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Influence: The Primary Cause of Crime

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Influence: The Primary Cause of Crime


Crime is unavoidable and will never be fully eliminated. Since the beginning of life on Earth, delinquency seems to be a natural propensity for the human psyche. Throughout history there have been various criminologists and sociologist who have developed numerous theories on crime causation. In most part, these theories are constrictive in defining what groups, or types of people, are perceived as criminal in behavior and why they chose to commit crimes. There are theories concluding that one’s biology and genetics can predict one’s probability of being (or becoming) criminal. Other theories suggest that as long as the benefits of committing the crime outweighs the risks associated, than a crime will occur. Another theory constructed upholds the ideals that individuals commit crimes based on their social environment, as well as the people they associate with. With all the possible theories constructed, can only one be the right answer to the reason why people commit criminal behaviors?

Influence is the Crime Causation

The study of crime and why some individuals continue criminal behavior while others never even see a speeding ticket has been dissected for decades. With all of the different theories that have been developed, there does not seem to be one theory that fits all criminals or all criminal behavior. However, I believe there is one underlying factor to the causation of crime…influence.

Family Influence

I believe the family is the primary environmental influence on an individual. The family atmosphere is extremely important in the upbringing of a child, from a very early age. A positive relationship between the parent and the child is a significant factor in the influence of positive behavior. Positive factors within such an atmosphere should include structure, parent involvement, discipline and a strong parent-child relationship. Risk factors within a troubled family include poverty, lack of education, poor communication, weak family ties, or substance abuse are the “farmhouses” for developing juvenile delinquents. Furthermore, an individual experiencing any form of abuse or neglect can lead to poor choices and criminal behavior.

For example, the first eight years of my life I experienced abuse of many forms, as well as neglect. My biological parents were addicted to both alcohol and a variety of drugs; making it difficult for them to be respectable influences on my brothers and me. I can recall the feelings of loss and abandonment when we were placed into foster care; where the environment was still not one of love, security or even of want. The only way to get any attention, positive or negative, was to act out. I knew my actions were wrong and dishonest, but I got attention and some sort of interaction. Once we were adopted by a loving family, I was still lost and it took many years for me to trust and love in return. With their guidance and love over the next ten years I was able to learn, based on the new influences that were exposed to me.

As adults, it is our priority to provide an environment for our children that is encouraging and reinforces positive behaviors. Our children come into this world limited in their control of choosing the environment they will live, leading to greater influence of environmental factors in youthful behaviors.

Peer Influence

Another significant factor in development of delinquent behavior is peer influence. The individuals (friends) someone choosing to relate with has a dynamic on the behavior(s) one will emulate. The tendency for one to commit crimes can be traced to the people they associate themselves with. Like the first and second principle of Sutherland, “criminal behavior is learned;



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