Families, Delinquency, and Crime Term Paper

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Families, Delinquency, And Crime

There are several theories that have been suggested to explain juvenile delinquency. In fact, almost every theory of social interaction could be said to describe the cause of delinquent behavior. However, some theories appear to have more merit than others, because they take help explain why some children become delinquent in certain home environments, while other children do not become delinquent, despite coming from a similar environment. One theory that helps explain the difference is the coercion model of delinquent behavior, which is largely based on the theory of mutual training. Parenting with consequences is one way that people suggest to avoid raising a delinquent; however the theory of mutual training recognizes that adults, as well as children, are affected by the consequences of their actions. Social control theory differs in that, instead of asking why some people do not conform to social norms, it focuses on why so many people do conform to social norms, given that human beings enter the world as basically selfish creatures.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Families, Delinquency, and Crime There Are Several Assignment

Social control theory looks at the behavior of infants and toddlers, which is basically both selfish and antisocial. "Infants and toddlers cry when they don't get their way, take things from others, destroy property, and push, shove, and hit in order to get what they want." (Simon, Simon, & Wallace, 2004, p.19). However, over time, the majority of children learn to become more social creatures, and stop acting in antisocial ways. Albert Reiss, Ivan Nye, and Walter Reckless all studied social control theory. Those theories sought to explain how personal and parental control helped prevent delinquency. However, those theories were not widely accepted. In 1969, Travis Hirschi published a book about social control theory, which gained greater acceptance. In fact, as explained by Hirschi, "the theory has come to occupy a central place within the field of criminology, and it has been the most frequently discussed and tested of all theoretical frameworks within the discipline. (Stitt and Giacopassi, 7992)." (Simon, Simon, & Wallace, 2004, p. 20).

According to Hirschi, conformity is the result of people bonding with society. Therefore, someone acting in an antisocial manner, such as engaging in delinquency, does so because their bond with society is weakened or broken. The bond to society has four elements: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. Attachment refers to the depth of the relationships the person has with other people; less attached people are less concerned with adhering to social norms. Commitment refers to a person's interest and engagement in society and can be measured by looking at an individual's desire in meeting conventional goals. Involvement differs from commitment, because it does not reflect a person's desire to participate in conventional society, but his or her actual degree of participation. The fourth element, belief, may be the most crucial element. A person's belief in conventional norms helps determine whether or not they will adhere to them. "Especially important is the extent to which they believe that society's laws are morally correct and should be followed." (Simon, Simon, & Wallace, 2004, p.20).

Hirschi's social control theory makes a lot of sense, and can even help explain why otherwise "good" kids might engage in behavior that people identify as delinquent. To truly understand the four elements of the theory, one need only look at an African-American youth in the Jim Crow South. Such a youth may have been very attached to the family and respected adults within his community, very committed to attaining his goals, and very involved in his community, but still have committed acts that were labeled delinquent at the time (like violating segregation laws), because of a lack of belief in a segregated system. However, one might argue that such a child would not be appropriately labeled a delinquent, because he was acting on a belief instilled to him by his community, which is that he was not a lesser person because of the color of his skin. Such an example may seem distant, but the reality is that a disproportionate number of today's juvenile delinquents come from disaffected classes, whether because of race, socio-economic status, or a combination of the two. It may be the case, as it was in the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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