Crime and Self Control
Crime and Self Control
It is without doubt that a number of factors usually interact to bring about criminal behavior and as such, there definitely is no single measure that can be employed in order to eliminate the possibility of recidivism (Hirschi, 2002). However, findings of numerous studies and research, have served to demonstrate the importance of parental involvement when it comes to the prevention of criminal behavior, with numerous policies formulated aimed at increasing the level of parental involvement when it comes to child development. Smith and Stern (1997), further underline this importance when they conclude that indeed parental behavior or involvement does significantly influence the probability of a child becoming a delinquent. These findings are also shared by Lipsey and Derzon (1998) also find parental involvement as one of the factors that influence the development of criminal behavior, with supervision, discipline and parental warmth also amongst the factors identified as influential. As such it is therefore plausible to argue that an improvement in parenting would undoubtedly negatively influence the probability of a child developing criminal behavior.
Areas that can be focused on when looked at from a theoretical perspective would perhaps include but not be limited to:
Providing direct control through punishment and rewards
Establishing very close relationships with the child in order to employ indirect control
Providing sufficiently, in order to ensure control through needs satisfaction
Enhancing the child’s coping capabilities by providing sufficient social support and guiding the child on how to cope with various difficult situations
Supervising the child’s environment in terms of the company they keep.
The social control theory argues on three areas that one could claim fall under parenting. By employing the use of prompt and justifiable punishment whenever the child does something wrong, parents would essentially be instilling a sense of discipline and self control into the child, which could then ensure that even as an adult, the child is able to choose doing what is right over self gratification (Rao, 2007). Employing a reward system whenever the child does something right would also lead to similar results. Indirectly, ensuring that the child has all he/she may need, actually serves as a control in itself and may discourage the child from engaging in delinquent behavior.
Establishing a close relationship with a child could actually serve to help in realizing improvements in the other two areas, controlling the company they keep, which according to the differential association theory, may actually result in criminal behavior. Secondly a close relationship may actually help when it comes to coping with strains that may otherwise have resulted in criminal behavior (Agnew & White, 1992).
I certainly do not agree with the assertion that it can be too late to instill self control in adults, as self control can be achieved as long as the individual is aware that their actions have consequences, rewards in case of good behavior and punishment in cases of bad behavior. As such therefore adults are not a lost cause when it comes to instilling self control. One of the ways of looking at this argument would be using the differential association theory: which essentially argues that as long as the unfavorable definitions for violating a crime do not outweigh the favorable definitions of not violating the law, the individual will essentially not break the law (Sutherland, 1947). As such an approach that continuously rewards previous delinquents for abiding by the law, and severely punishes repeat offenders would go a long way towards instilling a great degree of self control.
Agnew, R. & White, H. (1992). An Empirical Test of General Strain Theory. Criminology 30(4),475-99.
Hirschi, T. (2002). Causes of delinquency. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.
Lipsey, M., & Derzon, J. (1998). Predictors of Violent or Serious Delinquency in Adolescenceand Early Adulthood: A Synthesis of Longitudinal Research.
Rao, S. (2007). Criminal Behavior: A Dispassionate Look at Parental Disciplinary Practices.Indian Journal of Psychiatry
Smith, C., & Stern, B. (1997). Delinquency and Antisocial Behavior: A Review of FamilyProcesses andIntervention Research. Social Service Review, 71, 382-420.
Sutherland, E. (1947). Principles of Criminology. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott