Theories of Crime Essay

Submitted By ngjonathan91
Words: 785
Pages: 4

Jonathan Ng
Word count: 696
Week 1 Summarization: Theories of Crime

Crime occurs in every city, every county and every country. There is one question that everyone is asking, and that is, “How can we stop it?” To be able to answer that question, criminologists need to get to the root of problem. Many of these roots have been categorized into theories of crime in which criminologists use to explain, analyze and deter crime. There are many theories of why crime occurs, many of which are combinations and hybrids of multiple theories. Some of the more accepted theories are Rational Choice Theory, Social Disorganization, General Strain Theory of Delinquency, Social Learning Theory, Social Labeling Theory, and Life Course Theory. (Burke, 2009) Rational Choice Theory, also called Rational Action Theory, is the theory that has been adopted by the United States criminal justice system. This theory explains that criminals act in their self-interest and decide whether or not to commit a crime depending on the risk-versus-reward factor. This theory focuses on extrinsic risks, such as being caught, as opposed to intrinsic risks such as the feeling of guilt, shame, or remorse. Another view as to why crime occurs is the Social Disorganization theory, also known as the “Broken Windows Theory”. This theory states that crime causes a breakdown in social control, social bonds, and social environment which can lead to the weakening of quality parenting and neighborhood’s social relationships. That can then lead children into delinquency and also increase an adolescent’s association with delinquent children to form gangs. All of these instances would lead to more crime happening in their area and creating a hot spot of crime. (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005) There are multiple reasons why an individual decides to commit a crime. The General Strain Theory of Delinquency states that criminals are not created just because of a failure to achieve goals, but also because of a lack or removal of positive stimuli, such as a missing parental figure, death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship. These can be combined with the introduction of negative events such as losing one’s job or an argument with one’s spouse. This theory can be summarized to one sentence: “If we treat people badly, they may get mad and engage in crime.” Treating a child badly can also have a similar effect. The association of an important figure can also sway a child away or toward delinquent behavior, which is covered by the social learning theory. If a child has a father who is a career criminal, this child will grow up in a morally tense and crime ridden environment. Torn between developed motivation and skill to commit crime and morally knowing that committing crime is wrong, this child is at a higher risk of turning to crime. A criminal makes a wrong move, and is caught, incarcerated, and released; he wants to turn over a new leaf. This seems like an ideal situation but not always possible, once a criminal is