Social Bond Theory

Table of Content

In 1969, a man named Travis Hirschi wrote and proposed something called the Social Control Theory. This theory can be applied in numerous kinds of ways when trying to address and solved social problems dealing with adolescents delinquent behavior. Before we can try to apply the Social Bond Theory, we must first understand the components and definition of the theory.

Once we have a firm grasp of the theory, we can then look into our own lives and programs within our communities, to possibly provide support to strengthen the validity of the Social Bond Theory. Travis Hirshi’s Social Bond Theory The Social Control Theory as written by Travis Hirschi in 1969, can be divided into several parts, in this case, we will be looking at the Causes of Delinquency, more specifically, the Social Bond Theory and its four components. The Social Bond Theory links delinquent behavior in the individual with the quality of the bonds he or she has within the society.

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The theory suggests that the probability of an individual to commit delinquent acts is inversely related to how strong the individual’s bond to society is. Ergo, the stronger the bond that the individual has with his or her society is, the less likely it is that they’ll commit delinquent acts. Going a little further, Hirschi discusses that the Social Bond Theory is comprised of four components: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. Attachment Attachment is referred to as the extent in which a person is attached to others.

Attachment begins when we are born where our first type of attachment would be towards our mothers. Then as we grow older our primary attachments become our family then our friends, then our co-workers, teachers, and other members of the community. By having these attachments to people, we learn to internalize norms, develop a conscience, and become more sensitive and understanding of others. Commitment Commitment is referred to as the time, energy, and effort expended in conventional activities, such as education or saving money.

Commitment could be called the grounding force in the individuals life because it prevents them from committing crimes because doing so would render their time and efforts in conventional activities useless and wasted. So by having commitments, the individual would be less likely to commit delinquent behavior in fear of their time and effort given to a certain activity being wasted. Involvement Involvement is referred to as when the individual is involved with social and leisure activities, it leaves little time to do delinquent behavior.

For involvement, it could be analyzed that the more involved the individual is with activities, the less delinquent behavior he or she will commit because of the lack of time to do so. Beliefs Beliefs is referring to the fact that if an individual shares certain values and beliefs with the people around them or the people they have attachments to, they are less likely to deviate from this because it gives them a sense of self-purpose and belonging. Moreover, people who share common beliefs may also share good values such as sharing, sensitivity to others, and adhering and respecting the law.

Agencies in the Community After taking a look into the local community, there were several agencies that had elements of the Social Bond Theory, of these, two programs in particular stood out which was called the Police Activity League (P. A. L) and the 4-H. The P. A. L The P. A. L is a program that is described from the L. A. P. D website as, “… a youth crime prevention program that relies on educational, athletic and other recreational activities to cement a bond between police officers and the youth in our community. ” (“P. a. l: Police activity,” 2012) The P. A.

L program was originated in New York City, but then expanded to Los Angeles and then to all the counties around Los Angeles such as Pasadena and Hollenbeck. Attachment is present in the P. A. L program because one of the main goals of the program is to form a sort of mentor relationship between the police officers and the kids that participate in the program. All the activities that the kids participate in are all mentored and taught by law enforcement officers who all try to become good, stable, and respectable role models for the kids to follow and become attached to.

In addition to the mentoring, in the recreational sports that the kids participate in, they develop attachments to their fellow teammates that they are playing with. Commitment is what the kids eventually develop once they become regulars in the program. After they get involved in the sports teams that compete in tournaments, they will feel a feeling of commitment to the team. So the program prevents them or lowers the chances of them committing delinquent behavior because the individuals don’t want all their hard work of practicing to be all for nothing. Involvement is evident in the P. A.

L program through the many activities that they offer to the kids so that there is something for everyone. The program offers things ranging from “arts & crafts, computer classes, culinary arts, dances, field trips, gymnastics, jewelry making, tutoring and personal development; as well as local, state and national tournaments in basketball, golf, karate, soccer and softball. ” (“Pasadena pal program,” 2012) With all these activities available to the kids, it is no doubt that some of the kids participate in more than one of them which keeps them busy and leaves little time for them to do any delinquent behavior.

Belief is evident in this program because in the mission statement it says that one of the goals of the program is to “enhances public awareness about the role of police officers, including the reinforcement of responsible values and attitudes taught by parents. ” “(P. a. l: Police activity,” 2012)Along with their mission to provide a better impression of police officers within the minds of the kids, the activities that the kids participate in also instill values of teamwork, leadership and perseverance. The 4-H The 4-H as stated in their mission state is “… program that focuses on Head, Heart, Hands, and Health which are the four H’s in 4-H, and they are the four values members work on through fun and engaging programs. ” (“Who are we,” 2012) Head meaning managing and thinking. Heart meaning relating and caring. Hands meaning giving and working. Health meaning being and living. ” Attachment is evident in this agency through their several programs. Many of the programs that 4-H offers, more specifically the Healthy Living programs, all provide adult mentors for the kids. These programs have adult mentors educate and push the kids to live a healthy lifestyle through one-on-one activities.

So through these one-on-one activities, the kids are making attachments to their mentors while also making new friends along the way. Commitment is what the kids gain through both the Healthy Living and the Science programs that they offer. Through the Science programs, they are able to join Robotics, Film making, environmental projects, and much more. These programs will require a lot of time and effort for the kids to participate in so when they join these programs, they are invested in it which prevents them from doing any delinquent behavior.

Involvement is available in every program that 4-H offers. Every program that 4-H offers requires are usually long-term programs, whether it be the science and engineering programs or the leadership programs, they will all take up a lot of after school time for the kids. With all of the time the programs that the kids are involved with take, there leaves little time for the kids to commit any delinquent behavior. Belief is evident in the many programs that 4-H offers because each program not only teaches the kids knowledge, but it also teaches them about values and beliefs.

The whole agency of 4-H in general has a common belief throughout all its programs, and that is that whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve. So when the kids have this belief instilled into their minds, they are all brought under it, it leaves them with little need to deviate from this belief because it improves their self purpose and belonging. Personal Thoughts and Experiences with the Social Bond Theory Attachment As a family man, it is only natural that I can strongly relate to the attachment component of the Social Bond Theory.

As a teenager, I was raised in a huge loving family that embraced me as much as I embraced them, but it was not always this way. When I was a young child, I grew up in the not so nice part of Houston, Texas so my parents would never let me go outside to socialize so because of this I can remember feeling very lonely and resentful of my strict parents, which made me even more lonely and caused me to do things that even now, I regret doing. Looking back, due to my isolation and resentfulness of my parents, I feel like these feelings led me to have little to few attachments with people which resulted in my deviant and delinquent behavior.

Eventually, when I moved out to California and was introduced to a whole new lifestyle surrounded by a loving and care-free family, my deviant and delinquent behavior seemed to slowly dissipate. Commitment As a kid, my parents had realized what I was intellectually capable of so they enrolled me into a program called GATE, which basically gave the more advanced students more homework and extra requirements for their projects to try to keep them performing at a high level and develop good study habits.

Once I graduated elementary school, I was admitted into a public high school called Gretchen Whitney High School. This public school however was a trick, it was labeled a public school, but the work load of all the classes were similar to that of a magnet school. No matter how much I resented all the work that I had to do in school, I never felt like giving up and dropping out. I’m guessing this can be attributed to the commitment social bond I had, which made me not want to see all my hard work become useless if I dropped out.

Furthermore, all the work I was doing kept me busy and out of trouble most of the time. Involvement Once I reached my senior year of high school and I already had guaranteed acceptance into college, my parents and my workload became more lenient. With so much free time during senior year of high school, most of my peers were out filling the void left from less school work with partying and with drugs or other types of things. Luckily, I wasn’t one of these people. My group of friends were more of the gaming type.

So naturally, once the void opened up, we immediately filled it in with video games. In addition to video games, I got involved with my school’s Track & Field team as a discus thrower. So with the combination of the two, you can say I was heavily involved with recreational activities and had no time to do any drugs or party like my other peers were doing. Belief When looking at my belief system now as compared to my social groups, I feel as though my bonds to my social groups in terms of values and belief are weak compared to the other social bonds.

Growing up, my parents molded me to become a firm believer in the Bible and Christianity, but as I grew older, I began to form my own belief system and I became more open-minded and liberal as opposed to my parents. Then there are my friends who are mostly atheist and although I am more liberal and open minded with my beliefs and values, I still retain my faith in God. Although, my belief system is different from the beliefs and values of my social groups it does not affect my sense of belonging to them which in turn does not affect the way I behave.

Personal Opinion Taking into account the success rate of the agencies that I investigated and my own personal experiences, I am led to believe that the Social Bond Theory is valid. I do believe that having stable attachments with your family and friends, commitment to education and the future, involvement into leisure and recreational activities, and sharing the same beliefs and values as someone does prevent you from committing delinquent behavior and getting into trouble.

Although there may be exceptions, such as people who were raised under the perfect conditions and had good social bonds and still turn out to do delinquent behavior, I believe that these exceptions don’t occur due to the invalidity of the Social Bond Theory, but the delinquent behavior can be attributed to other factors such as environmental or psychological conflicts that occur in the individual’s life.

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Social Bond Theory. (2016, Dec 06). Retrieved from

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