Environment as a Major Influence on Crime in What is the Real Cause of Crime?

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Crime happens to all of us, we leave our mobile phone unattended for a second while we grab some grub and it’s gone in ajiffy, Crime can range from minor offenses such as stealing office supplies to manslaughter. Crime is also everywhere, following you from the workplace back to the neighborhood. In the United States alone, there were 3667 criminal acts committed per 100 thousand people in 2008 (FBI URC), While crime has been in decline the past few decades, when we ask the question: “What is the Real Cause ofCrime?” we often find environment to have the biggest influence on crime. Many scientists say genetics is a predominant determinate for crime, however, environment, de facto through extensive research, has hard data showing a larger overall impact on crime. Have you ever observed that people from different regional locations have different beliefs, ideology, personality and actions? (Rhetorical Question)

Often in the west coast, it can be observed that people are generally friendly, down-to-earth and adventurous. However, in the south, conservative, “drill-baby-drill” advocates can be found. And the same basic principle can be applied to crime. Environment has its greatest impact on criminals during their youth. In Japan, a country with relatively low level of violent crime, researchers have found crime rates to go up when income inequality, unemployment and poverty rise (Doob, Rosemary). Another environmental factor is Familyt Criminologists often see siblings – brothers and sisters – connected togethcr through the act oferime when neglected by their parents. In one case, where a 12 year-old child murdered her family, was found to be involved with a 23 year-old man, drew attention to the parenting imposed by her parents.

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Questions started to rise, “Why [is] a 12 year- old girl involved with a 23 year»old and surfing adult websites7”, “Where [was] the adult supervision?”. Many critics blamed parental neglect to be the cause ofthis incident, The child’s parents never spent the time to understand the child and gave her what she needed (Adamick), Unfortunately, statistics have also shown a rise in parental neglect as more and more women are pursuing careers. The traditional stay-at-home mom is no more, leading to an increase in children being placed into daycare – away from their parents and leaming potentially harmful life skills from strangers and other children (Hyperbole), Another environmental factor contributing to crime is homelessness Foster children who are forced to move family to family throughout their childhood lives feel less connected with their environment and community.

Usually, children experience four stages of academic development during their youth. From the second they’re born to when they are two, children experience the world through their senses and motor skills with a direct, experience-based familiarity oftheir environment. Between the age oftwo and seven years old, children begin to think rationally and understand through thoughts. From the age of seven to teens, the child learns to think logically. From their teens to adulthood, the child begins to think rationally — about the future and theoretical philosophies (Piaget), During these stages of cognitive to moral development, shifts in the environment from moving family to family causes the development to be corrupted and incomplete. This lack of connection between moral and cognitive development forces troubled youths to continually seek attention and assistance. and when attention is not given, they ultimately turn to crime. In addition, disconnected youths tend to feel as though they have no moral obligation to protect his or her own community.

However, this corruption is not localized to disconnection with the community, but also the perception ofthe right and wrong. Corruption ofchildhood development can prevent a teenager, later an adult, from developing the necessary skills to morally determine whether their actions are rational and safe or irrational and dangerous , such teenager may become a man in a van bribing children with candy (Simile). It is believed that in the early stages of mental development, children have one goal to evading punishment. Children during this stage are selfish and only consider others in when it would help him or her in fulfilling his or her own needs. During the next stage, which is characterized by following rules, the child begins to show respect for authority and confomlity, avoiding to be condemned. As the child continues to mature, his or her moraljudgment is determined by imposed rules and an understanding that these rules benefit all.

Eventually, common philosophies are implemented (Forde). However, ifthe moral development process is not completed, people who are not able to recognize right from wrong will engage in inappropriate, abnormal, or even criminal behavior. Governments have used this understand in an attempt to improve communities, In Canada, welfare programs and social programs have been created to place children in peaceful communities and caring families to avoid a corruption of their development. After a few years, crime rate in the regions began to decrease. Another impact from environmental factors on a child’s psyche is their personality and instinct. Some social scientists believe that certain personality types may be associated with criminal inclinations or activities. A neurologist, who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis, named Sigmund Freud, described emotional development as the process ofattaining balance between desires.

According to Freud, humans must resolve the tension between their selfish tendencies — the id – and their conscience and morals – the superegot This process begins in infancy, when the id is of control. As the child grows, development ofthe superego conflicts the ideals and decisions of id. This conflict creates the ego, or self-interest. It was Freud’s understand that when this development process goes wrong. personality disorders rise, including a predisposition towards crime. However, some scientists and researchers argue that genetics has a bigger predisposition than environment. Genetics’ relation to crime is a highly debated question in the scientific community » whether criminal behavior has a genetic basis or not. Multiple research – from adoption studies around the world (Iowa to Denmark) – point to some sort of heritability for criminal behavior.

There are major problems, however, that arise during the research analysis of these results, In every research study, there are multiple variables such as environment and researcher bias. Another problem is the limitations of studies. In studies involving twins, methodological issues ofparenting can limit the conclusions drawn from individual studies. One ofthese methodological issues is the selection between identical and fraternal twins. Since parents tend to treat identical twins with a more similar manner than fraternal twins, the correlation results are artificially increased in identical twin cases. Ergo the twin research with identical twins represents an environmental effect rather than genetic effect, In another research regarding genetics and psychopaths, the research revealed physical changes in the brain. This hereditary change has been seen in our current generation, who are genetically related to a psychopath murder from another generation, be it one or three generations away. While genetics have shown to have a predisposition to crime, environment still has a bigger role in the shaping ofcriminals.

The debate over environment and genetics also draws hard evidence from Nature vs. Nurture debates In the article “Nature vsr Nurture: How much influence do you have on your baby‘s intelligence?” it is suggested that environment (nurture) is more important than genetics (nature). It is believed that children under the age of2 can learn effectively and be molded into conformity because of their state ofinnocenee (Ramey). Another factor that draws attention to environment as a determinant of crime are subcultural factors, Subcultural theory is the theory that certain groups have values quite distinct from those ofthe rest of society and that these discrepancies are to a degree, dangerous, Members ot‘these groups, such as members of al—Qa’ida, are arbitrarily involved in crime because they acquire and follow the values oftheir group, According to the subcultural theory, crime does not occur because ofthe differences of socialization; but because people have been socializing in an abnormal group and adopted the group’s values.

Some subcultural theorists endorsc that there is a “lower-class culture [that] emphasizes troublc, toughness, smartncss, excitement, fate, and autonomy” (Hagan). According to these theorists, when people try to follow these values, they become entangled in crime. For example. individuals from a subculture that puts extreme emphasis on roughness and leader respect may respond with violence to a minor insult, such as “back off”, Furthermore, another theory, developed by criminologist Travis Hirschi, assumes that all people have a predisposition towards criminal behavior. This social» control theory, says that whether or not a person acts on those tendencies depends on whether he or she follows a subculture that instills positive values opposing crime, such as their family, school, the community, and organizations.

People within these groups have an attachment to the positive values imposed by the majority ofthe group. With a fear ofexpulsion, people adopt and follow these rules (Hirschi). People who do not have an attachment with society and subcultural groups do not fear expulsion and are indifferent by the lack ofa collective norm. These people are thus more likely to engage in criminal activity, Crime is a wild soul (Mctaphor). It’s all around us. We see it on our way to work, we see it in schools, and we see it on the news. While there are two sides to the main cause of crime, we see one rise above the rest. From the study of statistics, to theories ofchildhood development and cultural acceptance, all offact clearly point to the environment as the main determinant of crime.

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Environment as a Major Influence on Crime in What is the Real Cause of Crime?. (2023, May 19). Retrieved from


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