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Individual Theories

By Itzmelt13 Sep 26, 2014 683 Words
Individual Theories
There are many theories as to what motivates adolescents to commits crimes. There are many theories as to why other adolescents in the similar circumstances are not motivated to break the law. Everyone is different, and everyone has their own reasons for their actions. Some say it is situational, and others say it is biological. Personally, I feel it is a bit of both, children are easily influenced and their surroundings are sure to affect them in some way, whether it be good or bad. There are also biological circumstances that have an influence on them as well, and when you mix situational and biological influences in the mind of an adolescent the results can either be disastrous or excellent. There are many theories out there that try to explain why children do the things they do, but I do not feel there will ever be a full understanding of the actions people take. I also feel that one person can have the trait of more than one of these theories all at the same time. I will be going over two of the many theories in this paper. First, there is General Deterrence, which tries to stop people from offending by showing them what will happen to them if they commit the same crimes as others. According to "Deterrence Theory" (n.d.), “General deterrence is designed to prevent crime in the general population. Thus, the state’s punishment of offenders serves as an example for others in the general population who have not yet participated in criminal events.” (General and Specific Deterrence). One example of this is the death penalty, it is used as a punishment for horrible and violent crimes like capital murder. The use of the electric chair or lethal injection are pointed out to potential offenders, in an attempt to stop them from offending. This theory still works somewhat, making children afraid to commit crimes, because they are afraid of the punishments, however, it does not work as well as it used too. There are still some children out there that see this as a good enough reason not to break the law, but there are many more that general deterrence has no influence on. Most of these children see going to prison or death row as a part of life, and some children grow up being taught that being a criminal is the way their life should be. The second theory I will discuss is the Genetic theory. This theory is based on the inheritance of criminal behavior from parent to child. This subject is quite controversial, many studies have been conducted based on this theory, but the question still remains, can criminal behavior be genetically transferred from parent to children? Wilson (2011), “Crime is encouraged or discouraged by external forces rather than internal genetically dictated factors.” (para. 2). There are many different beliefs on the subject of genetics in the criminal justice field, but I do not think there will ever be a 100% accurate answer to the question of whether or not genetics truly play a role in criminal behavior. It is my belief that the environment a person grows up in, as well as their person temperament play the biggest role in a criminal offender’s decision making process. There are numerous possible reasons why people do the things they do, but I do not think there will ever be one right answer for everybody. Some people offend out of necessity, and others out of desire. There are many people that think it is a part of life because they grew up seeing it done by others, and there are some that grow up in the same environment that lead a full and healthy life style. As I stated before, it all depends on each individual and the way they think as a person.

Deterrence Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wilson, J.W. (2011). Debating Genetics as a Predictor of Criminal Offending and Sentencing. Retrieved from

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