Causes of Deviance Case Study Essay
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Causes of Deviance Case Study Essay
After learning about multiple theories of deviance, the question remains: why do people act on deviance, specifically deviant behaviors that are considered crimes? Why do some people commit crimes no matter what the consequences are, while others never commit these acts?
Criminologists who have studies this subject over the years have stated that reasons for committing a crime include greed, jealousy, revenge or pride. They have also taken into consideration physical abnormities, psychological disorders, social/economic factors, parental relations, income and education.
In the 1980s. the “cycle of violence” was introduced. A ‘cycle of violence’ is where people who grow
up with abuse or antisocial behavior in the home will be much more likely to mistreat their own children, which will cause a pattern in future generations of the family. Children who are neglected or abused are more likely to commit crimes later in life than children who were not subjected to any type of abuse. Similarly, sexual abuse in childhood can often lead to victims becoming sexual predators as adults (Causes of Crime, 2004).
Heredity and Brain Activity
In the 1980s. studies were completed on twins and adopted children to take a closer look at the origins of antisocial personality disorder and their influence over
crime. Identical twins (exact same genetic make-up) were found twice as likely to have similar criminal behaviors than fraternal twins (similar but not identical genes, just
like any two siblings). Research also showed that adopted children had greater similarities of crime rates to their biological parents than to their adoptive parents. This research suggests a genetic basis for some criminal behavior (Causes of Crime, 2004).
Hormones are bodily substances that affect how organs in the body function. Researchers also looked at the relationship between hormones, such as testosterone and cortisol, and criminal behavior. Testosterone is a sex hormone produced by male sexual organs that cause development of masculine body traits. Cortisol is a
hormone produced by adrenal glands located next to the kidneys that effects how quickly food is processed by the digestive system. Higher cortisol levels lead to more
glucose to the brain for greater energy, such as in times of stress or danger. Animal studies showed a strong link between high levels of testosterone and aggressive behavior. Testosterone measurements in prison populations also showed relatively high levels in the inmates as compared to the U.S. adult male population in general (Causes of Crime, 2004).
Conforming to Merton’s earlier sociological theories, a survey of inmates in state prisons in the late 1990s showed very low education levels. Many could not read or write above elementary school levels, if at all. The
most common crimes committed by these inmates were robbery, burglary, automobile theft, drug trafficking, and shoplifting. Because of their poor educational
backgrounds, their employment histories consisted of mostly low wage jobs with frequent periods of unemployment (Causes of Crime, 2004).
A person’s peer group strongly influences a decision to commit crime. For example, young boys and girls who do not fit into expected standards of academic achievement or participate in sports or social programs can sometimes become lost in the competition. Children of families who cannot afford adequate clothing or school supplies can also fall into the same trap. Researchers believe these youth may abandon schoolmates in favor of criminal gangs, since membership in a gang earns respect and status in a different manner. In gangs, antisocial behavior and criminal activity earns respect and street credibility.
Like society in general, criminal gangs are usually focused on material gain. Gangs, however, resort to extortion, fraud and theft as a means of achieving it (Causes of Crime, 2004).
Drugs and Alcohol
Some social factors pose an especially strong influence over a person’s ability to make choices. Drug and alcohol abuse are one such factor. The urge to commit crime to support a drug habit definitely influences the decision process. Both drugs and alcohol impair judgment and reduce inhibitions (socially defined rules of behavior), giving a person greater courage to commit a crime.
Deterrents such as long prison sentences have little meaning when a person is high or drunk.
Substance abuse, commonly involving alcohol, triggers “stranger violence,” a crime in which the victim has no relationship whatsoever with his or her attacker. Such an occurrence could involve a confrontation in a bar or some other public place where the attacker and victim happen to be at the same time. Criminologists estimate that alcohol or drug use by the attacker is behind 30 to 50 percent of violent crime, such as murder, sexual assault and robbery. In addition, drugs or alcohol may make the victim a more vulnerable target for a criminal by being less attentive to activities around and perhaps visiting a poorly lighted or secluded area not normally frequented perhaps to purchase drugs. The idea that drug and alcohol abuse can be a major factor in a person’s life is why there are numerous treatment programs for young people addicted to these substances. Treatment focuses on positive support to influence a person’s future decision making and to reduce the tendency for antisocial and criminal behavior (Causes of Crime, 2004).
Social Work Interventions
This chapter will focus on generalist practice skills of interventions for victims of deviant acts.