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Why People Commit Criminal Acts?

By szegaryhk Nov 16, 2010 1376 Words
People commit violent acts for numbers of reasons. Each types of violence do have their specific reasons, but most of them overlap. In the following, some main causes of violent acts would be introduced and explained.

One of the reasons is desire. Desire can be further divided into mental and physical ones. For mental desire, it is usually about care, respect or power. Hamilton (2009) argued that desires continues may lead to frustration and anger is accumulated and expressed to strangers. Homicide and sexual assault is likely caused by this reason. This kind of act usually happens in families. When a child desire for love and respect but frustrated by their families, they are likely to accumulate anger and displace violence against the others. And it happens quite often in low-income groups due to their strong desire in improving their lives. When it comes to physical desire, it is sometimes related to money. A strong desire in money would lead to unlawful acts. Kidnapping or abduction and demand for money are common results for this kind of desire.

Another reason for violence is negligence. It is also common especially for violence like death due to driving, and it is usually caused by young males (Hayes & Prenzler 2009). People sometimes are not willing to kill, but they do so due to culpable, dangerous or negligent driving. The underlying problem for this act is about peer pressure. Young males like to show off their skills, yet they are lack of experiences. Accidents therefore happen frequently.

Specific to the youth violence, assault is a common violent act. Reasons vary, but one interesting reason is because of witnessing violence. Youngsters are easily influenced by the others especially adults. When they witness fighting at home between parents or other neighbors adults, it is perceived that fighting is a reasonable act. As analyzed by Yonas et al. (2005), the participants in their survey expressed a feeling that witnessing such violence supported the attitude and modeling of such behavior was acceptable.

Alcohols and drugs are often the reasons of violence. There is a heat debate in the causality between drugs, alcohol and violence for long time. It is still unclear whether alcoholism and drugs abuse would lead to more commitment of violence. However, some researches show that victims’ alcoholism may indirectly lead to more domestic violence. For example, alcoholic women are labeled negatively by their spouse. Violence may then be perceived as more socially acceptable when directed at negatively labeled women and drinking probably reinforce such label (Miller 1990).

The last reason would be discussed is race, sex and social influence. Racial discrimination happens in almost every country. Sometimes, it would lead to serious violent acts, probably homicides and assaults. Researches show that the experience with racial discrimination is a strong risk factor for the African American young adult violent behavior (Caldwell et al. 2004). Some people may even continue to engage in violent act due to social influences that reinforce their antisocial behavior.

There are many ways to prevent violence. For each type of them, different methods have to be used. In general, it is similar to preventing crime, and there are at two ways to prevent violence. First, it is needed to make violence more difficult to commit, more risky and less rewarding. What the government can do is increases surveillance and allocates more resources to the police department. CCTV cameras or burglar alarms are known as formal surveillance to prevent violence. Laws can also be established to control the occurrence of such acts. For example, there are some streets in Sydney where alcohol consumption is prohibited. It is definitely useful in controlling the activity area of the drinkers, hence reducing annoying acts like stalking. Besides, setting up more lights in dark or isolated places and making the sites more physically attractive is also a possible way as to improve natural surveillance (Clarke 1995). The above prevention methods are called situational prevention (Hayes & Prenzler 2009). It should be noticed that the resources should be allocated carefully and focused on the high risk areas as excessive surveillance would lead to the concern in human rights. Recent concerns on human rights and freedom are obstacles on applying such measures.

However, it is also noted that displacement occurs frequently as the violent acts shift from the focused area or time to another place or time. As a result, there is no use in preventing violent acts as they still exist. For example, the violent acts in Hindley Street in Adelaide may shift to other streets as strong surveillance is located on that street. To deal with this problem, the government should keep an eye on the overall situation after the policy is established.

The first way is only to stop people from doing violent acts, but it doesn’t change their mindset in committing so as it doesn’t hit the underlying problem. The second way is to prevent violence behavior, and it is a long term but useful way in lowering the occurrence of violent acts. In order to do so, the government has to examine the social causes behind and try to influence the attitude and behavior of those most likely to offend (Hayes & Prenzler 2009). What the government can do is through education. As those teenagers are easily influenced, the government should put more effort in educating the consequences of violence in school. Furthermore, family support to new families about children care and responsibility are also required to avoid domestic violence. This kind of prevention is called the developmental prevention. It emphasizes on earlier address of problems before they become entrenched.

For the case of adults, the government could also consider a restorative approach rather than a retributive approach when the offence is not serious. Restorative justice features in justice conferencing where all participants negotiate outcomes to determine what the offender has to do for the harm they have caused. It is find that this approach lead to reductions in further offending (Hayes & Prenzler 2009). This approach can solve the problem thoroughly by understanding the real needs of offenders and victims.

In addition to the above measures, it is also suggested that more counseling and treatment services should be provided. Counseling psychology plays an important and unique role in reduction and elimination of violence. The reason why people commit violent acts is sometimes because the others don’t understand them. The government has to address the prevention in multiple levels: preventing violence before it occurs, early intervention for people at risk (like witnessing violence) and treatment for offenders. For example, it is found that batterer treatments can reduce the offending behaviors (Hage 2000). The government should do actively to encourage, like by advertisement, those people with difficulties to seek for counseling.

To conclude, there are numbers of reasons for people who commit violent acts. They mainly include desire, negligence, alcohol, race and sex and witnessing violence. To deal with these problems, the government should try to implement physical obstacles to prevent the occurrence of violence. Mental health education and counseling are also important issues that the government should not miss.

(1186 words)

Caldwell, CH, Kohn-Wood, LP, Schmeelk-Cone, KH, Chavous, TM & Zimmerman MA 2004, ‘Racial Discrimination and Racial Identity as Risk or Protective Factors for Violent Behaviors in African American Young Adults’, American Journal of Community Psychology, vol 33, no. 1-2, pp. 91-105

Clarke, RV 1995, ‘Situational Crime Prevention’, Crime and Justice, vol 19, pp. 91-150

Hage, SM 2000, ‘The Role of Counseling Psychology in Preventing Male Violence Against Female Intimates’, The Counseling Psychologist, vol 28, no. 6, pp. 797-828

Hamilton, A 2009, ‘Reason for Violence’, Eureka Street, vol 19, no. 18 (25 Sep., 2009), pp. 8-10

Hayes, H & Prenzler, T 2009, An Introduction to Crime and Criminology, 2nd edn, Pearson Education Australia, NSW, pp. 97-116, 348-362

Miller, BA 1990, ‘The Interrelationship Between Alcohol and Drugs and Family Violence’, Drugs and Violence: Causes, Correlates, and Consequences, pp. 177-207

Yonas, MA, O’Campo, P, Burke, JG, Peak, G & Gielen, AC 2005, ‘Urban youth violence: Do definitions and reasons for violence vary by gender?’, Journal of Urban-Health, vol 82, no. 4, pp. 543-551

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