What causes or contributes to criminal behaviour within an individual is very difficult to explain because there are many different theories around this issue. Some scientist such as Cesare Lombroso which begun Scientific Criminology believed that individuals are biologically predisposed to criminal behaviour (Male Crime and Deviance pg.5).Later others followed such as Ernest Hooten and William Sheldon which differentiated criminals from non criminals from certain feature such as mixed coloured eyes or reddish hair.( Male Crime and Deviance pg.6). Although these theories where discredited because of prejudices and methodological weakness it led the way to other forms of theories such as the heredity -Genetic theory , the XYY Chromosome theory, and brain and neurological dysfunction theories . Other researchers do not believe that criminal behaviour is derived biologically, they believe that things like a persons cultural surrounds, their genes and their environment predisposes them to criminal behaviour. As a result criminals, these researchers strive to prove that individuals are a product of their environment and surroundings. Therefore the main purpose of this essay is to draw from certain theories to assist in explaining the fact that individuals are biologically predisposed to criminal behaviour.
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The thought that individuals were born criminals originated in nineteenth century Italy, with Italian physician Cesare Lombroso’s book entitled L’Uomo Delinquente. Throughout his book he discussed scientific criminology which was influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution (Male Crime and Deviance pg.5). Lombroso proposed that some people were biologically predisposed to criminal behaviour or born to commit crime, he also believed that criminals were products of atavism or biological throwbacks to earlier genetic forms (Male Crime and Deviance pg.5). Concept of Atavism Lombroso’s general theory suggested that criminals are distinguished from noncriminals by multiple physical anomalies (CBS Interactive Inc 2010).For his examination he used Italian prisoners and army personnel. He advanced that criminals and noncriminal could be differentiated by physical stigmata-such as large lips, flat nose, and certain shapes of the skull-as well as such preferences as tattoos or involvement in orgies (Male Crime and Deviance pg 6). Although his theory was later rejected it led to different physicians such as Ernest Hooten who began to expand on Lombroso’s scientific criminology theory. He attempted to explain male criminality by using body type theories in his 1939 book entitled Crime and the Man. Which explained that criminals could be indentified by mixed eye colour, reddish hair also that tall heavy men were most likely murders (Male Crime and Deviance pg.6)? William Sheldon soon followed in 1940 when he systematically showed a correlation between body type and juvenile delinquency (Male Crime and Deviance pg. 6). He describes three body types which were endomorphics, ectomorphics and mesomorphics, which each related to a certain personality or temperance trait. Mesomorphics were characterized as muscular, hard, assertive, aggressive, and active. These types were believed to be the most likely to participate in crime (Male Crime and Deviance pg. 6). Although all of these theories were later rejected because of methodological weaknesses they opened the door to many other theories regarding biological criminality Theories such as the heredity -Genetic Theory, the XYY Chromosome theory and also Hyperactivity and Antisocial behaviour theory support the fact that individuals are biologically predisposed to crime. They also differentiate from past theories because they are scientifically based rather than bias and racist. For example the heredity – genetic theory supported by biological theorists such as Richard Dugdale and Henry Goddard explain that male crime and abnormal behaviour are due to the genetic transmissions of certain mental or physical characteristics from generation to generation (Male Crime and Deviance pg.6). While other researchers found that certain biological characteristics such as low birth weight and other prenatal problems predispose some children to delinquency and criminality. Therefore making it clear in this theory that some individuals have certain biological characteristic that make them immune to criminal behaviour.
The XXY chromosome theory is different from the heredity -Genetic theory, but it also supports the fact that criminals are born and not made. Researchers have discovered a genetic abnormality in some males, where as the normal chromosome count for a male is XY some males had an extra Y (XYY) which was found to be associated with aggressive and violent behaviour (Male Crime and Deviance pg. 9) Among many other theories there is also the brain and neurological dysfunction and their effects in behaviour. Some research has found abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings of brain activity in criminals and delinquents, associating it with violent and aggressive behaviour, destructiveness, limited impulse control, and weak social adaptations. (Male Crime and Deviance pg.11)Also persons diagnosed with ADHD have been found to be at risk for a number of deviances and abnormal conditions including delinquency, criminality, feelings of worthlessness, psychiatric morbidity, unemployment, family dysfunction, and suicide (Male Crime and Deviance pg. 11).Among many other theories these help explain alternative roots of the problem involving criminals.
While there are many theories that support the fact that individuals are born into criminal behaviour, others do not believe that this is a valid answer .Therefore contribute criminal behaviour to other factors such as sociological, genetics and biological theories. In terms of sociological theories there are many different theories, for example the social reaction theory which is also known as the Labelling Theory conducted by Howard S. Becker in 1963. It explained that when a person commits a crime they will receive the label of a criminal, and when a person is labelled as such by society they are likely to accept this label as part of them. Now that the person now thinks of themselves as a criminal they will continue their criminal behaviour (Zomba Inc 2010). Although this theory is a very good theory, it does not really hold up because unlike biological theories which discuss the root of the problem this theory does not . Reason being that the theory neglects the process of becoming defiant in the first place, the act of primary defiance. It does not do a good job at describing the primary part of deviancy such as murder, which is often a primary example of classic defiance (Arasite 2010).
Among many of those theories there is also the differential association theory which was supported by most criminologist and socialist, this theory states that crime like crime like other kinds of behaviour, is learned. The theory points out the general conditions under which there are likely to be more than less criminal behaviour learned and thus a greater likelihood that the person will acquire a set of definitions that are more favourable to criminal activities than noncriminal ones. Furthermore, the theory states that criminality is a social rather than antisocial activity (Male Crime and Deviance pg.27). Although this is an excellent theory which tried to explain criminal behaviour there are many shortcomings, one is its inability to be validated through empirical testing because of a lack of clarity in its definitions and terminology. Also it failed to explain the origin of crime and delinquency or outline the nature of the learning process Male Crime and Deviance pg.27).
While some theorists focus on sociological theories to explain crime and criminals other focus on the genetics revolving around this issue. One example of this is the Testosterone and Male Offending theory. Much of the research has found a positive correlation between high levels of testosterone, male violence, and aggressive behaviour. Early studies focused on testosterone in prisoners. L. E. Kreuz and R. M. Rose found that levels of testosterone were significantly higher in offenders with a history of violent behaviour than offenders whose histories were nonviolent (Male Crime and Deviance pg. 10). Although this is a fine theory it failed to find a concrete correlation between testosterone and criminality.
There is also the Machismo and Males theory which is an important concept in masculinity and its relationship to male violent and aggressive behaviour. Machismo has been particularly associated with the criminality of Latino men. Many experts attribute their victimization and sexual abuse or the macho male, suggesting that violence against women is “more likely to be a product of machismo-oriented cultures than cultures that favour more equality of the sexes (Male Crime and Deviance 34).therefore Machismo appears to be rooted in Hispanic communities sense of family and cultural isolation.
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Although some believe that criminals are manufactured by genetics and society, others believe that criminals are a product of their environment which includes such things as poverty, education, parenting practises and family structure. Many studies have been conducted that believe that the percentage of poor Americans who are living in extreme poverty has reached a 32-year high (Christian Association for Prison Aftercare 2010). This is defined as individuals living at half of the federal poverty line. Sociologist and criminal justice scholars have found a direct correlation between poverty and crime. Therefore it is believed that individuals resort to crime only if the cost or consequences are outweighed by the potential benefits to be gained. The logical conclusion to this theory is that people living in poverty are far more likely to commit property crimes such as burglary, larceny, or theft (Christian Association for Prison Aftercare 2010). Although this theory may be true it does not relate to everybody, therefore there are many short comings, and much controversy among this theory. While some scholars believe this theory to be true others believe that poverty does not have a causal relationship to crime because there are countries in which poverty is very high but the crime rate is relatively low (Christian Association for Prison Aftercare 2010).
There are many other theories among them is the child abuse and neglect theory, which is the relationship between child abuse, neglect, delinquent and serious or violent criminal behaviour has been strongly documented on the literature. The act of being violated gives these vulnerable young people a street-ready repertoire of violence; they know how to kick because they have been kicked, they know how to stab because they have been stabbed, they know how to torment and humiliate because they have experienced the same (Telegraph Newspaper 2008). For example Brandt Steele cited research in which more than 80 percent of the juvenile offenders had a history of being abused, with 43 percent recalling being knocked unconscious by a parent. Martin Haskell and Lewis Yablonsky held that juvenile detention facilities are filled with offenders who were victims of child abuse. Similarly, self report data on prisoners indicate a high percentage had been physically or sexually abused during childhood (Male Crime and Deviance pg.42). In spite of this persuasive associated between child abuse and deviant behaviour, not all researcher agree that the two are necessarily interrelated (Male Crime and Deviance pg.42).
Factor or reasons for delinquency and crimes are often very difficult to explain because there are many different theories and concepts around this issue that each takes a different stand. Some scientist such as Cesare Lombroso believed that some people are biologically predisposed to criminal behaviour (Male Crime and Deviance pg.5). His theory although filled with weakness gave the ground for other theorist to follow but also put their own spin on it such as Ernest Hooten and William Sheldon. Although these theories where discredited because of prejudices and methodological weakness it lead the way to other forms of theories such as the heredity -Genetic theory , the XYY Chromosome theory, and brain and neurological dysfunction theories . Although these theories may be very convincing other researchers did not believe that criminal behaviour was derived biologically. They believed that things like a person’s cultural surroundings, their genes and their environment predisposes them to criminal behaviour. Therefore the main purpose of this essay was to draw from certain theories to assist in explaining the fact that individuals were biologically predisposed to criminal behaviour
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