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Social scientists describe violence as “behaviors by individuals that intentionally threaten, attempt, or inflict physical harm on others” (Reiss & Roth 1993 p.2). Criminology, as a study, recognizes that violence is crime and breaks down into different classifications depending on the factors that are justifiable in the instance. It further offers theories that tend to explain the motivations towards violent crimes. Moreover, criminology proposes theories that suggest how the perpetrators of such violent crimes can be treated or treatments that are available to eradicate or reduce instances of these vices (Newburn, 2007 p.126).
This paper aims at highlighting the various forms of violent crimes, further focusing on two forms which touch on some pertinent issues concerning the society. The study will further link these focus vices to theories that best explain how they come about and why people are motivated to commit them. It will also suggest the treatment theory that is best suited to prevent such violent crimes, additionally explaining the treatment’s strengths and weaknesses and how the treatment works. This study will conclude by suggesting the available solutions or combination of solutions which are best poised to deal with treatment of such offenders.
In criminology violent crime is classified into different categories. These categories would include homicide, which may be referred to as the killing of a person regardless of circumstances involved. Under homicide there is intentional and unintentional killing where intentional killing is considered as murder and the unintentional killing is deliberated as manslaughter. Another form of violent crimes is assault, which the study describes as the threat to batter or an attempt to battery. Under the assault classification, various forms of assault include simple assault or battery, aggravated assault or battery, vehicular assault, and spousal assault. Another form of violence under violent crimes is sexual violence. Major forms of sexual violence include rape, which is the act of forcefully compelling someone into having sexual intercourse, or having sexual intercourse with someone deemed to be too young to consent to sex; and sodomy, which is forcibly compelling someone into having oral or anal sex (Newburn, 2007 p.215). VIOLENT BEHAVIOUR IN GENERAL
This study will focus on two violent behaviours. These are sexual violence and assault. Criminology as a discipline suggests treatment for the perpetrators of these violent crimes. The discipline recognizes that there is no treatment for the violence as an act but rather the treatment is for the fundamental grounds for violent behaviour (PPslide 3). It also tries to explain the reasons why people commit violent crimes through a number of theories. Criminology, as a discipline, also believes that the basis upon which violence is founded is either biological or psychological. The biological theory holds that acts of criminal violence may be genetically engineered or caused by other biologically motivated circumstances such as bad brain chemistry, mental illness, or even poor diet (Fishbein, 2004 p.304). Under the psychological basis, there are many theories underlying the explanation towards violence. The first of the theories is the rational choice theory. This theory explains that people generally weight between the potential risks and the rewards for committing a violent act (Finch, 1992 p.282). If the individual finds the risks are higher, and this includes the risk of getting apprehended and punished, than the rewards, there is a higher likelihood that this individual will commit the violent crime.
The social disorganization theory holds the thought that a person’s environment is a primary route cause for his or her violent behaviour. It argues that behaviour is a choice one makes and it is highly dependent on the environment in which the person grows up (Finch, 1992 p.308). For instance, an individual who grows up in a neighbourhood whose social structures are poor, and this includes rampant violence, drug abuse, poor schools, vandalised buildings, high unemployment, mixture of residential and commercial property, and other social vices, is likely to turn out to be violent towards other people. This is because he has been oriented to such behaviour and believes that violent acts are okay to commit.
Strain theory holds that people use violence to achieve what they wish to have achieved through other means such as hard work or delayed gratification (Holmes and Holmes, 2009 p.247). The theory believes that people have similar aspirations in life and what differ are the opportunities and abilities that they have. Since there are social huddles which may mean that others achieve their aspirations earlier than their counterparts, those who do not achieve them early enough tend to turn out violent in order to get what they really want. For instance, two different wannabe business owners with one eligible for a start-up loan while the other is ineligible. The ineligible person might turn to violent crime in order to get the comfort which is the result of successful business like his other counterpart’s.
The social learning theory holds the view that people learn and get motivated to do the things they do through other people. The theory argues that the skills and motivation to commit violent crimes are acquired by association (Stewart, 2008 p.88). That if one associates with violent people, it is highly likely that he or she will turn out to be violent like them. This means that all people are inherently non-violent but potentially violent.
Social control theory holds the view that certain social structures including schools, churches, workplaces and families play a very important role in ensuring that violence is kept at bay in the society (Finch, 1992 p.118). It argues that were it not for these structures, the society would be full of only violent people and no one would be non-violent. This is because these structures tend to instil a certain kind of discipline into people, and this ensures that their motivation towards violence is reduced. For instance, it is highly unlikely that the head of the local church, or regular churchgoers to the local church, exhibit violent tendencies since the church prohibits violence against other people. In other words, these institutions tend to dictate the terms for the society.
The labelling theory states that an action qualifies to be called a crime simply because the people in power in the society have decided that it is (Finch, 1992 p.218). Any person who commits the act labelled as crime is labelled a criminal and thereafter his or her opportunities are taken away. These opportunities may be taken away by actions such as locking him or her up in a jail cell for very long. When this person completes their sentence, he or she is likely to indulge in more criminal behaviour than he was into before. This is because the person has not had an opportunity in the real world situation to compare what is beneficial to them and what is not.
The theory that best explains the motivation towards assault is the social learning theory, which argues that through associating with violent people, a person who was not outright violent is likely to become violent. This theory holds the view that human nature has both the components of being good and bad. In this context, good means non-violent while bad means violent. It is true that humans are inherently non-violent but potentially violent. Human’s non-violent tendencies are most visible in the characteristic displayed by children in their early years of growth. An average child will show no signs of aggression towards another child or other people. But when they start showing it, they must have learnt it from either being abused or witnessing someone else abuse another (Reiss, 1993 p.67). They are likely to try abusing someone else in order to achieve a result they desire. In case they succeed in getting the result they desire, they are likely to repeat the violent behaviour.
In grown people, the mechanism of acquiring behaviour is the same. In case the use of threats or actual violence against other people yields the desired result, it is highly likely that the perpetrator will exhibit a repeat of the same behaviour. But the social learning theory has certain weaknesses that dispute the fact that it is motivation enough for violence to thrive. Firstly, the theory ignores the fact that behaviour can be terminated or discouraged through punishment. It is true that the society punishes violent crime in ways that are more likely to terminate the behaviour than allow it to thrive. Secondly, the theory tends to ignore the fact that not all people derive pleasure from committing violent crimes (Fishbein, 2004 p.317). Actually, one is able to associate with violent people but never indulge in violence simply because it is not a pleasurable act for them.
The supposition that best explains the motivation towards sexual violence is the social disorganization theory, which states that violent crimes are motivated by the fact that social structures are in deplorable conditions. A neighbourhood that has several vacant and vandalised houses is likely to attract sexual violence against vulnerable groups in the society. The same goes for areas with rampant drug and alcohol abuse, high crime rates, and fraying social structures. The two major directly affected groups are women and children (Newburn, 2007 p.221).
This theory also has shortcomings that do not explain the prevalence of certain deviant sexual violence behaviors. For instance, the theory ignores the fact that tight security in an area with poor social structures is enough to discourage sexual violence against the vulnerable. When the society is able to apprehend and punish a few instances of deviant sexual behavior, this can be enough disincentives for deviant sexual behaviors. Secondly, if social education programs aimed at protecting the sexually vulnerable is applied on the society, there is high likelihood that instances of sexual harassment and deviant sexual behavior will diminish (Stewart, 2008 p.101). The theory ignores the fact that sex education can play a huge role in eliminating sexual violence no matter the situation of the neighborhood.
Much as violent behaviors are caused by different factors, criminology proposes theories of behavior change. Among the treatment interventions that are proposed by this discipline are biological interventions, which involve the application of medical procedures to rectify the exhibited aggressive behavior. The procedures include pharmacology, psycho-surgery, and electroconvulsive therapy. Another treatment intervention is the psycho-analytical therapy, which investigates the probable cause of current behavior basing its argument on one’s past experiences (Fishbein, 2004 p.321). Other interventions include behavioral or aversion therapy, which conditions the patient by associating unpleasant sensations to a specific behavior hence making the patient avoid that behavior; Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy.
Psychoanalytical therapy is a recommended treatment to be used for intervention treatment for assault. Social scientists agree that assault is normally a progressive behaviour which may start at small scale but later blow into dangerous dimensions, especially domestically (Finch, 1992 p.224). It is also true that assault may be too difficult to stop if intervention measures are not taken since some individuals who prefer violence against others are sadistic. For people sharing the same household, for instance spouses, psychoanalytical therapy will begin by identifying the issues underlying the root cause of the violence. The therapy will further suggest measures to be taken to rectify the problem that causes aggression. Since this treatment does not work in an instant, it is recommended for housemates who want to mend their differences.
For sexual violence offenders, cognitive-behavioural therapy is recommended as a treatment. This is because the therapy aims directly at changing the thinking of an individual. The change of thinking focuses on aligning the individual’s thinking with the society’s norms and values (Reiss, 1993 p.114). It then charts a way forwards/looks on how to build the desirable behavior based on the new values that are acceptable to the society. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has six phases which include psychosocial evaluation, which tests the individual’s behavior and personality combination and concludes by suggesting the right combination of treatment techniques; reconceptualization, which involves the restoration of the individual’s conscience; skills acquisition, which involves the retraining of the individual on pertinent basic skills like interpersonal skills, communication skill and the likes; skills consolidation and application training, which aims to reinforce the desirable skills imparted into the patient; generalization, or expansion of the basic concepts, and maintenance; and assessment after treatment, to regulate the individual’s behavior (Holmes and Holmes, 2009 p.240).
In conclusion, it is important to note that not all patients recover from their maladaptive behaviours. This may be due to either wrong diagnosis hence wrong combination of treatment or the patient’s refusal or uneasiness to accept the change that is desired in them. These treatment methods need to be applied objectively. To achieve objectivity in treatment, this study suggests that further research be done to establish variables for use in diagnosis and determination of the right combination of treatment.
I mean that the treatment strategies work but not always. As there is not a lot of objectivity in diagnosis. Why? There is no known formula for finding out what ails the patient and what treatment needs is required for their case. Therefore, the study suggests that further research be done to establish an accurate formula to help achieve objectivity.
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