Sociologists’ view of crime
Criminology as an art and a field of study has varied and competing perspectives. Crime is therefore socially defined. From a legal standpoint, crime refers to an act prohibited by an existing law of a given state which can attract a state sanction in form of a penalty. Socially. A crime refers to both assaults and negligence that causes harm, and should therefore attract a penalty. While individuals may hold varied notions regarding criminal acts, sociologists of crime approach criminal acts as more than merely an individual, psychological problem and whereby society is strongly mentioned as playing an equal role. This particular paper discusses this in details.
According to Agnes R (2006), both gene and environment have a role to play in the criminality of an individual. Both of the factors above are societal in nature. Genetic makeup of a person arises from the family background. As such, criminal behavior is transmitted.
In the upbringing of a child, the family environment plays a critical role. If there are problems within that environment, the child is most likely to suffer the consequences. A child’s environment influences its hyperactivity. According to Fajnzylber, P., Lederman, D. and Loayza, N. (2002), factors considered here include poverty, education, level of care to the child and family structure. For instance, studies show that children with well caring and loving parents who spend time with them grow up to be soft as they are used to the care. However, children brought up without care or physically abused and those brought up in families where there is communication breakdown and little care for each other develop aggression which often results into criminal activities. This is also the case with the family financial status. Children brought up in poor families learn to be rough and aggressive as they have to brave the hardships of their childhood. If things do not work out for them then they can easily develop criminal behaviors. Children reared in rich families however are less aggressive and less likely to become criminals. Similarly, some children suffer abuse and experience family violence during their formative years from their families. This makes them grow up with bitterness and vengeance. This can easily lead them into crime.
The other societal factor that affects a person is peer groups. There is a strong relationship between ones’ association and their behavior. According to Fajnzylber, P., Lederman, D. and Loayza, N. (2002), the old adage ‘show me your friends and I will tell you who you are’ is quite practical here. This might begin during the early ages of a child. For instance, a child that shown aggression and roughs up others while young is soon disliked by his peers and branded an outcast. According to Agnes R (2006), the child grows up, he becomes isolated and soon looks for children who share in their behaviors. Such relationships might remain until adulthood. Such relationships might lead the child into criminal activities.
Societal discrimination might also lead to criminology. The society may discriminate upon someone for many reasons. For instance, due to financial status or background. Discrimination can also make a person develop hatred and aggression that might eventually spur criminal activities.
The makeup of an environment where one stays also affect ones’ orientation. People who stay in slums are exposed to so many crimes that after some time the brain normalizes all the criminal activities that they see. They are therefore more likely to become criminals themselves as they are used to witnessing such activities. Equally, they become very rough in most cases knowing that nothing comes easily. On the contrary, those living in rich suburbs rarely witness crimes and therefore treat any such activities with contempt. They are less likely to grow into criminals as many things come to them easily as they would want. This goes hand in hand with the population of an area. According to Agnes R. (2006), overpopulation is the biggest cause of crime as it triggers a dynamo impact on the society. From this come frustrations and resentment for the people and the society at large. This eventually leads to crime. It is therefore quite easier to experience criminal activities in towns as compared to upcountry areas.
Around the world, politics has also been a major cause of crime. As agrees Lynch M. (2002), politicians often use the youth and the weaker groups wrongly. As such, it is evident that across the globe, all political associations have their goons. Such associations often hail from different regions. This leads to resentment among different regions within a country. The end result is crime, especially committed towards the opposing forces. This is how most tyranny governments ascend to power. Those who get frustrated out of politics also end up rebelling. This also causes crime.
The same case applies for culture and religion. Embracing religion informs the life of an individual. Religions and cultures that discourage crime and teach both morality and law abiding will have less criminals as opposed to religions and cultures that neglect such issues or encourage criminal behaviors. For instance, Muslims believe that by defending their faith, even by death then they are fighting a holy war. In the eyes of the others, these are completely acts of terrorism which is at best crime. Such criminal activities are fully spurred by religious and cultural orientation and not disorders within one person. Those who do not identify with any religion and culture that shun criminology easily end up as criminals.
An environment also includes what children are exposed to in terms of what they watch and listen to. TV violence also causes crime according to Durkheim E (2014). For young people, it is quite difficult to distinguish between fiction and reality. In the movies, TV programs and even song videos that they watch, they see so much criminal and violent acts. These become to them as a norm. It is therefore important that a society draws the line between reality and fiction. If possible, children should be barred as much as possible from such exposures.
According to the analysis, crime is always perceived as a mental or psychological disorder in the offenders, but this is not the sole cause for crime. Several social factors contribute to the behaviors of individuals. It is therefore important that people view crime as such and therefore come up with ways to dig into the source of a behavior and thereafter find how it can be cured. This might help some offenders. A society should also try all within its power to provide a serene environment for a child’s growth and learning. This begins with the family and spreads to the whole society. If our societies would preach peace, love, morality and cohesion as well as provide for its members all the necessities, we would have a drastic decrease in crime rates.
Agnew, R., 2006. Pressured into crime: An overview of general strain theory. Oxford University Press, USA.
Durkheim, E., 2014. The rules of sociological method: and selected texts on sociology and its method. Simon and Schuster.
Fajnzylber, P., Lederman, D. and Loayza, N., 2002. What causes violent crime?. European Economic Review, 46(7), pp.1323-1357.
Lynch, M., 2002. The culture of control: Crime and social order in contemporary society. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review,25(2), pp.109-112.