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Understanding Crime and Victimization

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Rational crime can often be observed in white-collar and organized crime settings ... Official, self-report, and victim data all indicate social patterns in ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Understanding Crime and Victimization


1
Chapter 3
Understanding Crime and Victimization
2
What is Crime?
  • Violent crime
  • Gang violence
  • Serial and mass murder
  • Terrorism
  • Intimate violence
  • Substance abuse
  • Economic crimes
  • White-collar crime
  • Organized crime

3
What Is a Crime Theory?
  • A general statement or set of statements that
    explains many different facts by reference to
    underlying principles and relationships.
  • A statement that organizes a set of concepts in a
    meaningful way by explaining the relationship
    among the concepts.

4
Rational Choice Theory (Because They Want to)
  • Rational choice theorists separate the reasons
    people become criminals and the reasons they
    commit crime. It is possible to have criminal
    tendencies but choose not to commit crime because
    conditions are not right.

5
Rational Criminals and Rational Crimes
  • Rational criminals may decide to forgo or desist
    from illegal behavior
  • Rational choice is a function of a persons
    perception of conventional alternatives and
    opportunities
  • Rational crime can often be observed in
    white-collar and organized crime settings
  • Some rationality can be observed even with
    violent crimes, for example, choosing a target
    that is close to home or in an area routinely
    traveled by the victim and perpetrator

6
Four Main Types of Crime Tactics in Use Today
  • Increasing the effort needed to commit crime.
  • Increasing the risks of committing crime.
  • Reduce rewards for committing crime.
  • Inducing guilt or shame for committing crime.

7
Biological Theories (Because They are Different)
  • Biological throwbacks (atavistic or degenerate
    anomalies)
  • The criminal is a physical and biological
    throwback to early stages of human evolution that
    adjusts poorly to modern society and is thrust
    into criminal activities.

8
Biochemical Theories Its in their Blood
  • Some biochemical studies suggest that offenders
    have abnormal levels of organic substances that
    influence their behavior and in some way make
    them prone to anti-social behavior.

9
Biological Theories Neurological Abnormalities
and Genetic Factors
  • Focus is on the relationship of brain activity to
    behavior.
  • Impairment of neurotransmitters has been
    researched for a link to crime
  • Does the level of dopamine, serotonin, monoamine
    oxidase and other chemicals relate to aggression?
  • Does ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
    Disorder) lead to antisocial behavior in
    childhood?
  • See the National Association for Attention
    Deficit Disorder website

10
Biological Theories Neurological Abnormalities
and Genetic Factors (cont.)
  • Nurture (environment) and nature (genetics) have
    been the focus of much research.
  • Are monozygotic twins more likely to demonstrate
    similar antisocial behaviors?
  • Are dizygotic twins raised in the same
    environment likely to demonstrate similar
    antisocial behaviors?
  • Do adopted children reflect their birth parents
    behavior patterns?

11
Psychological Theories (Its in their Heads)
  • Psychoanalytic Theory The Disturbed Mind
  • Behavioral Theory Learning to Commit Crime
  • Cognitive Theory Developing Criminal Ideas
  • Psychopathic Theory Personality and Crime

12
IQ and Crime
  • Numerous studies link low IQ to violent and
    aggressive behavior and crime.
  • A Philadelphia-based study found that scores on
    intelligence tests were the best predictor of
    violent behavior and could be used to distinguish
    between groups of violent and non-violent
    offenders.
  • In Denmark, researchers found that children with
    a low IQ tended to engage in delinquent behaviors
    because their poor verbal ability was a handicap
    in the school environment.
  • In a longitudinal study of Swedish youth, low IQ
    measures taken at age three were significant
    predictors of later criminality over the life
    course.

13
Sociological Theories
  • It is unlikely that crime patterns and trends can
    be explained by biological or psychological
    factors alone. Official, self-report, and victim
    data all indicate social patterns in crime rates.
    Sociologist Emile Durkheim concluded that crime
    was an essential part of society and a function
    of its internal conflict.

14
Social Structure Theory Because Theyre Poor
  • The focus of these theories is a stratified
    society and the unequal distribution of wealth
    and status as causes of crime.
  • Disorganized neighborhoods and crime
  • Deviant values and subcultures and crime
  • Inability to achieve social success and crime
  • Poverty and crime

15
Disorganized Neighborhoods and Crime
  • Some crime experts believe that crime is a
    product of neighborhoods that are characterized
    both by physical deterioration and by conflicting
    values and social systems.
  • Major sources of informal social control (family,
    school, neighborhood, civil service) are broken
    and ineffective.
  • Urban areas are believed to be crime-prone
    because their most important social institutions
    cannot function properly.
  • The establishment of deviant values and cultures
    may be a form of adaptation to disorganized
    neighborhoods that also leads to criminal
    behavior.

16
Social Process Theories
  • Crime results from socialization in family life,
    the educational experience, and institutions in
    society.
  • Criminal behaviors, attitudes and values can be
    taught.
  • Associating with deviant peers also exerts
    tremendous influence on behaviors, attitudes and
    beliefs.

17
Learning Theories
  • Advocates hold that people enter into a life of
    crime when, as adolescents, they are taught the
    attitudes, values and behaviors that support a
    criminal career.
  • Learning crime techniques comes from a variety of
    intimates, including parents and family members.
  • Differential Association Theory is the best-known
    example of learning theory.

18
Control Theory
  • The nucleus of social control theory stems from
    observations that in high school there are people
    who seem detached and alienated from almost
    everything and everyone. They do not care about
    school, they have poor relationships at home and
    even though they may hang with a tough crowd,
    their relationships with their peers are
    superficial and often violent. It is these same
    people who often get into trouble at school, have
    run-ins with the police and are involved in drugs
    and other antisocial behaviors.

19
Developmental Theories
  • Seek to identify, describe and understand the
    developmental factors that explain the onset and
    continuation of a criminal career.
  • Why do some offenders persist in criminal careers
    while others desist from or alter their criminal
    activities as they mature?
  • Why do some people continually escalate their
    criminal involvement while others slow down and
    turn their lives around?
  • Are all criminals similar in their offending
    patterns or are there different types of
    offenders and paths to offending?

20
Life Course Theory
  • Criminality is a dynamic process that is
    influenced by a multitude of individual
    characteristics, traits and social experiences.
  • The process of living life provides for
    changing perception and experiences and, as a
    result, behavior changes, sometimes for the
    worse.
  • Crime is one among a group of antisocial
    behaviors that cluster together in some peoples
    lives.
  • Age Graded Theory focuses on turning points in
    a criminal career.
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