted upon the fact that deviance or criminality is not qualities that lie in the behaviour itself but in the interaction between the people that actually commit an act and those who respond to it. From this, it can be deduced that if someone has been labelled as a thief by stealing a piece of bread to appease his hunger, then that labelled is self-fulfilled within him, and he eventually becomes one.
MEDIA The main debate for the possible effects of media on society is that it can either act as a representation of Good Sense or Moral Panic. To find whether violence broadcasted by the media ranging from books to video games could encourage or cause individuals to adopt aggressiveness or violence in their everyday life is subject to intense debates and criticism. According to Aderson and Al, 2003, violence due to media has been conclusively demonstrated. For example, the teaching of witchcraft in Harry Potter could lead to Satanism or mental illness.
For instance, according to the Social learning theory, an individual is most likely to imitate what he sees. Hence, being exposed to violence through media, an individual acquires and saves in violent scripts, therefore when exposed to real life situation are more prone to violent or deviant reactions. In contradiction the Catharis model argues that violence in media helps to evacuate aggressive drives, as a result of which, the individual consuming violent media would be expected to be less aggressive.
Considering the Pluralist theories media would be considered as following the trend of social changes and portraying the expectations of their audiences. Therefore, media is not to be considered responsible for degradations of norms of conduct in society as media works in a responsible way for the public interests. The pluralist theories also argue that media do not shape the public opinion but just follow or reflect it. For Cohen, the generalized negative images of subcultures in the mass media both reinforced dominant values and constructed the future form of such groupings. ” But, the Marxist and Neo-Marxist Theories deeply contradict the pluralist theories by saying that media depicts the ideas of the ruling class, in a capitalist system, as it is the ruling class which possesses most of the means of production. Therefore influences the flow of changes in standards of the society, like for instance, persuading people to accept and adopt the Capitalist System
According to the Hypodermic model which argues that media can directly influence the behavior of an individual like drugs or narcotics, individual would be prone to adopt violent reactions in their ever day life by the effect of exposure to violence. As such, it is assumed that in some extremes whereby the human mind is confronted to intense consumption of aggressiveness in media, the human brain can reach a point where it is unable to distinguish between the virtual and real limits, hence go to extremes like brutal fights or simply murder.
This was demonstrated by Bandura and Al, who conducted psychological experiments revealing that boys tend to adopt or imitate the violence or aggression they watched in films or in games. Baudrillard (1988) argued that societies which have reach “saturation point” of media tend to produce Hyper reality, that is, where objectivity looses of its sense as information like images can be interpreted differently by the same person at different times. This can lead to the conclusion that the separation of reality and fiction or image is getting thinner and thinner
There is no final point to the debate of whether media is or not a present factor of criminality. The hypodermic model for example has been victim of criticism on the following reasons; * There is a diversity of reactions due to different audiences * There can be a diverse use of media, like for example, as a background noise * There can be many other media effects Conclusion Researchers have proven that there are many factors which lead a person to commit crime. For a person who is genetically predisposed to commit a crime he needs to have the favorable circumstances.
Raine and his colleagues have shown that people born with brain dysfunctions and who are living in ‘bad environment’ are more liable to engage in criminal career than those with brain dysfunctions but having a good surrounding. Hence biological factors enhance the possibility for the apparition of aggressiveness or non-conformity in an individual’s temperament in particular circumstances. According to Kristene Doyle “many of our behaviours and emotions such as anxiety depression and anger are influenced by our genetic predispositions.
Genes are devices that extract and interprete information from the environment and therefore the environment does have a significant impact on the individual’s personality. In this way both nature and nurture have an important role to play in crime causation. Acknowledgement We would wholeheartedly like to thank our dear lecturer Miss Komal Boudhun to put faith in us by giving us the opportunity to probe into the link between environmental and genetic fatcors leading to crime.
We would like to thank Miss Fadeea a science student at university of Maurtius for having helped us to have a better understanding of the genetic material of human beings. Lastly but not lessly we would like to thank our friends and parents for their support. References 1. Research report by Kent W. Nilsson, Rickard L. Sjoberg, Hanna-Linn Wargelius, Jerzy Leppert, Leif Lindstrom & Lars Oreland 2. Paper on neurogenetics by Matthew L. Baum 2009 3. British Journal of psychiatry 4. Sage journals 5. World Street Journal 6. Biology. about. com- website 7. Wisegeek. com 8.
Website- Wayne’s Word 9. Textbook on Criminology By Katherine S. Williams 10. National Public Radio Website 11. Livescience. com – Website 12. Criminology Department-University of Pennsylvania – website 13. Le cerveau a tous les niveaux- website 14. Book-causes of crime by Lee Ellis and Martin Gottschalk 15. Criminology by Stephen Jones 16. Sociology 7th edition Themes and perspectives by Haralambos & Holborn 17. Subculture list- http://subcultureslist. com/subculture-theory/ “Hall saw the emotional life of the adolescent as an oscillation between contradictory tendencies.
Energy, exaltation, and supernatural activity are followed by indifference, lethargy, and loathing. Exuberant gaiety, laughter, and euphoria make place for dysphoria, depressive gloom, and melancholy. Egoism, vanity, and conceit are just as characteristic of this period of life as are abasement, humiliation, and bashfulness. Hall believed that adolescent characteristics contained both the remnants of an uninhibited childish selfishness and an increasing idealistic altruism. The qualities of goodness and virtue are never so pure, but never again does temptation preoccupy the adolescent’s thinking.
Hall described the adolescence as wanting solitude and seclusion, while he finds himself entangled in crushes and friendships. Never again does the peer group have such a strong influence over the person. The adolescent also moves between the exhibition of several personality traits including exquisite sensitivity and tenderness at some points in time to callousness and cruelty at other times. The display of apathy and inertia also vacillate with enthusiastic curiosity, along with the urge to discover and explore.
According to Hall, during this stage of development, there also is a yearning for idols and authority that does not exclude a revolutionary radicalism directed against any kind of authority. In late adolescence, according to Hall, the individual recapitulates the state of the beginning of modern civilization. This stage corresponds to the end of the developmental process: maturity. Hall’s genetic psychology did not see the human being as the final and finished product of the developmental process; it allowed for indefinite further development.