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Examining the Relationship Between Childhood Social Influence and Criminal Behavior in Adulthood

By:   •  March 19, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  1,404 Words (6 Pages)  •  171 Views

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Examining the Relationship Between Childhood Social Influence and Criminal Behavior in Adulthood

According to author Michael Shader, juvenile delinquency is influenced by many risk factors, which include weak social ties, antisocial peers, neighborhood crime, and neighborhood disorganization. (Shadler, 4). This argument begs the question, How do social relationships, economic status, and educational performance affect a child’s likelihood of criminal behavior later in life? One very controversial topic concerning criminal behavior is the debate of nature versus nurture. many people claim that genetic conditions, such as certain mental or behavioral disorders may enhance the likelihood for criminal behavior, and many other people claim that it is caused by influences during childhood and development. Three major influences involved are poor interaction with peers and social discomfort, bad neighborhood and community influence, as well as income. Three dominant perspectives of this debate are the social, environmental, and psychological aspects. This means that the social and economic effects of a child’s life prompt their psychological response. Negative social relationships one develops in youth, when paired with the impact of a low-income, crime infested community are very significant factors in influencing criminal behavior in adulthood.

Social Environment

Social experiences formed in childhood and negative social experiences in childhood can cause increasingly negative psychological effects, resulting in a decreased likelihood of criminal behavior in the future. A study completed by Laurie L Ragatz, a researcher of criminological psychology at Augusta University, tends to support the fact that bullying victimization can increase a likelihood of criminal behavior for adulthood. The research, a survey of 1,524 students at a University in the mid-atlantic region of the United States, found that 86 out of 126, or 68.3% of childhood victims of bullying, or bully-victims identified to manifesting criminal thinking and aggressive behavior. This study exhibits the impact bullying has on a child who is a victim of it. Being bullied as a child can set off certain psychological effects which cause increased levels of depression, low self-esteem, and perhaps anger. People who are bullied often become very antisocial later in life, and have increased anxiety. This can, in turn, ruin relationships, and cause somebody to use criminal behavior as something to fall back on with certain effects such as depression and anxiety. Similarly, a study was completed in 2011 by Canadian institution SNAP (Stop Now And Plan), examining the relationship between being a bully in childhood and criminal involvement later in life. 949 children, with a mean age of 9.5 years were chosen to participate in the survey. The findings showed that the odds of onset of criminal offense were 1.90 times more likely for bullies than it was for non-bullies. The results indicate that for boy bullies, the estimated likelihood of criminal offense by the age of 18 is 2.2 times more than for non-bullying boys. Interestingly, no such relationship was identified in girls (Jiang, 132). In contrast to being a victim of bullying, being a bully is usually a result of certain psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. However, being a bully and having little punishment and redirection in childhood can seriously affect one’s social abilities, causing crime to be an easy coping mechanism with certain lingering feelings from childhood. Social behavior can indeed be a significant factor in determining likelihood of involvement in criminal activity. However, In bullies, boys have a greater chance of criminal offense than girls. Social behavior is not only noticeable in the school environment, but in neighborhoods and communities as well.

Influence of the community

Neighborhood economic status and environment can help to determine whether or not someone is more likely to commit a crime. Someone living in a low income neighborhood can be more exposed to crime, and never find themselves leaving the situation of criminal activity. According to author Annie M Schuck, of the University of Michigan, in each neighborhood unit of increased disadvantage, involving the percentage of families in poverty, families receiving public assistance, residents unemployed, female headed households, and Black residents, there is an approximate 5-6% increase in the rate of criminal arrests for neglected children (Schuck, 213). This source clearly describes the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and criminal activity. The crime surrounding a neighborhood makes it very hard for somebody to get out of the circumstances they are in, including a lack of proper schooling, or promising economic opportunity in their community. This sets an influence on younger people, causing similar delinquent behavior, because it can be a seemingly inconsequential solution to an impoverished and unfortunate lifestyle. Schuck also found that people from very disadvantaged neighborhoods are arrested at a rate of 1.5 times higher than respondents from neighborhoods with low levels of disadvantage (Schuck, 213). Once again, this presents the overlying influence of crime on a community. In many very low income neighborhoods, there are adults, neighbors, and even parents who are involved in crime. This can psychologically affect a child, because these are the people who they should look up to. Many young people will follow in the footsteps of the people in the community, because of the unfortunate direction in which those people involved in crime point the community.

Income of the home and neighborhood

After completing extensive research on the relationship that neighborhood income has with crime, Anna Piil Damm, associate professor of economics at Aarhus University, and Christian Dustmann, professor of economics at University College London, concluded that “Young men are the most vulnerable to the effect of delinquent neighborhood influences in their early teens, when they are particularly receptive


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