Family, Deliquency, and Crime Explain and Contrast Term Paper

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Family, Deliquency, And Crime

Explain and contrast the Social Control Theory and the Self-Control Theory. Which theory, based on your understanding of the readings, best explains why people engage in criminal behaviors?

To understand the two theories of social control and self-control, it is perhaps best to consider the individual meaning of each theory, which will form a basis of understand that will allow for contrasting the two theories.

The social control theory arises out of Travis Hirschi's (1969) work theorizing that the human response to the conditions of external control: processes that inculcated attachment, involvement, commitment, and belief. Having been inculcated with the elements of attachment, involvement, commitment and belief an individual is less likely to behave in a way that is adverse to those elements. Thus, the theory of social control is one of order, because it prevents chaos when people have the structure of these social elements in their lives.

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To have an attachment to one's environment means that it has meaning to the individual, and once a person, place or thing has meaning to an individual, so long as the meaning is a positive one, one that the individual holds close or dear, then the individual will probably act in a way to preserve that environment. We see this when residents of a community become involved in their community; socially, politically and environmentally. This is often seen in middle class communities where people are busy working, raising their families, and participating in the community by supporting sports programs, park programs, and especially participating in the school activities of their children.

Term Paper on Family, Deliquency, and Crime Explain and Contrast Assignment

The belief element would multi-layered; religious faith, belief in the community leaders' work to further the interest of the community as a whole, law enforcement, educators, and others who hold administrative and elected positions within the community that provide the infrastructure for the community to thrive. When individuals have a belief system that is reflected in and supported by their community infrastructure: church, law enforcement, government and citizens then that community is one that has a lower potential for crime. These kinds of communities and families are anchored in the sociology of their communities and they are places where family environments can thrive.

The theory of self-control holds that a person who resists his or her own impulses for instant reward, gratification, or pleasure is the person less likely to commit a criminal act. The person who is not able to restrain his or her own desires for instant gratification, need, desire or pleasure is a person for whom the boundaries of legal and illegal become obscured. Theorists hold that this is a choice that individuals make: to either satisfy or to resist the urge to satisfy their need for pleasure or gratification. When an individual chooses not to resist his or her own urges of self-control, that individual is susceptible to criminal behavior because they have surrendered their commitment, their involvement or participation in their environment, and their belief to their need to achieve instant pleasure, gratification or reward.

Augustine Brannigan (1997) writes on the subject of self-control and social control and juvenile delinquency. Talking about the onset of juvenile delinquency and crime, Brannigan says that lack of self-control is evidenced when the adolescent cannot exercise enough self-control to finish high school, and the family has lost control over the adolescent such that they can no longer prevent the choices the child makes, or influence the child's decision making processes (p. 4031). This is evidence of the child's break with the social controls by which he or she was influenced prior to the break where the child began for better or worse exercising their own self-control, or lack thereof. In this case, the child has broken with the commitment to the community, his or her belief systems, and has probably ceased to be involved in the community in a way that demonstrates a commitment. Thusly, the theory of self-control best explains juvenile delinquency and criminal mindset.

2. Discuss the factors relating to the possibilities of the family structure being a major contribution to a juvenile becoming involved in delinquent behaviors.

According to the Social Control and Self-Control Theories, the factors behind juvenile delinquency and crime have to do with lack of self-control, and the choice of pursuing self over community. Instant gratification is one of the elements of the self-control theory, but so are opportunity and desire. If the adolescent has the opportunity and the desire for the object of the crime, and if that adolescent has surrendered to his or her self-control, or lack thereof, he or she will react to satisfy the desire or perceived need by taking advantage of the opportunity to commit the crime. Even petty crimes, as pointed out by social researchers Hirschi (1976) and Brannigan (1997), are a part of the evolving psychology of crime. It begins, notably, in adolescence when parents experience a loss of influence over and control over their child.

Social Researchers Emily a. Mann and Arthur J. Reynolds cite the "Chicago Longitudinal Study, an ongoing investigation of the scholastic and social development of more than 1,500 low-income youths (93% of whom were African-American) (p. 153)." The study looks at the family scenario in considering the juvenile's sociological, psychological and physiological conditions at the onset of delinquent behavior. Low income was certainly a major factor in juvenile delinquency, because it creates a general sense of despair that the child is seeking to alleviate through his or her criminal behavior. In low income families, there tends to be a poor family infrastructure, lack of parental support because often times such families are single parent families; often times lacking a father's physical presence and a father role model.

Peer pressure is another factor in juvenile activity, and it arises, again, out of conditions that are often low income, single parent families, and in areas of large populations where the country or state tax systems are overburdened and the school systems are not adequately financed to provide the programs that help prevent juvenile delinquency: morning breakfast programs, morning daycare programs that recognize the fact that many parents must commute to their jobs, after school programs that, again, reflect the community's understanding that parents commute to and from work, and lack of participation in community programs and faith-based programs.

Education was identified in the study as a contributing factor to juvenile delinquency. Those children who participated in preschool programs were actually less likely to go on to be serious offenders (p. 153).

Through extant research, a framework for predicting juvenile delinquency has been developed and includes four categories of predictor variables: early antisocial behavior, individual-level attributes of the child, family attributes, and social characteristics of both the child and the family (Lipsey & Derzon, 1998). Focus on these predictor domains has greatly added to the literature, especially as they help to identify the developmental trajectories of youths. However, these four domains are limited in identifying the contribution of intervention to delinquency prediction (p. 153)."

Efforts are being made to identify and prevent juvenile delinquency through better programs and outreach.

3. According to Bandura, what is vicarious learning and how does it relate to deviant behaviors in children?

Social Researcher Laurens Rook (2006) describes Bandura's "vicarious learning" as "herd behavior" (p. 75). That is when people follow the group, or herd, even though that group is behaving in a socially deviant or unacceptable way.

People could thus either create informational consensus with the reference group concerning the issue under evaluation and thus become more similar, or engage in actions that were increasingly similar to those of the reference group. Albert Bandura (1965) and colleagues (1963a, 1963b) provided further evidence for this idea by showing that direct observation of a successful model led to imitation of this model (p. 75)."

Vicarious learning has been studied in infants, to adolescence, and it has been found that infants demonstrate vicarious learning. Vicarious learning, Rook says, is often a means of self-discovery, understanding more about one's self (p. 75). In infants, vicarious learning was studied and reported on by social researchers Catherine Weir, Sarah Soule, Catherine Bacchus, Jennifer Rael, and Jennifer Schneider (2000). The group reported these findings:

One group observed their caregivers receiving continuous reinforcement in the preexperience period; another observed caregivers in a noncontingent task. The third group, a stimulation control, had light-sound events (reinforcers for first group) presented alone without any caregiver responding. The fourth group had no preexperience. During the infant contingency period, only the no preexperience group increased responding in acquisition and had a performance consistent with the occurrence of learning. All three groups with observational preexperience had high response rates initially, which were followed by long-term response declines in the contingency period. The decline was especially steep for infants who observed caregivers in the noncontingent task. Although the evidence for learning by observation was inconclusive, several of the findings supported the influence of habituation during the contingency period following observational preexperience. In extinction, the performance was characterized by further… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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