Juvenile Delinquency: Modern Psychologists’ Perspective Essay
Juvenile Delinquency: Modern Psychologists’ Perspective
For psychologists, the discussion about nature versus nurture is essential when it comes to juvenile delinquency - Juvenile Delinquency: Modern Psychologists’ Perspective Essay introduction. The debate between nature and nurture has always taught us ideas and concepts that make us fully understand what juvenile delinquency is. Nature versus nurture is also important in identifying treatments, therapies and cures for delinquent teenagers. A therapist or a psychologist helping a juvenile delinquent person can not go on with the job without considering the nature and nurture that affects the individual seeking for help. Whatever methods a therapist or psychologist formulates for an individual makes sense only when matched with utmost consideration to the biological and social factors that surround the patient (Siegel, et.al 96).
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The discussion on juvenile delinquency in the context of the nature versus nurture debate is not new. It has been around in history. While both sides strongly oppose each other, both present strong arguments and both are supported with excellent research. Countless tries have been made to determine which side wins, but the strength of both claims are too powerful that no psychologist can decide overnight or even over endless research. An initial research about this debate dates back to the 13th Century AD. It was the King of Germany named Fredrick II who conducted the first experiment on this subject. His experiment was done by observing the behavior of a child. He conducted the experiment that focused on child language and identified whether a child would talk if his or her parents would not talk to the child. King Fredrick II requested the mothers to take care of the infants in their homes, but they should not play with them or talk to them. His attempt later on failed because without attention and care, babies will die. Consequently, the babies who did not receive enough interaction died (Siegel, et.al 96).
King Fredrick II’s attempt to prove his arguments is the first sign of “nurture” as a factor that shapes the child’s behavior and although it failed, scientists and psychologists sprouted like mushrooms to determine the right experiment. They were sure that the argument was right, but they were hard up in finding the right support to their claims.
Another political figure in Mogul was inspired to do another experiment about this. Emperor Akbar later on tried to give clearer points regarding this issue by focusing on children and religion. His experiment involved what religion would the children take if they were isolated from the society. This, however, became another failed experiment because the children could no longer hear or speak. Because of this, the British empiricist named John Locke conducted a better experiment and concluded that everything in this world is known and understood only with experience. Since this sounded more sensible than the previously conducted experiments and studies, another scientist named Helmholtz, supported Locke’s arguments with science. Helmholtz said that if one can change or control his experience, then that experience is a product of another experience. An individual can perceive the world only through a collected date which he or she gathers as he or she grows old with a specific society. With all these, the nurture as cause of juvenile delinquency was born.Watson further supported this argument by saying that one can train a child depending on how you want him or her to be as he or she grows. You can shape the child’s opinion and mold his or her thoughts as long as the child is influenced by his or her environment. An individual is always a product of the society and the environment he or she is living in (Siegel, et.al 96).
However, other scientists and believed that it is nature that dictates the criminal behavior of a child. Experiments conducted by Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin were enough to support the claim. Charles Darwin, for example, believed that selection, variation and heredity were factors that shaped the characteristics and physical attributes of a child.
Mendel, on the other hand, supported the arguments of Darwin with his studies about genes (Siegel 161).
This debate still continues up to this day. Once a new argument on nuture comes up, another argument supports the other side. Modern psychologists now give up with this because they simply can not point a finger on which one is right or wrong.
Today, juvenile delinquency is defined as a product not of nurture OR nature, but of nurture AND nature. It can not be possible that only the environment can determine the behavior of a child. A child’s traits are influenced by the genes he got from his parents, and is shaped by the society he is living in. A child grows up to be trained by his environment, and the tools he has for learning and receptiveness in training is acquired from his parents. It then boils down to the point that modern psychologists now consider the nurture versus nature debate as obsolete. It no longer applies today, and it was never applied to juvenile delinquency because one can not go without the other. Modern psychologists believe that if, for example, the biological factors make a juvenile be born bad, and then a medical practitioner can simply prescribe medicines for him to get rid of his criminal behaviors. If, on the other hand, the society is to be blamed, then the government can not set up a new environment for young criminals, which is not practical, possible and easy, to say the least delinquency. Environmental determinism or biological determinism, when taken separately to define juvenile delinquency completely, is never effective. Modern psychologists today combine biological, psychological and social factors in affecting the behavior of a child. Technically, this is now called “nature-nurture interaction” which Diana Fishbein coined. It is now finally realized that a joint force of all the factors that possibly affect child development are all equally essential to discuss and consider. The use of behavioral studies these days do not even focus on determining the causes of juvenile delinquency (Burfeind and Bartusch 299). Modern studies today are here to predict behavior so that criminal acts can be prevented, and a safer society is created for all the world to enjoy.
Burfeind, James and Dawn Jeglum Bartusch. Juvenile Delinquency. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2006.
Siegel, Larry, Brandon Welsh and Joseph Senna. Juvenile Delinquency. Thomson Wadsworth, 2005.
Siegel, Larry. Criminology. Thomson Wadsworth, 2005.