Depiction of the control theory on the causation of aggravated assault occurrences

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Depiction of the control theory on the causation of aggravated assault occurrences

Aggravated assault is an attempt at assault to deal life threatening injuries to a person. It is also an assault whereby the perpetrator conducts with a motive, purpose or for pleasure. It is deemed as aggravated assault if a weapon and a motive is involved. This is linked with the self-control theory as it is an important concept which is supported consistently as a factor that predicts criminality. This essay aims to provide an argument as to why the control theory is superior to the other theories to understand the causation of assault occurrences. There are many factors that influence the occurrence of aggravated assault. These are made up of a person’s mental stability, relationship between offender and victim, parental practice and also the potential involvement of alcohol. It is important to understand the principles and concept of the control theory before we can fully acknowledge the factors and mentality behind assault occurrences.

There is a strong relationship between aggravated assault and the lack of mental stability. According to (Buker 2011), Gottfredson and Hirschi’s study of the self-control theory specify that attention deficit hyperactive disorder or ADHD is one of the most analysed biological factors that determines an individual’s level of self-control. There are many other biological factors that lead to the lack of mental stability which include an individual’s birth conditions, IQ as well as gender. An important concept of criminology is a person’s IQ as it can be related directly to delinquent behaviour. This is particularly evident in Hirschi & Hindelang’s studies specifying that “criminological studies find that lower intellectual levels are related to higher levels of criminality” (Hirschi & Hindelang 1977). Mental stability and aggravated assault can be linked directly to one another. Aggravated assault can cause mental instability and the lack of mental stability can cause people to commit aggravated assaults. Findings in the study report conducted by (Hanson et al 2001) reveal that childhood victimization of aggravated assault increases the threat of psychological problems. Further to this, psychological problems persist through the abuse of substances, depression and post-traumatic stress disorders caused by mental instability. These problems also effect the psychological functioning of an individual during adulthood through trauma. “Thus, childhood assaults appear to present a significant risk factor for the development of negative outcomes in adulthood” (Hanson et al 2001).

There are certain factors that influence the occurrences of aggravated assault. There are certain variables involved in the prevalence and frequency of these assaults. These include factors of time, location, weapon utilised, the relationship between perpetrator and victim as well as previous arrest history. These factors have been statistically studied by Pittman and Handy. Pittman and Hardy composed a study of a random sample of 965 crimes. Through this study, Saturday is the most likely day for aggravated assaults to occur. The most recorded location is on public streets or domestic rivalries in private residences. The weapon used mostly is a knife as it is “being readily accessible” (Pittman & Hardy 1964) and a firearm as the second choice. In seventy five percent of the cases studied, both the offender and victim of the aggravated assault have had interaction with one another. These factors are also tied with the self-control theory. When a perpetrator is deciding to commit a crime, the offender seeks the reward and benefits of the result and then conducts a risky process of feeling pleasure. This shows that individuals possess different attitudes towards risks and have the trait of “thrill seeking” (Gullone & Moore, 2000). Social factors also influence and shape an individual’s level of self-control. Factors such as discrimination, community crime, practices of parenting and transitions in life strongly influence the conduct of aggravated assault. Further to this, the prevalence of assault is particularly dependent on the individual’s level of thrill seeking and if they were powered by a motive.

External factors are also contributing factors to violent behaviours leading to aggravated assaults. Factors such as the involvement of alcohol, parental practice and the environment conditions where offenders have been brought up in. There is a connection between alcohol and violent crime which considers alcohol as the primary variable in demonstrating the prevalence and frequency of assault occurrences. The study in the journal article discusses that “the usual drinking pattern does not constitute an independent cause, but has significant interactions” (Zhang, Wieczorek & Welte 1997) with the major causes of attitudes and roared aggression. Alcohol serves as a triggering mechanism for the initiation of hostile acts. The hypothesis within the study discusses that people who use alcohol are more likely to initiate conflict and violence than those who are sober placed in the same situation. Further to this, in Zhang’s study, there have been studies conducted which show that subjects who have a tendency to be aggressive are more likely to show higher levels of aggression upon the consumption of alcohol to those who do not drink. Zhang also states that the chronic effect of alcohol relates to drinking patterns and the effect of drinking prior to offending assault. This allows us to understand that if we put alcohol use into any situation, it will lead to a greater risk of bringing forth aggressive reactions in individuals. In relation to Gottfredson & Hirschi’s theory of self-control, studies indicate that low self-control is related to genetic factors. Another important concept is one’s level of IQ. Hirschi & Hindelang discuss the relation between IQ and delinquent behaviour, finding that lower intellectual levels relate to higher levels of criminal activity. The formation of self-control can be affected through school’s discipline of children’s behaviour (Gottfredson & Hirschi 1977). Not only does education effect self-control but also through parental practices. This is particularly dependent on the disciplining and monitoring of children as parenting affects the formation of self-control. The lack of self-control triggers offenders to initiate in conducts deemed hostile to gain some sort of pleasure or relief.

A strong understanding of the control theory is required to acknowledge the concept of aggravated assault. The control theory is an important concept in contemporary criminology. Gottfredson & Hirschi works claim that self-control is the sole cause of criminal and delinquent behaviour. The self-control theory adopts the classical perspective on human action by assuming humans are rational. Low self-control can be defined as the behaviour of individuals to achieve short term satisfaction without the consideration of the long term consequences (Burt, Sweeten & Simons 2014). The stability proposition of the control theory proposes that low self-control is a normal state of humans. Effective parenting is required during child’s birth to imprint the concept of self-control. The theory also emphasizes the influence of family for levels of self-control. The formation of self-control in reality illustrates that some people suffer the negative consequences through low levels of self-control throughout their life period. However, evidence shows that not everyone who is not fortunate enough to be parented effectively, failing to develop self-control will continue to conduct short-term actions resulting in negative consequences (Akers). The control theory specifies an in-depth analysis on the concept of self-control which is evident in the conditions in which an individual is raised up in.

The control theory that is based on the work of Hirschi is superior over the rational choice theory and strain theory for a number of reasons. The rational choice theory explores the utilitarian belief that individuals must weigh costs and benefits to make a rational decision. The strain theory expresses that certain factors of social structures in society forces people to conduct crimes. These two theories are not great theories that provide reasoning towards aggravated assault in comparison with the control theory. The rational theory is based upon the foundations that individual’s must weigh pleasure and pain to come to a rational decision. This act of weighing pleasure and pain is called hedonistic calculus. The rational decision made by the individual is set on the pleasure of committing the crime and the pain from the consequences involved (Hernnstein, 1990). The strain theory explores the tendency of negative emotions with the relation to aggravated assault. However, emotions do not consistently prove to produce assaults. According to (Agnew et al, 2002), studies illustrate the chances of criminal acts as a result to strain appear to probabilities linked with a person’s traits and behaviour. Botchkovar & Broidy’s study state that negativity is likely produced by stressors which are sensitive towards individuals. These events that cause strain, progress for the individual to conduct crime as a strategy to cope with stress. Both of these theories do not illustrate the reasoning behind the causation of aggravated assaults unlike the control theory. The control theory discusses the cardinal factor of the parental socialization process which determines a person’s level of self-control towards committing aggravated assaults (Buker 2011).

In conclusion, the control theory is the best theory compared to the rational choice theory and strain theory as it explores the reasoning behind the occurrences of aggravated assault. The potential policy response that addresses the causation of aggravated assault is parenting as well as education. This response suggests effective parental practices and education from schools for children from birth. Through effective parental practices as well as sufficient education, children will mature through adolescence with higher levels of self-control, minimizing the chances of delinquent behaviours (Buker 2011).

Botchkovar E, & Broidy L (2010) Accumulated Strain, Negative Emotions and Crime: A Test of General Strain Theory in Russia. Crime & Delinquency 59(6): 837-860.

Buker H (2011) Formation Of Self-Control: Gottfredson And Hirschi's General Theory Of Crime And Beyond. Aggression and Violent Behavior 16(3): 265-276.

Burt C & Simons R (2013) Self-Control, Thrill Seeking and Crime: Motivation Matters. Criminal Justice and Behaviour. 40(11): 1326-1348.

Burt C, Sweeten G & Simons R (2014) Self-control through Emerging Adulthood: Instability, Multidimensionality and Criminological Significance. Criminology 52(3): 450-487.

Francis C, Wright J & Blevins K (2011) Taking Stock: The Status of Criminological Theory. Transaction Publishers, pp 77-79.

Gullone E & Moore S (2000). Adolescent Risk-Taking and The Five-Factor Model of Personality. Journal of Adolescence. 23: 393-407.

Hanson R, Saunders B, Kilpatrick D, Resnick H, Crouch J & Duncan R (2001) Impact Of Childhood Rape And Aggravated Assault On Adult Mental Health. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 71(1): 108-117.

Hernnstein R (1990) Rational Choice Theory. American Psychological Association, 45(3): 356-357.

Hirschi, T, & Hindelang, M. J (1977) Intelligence and delinquency: A revisionist review. American Sociological Review, 42: 571−587.

Pittman D and Handy W (1964) Patterns in Criminal Aggravated Assault. The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science, 55(4): 462-470.

Zhang L, Wieczorek W and Welte J (1997). The Nexus between Alcohol and Violent Crime. Alcoholism Clinical Experimental Research, 21(7): 1264-1271.

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