Factors Determining if a Child is a Potential Offender

The prevalence of crime in our contemporary society has brought the need of devising ways through which crime can be prevented. In trying to curb these retrogressive trends that come in the name of crime, various criminologists have posed questions regarding the interventions being employed. One of these questions is if there is a possibility of predicting that a child could end up becoming an offender in the future. This question forms the basis of this discourse, where we shall take into account the various arguments propounded by scholars on this question and then draw a comprehensive conclusion on the same.

The underlying question in this discourse is if at all future behavior in a child can ever be determined and with what accuracy that can be achieved.  Previously, criminologists relied on the classical school of thought in studying crime and devising the policies and means to combat it. As pointed out by Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990), the classical tradition generally explored the theory of human behavior and then zeroed in on the formulation of policy by the government to combat crime. And in restricting its view to crime, this school of thought missed out on many forms of behaviors that are in essence associated with criminal activities in terms of social reaction and are also identical to crime in terms of causation.

Today, the positivist school of thought has gone a long way in embracing the aspects of crime that the classical tradition had ignored. Cole and Smith (2006) take note of this when they argue that the positivist tradition, which began to gain currency in the mid eighteenth century, has swiftly replaced the classical school of thought. This is largely due to the fact that the positivist school of thought propounds the idea of the use of scientific methods to determine criminal activity.

This involves the incisive study of the mind, the body and the environment of the offender or rather a would-be offender. This has proved instrumental in revealing what motivates people to become offenders and the particular ways that they can be rehabilitated. Some of the central arguments of the positivist school of thought are that human behavior is by no means controlled by the free will but rather by the physical, mental and social factors. The theory further postulates that science has got the potential of unearthing the various causes of crime and even devising the treatment of deviants (Cole and Smith, 2006, 53).

Given the above arguments, we can conclude that there exists a possibility of determining if at all a child can become an offender in the future. Besides, a report by Faith and Service Technical Education Network (FASTEN), supports this by stating that there are many qualities that criminologists use to determine if someone, or a child in this case, is at a higher risk of committing crime in the future( HYPERLINK httpwww.urbanministry.org httpwww.urbanministry.org).

These predicators, as the FASTEN report states, fall into two major categories, namely the static predictors and the dynamic predictors. One glaring characteristic of the static predicators is that they can hardly be changed by a would-be offender. These include factors like the criminal history of the family that the child comes from. On the other, the distinguishing feature of the dynamic predictors is that they are subject to change these include vices like lack of self-control andor ill temper ( HYPERLINK httpwww.urbanministry.org httpwww.urbanministry.org).

In more specific terms these indicators that criminologist used to underscore the likelihood of a childs future involvement in crime are basically, either social andor biological in nature. Going by the definition provided by the FASTEN report most of the social causes fit the description of dynamic predicators, whereas the biological causes can safely be considered as the static predicators.

Arguably, the social predictors are a function of the developments in society. In the current world these developments are subject to the changes that technology has brought in human interactions. As the world shrinks into a social village, courtesy of the new media, cultures are amalgamating and sharply questioning some mores and values that were previously the cornerstones of morality and lawfulness. At the center of this transitional crisis is the family, which is if anything, the most crucial socialization institution in the society.

These changes are crucial in determining the future behaviors of children. For one, the family today is an endangered institution given the proliferation of single-parent families, separations and divorces. The children from such background are more prone to indulging in crime than are the children from stable family backgrounds. Garside (2009) concurs that it is possible to put a finger on the criminals of tomorrow on the child by merely looking at their social setting. He argues that some of the characteristics that such children bear are social in nature and they include factors like coming from a dysfunctional family or living in poverty stricken neighborhoods ( HYPERLINK httpwww.guardian.co.uk httpwww.guardian.co.uk).

This fact is also supported by Morrison and Morrison (1995) who claim that as a result of the collapse of the family, children have been brought up through faulty socialization and this has exposed them to a tendency towards crime. Mostly, children from such families exhibit a lack of self-control and this is normally a product of their poor upbringing. Such children bear resentment towards life and their participation in crime is a statement of their frustration. (232)

By extension, this means that it is highly likely that a child will grow up to become violent due to what heshe had seen happen at home when there was a disagreement between hisher parent. Such a child could end up in prison for assaulting a colleague, for instance, after there was a disagreement between them. This is because shehe has grown up with the notion that violence is the shortest route towards getting hisher way in a matter.

 A report by KNOL (2009), titled Violence and Aggression, pours additional weight on the fact that the stability of a family is crucial in determining a childs future criminal tendencies. The report states that children learn how to act by copying the behaviors of adults, their peers, famous and fictional character, who they admire most. However, the people that child would most easily imitate are their parents.

For that reason, parents who abuse their children, either physically or sexually, are usually victims of such abuse while they young. In this way, abuse is thus handed down along the family line in a never-ending cycle and it does sometimes spills over to the society, when an abused children ends up molesting others in the neighborhood. In contrast to that, if the parents of a child are non-violent and of good moral standing, the child grows up to become like hisher parents, even though there are some exceptions in this case (KNOL, 2009).

 These social indictors are not only limited to the family. Often the society at large brings its force to bear on the character on an individual. For one, the new media has increased the level and intensity of interaction between people, across that globe. And in becoming a global village, almost all societies across the world have put much emphasis on individualism and creativity, thus enhancing human subjectivity. From this view point, we clearly understand how the virtual community has today become as real as the physical world around us and this has made social identities and reference groups to become a global phenomenon (Maguire, Morgan and Steiner, 2007, 104)

These social consequences of the changing world can invariably tell if a child is headed towards the offensive path. This could easily be brought out by checking on the childs associations, both at school and at home. This is true in the sense that a childs peer group is quite instrumental in determining how aggressive or violent they may eventually become. What the peer group does is to either enhance or vitiate a childs biological tendency towards violence. Some peer group might help the child to desist from violence these could be a group like the Boy Scouts. On the other hand, negative groups like children naughty gangs, can easily nurture a child to become violent (KNOL, 2009).

The frustration within which a child is brought up, in this case as a function of hisher society also tells a lot about the likelihood of their involvement in crime. In a 1941 study called, Frustration and Aggression An Experiment with Children, researcher exposed children a frustrating situation and recorded their equally aggressive response. They took a group of children into a room full of attractive toys that were blocked by a screen. The children only stood there, utterly frustrated that they could hardly play with the toys. Eventually, when they were allowed access to the toys, they kicked and shoved in a scramble for the toys (KNOL, 2009).

However, when another group of children was led into the same room and immediately allowed to access the toy without the frustration of waiting, the children showed no aggressiveness in choosing the toys for themselves. The study therefore concluded that even though frustration doesnt necessarily lead to aggression, it plays a bigger in producing anger and annoyance, which on piling up in a child they eventually make himher to become aggressive (NKOL, 2009).

The biological factors, or rather the static predicators also point towards a future offender in a child. For quite some time, the use of biological means to explain criminal behavior were generally ignored and even condemned as being inclined towards racism. This was because this approach often blamed the prevalence of criminal activities to be a function of the marginalized people, for instance in the United State these included the African American and the Latinos (Cole and Smith, 2006, 54).

However, after the Second World War the study of biological predictors for criminal activities began to attract renewed interest. It was recognized that biological factors do predispose some people into involving themselves in criminal activities. These biological predictors such as the genetic make-up, body type and the intelligence quotient was deemed to far outweigh the social factors that propel people into criminal activities (Cole and Smith, 2006, 54).

This fact is demonstrated by the finding of the research titled Iowa Adoption Studies, which focused analyzing the behavior of children after they had been taken by parent who did not conceive them. Since these children had had different genes from the parents who now took care of them, the researchers had the opportunity to unveil to what extent the role of nurture plays in raising people to become non-aggressive (KNOL, 2009).

The study reached the conclusion that the stability of the adopting parent is of no significance in comparison to that of the biological parents of the child. This means that if the biological parents of a child are unstable, the child grows up to become unstable even if hisher adoption parents are otherwise.  On the other hand, the children whose parents are biologically stable grow up to become stable whether or not their adopted homes provided them with a stable environment (KNOL, 2009).

Contemporary research has moved beyond focusing on the genes as providing the basis for behavior that can lead to crime they now explore the specific physical and environmental factors that affect the human body, hence becoming a potential influence on their behavior. For instance, such researches have demonstrated that a person who sustains certain kinds of head injuries or rather suffers from tumors in particular locations of the brain can experience the impairment that as a result affect their knowledge, perception and behavior. This can also be used as a predicator in children, particularly those growing up in crime-prone residents (Cole and Smith, 2006, 54).

Other people have abnormal levels of certain chemicals in their brains, which cause them to become hyperactive, irritable and even involve themselves in risk taking behaviors. Worth noting is that these behaviors are even manifest in children and if such conditions are diagnosed and treatment is offered through the prescription of  drugs required to counteract the chemical imbalance, then the situation can be arrested (Cole and Smith , 2006,55).

Far from that, people who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), children inclusive, are prone to aggressive and impulsive behavior that lead to the violation of criminal laws such as substance abuse and assault. Worse still, their problem may be compounded in case they come from families that face acute economic challenges, where they lack the opportunity for a diagnosis, treatment and supervision of their conditions (Cole and Smith, 2006, 55).

The abovementioned views from various scholars points towards the evidence that indeed the future behavior of a child can be determined, whether criminal or not, from the biological and sociological factors that define their lives. The identification of these factors in children is crucial in helping them map their own future this is essential particularly in cases where a child is exposed to predictors that could lead himher to become a criminal. In such cases, appropriate measures can be taken, hence ridding our society off a potential offender.


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