Psychosocial Aspects of Criminal Behavior Term Paper

Pages: 13 (3786 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 20  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children

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There is also the possibility that blood zinc and copper concentrations may differ between criminals and non-criminals. Tokdemir et al. (2003) investigated the effects of zinc and copper on the behavior of schizophrenic patients by comparing blood zinc and copper levels in criminal and non-criminal schizophrenic patients. Results of this study indicated that mean plasma zinc values were significantly lower in criminal patients when compared to non-criminal patients, while mean serum copper levels were significantly higher in criminal patients that in non-criminal patients. Future research is required to examine why these differences occur, and to explore possible prevention and treatment strategies utilizing this knowledge.

Leon-Carrion and Javier (2003) maintained that blows to the head during development might be a predisposing factor to violent criminal behavior, and they explore the possible role that rehabilitation for consequences of head injury plays in crime prevention.

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These researchers compared the school and head injury histories of violent and non-violent prisoners, and results indicated that the delinquent subjects in both groups demonstrated a history of academic difficulties. However, the violent group had a more pronounced history of sustained head injuries that were never treated. Furthermore, these researchers suggest that academic problems are not enough themselves to predict violent behavior, but difficulties at school along with discrete damage due to blows to the head may have some predictive power. Based on these results, the researchers concluded that the treatment of the cognitive, behavioural and emotional consequences of brain injury could be considered a possible measure for crime prevention.

Term Paper on Psychosocial Aspects of Criminal Behavior Assignment

The biological evidence thus far has indicated that there are potential neurological, structural, and genetic mechanisms implicated in criminal behavior. However, most of the evidence also indicates the influential role that environmental factors play in the expression of biological predispositions. Without certain environmental factors, many individuals exhibiting biological risk factors for criminal behavior may never commit crimes or display impulsive aggression. It is important to explore these environmental factors in order to better understand the processes underlying criminal behavior.

Raine et al. (2003) conducted a study to assess the effects of an early nutritional, educational, and physical exercise enrichment program on adult outcome for schizotypal personality, conduct disorder, and criminal behavior. In this study, 83 children were assigned to an experimental enrichment program from ages 3 to 5 years, and were matched on temperment, nutritional, cognitive, autonomic, and demographic variables with 355 children in a control group. Objective and self-reported measures of schizotypal personality and antisocial behavior were obtained from the subjects when they were 17 and 23 years of age. The results of this study indicated that the subjects who participated in the enrichment program at ages 3 to 5 years had lower scores for schizotypal personality and antisocial behavior at the age of 17 years and for criminal behavior at the age of 23 years, in comparison with the control group. In addition, the beneficial effects of the intervention were greater for children that showed signs of malnutrition at the age of 3 years, especially with respect for antisocial behavior at the age of 17 years. Based on these findings, Raine et al. (2003) concluded that enriched, stimulating environments are beneficial for the psychological and behavioural outcomes of children. Furthermore, these findings may have implications for the prevention of some psychological disorders and criminal behavior.

Parental absence during childhood has also been associated with criminality later in life. Maki et al. (2003) sought to investigate the relationship between very early separation and criminality. The data set that permitted this type of study included a cohort that consisted of 2906 subjects born between 1945 and 1965 in Finland who were temporarily isolated from their families immediately after birth and sent to nursing homes due to tuberculosis in the family. The results of this study indicated that criminal behavior was more prevalent among both male and female subjects that were separated at birth from their families because of tuberculosis in the family than among the control group. However, the differences between the study group and the control group were modest. The researchers concluded that the influence that early separation has on later criminality of children is somewhat limited.

Another possible environmental factor involved in criminality is exposure to stress, in that exposure to stressors is positively associated with criminal behavior (Eitle and Turner, 2003). Eitle and Turner (2003) conducted a study to assess the role that race and ethnicity play in the comprehension of the relationship between stress and crime. They also sought to investigate the effects that stress had on criminal behavior in a group of young adults prone to crime. The results of this study indicated that racial differences in criminal involvement are largely reducible to differences in exposure to stressors, with blacks typically being exposed to significantly more stressful events over their lifetimes than members of other racial or ethnic groups. Therefore, prevention of criminal behavior could be focused on efforts to minimize stressors experienced by minority ethnic groups.

As an environmental factor, marriage has also been proven to reduce criminality. A University of Florida study described in the Ascribe Health & Fitness News Service found that the contentment of a steady marriage is a powerful measure against a life of crime. The article describes how the most hardened ex-cons were far less likely to return to criminal behavior if they settled down into the routined life of a solid marriage. This study also discovered that common-law marriages or living with a partner did not have these same criminality-reducing effects. Conversely, cohabiting without marriage seemed to increase the likelihood that ex-cons would return to criminal behavior. These findings indicate possible avenues for the treatment of criminals and the prevention of further criminal behavior.

An environmental factor that may have power in predicting the likelihood of violent crime is alcohol intoxication. An article in DATA indicated that whenever violent crime occurs, chances are high that either the victim, the perpetrator, or both are intoxicated. This article describes how alcohol is a significant contributor to violent crimes and to crimes that involve public disorder. Also, while suspects are more likely to be intoxicated than victims, drunkenness increases the odds of victimization by up to six times. A study is described that observed 1236 police-citizen encounters, of which 34% involved alcohol. Furthermore, suspects were 4.3 times more likely to be intoxicated than victims.

In trying to pinpoint possible prevention measures for youth violence, Tolan (2001) acknowledged several factors that contribute to criminality among young people. Exceptionally high levels of mortality are linked to the access that youth have to guns. Also, there is evidence that youth violence occurs in different forms that necessitate different prevention measures. For instance, some youth violence is situational, some is best understood within its relationship context, some occurs due to predatory criminal activity, while some violent behavior is the result of serious psychopathology. Moreover, identifying prevention measures requires the evaluation of several possible cause for the criminal behavior.

Environmental factors that are evident in childhood may be predictive of criminal tendencies in adulthood. Huesmann et al. (2002) noted that early aggressive behavior is one of the best prectors of adult criminality, and they aimed to assess the degree to which family background variables, parental beliefs and behavior, as well as child intelligence predict child aggression and adult criminality. The results of this study indicated that aggressive children were less intelligent, less popular, rejected more by their parents, had parents who believed in the use of punishment, were less identified with their parents' self-image, and were less likely to express guilt. A adults, aggressive children with parents who were less well educated, experienced more marital disharmony, and who seldom attended church were most at risk of committing criminal behavior. Furthermore, after controlling for the effect of early aggression, most effects disappeared and the only effect that significantly added to the risk of arrest by age 30 was the presence of parents with a strong belief in punishment, while the only factor that then reduced the risk of arrest was parents that attended church often. Moreover, parental authoritarianism and child intelligence were found to reduce the risk of conviction after arrest.

Based on these findings, Huesmann et al. (2002) concluded that level of aggression at the age of 8 years is the most accurate predictor of criminal events over the next 22 years. Therefore, the risk of criminality is greatly affected by the factors involved in a boy's life before he is eight years old. Furthermore, the researchers suggest that preventative interventions need to target risk factors that seem to be influential in the development of early aggression.

Beyond biological and environmental factors, personality or psychological factors may contribute to criminal behavior. It is important to examine the role that these factors play in order to gain a thorough understanding of the various dimensions involved in criminal behavior. Coid (2002) examined the associations between… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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